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Archive for November 14th, 2017

3 Takeaways from Sessions’ Testimony about Trump-Russia Contacts

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before Congress about contacts between Trump's campaign and Russia.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before Congress about contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, said his hazy memory is to blame for any inconsistent responses he has given to Congress about contacts between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russians.

Here are highlights of his testimony:

1. Sessions now remembers attending a March 2016 meeting with George Papadopoulos.

Under Oath in October, Sessions told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he had no recollection of contacts between the Trump campaign and Kremlin-tied Russians.

But when he heard about the arrest of Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos this month, Sessions said he suddenly remembered the aide proposing a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Frankly, I had no recollection of this meeting until I saw these news reports,” Sessions told the committee, adding that he believes he advised Papadopuolos to scrap a Trump-Putin meeting. 

2. Sessions dismissed accusations that he committed perjury.

“In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer all of your questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory,” Sessions testified. “But I will not accept, and reject, accusations that I have ever lied. That is a lie.”

Sessions’ failure to recall key facts about ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials drew heavy criticism.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., listed numerous times Sessions said insisted “I do not recall” while testifying before Congress in the past.

Sessions said the “chaos” of running a presidential campaign makes it easy to forget details about certain events.

“All of you have been in a campaign, but most of you have not participated in a presidential campaign,” Sessions said.

3. Sessions shocked many Republicans when he refused to promise the appointment of a new special counsel to investigation Hillary Clinton and her foundation.

Sessions said there was “not enough basis” to appoint a special counsel, prompting a heated exchange with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who asked what it would take to make the appointment.

“You can have your idea, but sometimes we have to study what the facts are, and to evaluate whether it meets the standards it requires.”

Jordan said it “looks like” there was enough evidence for a special counsel, pointing to allegations that Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Convention funded the salacious dossier that outlines Trump’s ties with Russia.

Sessions responded: “I would say ‘looks like’ is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel.”

Nominee to Lead Homeland Security Faces Senate Panel Vote Today

Kirstjen Nielsen, via Twitter

Kirstjen Nielsen, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, could be closer to confirmation.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the appointment, but Democrats have indicated they want additional hearings, the Washington Post reports.

Democrats have more questions following a Washington Post report that revealed White House officials were pressuring acting DHS Secretary, Elaine Duke, over an immigration decision. The Democrats wrote a letter to the panel’s chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson, outlining their concerns. 

Johnson has not indicated responded to the letter, but it appears the panel’s Republican majority is ready to approve the nomination of Nielsen, the White House deputy chief of staff. 

If approved, Nielsen would proceed to a full Senate confirmation in the coming weeks.

Other Stories of Interest

3 Suspects Injured in Shootout with Police, FBI Face Aggravated Assault Charges

Jason Trevillion, 32, Ernest Jones, 27, and Arthur Mitchell, 25, have been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against a police officer.

Jason Trevillion, 32, Ernest Jones, 27, and Arthur Mitchell, 25, have been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against a police officer.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A shootout between three man and the FBI and Kansas City police officers has prompted charges against the wounded suspects.

The men, Jason Trevillion, 32, Ernest Jones, 27, and Arthur Mitchell, 25, have been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against a police officer, The Kansas City Star reports

Gunfire broke out after several members of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force tried to make a traffic stop in Kansas City, Kansas, on Nov. 6.

All three suspects sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and no police officer was injured.

Authorities have yet to say what prompted the stop and how many officers were involved.

DOJ Mulls Appointment of Special Counsel to Investigate Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is weighing whether to appoint a special prosecutor to investigative Hillary Clinton.

In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, the department said it would look into allegations that the Clinton Foundation received donations liked to a 2010 decision by the Obama administration to permit a Russian agency to buy Uranium One.

The records came in response to a formal request from congressional Republicans for the Justice Department to investigate Clinton.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from election-related issues, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, are responsible for oversight of the prosecutors’ decision on appointing a special counsel, according to the letter.

“These senior prosecutors will report directly to the attorney general and the deputy attorney general, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit a special counsel,” Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, said in the letter to the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, blasted the letter.

FBI’s Recovery of Deleted Surveillance Leads to More Hazing Charges at PSU Frat

Timothy Piazza

Timothy Piazza

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s discovery of deleted surveillance video from the basement of a Penn State University frat house has prompted a slew of new charges tied to the hazing death of 19-year-old Timothy Piazza.

Prosecutors on Monday charged 12 more members of the now-defunct Beta Theta Pi fraternity, including Braxton Becker, 20, who is accused of deleting the video recovered by the FBI, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports

According to the new footage, Piazza was a fraternity pledge in February when he consumed 18 alcoholic drinks in one hour and 22 minutes.

Five fraternity members – Ryan Liam Burke, 21, Aidan O’Brien, 20, Jonathan Kanzler, 19, Joshua Kurczewski, 19, and Bo Han Song, 19, were charged with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter. They’ve also been charged with misdemeanor counts of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, hazing and furnishing liquor to a minor.

Others charged with misdemeanor hazing and furnishing alcohol to minors include oseph Ems, Brian Gelb, Patrick Jackson, Reggie Goeke, Donald Prior and Mike Fernandez.

Braxton Becker, whose previous charge was dismissed, now faces a  misdemeanor counts tampering with evidence, obstructing administration of law and hindering apprehension. 

Fraternity members told State College police Detective David Scicchitano that the surveillance camera in the basement wasn’t working. But the FBI was able to recover the deleted footage.

Sessions to Face Tough Questions Today about Russia Communicating with Trump Team

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

How much did Attorney General Jeff Sessions know about Donald Trump’s campaign aides communicating with Russia?

Sessions, who has provided shifting, sometimes contradictory answers to questions about Russia’s connection to the Trump Campaign, will testify Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee amid discoveries that suggest he knew more than he let on.

The committee plans to ask the former Alabama senator about his involvement and conversations about Trump aides traveling to Russia or trying to set up a meeting with Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin

According to testify from former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, it appears Sessions did know about contacts between Russia and Trump campaign officials.

The committee’s 17 Democrats wrote in a letter that Sessions’ statements include “inconsistencies” that need to be hashed out during today’s testimony.

FBI Signals Possible Investigation of Planned Parenthood, Other Abortion Providers

Planned Parenthood protester in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

Planned Parenthood protester in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI appears poised to investigate allegations that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers violated the law by selling fetal tissue and body parts.

The FBI recently requested unreacted documents from the Senate Judiciary Committee after its chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, urged the FBI in December to investigate the abortion providers following a lengthy probe into the sale of fetal tissue, The Hill reports

At the time, Grassley told the committee he had enough evidence to prove abortion providers profited in the transfer of tissue and body parts from aborted fetuses. Grassley contends the providers violated a 1993 law that bars selling fetal tissue at a profit.

Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department would comment.

Planned Parenthood, which insists it never violated the law, said it provided more than 3,000 pages of documents and several witnesses to the committee.

“Planned Parenthood strongly disagrees with the recommendations of the Senate Republican staff to refer this matter to the Justice Department, especially in light of the fact that investigations by three other Congressional committees, and investigations in 13 states including a Grand Jury in Texas, have all shown that Planned Parenthood did nothing wrong,” said Dana Singiser, Vice President of Government Affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“These accusations are baseless, and a part of a widely discredited attempt to end access to reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has never, and would never, profit while facilitating its patients’ choice to donate fetal tissue for use in important medical research,” she added.