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Archive for March, 2018

AG Sessions Rebuffs GOP: No Need for Second Special Counsel to Probe DOJ, FBI

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a previous congressional committee for failing to disclose his contacts with Russia.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions rebuffed calls from Republican lawmakers to appoint a second special counsel to investigate whether the FBI and Justice Department overextended their authority in surveilling a former Trump campaign aide.

Some House and Senate Republicans urged Sessions to make the appointment, continuing to assail the investigation of Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser during Trump’s campaign, as politically motivated.

In a letter to three congressional committee chairmen, Sessions said there’s no need– at least not yet – to appoint a special counsel because the matter is already the subject of two separate investigations  – one by the Justice Department inspector general, the other by the U.S. attorney in Utah. 

“I take the concerns you raise seriously,” Mr. Sessions wrote, adding, “I expect every person in this Department to adhere to the highest levels of integrity, ethics, and and professionalism.”

Sessions’ decision was criticized by some Republicans.

“Mr. Sessions, what’s it going to take?” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in a phone interview with Politico. “I’m hopeful this is just one last step Jeff Sessions wants to take before he realizes the obvious, which is there needs to be a second special counsel.”

Special Counsel Probes Sessions’ Russian Contacts at Republican National Convention

Republican National Convention.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was a U.S. senator at the time, had secret conversations with a Russian ambassador at the Republican National Convention and Washington’s Mayflower during Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, according to a new report. 

Mueller’s team also is questioning attendees of the July 2016 convention in Cleveland about a last-minute decision to remove language from the Republican Party platform that was hostile to Russia, Reuters reported, citing two sources familiar with the special counsel probe. 

Investigators want to know the extent of conversations between Sessions and then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak. They also are questioning whether Sessions met privately with Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016.

Under oath last year, Sessions originally told lawmakers he had no recollection of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, but later acknowledged he did.

Because of his contacts with Kislyak, Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, which allowed his deputy to appoint Mueller to lead an investigation into collusion and possible obstruction of justice.

Mueller’s team also is inquiring about the removal of language from the GOP’s platform that called for the U.S. to  supply “lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine’s armed forces and greater coordination with NATO on defense planning.”

Diana Denman, a member of the platform committee’s national security subcommittee, told Reuters in 2016 that Trumps team was directly involved in changing the language.

Fired FBI Deputy McCabe Shatters Fundraising Goal for Legal Fund in 1 Day

Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe with his family in a photo posted on the legal defense fund.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Updated 1t 11 p.m. Friday

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, fired two days before he was eligible to retire with full benefits, received more than $475,000 from donors in the first 24 hours of his fundraising campaign  to help cover the legal costs of impending federal government investigations.

The GoFundMe campaign quickly exceeded its original goal of raising $150,000, with more than 11,500 donors as of 7:45 a.m. Friday. McCabe raised the goal to $250,000 because the initial response had been “remarkable and beyond our expectations,” according to the legal defense fund.

McCabe, a longtime target of President Trump, maintained he did nothing wrong after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired him earlier this month. McCabe has repeatedly denied Justice Department allegations that he misled investigators and said he was ousted as part of a Trump to discredit the FBI.

“Andrew McCabe’s FBI career was long, distinguished, and unblemished.  He embraced the most daunting, difficult, and important challenges that the FBI and the country could assign to him over the past 21 years,” the fundraising campaign stated. “He served the United States with courage and distinction in the days following the President’s summary dismissal of former Director James Comey, in one of the most tumultuous periods in the Bureau’s history.

His reward for that has been a termination that was completely unjustified, amidst repeated ad hominem attacks by the President of the United States.”

Feds Reveal Alleged Direct Link Between Trump Campaign & Russia

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation now has what appears to be a direct link between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.

Former campaign aide Rick Gates, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mueller’s team, was “directly communicating” in the final months of the presidential election in 2016 with a person who the FBI believes has ties to Russian intelligence, the USA Today reports.

The contacts were revealed in court documents in the upcoming sentencing of Alex van der Zwaan, a London attorney who had pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Gates and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is expected to face trial this fall on numerous fraud, conspiracy and tax charges.

Prosectors allege van der Zwaan knew about the contacts with “Person A,” who appears to be a former Ukraine-based aide who had worked with Gates and Manafort and has close ties to Russian intelligence.

“Gates told him ‘Person A’ was a former Russian intelligence officer with the GRU (the intelligence arm of the Russian military),” the court documents state.

The White House did not respond to direct questions about the latest revelations but offered a blanket denial of wrongdoing.

“There was no collusion and we’re confident in that,” White House spokeswoman Sanders said.

DOJ Charges Minnesota FBI Agent with Leaking Records to Media

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A former Minnesota FBI agent has been charged with leaking confidential documents to a news organization, becoming the first target of the Justice Department’s crackdown on federal government leaks.

Terry James Albury has said he was exposing “systemic biases” within the bureau when he allegedly gave a national reporter documents relating to assessing confidential informants and “threats posed by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country,” according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The Justice Department filed two counts that allege Albury unlawfully disclosed and retained defense information. 

An outline of the charges doesn’t mention the reporter or the news organization, but the timing of the alleged leaks coincide with an Intercept story published on Jan. 31, 2017, that accuses the FBI of aggressively investigating people deemed to have valuable sources. 

In a statement to the Washington Post, Albury’s attorneys said: “Terry Albury served the U.S. with distinction both here at home and abroad in Iraq. He accepts full responsibility for the conduct set forth in the Information. We would like to add that as the only African-American FBI field agent in Minnesota, Mr. Albury’s actions were driven by a conscientious commitment to long-term national security and addressing the well-documented systemic biases within the FBI.”

Trump Lawyer Reportedly Offered Pardons to Two Top Trump Campaign Aides

Trump’s former lead attorney John Dowd.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

One of Donald Trump’s lawyers floated the idea of pardoning two of the president’s former advisers who have been charged in the special counsel investigation of Russia and Trump’s campaign, The New York Times first reported Wednesday

According to three people with knowledge of the discussions, the lawyer, John Dowd, who resigned last week, broached the possibility of pardons while the special counsel was building cases against the top campaign aides, Michael T. Flynn and Paul Manafort.

The timing of the pardon discussions with the men’s attorneys raise questions about whether the White House was trying to influence Flynn and Manafort to plead not guilty. It’s unclear whether the president was aware of the discussions.

Down denied having the pardon discussions with the advisers’ lawyers.

“There were no discussions. Period,” Dowd said. “As far as I know, no discussions.”

Trump attorney Ty Cobb also denied the report.

“I have only been asked about pardons by the press and have routinely responded on the record that no pardons are under discussion or under consideration at the White House,” he said.

Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and has agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty and could face trial as early as this fall.

FBI Agent Who Died After Exposure to 9/11 Toxins Laid to Rest in Moving Ceremony

Former FBI Agent Mellisa Morrow, via GoFundMe.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent who died of brain cancer after she was exposed to contaminants while working at the Pentagon crash site in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was laid to rest in a moving ceremony this week.

Special Agent Melissa Morrow, 48, who served in the Washington Field Office’s Evidence Response Team on 9/11, was one of the first responders after a passenger jet crashed into the building. Doctors confirmed she was exposed to dangerous toxins while spending 10 weeks collecting evidence at the site.

“She fought this terrible illness with every fiber of her being,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said during the memorial service in Kansas City Tuesday. “Melissa said that when she finally came to terms with the horrible reality of it all, she had a decision to make, and that decision was to fight it with every ounce of courage and strength she could muster.”

Morrow worked in the FBI’s Washington Field Office before joining the bureau’s Kansas City field office.

“She was filled with pride to be keeping her hometown crowd safe from harm,” Wray said. “It meant the world to her, and that kind of work ethic –- that kind of investment in the work you’re doing –- exemplified the bureau at its best, and is all too rare in today’s world.”

Because she was certified by the World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, her death was classified as a Line of Duty Death.

Other Stories of Interest

Stephen Colbert on Trump’s Attorney Problem: Hire Robert Mueller

Stephen Colbert, host of “The Late Show.”

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

“The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert, pointing out Donald Trump’s trouble finding a lawyer, offered an unconventional solution to the president: Hire special counsel Robert Mueller.

Colbert referred to news that former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal speculated that Trump dumped his latest two lawyers – husband-and-wife legal team Joseph E. diGenova and Victoria Toensing – because Mueller “may have told Trump he had concerns” that Trump was doing “something profoundly dangerous.”

Colbert said, “If this is true, then clearly the best lawyer that Trump has against Robert Mueller is Robert Mueller. I think, just for everyone’s sake, Mueller should argue both sides.

The clip is below.

Other Stories of Interest

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