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Archive for January, 2018

Former FBI Director Comey Sends Message of Support to McCabe And Other FBI Officials

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey, whose firing by President Trump has triggered an obstruction of justice investigation, sent a heartfelt message of support to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe following his earlier-than-expected resignation on Monday

“Special Agent Andrew McCabe stood tall over the last 8 months, when small people were trying to tear down an institution we all depend on,” Comey said in a tweet. “He served with distinction for two decades. I wish Andy well.”

Comey added: “I also wish continued strength for the rest of the FBI. America needs you.”

McCabe’s abrupt resignation follows recent conversations with FBI Director Christopher Wray, who warned about a forthcoming inspector general report on the bureau’s handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation.

Trump and other Republicans have accused McCabe of political bias in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email use as secretary of state. Trump even claimed McCabe played an influential role in the bureau’s decision not to seek charges against Clinton.

The accusations began when his wife, Jill McCabe, was a Democratic candidate for state Senate in Virginia and received nearly $500,000 in donations from the political organization of Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend of the Clintons. 

The FBI determined there was no conflict because McCabe did not oversee the investigation while his wife was still running.

Still, McCabe has been the primary target of a campaign by Trump and other Republicans to undermine confidence in the top ranks of the FBI amid the Russia investigation.

It was revealed last week that Trump urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to pressure the new FBI director, Chris Wray, to fire McCabe. Wray refused and threatened to resign if he was asked to do it again. 

The New York Times reports that Wray suggested McCabe take a demotion. Instead, he stepped down and will take a leave of absence until the is eligible for retirement in a few weeks. 

New Plans Call for Building New FBI Headquarters at Current Site

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C., named after J. Edgar Hoover.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Long-stalled plans to build a new FBI headquarters outside of District limits has taken a stunning, expected turn: The General Services Administration appears to prefer building the bureau’s new home at the current site, the Washington Business Journal reports. 

The GSA faces a deadline today to submit a detailed plan to the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works on efforts build a new headquarters.

But the GSA’s apparent endorsement of building on the current site is not the final word because additional appropriations would require congressional approval.

The current headquarters, built in 1974, is dilapidated and no longer useful to the FBI.

A new headquarters is expected to house the 11,000 FBI staff members who are spread across multiple locations in the region.

Border Patrol Agents Find 76 Immigrants Packed into Tractor-Trailer in Texas

Dozens of immigrants were found inside this tractor-trailer in Texas. Photo via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol agents made a disturbing discovery inside a tractor-trailer northwest of Laredo, Texas: 76 immigrants, including 13 unaccompanied children, were packed into the bed of truck.

The immigrants, hailing from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, were found in “good health” at a checkpoint on U.S. 83 on Friday, Border Patrol announced Monday

The discovery is just the latest in what agents said is an increase in the use of tractor-trailers to smuggle immigrants into the U.S.

“These criminal organizations view these individuals as mere commodities without regard for their safety,” Laredo Sector Assistant Chief Patrol Agent Gabriel Acosta said in a news release. “The blatant disregard for human life will not be tolerated. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle these organizations and prosecute those responsible.”

House Republicans Vote to Release Secret, Disputed Memo on Russia Probe

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Republican campaign to undermine confidence in the FBI and Justice Department, which are overseeing the Trump-Russia investigation, launched its latest offensive Monday over the objections of intelligence officials who warned the move was “extraordinarily reckless.”

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to publicly release a secret, much-disputed memo written by their staff that alleges the Justice Department and FBI abused their authority by extending surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser and suspected Russian agent Carter Page.

The memo would advance the Republican and President Trump narrative that the FBI and Justice Department are tainted by political biases. Now Trump, who has indicated he wants the memo released, has five days to review the document and decide whether to release it.

Trump’s Justice Department opposes the memo’s release without an official review because it draws on classified information.

In a letter to the committee last week, Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd warned it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release the memo and said he was “unaware of any wrongdoing” in extending the surveillance of Page.

The memo claims Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, a Trump appointee, abused his authority by approving the surveillance extension because it’s based, in part, on research by former British spy Christopher Steele, who had been financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

After the closed-door vote, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Republicans had voted “to politicize the intelligence process,” The New York Times reports

“Sadly, we expect that the president of the United States will not put the national interest over his own personal interest,” said Mr. Schiff. “But it is a sad day indeed when that is also true of our own committee.”

FBI Names Michael McGarrity Assistant DIrector of Counterterrorism Division at Headquarters

Michael McGarrity

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Michael McGarrity, who most recently served as special agent in charge of the Criminal Division in the New York FBI division, has been named assistant director of the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters in Washington.

McGarrity joined the FBI in 1996 and began his career in the New York Field Office, where he investigated violent gangs, Colombian drug trafficking organizations and international money laundering networks, according to a press release. After the  Sept. 11, 2001 terrorism attacks,  McGarrity transferred to the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, where he investigated international terrorism matters.

Throughout his career, he has held leadership positions including:

  • FBI detailee assigned to the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center
  • FBI’s deputy on-scene commander in Afghanistan
  • Supervisor of the FBI’s extraterritorial investigation squad in the Washington Field Office
  • Director for Counterterrorism on the White House National Security Staff
  • FBI’s legal attaché in Switzerland
  • First director of the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, where he led national efforts to secure the safe recovery of U.S. nationals held hostage abroad.

Before joining the FBI, he was a prosecutor in New York and an economist for the U.S. Department of Energy.

He obtained his law degree magna cum laude and undergraduate degree in economics from The Catholic University of America. He also attended Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Senior Executives in National Security program.

Deputy FBI Director McCabe, Target of Relentless GOP Attacks, Steps Down

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testifies before Congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who has come under relentless fire from Republicans and President Trump, has stepped down a month earlier than expected.

McCabe joined the FBI in 1996 and quickly climbed the ranks, becoming the second-in-command in 2016. He briefly served as acting director last summer after Trump fired James Comey from the top job in May.

Trump and other Republicans accused him of political bias in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email use as secretary of state. Trump even claimed McCabe played an influential role in the bureau’s decision not to seek charges against Clinton.

The accusations began when his wife, Jill McCabe, was a Democratic candidate for state Senate in Virginia and received nearly $500,000 in donations from the political organization of Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend of the Clintons. 

The FBI determined there was no conflict because McCabe did not oversee the investigation while his wife was still running.

Still, McCabe has been the primary target of a campaign by Trump and other Republicans to undermine confidence in the top ranks of the FBI amid the Russia investigation.

It was revealed last week that Trump urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to pressure the new FBI director, Chris Wray, to fire McCabe. Wray refused and threatened to resign if he was asked to do it again. 

McCabe plans to go on leave until he becomes eligible for retirement in mid-March.

Trump Pressed Aides to Smear FBI Officials Who May Testify against Him

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump urged aides in June to launch a smear campaign against senior FBI officials after learning that members of his staff likely would be called as witnesses as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible obstruction of justice by the president.

Trump’s appeal to his aides came after former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last June that he was fired by the president after declining Trump’s request to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Foreign Policy reports

If true, it could strengthen Mueller’s case that Trump obstructed justice.

According to Foreign Policy, Trump targeted three potential FBI witnesses who could confirm the president tried to influence Mueller’s investigation. The FBI officials are Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Comey’s chief of staff Jim Rybicki and former FBI general counsel James Baker.

The president and his allies have spent months attacking the three FBI officials and claiming the bureau is tainted by an anti-Trump bias.

GOP Sen. Graham: Firing Mueller Would End Trump’s Presidency

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Republicans lawmakers were divided Sunday over passing legislation that would protect the special counsel investigating the Russia scandal, but Sen. Lindsey Graham warned that Donald Trump’s presidency would be over if he fired Robert Mueller.

“It’s pretty clear to me that everybody in the White House knows it would be the end of President Trump’s presidency if he fired Mr. Mueller,” Graham said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Graham, who authored a long-stalled bill to prevent the president from firing Mueller, was among at least two prominent Republicans who showed support Sunday for legislation to protect Mueller, who was appointed in May to investigate whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election. 

Democrats and some Republicans renewed calls for the legislation after the New York Times and several news outlets reported last week that Trump had tried to fire Mueller until the White House counsel threatened to resign if the president if the president moved forward.

Many Republicans are not supportive of the measure, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who said Sunday that a bill is unnecessary.

 “I don’t think there’s a need for legislation right now to protect Mueller,” McCarthy said Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet The Press.” 

“Right now there is not an issue,” McCarthy added. “So why create one when there isn’t a place for it?”

Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, who didn’t see a need for legislation in December, has changed her mind.

“It would certainly not hurt to put that extra safeguard in place, given the latest stories,” Collins said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”