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Archive for October, 2019

Republican Senators to Trump: Don’t Appoint Immigration Hardliner to Lead Homeland Security

Ken Cuccinelli

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Republican senators are warning President Trump not to exploit a potential loophole in a federal law to appoint an immigration hardliner to lead Homeland Security.

As Tickle the Wire reported Wednesday, the White House is looking for ways to bypass the Federal Vacancies Act that limits who can take over cabinet-level positions. Trump and immigration hardliners appear to favor Ken Cuccinelli to become the fifth Homeland Security director in less than three years.

As acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Cuccinelli would not be eligible unless the administration found a loophole that involves appointing him to assistant secretary of Homeland Security. Doing so would risk a protracted legal battle at a time when Homeland Security needs a permanent leader.

“The White House would be well advised to consult with the Senate and senators before they take any decisive action that might be embarrassing to Mr. Cuccinelli or to the White House itself,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), according to Politico.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also said he does not like the idea.

Cuccinelli, one of the president’s top lieutenants as an immigration hardliner, has not won over Republicans because he once led the Senate Conservatives Fund, a group that was critical of the GOP establishment.

On Wednesday, Cuccinelli told lawmakers he ended a program that temporarily protected immigrants from deportation if they’re battling life-threatening illnesses in the U.S.

Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan is scheduled to resign today.

FBI Launches Probe of Death Threats Targeting CIA Whistleblower

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating death threats leveled against the CIA whistleblower whose complaint prompted the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry.

Since the whistleblower’s identify is still anonymous, the threats were sent to the legal team representing the CIA official, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told the New York Daily News.

Several of the death threats mentioned executing and shooting the CIA informant.

One email sent to the legal team says, “The whistleblower should be shot.”

Another person wrote, “In Putin’s country, they would execute this person.”

According to the source, the FBI is taking the threats “incredibly seriously.”

President Trump has turned up the hateful rhetoric directed at the whistleblower, calling him a “partisan operative,” “spy,” and “never Trumper.”

“Sounding more and more like the so-called Whistleblower isn’t a Whistleblower at all,” Trump tweeted last month.

White House Explores Loophole to Appoint Immigration Hardliner to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security

Ken Cuccinelli

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Immigration hardliners have been gunning for Ken Cuccinelli as acting secretary of Homeland Security, but a federal law appeared to make the appointment impossible.

The White House may have found a way to bypass the federal Vacancies Act, which limits who can take over cabinet-level positions.

Under the law, the acting official is required to be the next in the line of succession, have served 90 days under the previous secretary or receive Senate approval.

As acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Cuccinelli would not be eligible.

One possible loophole is for Trump to appoint Cuccinelli to the vacant position of assistant secretary of the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office and then tap him to be the acting secretary of Homeland Security, The New York Times reports.

Trump’s fourth acting Homeland Security secretary in less than three years is Kevin K. McAleenan, who is retiring at the end of the month.

Trump has demanded loyalty from that position, and he’s desired a secretary whose man focus is on immigration, not terrorism.

Comey: How a Trump Presidency Shows the Constitutional System is Working

FBI Director James Comey, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey sees a silver lining in a Trump presidency.

“I think our country is being stress-tested now. And I actually believe our current president has illuminated things for us that we were taking for granted,” Comey told University of Chicago law students Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune first reported.

“I think he is accomplishing, without intending to, a shrinking of the presidency, which I think is … closer to the design of the founders, and the energizing of the Congress and the courts that hasn’t happened in a couple of decades,” Comey said.

The former FBI director said over the weekend that he supports the impeachment inquiry, saying, “If the news accounts are accurate, the president engaged in a shocking abuse of power.”

While Comey didn’t mention the impeachment at the University of Chicago, he said truth is the “touchstone” of American values.

“I see good things happening as a result of what he’s doing,” Comes said. “I see people say we have a constitutional crisis. No. I don’t think so. I see the design working. It’s a nerve-wracking stress, but I see it working.”

Secret Service Agent Participates in 100K Race While Battling Cancer

Javelina Hundred Endurance Run, via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Just a month after Secret Service Agent Rodney Wellman began radiation for tumors that spread to his brain, the 49-year-old father took part in a grueling 100K race in the Arizona desert.

His goal was to challenge himself and to raise awareness about lung cancer.

Last October, Wellman became seriously ill. Believing he had a bad chest cold, he went to see a doctor and learned he had stage 4 lung cancer that had spread to his brain and lymph nodes.

The diagnosis shocked him because he had never smoked. Now he wants people to know that even non-smokers can get lung cancer.

“People automatically assume that people who have lung cancer must have smoked, and you did this to yourself,” Wellman told Runner’s World. “There’s a lot of people like me where that is not the case, yet it seems to get pushed down the funding lists.”

Wellman began training for the Javelina Hundred Endurance Run, a difficult trek for even veteran runners. Some of his Secret Service colleagues joined him. The idea was to raise money for lung cancer awareness and research.

Over the weekend, Wellman gave it a go. About three-quarters into the run, he had to stop because of severe cramping.

“This is a long fight, and we’re just getting started,” Wellman told CBS News.

Debates Rage on over Removing J. Edgar Hoover’s Name from New Headquarters

Current FBI headquarters, via FBI

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Plans to build a new FBI headquarters have been in limbo under President Trump, but that hasn’t stopped lawmakers and others from debating whether to remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from a new building.

The Washington Times talked to lawmakers and former FBI officials to get their take. Some lawmakers scoff at the legacy of Hoover, the bureau’s first and longest-serving director. They say he discriminated against gay workers and squashed the civil liberties of black protesters, citing his obsession with Martin Luther King Jr.

“J. Edgar Hoover was an abomination on our history,” said Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat and chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “I think they should find a name more reputable than J. Edgar Hoover. I mean, all that came out about him after his death: the way he threatened people, what he did in the African American community, what he did to Martin Luther King, what he did to the LGBT community, I could go on and on.”

Former agents say he was a crime-busting and national security hero and transformed the FBI into an effective, modernized federal agency.

“As a former agent, I am disappointed in the FBI for not doing more to defend Mr. Hoover’s legacy,” said William D. Brannon, a 30-year FBI veteran and chairman of the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes Hoover’s legacy with scholarships to underprivileged college students.

“He really is the father of modern law enforcement,” said John F. McCaffrey, director of the J. Edgar Hoover Institute and a former agent. “We need to recognize that. He did things like establish an identification division, he brought science to law enforcement. He may have had his shortcomings, but his accomplishments were tremendous, and we want to see him recognized.”

One Congressional Black Caucus member, Rep. Val Butler Demings, D-Fla., said agents should be able to decide the name of the new headquarters.

“I think it’s really important to understand how the men and women of the bureau feel about the first FBI director,” she said. “I think it’s really important to listen to them.”

But first, the federal government has to decide on a plan for a new headquarters. The current one is decrepit, can’t accommodate a lot of new technology and constitutes security concerns.

Until Trump came along, federal officials had narrowed down the locations for a new headquarters to Maryland and Virginia. Congress had even security a third of the funding.

But six months into his administration, Trump officials abandoned the previous plans, and the project has been in limbo since.

FBI Director Wray Suggests Creating New Policy on Body Cams for Federal Task Forces

FBI Director Christopher Wray in Atlanta. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray suggested the federal government will try to reverse the Justice Department’s policy that bars federal agents and local officers from wearing body cams during joint investigations.

Wray, who was speaking at the International Association of Chiefs Police conference in Chicago, said any new policy must ensure that body cams don’t reseal sensitive information or the identities of informants, the Associated Press reports.

The DOJ’s policy on body cams prompted Atlanta’s police chief to remove city police officers from federal task forces.

Wray said he’s committed to preserving the strong relationship between the FBI and local law enforcement.

“We want to make sure that we find some middle ground that we’re all comfortable with,” Wray said. “The good news is we’re talking about it. We’re getting it all out on the table, and I’m actually confident we are going to find a way forward here.”

Comey Says House ‘Has No Choice’ But to Move Forward with Impeachment Inquiry of Trump

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey, who joked that he’d move to New Zealand if Trump was re-elected, said the House of Representatives “has no choice but to pursue an impeachment inquiry.”

Comey blasted Trump’s call with Ukraine during a wide-ranging interview at the bipartisan Politicon political convention in Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday.

If he were still in charge of the FBI, Comey said he “might” launch a criminal investigation into whether Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president constituted a quid pro quo.

“If the news accounts are accurate, the president engaged in a shocking abuse of power,” Comey said.

But, he said, he wants to “withhold judgment” on impeachment until “we have a chance as a country to see public testimony to get the transparency we deserve.”

During the interview, Comey said he believes America is held together by a “set of values.” When asked if he’d still believe that if Trump was re-elected, Comey joked, “From my new home in New Zealand, I will still believe in America.”