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What Happens to Mueller’s Trump-Russia Probe Under a Government Shutdown?

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

If the U.S. Senate can’t avert a government shutdown by ending a spending impasse by midnight Friday, the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia won’t be impacted, according to the Justice Department.

That’s because all employees working on the special counsel probe are exempt from furlough since their paychecks don’t come from annual appropriations.

“All employees with the Special Counsel’s Office are considered exempt and would continue their operations in the case of a lapse in appropriations,” Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior told The Hill

Late Thursday, the U.S. House approved a short-term extension on government funding to allow the Senate an opportunity to reach an agreement by midnight to avert a shutdown.

But many Democrats emphatically pledged to reject the GOP plan without concessions that would prevent the deportation of younger immigrants who were brought to the country illegally.

Although Republicans have a majority in the Senate, the funding bill requires 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster.


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Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent May Have Acted in Self-Defense in Fatal Shooting

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An off-duty Border Patrol agent suspected of fatally shooting a 33-year-old man over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, may have been acting in self-defense, a spokesman told the El Paso Times on Thursday. 

Police were called to an aggravated assault at 4:30 a.m. Sunday when they found Juan Daniel Jacques shot to death.

Authorities identified the agent as Luis Chavez, who has not been arrested but is under investigation by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

“The exact details of this case are still under investigation,” sheriff’s spokesman Luis Chavez said. “We are investigating all motives of this homicide, to include the possibility of self-defense. No arrests have been made as of yet.” 

Border Patrol leaders also are investigating to determine whether administrative action is warranted against the agent.


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FBI Investigating Whether Suspected Russian Mobster Funneled Money to NRA to Help Trump During Election

Russian banker Alexander Torshin, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating whether a Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin, mobsters and money laundering illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

Two sources familiar with the investigation told McClatchy that FBI counterintelligence investigators are scrutinizing the activities of Aleksander Torshin, who has been described as a godfather of a major Russian criminal organization.

Torshin, a leading figure in President Vladimir Putin’s party, is a lifetime member of the NRA. Authorities said Torshin met with Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., at an NRA event in Kentucky in May 2016, when his father won an early endorsement from the gun-rights group.

The investigation comes as special counsel Robert Mueller continues a far-reaching probe into alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia to undermine Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the 2016 election. 


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What Looming Government Shutdown Means for Federal Law Enforcement

An ICE agent.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A looming government shutdown under President Trump likely would force up to 850,000 federal employees to stay home until Democrats and Republicans can end a budget impasse.

But a shutdown is unlikely to result in the furloughs of federal law enforcement officials and other “essential” employees from agencies such as the FBI, TSA, Homeland Security, DEA, ICE and Border Patrol.

Still, a shutdown likely would undermine the agencies’ ability to protect people from crime. During the last government shutdown in 2013, which lasted 16 days, the FBI was barred from hiring new agents and paying for training.

A shutdown would not impact the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia because Robert Mueller’s team is exempt from furloughs.

The full impact of a shutdown won’t be known until Monday.

The U.S. Senate has until midnight tonight to reach a bipartisan agreement to avert a shutdown. But Democrats expressed skepticism that an agreement would be reached in time because they are adamantly opposed to a GOP plan to end protections for younger immigrants who were brought to the country illegally.

Other Stories of Interest


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Video: David Gelios, Retiring Head of Detroit FBI, Talks About Corruption, Espionage and Donald Trump

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

David Gelios in his office in downtown Detroit (FBI photo)

DETROIT –– David Gelios tenure as head of the FBI in Detroit has been relatively brief but extremely productive.

After becoming the special agent in charge of the office in October 2015, he began overseeing some major public corruption cases. Twelve Detroit school principals and a school administrator were indicted for taking kickbacks from a vendor for school supplies that were ordered but never delivered. The vendor also went to prison.

In Macomb County, outside of Detroit, a number of officials were indicted for taking bribes from a garbage hauler, who was also charged along with his father. And in Detroit, just recently, the former deputy police chief, pleaded guilty to taking a $3,000 bribe from a titan of the towing industry.

As for the probe into Macomb County, he says: “We’re not done yet.”

Now, after nearly 23 years with the bureau, he’s retiring on Jan. 31, just shy of 57, the mandatory retirement age at the FBI. He’s taking a job in San Diego with the Roger Penske organization.

We  visited Gelios in his downtown office this week to chat about his tenure, the public corruption probes, industrial espionage, meeting Trump in Detroit and the impact of presidential criticisms of the bureau.


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Trump Denies Chief of Staff’s Claims That President Softened Plans for Border Wall

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump fired back at his chief of staff, John Kelly, on Thursday morning, saying his top aide misspoke a day earlier when he told a group of lawmakers that some of the president’s tough immigration policies were “uninformed” and would never result in a wall along the entire southern border with Mexico.

In a meeting with some Democratic lawmakers, Kelly insisted Mexico will never pay for a border wall.

President Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly .

Trump responded several hours later in three strongly worded tweets, saying plans for the wall have “never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived it.”

Trump also insisted Mexico would reimburse the U.S. for the costs to build the wall.

“We need the Wall for the safety and security of our country,” Trump tweeted. “We need the Wall to help stop the massive inflow of drugs from Mexico, now rated the number one most dangerous country in the world. If there is no Wall, there is no Deal!”

It’s unclear what prompted Kelly to contradict the president’s position on a security wall, but the statements to lawmakers come on the eve of a possible federal government shutdown.

The president has indicated he’s willing to compromise with Democrats on granting permanent legal protections for so-called Dreamers in exchange for providing border security funding that would help build a wall on the Mexican border.

Without a long-term budget deal by midnight Friday, the federal government faces a possible shutdown. 


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Trump Administration Mulls Jailing Leaders of Sanctuary Cities

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s uncompromising crackdown on illegal immigration may soon include legal consequences, including jail time, for leaders in so-called sanctuary cities.

The Justice Department announced its exploring “what avenues might be available” to file possible criminal charges against local politicians who provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports

Director Kirstjen Nielsen indicated Wednesday that the DOJ was “reviewing what avenues might be available” to hold sanctuary city leaders accountable for their policies that shelter unauthorized immigrants from deportation.

“The context of this is, of course, not only putting my [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] officers at risk, but also finding an efficient and effective way to enforce our immigration laws,” Nielsen said.

The prospect of filing criminal charges against local officials provoked outrage among some Democrats and civil rights groups.

“In free democracies, you can’t jail people for opposing the president’s policies, policies that courts have found to be lawful,” Vanita Gupta, the chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the former head of the civil rights division of the Justice Department, told the New York Times. 


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