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Archive for April 18th, 2018

Ex-FBI Agent Pleads Guilt to Leaking Secrets to Media

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A former FBI agent has pleaded guilty to leaking confidential documents to a news organization, becoming the first federal employee convicted as part of the Justice Department’s crackdown on government leaks.

Terry James Albury, 39, who previously was a special agent in the Minneapolis division, faces up to 20 years in prison on two counts of retaining and disclosing defense information.

“As this prosecution demonstrates, we will not waiver in our commitment to pursue and hold accountable government officials who violate their obligations to protect our nation’s secrets,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in a statement.

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.

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. 

Federal prosecutors said they will continue to aggressively pursue government leakers.

“Terry Albury betrayed the trust bestowed upon him by the United States,” U.S. Attorney Doherty-McCormick said in a statement.  “Today’s guilty plea should serve as a reminder to those who are entrusted with classified information that the Justice Department will hold them accountable.”

McConnell Shut Down Bi-Partisan Bill to Protect Mueller from Trump

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to shoot down any legislation aimed at protecting special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by President Trump.

McDonnell says the bill is a waste of time because he’s confident Trump won’t fire Mueller, whose investigation so far has landed indictments against 22 individuals and entities.

“I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor. That’s my responsibility as the Majority Leader, and we will not be having this on the floor of the U.S. Senate,” the defiant Republican said in an interview Tuesday on Fox News

A small band of Republicans has emerged to support a bill that would give a fired special counsel 10 days to request an expedited judicial review on whether the termination was for “good cause.” In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to have enough votes next week to pass the bill.

But McConnell emphatically said he would not hold a floor vote on the legislation. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Trump’s intentions are irrelevant because the protections are good policy to have on the books.

“I don’t think he’s going to fire Mueller, but I think institutionally it would be nice to have some protections,” Graham said Tuesday.

Trump has stepped up his attacks on the FBI, Justice Department and special counsel probe said the federal raid on his personal lawyer’s various properties, phones and computers. He also has hinted at firing Deputy Attorney General Andrew McCabe, who hired Mueller and oversees the special counsel investigation. 

The legislation would give any special counsel a 10-day window to seek expedited judicial review of a firing, and would put into law existing Justice Department regulations that require a firing to be for “good cause.”

Seething Trump Changes Mind about Mueller Interview After Raid of Personal Attorney

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump is so infuriated by the FBI’s seizure of records from his personal attorney that he has decided he won’t sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller and instead is searching for a larger arsenal of attorneys.

Trump previously ignored the advice of his lawyers and pledged to sit down with Mueller, who is investigating whether the president’s campaign colluded with Russia or Trump obstructed justice. But that all changed on April 9, when FBI agents raided Michael Cohen’s office, home, hotel, computers and phones, the Washington Post reports.

The president’s lawyers are still willing to discuss an interview and are aware that Trump could change his mind – as he frequently does – but his legal team now believes a sit-down with Mueller is less likely.

The raid has concerned Trump that agents got their hands on sensitive correspondence between him and his attorney, and he believes the seizure was done in bad faith, two people familiar with the president’s frustration told the Post.

Meet the Little-Known Trump Official Who Could End the Mueller Probe

Solicitor General Noel Francisco

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The fate of the special counsel investigation that has cast a long shadow of the White House may ultimately fall into the hands of Solicitor General Noel Francisco, a little-known Trump appointee who happens to be no fan of the FBI or its former director, James Comey.

Many legal experts believe Trump lacks the authority to fire Rosenstein on his own, so the next quickest way to end the special counsel probe is to get someone else to do it.

If Trump fires Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and is overseeing the investigation, the next in line to become Mueller’s boss is Francisco, who has a history of fighting to protect what he sees as broad executive privileges.

Like Trump, Francisco has claimed Comey, whom the president fired in May, is motivated by a political biased against Trump. That has raised concerns that Francisco would be more likely to follow orders to fire Mueller, whose 11-month investigation has landed indictments against more than 20 people and entities.

“I don’t think we know enough to be confident,” Eric Columbus, a former senior Obama Justice Department official, told Politico. “I doubt he would fire Mueller but could limit him, which has always been the greater concern.”

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, the removal of the deputy AG would give control of the Mueller investigation to the third-ranking Justice Department official, the associate attorney general, a job that has been vacant since Rachel Brand resigned from the position in February and has yet to be replaced.

Under Justice Department rules, Francisco, 48, is the next in line.

If Trump follows through, the move would be strikingly similar to President Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre in which he fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general for refusing to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. The terminations left the decision up to Solicitor General Robert Bork, who fired Cox. A judge later ruled the termination was illegal.

 

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