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Archive for February 1st, 2018

FBI Agents Association Issues Statement in Support of Director Christopher Wray

Christopher Wray (File photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI Agents Association issued a statement Thursday showing support for FBI Director Christopher Wray who has expressed concerns about Congress releasing a classified memo written by Republican staffers for Rep. Devin Nunes.

“The FBI Agents Association appreciates FBI Director Chris Wray standing shoulder to shoulder with the men and women of the FBI as we work together to protect our country from criminal and national security threats,” said the associations president, FBI agent Thomas O’Connor. “As Director Wray noted, FBI Special Agents have remained steadfast in their dedication to professionalism, and we remain focused on our important work to protect the country from terrorists and criminals—both domestic and international. Special Agents take a solemn oath to our country and to the Constitution, and the American public continues to be well-served by the world’s preeminent law enforcement agency.”

Senior White House officials and advisers say that President Trump wants the document published because he sees it as key to making changes at the Justice Department, particularly pushing out Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, the Washington Post reports.

 

Former Trump Spokesman to Testify about Suspected Obstruction of Justice in Trump Administration

Donald Trump Jr. and his dad, President Trump, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The special counsel investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia is zeroing in on a meeting at Trump Tower between top campaign aides, including family members, and Russian officials who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, has agreed to an interview with the special counsel team and plans to reveal a previously undisclosed conference call with Trump and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, three people familiar with the situation told the New York Times. The call left Corallo with the impression that Hicks was planning to obstruct justice.

During the call, Hicks insisted that potentially incriminating emails written by Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., “will never get out,” according to sources close to Corallo.

The emails are significant because they show the president’s son and his top campaign officials communicated with a Russian lawyer who wanted to help Trump win the election by providing dirt on Clinton.

When the New York Times broke a story in July 2017 about the previously undisclosed meeting at Trump Tower, the Trump administration released a statement suggesting the gathering was about an obscure Russian adoption policy.

Robert Mueller’s special counsel team is now focusing on the statement, how it was drafted and whether the president was involved in writing it. In recent months, Mueller’s team has questioned numerous White House officials about the statement and recently notified Trump’s attorneys that prosecutors want to address the issue during a face-to-face interview that his lawyers have begun to resist.

Turns out, the president helped write the misleading response, which was attributed to Trump Jr. – to the Times while aboard the Air Force One with Hicks, according to sources familiar with the discussion.

“It was a short introductory meeting,” the response read. “I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow up.”

Corallo insisted the response would backfire because investigators would obtain emails that show the real reason behind the meeting with Russians – to obtain dirt on Clinton. That’s when he said Hicks responded that the emails “will never get out.”

Corallo, who declined to comment for the Times story, did not dispute the contents of the article.

So far the Mueller investigation has produced indictments against four former Trump campaign associates. The probe also is focusing on whether the president obstructed justice by interfering with the investigation, including when he fired then-FBI Director James Comey, who testified at a congressional hearing that Trump demanded loyalist and pressured the bureau boss to end the Russia investigation.

The firing prompted Trump’s Justice Department to appoint Mueller in May to investigate ties between the campaign and Russia.

Democrats Claim Republicans Secretly Doctored Trump-Russia Memo

Rep. Adam Schiff.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee has accused Republicans of sharing with the White House a “secretly altered” version of a controversial, much-disputed memo alleging the Justice Department and FBI improperly surveilled a former Trump campaign aide during the 2016 election campaign.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the memo, written by Republicans, was altered after the committee voted along party lines to release the document despite warnings from the Justice Department and FBI to keep in the information classified. 

Schiff said the committee members were “never apprised of, never had the opportunity to review, and never approved” revisions made by Republicans before handing off the memo to the president, who is expected to approve the corrosive document’s release.

Schiff is demanding that the memo be withdrawn until a new vote can be held on the revised document, which some Republicans want to use to suggest an anti-Trump bias in the special counsel investigation of the president and Russia.

A spokesman the committee’s chairman, Republican Devin Nunes, claims Schiff is exaggerating the altercations, saying only minor change, including grammatical fixes, were made to the document.

Schiff countered that the changes were “material and substantive” and not approved by the committee, which Democrats say is a violation of congressional practices.

Schiff made the claims in a letter to Nunes.

The White House is expected to approve the memo’s release Friday morning, but claims that the document was doctored may delay the public disclosure.

FBI Agent Accused of Trump Bias Played Role in Reopening Clinton Email Probe

Former FBI Director James Comey issued the controversial Clinton letter to Congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI agent who has come under fire by Republicans for harboring an alleged anti-Trump bias played a key role in supporting the bureau’s decision to notify Congress just days before the 2016 election about a renewed investigation into newly discovered Clinton emails, according to emails obtained by CNN

Many political observers believe the controversial decision to notify Congress upended Clinton’s chances of beating Trump in the election.

FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who became the target of Republican ridicule, helped draft the letter notifying Congress of the new emails.

Republicans point to text messages exchanged between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page as evidence of a bias in favor of Clinton. Some of the messages were critical of Trump.

But revelations that Strzok helped draft the letter, which was released to Congress by then-FBI Director James Comey, paints a more nuanced picture of an agent whom Republicans, including Trump, has broadly portrayed as a Clinton supporter with a vendetta against the president. Turns out, Strzok also supported reopening the Clinton investigation following the discovery of emails on former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop. The investigation turned up no evidence of wrongdoing, but the damage had already been done.

I Stand By My Critique of the Discovery Channel Series on the Unabomber

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office. He wrote two critiques (1 and 2)  of the Discovery Channel series, “Manhunt Unabomber,” in which he criticized the way FBI agent Jim Fitzgerald was portrayed as having a much bigger role in the Unabomber case than he actually did.  Fitzgerald, who is now retired responded that he had a bigger role than Stejskal acknowledged and that the show also took artistic license to make him look as if he did more than he actually did. This is Stejskal’s response to Fitzgerald’s column. 

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

I wasn’t going to respond to Jim Fitzgerald’s recent rebuttal to my two critiques of the Discovery Channel series, “Manhunt-Unabomber,” but Mr. Fitzgerald personally called me out and seemingly questioned my voracity.

Theodore Kaczynski (FBI photo)

“In closing, one doesn’t have to be a criminal profiler or forensic linguist to realize that Stejskal’s continued silence regarding his alleged sources speaks volumes regarding what he wrote about me. Quite frankly, it speaks volumes about him, too.”

First, I stand by everything I wrote in those two critiques. As for my sources, they were all longtime members of the Unabomber Task Force. Several of them were in leadership roles. (Since writing the critiques, I have heard from other members of the UTF thanking me for writing them – none have challenged the accuracy of what I wrote.)

Fitzgerald has questioned what, if any, was my role in the Unabomber investigation. I was the case agent on the James McConnell bombing. University of Michigan Professor McConnell was the tenth victim of the Unabomber/Kaczynski in 1985. My involvement in the investigation continued through the identification, arrest and prosecution of Kaczynski. I have never claimed to be any thing more than a member of the investigative team.

In Fitzgerald’s rebuttal, he suggests that I don’t understand the concepts of dramatic license or the use of a composite character. I addressed the use of dramatic license in my first critique.

James Fitzgerald

I do understand the need to sometimes use a composite character to simplify the plot and/or make a more compelling story. But I am admittingly confused why the composite character in the Unabomber series bears the name of Jim Fitzgerald which in effect gives the Fitzgerald character credit for the work of other agents. In the series no other agents’ true names were used. Several of those agents had far more involvement in key aspects of the investigation than did Fitzgerald. (Fitzgerald was a paid consultant for the series and involved in promoting the series when it first aired in the summer of 2017.)

I will again quote one of my personal heroes, Bo Schembechler, legendary Michigan Football Coach:

“No man is greater than the team, no coach is greater than the team; the team, the team, the team.”

Stejskal: ‘I Stand By Everything I Wrote’ About Retired Agent and Discovery Channel Series on Unabomber

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office. He wrote two critiques (1 and 2)  of the Discovery Channel series, “Manhunt Unabomber,” in which he criticized the way FBI agent Jim Fitzgerald was portrayed as having a much bigger role in the Unabomber case than he actually did.  Fitzgerald, who is now retired responded that he had a bigger role than Stejskal acknowledged and that the show also took artistic license to make him look as if he did more than he actually did. This is Stejskal’s response to Fitzgerald’s column. 

Greg Stejskal

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

I wasn’t going to respond to Jim Fitzgerald’s recent rebuttal to my two critiques of the Discovery Channel series, “Manhunt-Unabomber,” but Mr. Fitzgerald personally called me out and seemingly questioned my voracity.

“In closing, one doesn’t have to be a criminal profiler or forensic linguist to realize that Stejskal’s continued silence regarding his alleged sources speaks volumes regarding what he wrote about me. Quite frankly, it speaks volumes about him, too.”

First, I stand by everything I wrote in those two critiques. As for my sources, they were all longtime members of the Unabomber Task Force. Several of them were in leadership roles. (Since writing the critiques, I have heard from other members of the UTF thanking me for writing them – none have challenged the accuracy of what I wrote.)

Fitzgerald has questioned what, if any, was my role in the Unabomber investigation. I was the case agent on the James McConnell bombing. University of Michigan Professor McConnell was the tenth victim of the Unabomber/Kaczynski in 1985. My involvement in the investigation continued through the identification, arrest and prosecution of Kaczynski. I have never claimed to be any thing more than a member of the investigative team.

In Fitzgerald’s rebuttal, he suggests that I don’t understand the concepts of dramatic license or the use of a composite character. I addressed the use of dramatic license in my first critique.

James Fitzgerald

I do understand the need to sometimes use a composite character to simplify the plot and/or make a more compelling story. But I am admittingly confused why the composite character in the Unabomber series bears the name of Jim Fitzgerald which in effect gives the Fitzgerald character credit for the work of other agents. In the series no other agents’ true names were used. Several of those agents had far more involvement in key aspects of the investigation than did Fitzgerald. (Fitzgerald was a paid consultant for the series and involved in promoting the series when it first aired in the summer of 2017.)

I will again quote one of my personal heroes, Bo Schembechler, legendary Michigan Football Coach:

“No man is greater than the team, no coach is greater than the team; the team, the team, the team.”

Police: FBI Agent Fatally Shot Kidnapping Victim When He Grabbed Gun During Botched Raid

Jimmy Tony Sanchez was one of three people arrested in the kidnapping case.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent who fatally shot a hostage he was trying to rescue from a Houston home last week made a “split-second decision” to fire his rifle because he believed the victim was trying to grab his kidnapper’s gun in a dark room, police said Tuesday.

The agent, who has not been identified, was part of an FBI SWAT team that swarmed the modest, one-story home hours before dawn Thursday in an attempt to rescue 47-year-old Ulises Valladares, who had been kidnapped at gunpoint the day before and was being held for ransom, NBC News reports

The agent use an M-4 assault rifle to breaking through a back window after another agent dropped a breaching tool to enter the home.

Unaware the kidnapping victim was bound and still being held in the room, the agent fired his rifle twice after he felt someone trying to grab his weapon. That person ended up being Valladares, who lated died at a hospital.

“This is a tragedy you can’t take back,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference. “It’s heartbreaking for everyone involved.”

The agent has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a use-of-force investigation.

Three people were arrested in the case: Sophia Perez Heath, 35; Heath’s boyfriend, Nicholas Chase Cunningham, 42; and a second man, Jimmy Tony Sanchez, 38.