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Archive for May 22nd, 2018

Matthew Miller: Rod Rosenstein’s Decision Shows ‘The System is Failing’

Matthew Miller was director of the Justice Department’s public affairs office from 2009 to 2011.

By Matthew Miller
For the Washington Post

Rod Rosenstein

President Trump on Sunday launched his most direct attack on the Justice Department’s independence since he fired FBI Director James B. Comey, taking to Twitter to “hereby demand” that it open a counter-investigation of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump’s demand crossed every institutional norm that has long safeguarded the Justice Department’s independence. The president was calling for an investigation into both political opponents from the former administration and career law enforcement agents, without evidence of wrongdoing, for the obvious purpose of undermining a criminal probe into his own conduct and that of his associates. Trump was clearly testing the limits of the system that constrains presidential interference with the Justice Department. And the response so far — including Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s decision to refer the matter to the department’s inspector general — shows that the system is failing.

There is no legitimate justification for asking the inspector general to investigate a hyped-up claim that the FBI inappropriately infiltrated the Trump campaign. Just as in February there was no legitimate justification for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in response to claims by House Republicans, asking the inspector general to investigate alleged — and debunked — abuses by the department in securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against former Trump aide Carter Page.

To read the full column click here.

Indicted FBI Agent Has Exhausted Personal Savings For Forensic Experts in Oregon Case

Robert “LeVoy” Tinicum

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Indicted FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita has exhausted his personal savings to pay for his own forensic experts and has sought some federal funds to cover additional expenses, his attorney said in court, The Oregonian newspaper reports.

On Monday, Astarita sat in a U.S. District Court hearing in Portland listening to government experts testify how they identified him as the one who fired twice at the truck of Oregon occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum and then tried to cover it up.

Attorneys for Astarita, who is charged with repeatedly lying to state and federal investigators about firing two shots at  Tinicum’s truck in 2016, claim the government has no concrete evidence and instead is relying on questionable “so-called experts.”

One of his defense attorneys, Washington, D.C.-based lawyer Robert Cary, argued that the FBI’s fuzzy aerial video proves nothing and that the government is using a faulty synchronization of videos created by someone who lacks expertise, The Oregonian reports.

The hearing is expected to last multiple days.

 

Late Night Host Seth Meyers Weighs in on Trump’s Spy Allegations, Don Jr.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Some of the late night comics have not been kind to President Donald Trump. That certainly includes Seth Meyers, who weighs in on the president’s claims about an FBI spy in the 2016 campaign, his Twitter rants and Donald Trump Jr.’s activity.

Stefan A. Halper, the FBI Source at the Center of a Controversy

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s no longer a secret: Stefan A. Halper is the FBI source who assisted the Russia investigation, the Washington Post reports.  He’s at the center of a standoff between congressional Republicans and the Justice Department.

The Post describes him as a well-connected veteran of past GOP administrations who convened senior intelligence officials for seminars at the University of Cambridge in England. The Post goes on to write:

In the summer and fall of 2016, Halper, then an emeritus professor at Cambridge, contacted three Trump campaign advisers for brief talks and meetings that largely centered on foreign policy, The Washington Post reported last week.

At some point that year, he began working as a secret informant for the FBI as it investigated Russia’s interference in the campaign, according to multiple people familiar with his activities.