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Archive for May, 2019

Weekend Series on Crime: The Real Sopranos

AG Barr: Mueller ‘Could’ve Reached a Decision’ on Whether Trump Obstructed Justice

AG William Barr speaks with CBS News.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Even though Robert Mueller said a Justice Department policy prevents charging a sitting president, Attorney General William Barr said the former special counsel could have declared whether President Trump broke the law.

In a CBS interview aired Thursday evening, Barr said nothing stopped Mueller from deciding whether Trump obstructed justice.

“I personally felt he could’ve reached a decision,” Barr said. “He could’ve reached a conclusion.”

Barr made the comments a day after Mueller spoke publicly for the first time since the two-year special counsel investigation began in 2017. Democrats in Congress believed Mueller had suggested during the press conference that Congress should investigate the special counsel’s findings.

Barr said he wasn’t so sure that’s what Mueller was saying.

“I’m not sure what he was suggesting, but the Justice Department doesn’t use our powers to investigate crimes as an adjunct to Congress,” Barr said.
Mueller said he didn’t reach a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice because “a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office.”

N.H. Man Sentenced to 16+ Years for Assaulting, Robbing ATF Informant

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A New Hampshire man was sentenced to 16-and-a-half years in prison for his role in the 2017 beating and robbing of an ATF informant who was trying to purchase guns.

Anthony R. Farmer, 26, of Manchester, and two co-defendants robbed and assaulted the unnamed informant who was helping the ATF and met the suspects at a Nashua home on the pretext of illegally buying firearms.

At the home, the suspects assaulted the informant and robbed him of the money that was intended to make the gun purchase.

Anthony Farmer

What the suspects didn’t know was that the informant was wearing audio and video surveillance equipment that captured the robbery and assault. The suspects were arrested soon after the assault.

In August 2018, Farmer pleaded guilt to conspiracy, robbery, assault, use of a firearm during a crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Co-defendant Raymond Perez was sentenced to 51 months, and another co-defendant, Aaron Sperow, was sentenced to 102 months in prison.

“Violent crime involving firearms is a grave threat to the safety of the public,” U.S. Attorney Murray said in a news release.  “This substantial sentence shows that there will be serious consequences for those who choose to participate in crimes of violence. Through Project Safe Neighborhoods, we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect our cities and towns from gun violence.”

“Today’s sentencing demonstrates law enforcement’s commitment to protect our communities from violent crime,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Kelly D. Brady, ATF Boston Field Division. “ATF will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners to eradicate violent gun related crime and keep our neighborhoods safe.”

FBI Names Scott Brunner As Special Agent in Charge of San Diego Field Office

Scott Brunner, special agent in charge of the bureau’s San Diego Field Office.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Scott Brunner, a 16-year FBI veteran, has been appointed as special agent in charge of the bureau’s San Diego Field Office.

The FBI announced the appointment Wednesday.

Most recently, Brunner served as deputy assistant director of the Critical Incident Response Group, where he managed FBI surveillance, behavioral analysis, unmanned systems, and aviation.

With a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University, Brunner is working on his master’s degree in unmanned systems from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Brunner joined the FBI in 1995, when he was assigned to the bureau’s Portland Field Office in Oregon. After investigating violent and organized crime, he was transferred to the Oklahoma City Field Office, where is primary focus was public corruption.

In 2003, Brunner managed the joint FBI/Hungarian Organized Task Force at the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. After two years, he went to the San Diego Field Office and supervised a strike force that focused on Mexican drug traffickers.

In 2009, Brunner led the FBI Safe Streets and Gang Unit at the bureau’s headquarters. He received a promotion two years later, becoming assistant agent in charge of criminal and administrative programs at the FBI Field Office in Kentucky. He later headed Louisville’s national security and intelligence programs.

Between 2014 and 2016, Brunner served as the legal attaché in Bogota, Colombia and then was named as the chief of the surveillance and aviation section of CIRG.

Lawsuit: Women Sexually Harassed During FBI Training in Quantico

Training academy in Quantico, Va., via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As the FBI tries to increase its ranks of female agents, 16 women have sued the bureau, claiming they were sexually harassed at the FBI’s training academy in Quantico, Va.

The lawsuit alleges the academy is a “good-old-boy network” that exposes women to a hostile work environment, inappropriate jokes and sexual advances beginning in 2015, The New York Times reports.

The suit also claims some of the women were discriminated against based on their race or disabilities. One African American trainee alleges an instructor called her “spaghetti head” because of her braids.

The lawsuit zeroed in on the mock town known as Hogan’s Alley, where trainees learn about tactical training with fake criminals and terrorists. This phase of training resulted in many women being kicked out of the academy.

“The real purpose of the suit is to change the culture of the F.B.I.,” said David J. Shaffer, the lawyer for the women.

Seven of the 16 women still work for the FBI.

The women are asking for more female training instructors, an examination of the training evaluation process and $300,000 each for emotional stress.

The FBI wouldn’t publicly comment on the lawsuit but told the New York Times in a statement that the bureau was “committed to fostering a work environment where all of our employees are valued and respected.”

Mueller Breaks Silence After 2-year Special Counsel Investigation

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller made his first public statement on the Russia investigation Wednesday, saying the inquiry is officially closed and he’s retiring from the Justice Department.

“I have not spoken publicly during our investigation,” Mueller, a Republican, said. “I’m speaking out today because our investigation is complete.”

Mueller, who was appointed in May 2017 to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, reiterated his main findings, including insufficient evidence to prove Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

Mueller also said he did not make a decision on whether Trump obstructed the investigation, citing a Justice Department law that prohibits the indictment of a sitting president. He said “charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”

During the two-year investigation, numerous people were indicted and convicted of crimes.

Mueller said he had no plans on elaborating on the report he issued.

“I hope and expect that this will be the only time I will speak to you about this matter,” Mueller told reporters.

Democrats have wanted Mueller to testify about his findings.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said it’s time for Congress to “respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump – and we will do so.”

“No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law,” Nadler tweeted.

Supreme Court to Tackle Thorny Case of U.S.-Mexico Border Shooting

Border marker, via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When Mexican teenagers are shot at the American border, can American families sue in U.S. courts?

The U.S. Supreme Court will try to answer that question, it announced Thursday in deciding to take a case involving a Border Patrol agent who was in Texas when he shot across the border and killed a 15-year-old boy in Mexico, The Associated Press reports.

The family of Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca said the teenager was playing a game with friends when he was shot in the head by Agent Jesus Mesa Jr.

Mesa said he pulled the trigger because he was under attack by rock throwers.
The Supreme Court took the case in February 2017 but sent it back to a lower court for more proceedings.

At the time, the Trump administration argued the right to sue in U.S. courts “should not be extended to aliens injured abroad.”

Comey Blasts Trump for ‘Dumb Lies’ about FBI, Defends Bureau’s Handling of Case

Former FBI Director James Comey.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey slammed President Trump as “a liar” for “ranting about treason and corruption at the FBI” and defended the bureau’s decision to investigate the Trump campaign.

In an op-ed published by the Washington Post, Comey denounced Trump’s claims as empty rhetoric and “dumb lies.”

“There was no corruption. There was no treason. There was no attempted coup,” Comey wrote. “Those are lies, and dumb lies at that.”

Comey said the “stubborn facts” are that seven weeks before the FBI discovered Russia was interfering in the presidential election in mid-June 2016, one of Trump’s key advisers told “an allied ambassador” that Russians had “dirt” on Clinton “in the form of thousands of emails.” In addition, the bureau learned “that the Russians could assist the Trump campaign through the animus release of information damaging to Clinton.”

“When we finally learned of it in late July, what should the FBI have done? Let it go? Go tell the Trump campaign? Tell the press? No. Investigate, to see what the facts were,” Comey wrote. “We didn’t know what was true. Maybe there was nothing to it, or maybe Americans were actively conspiring with the Russians. To find out, the FBI would live up to its name and investigate.”

And so the FBI did to investigate, “carefully, professionally and discreetly,” Comey wrote.

“If there was nothing to it, we didn’t want to smear Americans. If there was something to it, we didn’t want to let corrupt Americans know we were onto them. So, we kept it secret. That’s how the FBI approaches all counterintelligence cases.”

Comey said the FBI investigated “to see whether it was true that Americans associated with the campaign had taken the Russians up on any offer of help.”

“We didn’t gather information about the campaign’s strategy,” Comey wrote. “We didn’t ‘spy’ on anyone’s campaign.”

Comey denounced Trump’s campaign of illegal spying as a “conspiracy theory that makes no sense.”

But Comey didn’t make a case for not investigating the FBI’s role in the campaign because he said he’s confident “the work was done appropriately and focused only on discovering the truth of very serious allegations.”