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Justice Department Threatens to Strip Federal Money from Sanctuary Cities

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department warned sanctuary cities and counties this week that they will not receive federal grants if the continue to fail to work with the crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

At a White House briefing, Attorney General Jeff sessions said the municipalities that refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities stand to lose a lot of federal funding, Time reports. 

“We intend to use all the lawful authority we have to make sure our state and local officials who are so important to law enforcement are in sync with the federal government,” Sessions said.

Time wrote:

There is a question about whether the federal government could withhold a wide array of federal funds from cities over their sanctuary status and still survive a legal challenge. Federalism experts say that case law has built up doctrines that help states maintain their resistance. One is the anti-commandeering principle, which suggests that the federal government cannot force state officials to enforce federal law. Other case law suggests that whatever funds the government is cutting need to be in some way related to the policy issue at stake — so the federal government would be on shaky ground withholding transportation funds in an attempt to force states to comply on an education issue, for example.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Arrests Iraqi Refugees Who Failed to Disclose Brother’s Involvement in Kidnapping of American

fbigunbadgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two Iraqi refugees living in Northern Virginia were arrested by the FBI after failing to disclose their brother’s involvement in a 2004 kidnapping of an American contractor in Iraq, the New York Times reports. 

The refugees, Yousif Al Mashhandani, 35, of Vienna, Va., and Adil Hasan, 38, of Burke, Va. admitted they didn’t make the disclosure when applying for citizenship, according to a criminal complaint. They were charged with visa fraud.

The Times wrote:

The F.B.I. said it had learned the brothers withheld the information when Mr. Mashhandani was fingerprinted as part of the citizenship process. When those fingerprints were analyzed in 2013, they matched those on a document seized by American commandos during the rescue of the contractor, Roy Hallums, in 2005.

The arrests come as President Trump is seeking to bar visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Iraq was originally among the countries but was later removed from the ban, which is being challenged by federal courts. Mr. Trump has said repeatedly that the United States needs to strengthen its borders to protect itself from terrorism.

As part of an investigation into the kidnapping of Mr. Hallums, F.B.I. agents interviewed Majid Al Mashhandani, the brother of Mr. Mashhandani and Mr. Hasan, in 2005. He admitted taking part in the kidnapping of Mr. Hallums, who was held for 311 days in an underground bunker with other hostages south of Baghdad.

State Senator in Michigan Accused of Misusing Payroll Funds As FBI Investigates

Michigan Sen. Bert Johnson

Michigan Sen. Bert Johnson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities who raided the home and office of Michigan Sen. Bert Johnson are investigating claims that the state lawmaker misused Senate funds to pay an employee who never worked for him, the Detroit Free Press reports. 

Johnson has claimed that he has no idea why he is being investigated.

The FBI and Michigan State Police raided his Highland Park home and Lansing office.

“We’re going to figure it out. I’m hiring counsel,” Johnson, D-Highland Park, said outside the Senate chamber Tuesday. “I’m disappointed. I had a raid in my house. I’m very concerned for my family, for my mother, my children.”

Johnson has a spotty record, the Free Press wrote.

Johnson, 43, has a felony record for armed robbery from a conviction when he was 19. His record was widely known when he won seats in both the state House and Senate. He has had financial difficulties, as well. In 2015, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to appear in an Illinois court in a civil lawsuit over an unpaid debt to a political consulting firm.

Johnson was sued by Chicago-based Paladian Political Group, which said he owed $21,983.37. The issue was resolved without Johnson being arrested.

He said Tuesday he doesn’t know whether his financial problems played a role in the investigation.

“That’s one of the things we’re talking over. We’ve got to figure out what it is they’re looking for,” he said. “But you know, I’m an open book. I have no problem working with anyone. I’ve worked very hard to build a reputation I think people trust.”

Ex-Deputy AG Sally Yates Says Trump Tried to Limit Her Testimony on Russia

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Trump administration has tried to limit former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates’ congressional testimony on possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Her lawyer, David O’Neil, said the Justice Department was claiming her actions as a deputy attorney general were “client confidences” and therefore should not be disclosed without written permission, Fortune reports.

“We believe that the Department’s position in this regard is overbroad, incorrect, and inconsistent with the Department’s historical approach to the congressional testimony of current and former senior officials,” O’Neil wrote in a March 23 letter to Justice Department official Samuel Ramer.

The White House denied any interference with Yates’ plans to testify.

“We have no problem with her testifying, plain and simple,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

Yates said she still plans to testify but won’t reveal any classified information.

USA Today Columnist: ICE Should Stop Taking Parents from Children

Courtesy of ICE

Courtesy of ICE

Janet Murguia
USA Today 

The immigration debate in America is the place where conservative principles — fiscal responsibility, federalism and the “preservation of the family unit” — go to die.

As we’ve seen over the past two months, a country that has for centuries been a beacon for the world’s immigrants is now pursuing policies that will surely leave her on the wrong side of history. President Trump’s immigration agenda — one fitfully symbolized by a yet-to-be-built wall — threatens to tear apart American families while leaving a trail of misery across the United States.

As the president’s budget moves from bluster to blueprint, we can clearly see that the campaign rhetoric used to rile racists was not a cynical appeal waiting to be washed away by reason. His funding requests to Congress have set in motion an attempt to massively expand detention camps and escalate an already large deportation force. To put these dollars in perspective, the United States already spends about $18 billion on immigration enforcement. That’s more than on all the other federal law enforcement agencies combined: the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the Federal Marshals Service and the Secret Service.

What confronts us now is scorched-earth immigration enforcement that will separate as many as 5.7 million American children from their parents. Some of them already have watched as newly emboldened Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have set upon their families. As White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer put it this past month, The president wants to “take the shackles off individuals in these agencies.”

This practice will have devastating consequences on our nation’s families, as illustrated by the story of 13-year-old Fatima Avelica, whose life was devastated in February by the president’s first nationwide immigration sweep. One month ago, she witnessed and captured on film the ICE arrest of her father Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez after they dropped her younger sister off at school. Agents were acting on a deportation order issued in 2014. Fatima sobbed from the back seat as her father, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who has lived in the United States for more than 25 years, was put in handcuffs and taken away.

To read more click here. 

New FBI Official Tries to Open Lines of Communication with Congress

congress copyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s safe to say Greg Brower is feeling pressure from Congress.

Last month, Brower became the FBI’s chief liaison to Capitol Hill, essentially acting as a conduit between Congress and the FBI.

His new job coincides with an FBI investigation into a possible relationship between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign team to influence the election.

“It’s absolutely critical that the relationship be a good one, that the lines of communication be open, that Congress understands what we’re doing and not doing,” Brower told The Hill.

Brower is a lawyer and former Nevada state senator whose major role, he said, is communication.

The Hill wrote:

For Brower, translating the insular language of the bureau to Congress — where many members are not lawyers nor have experience working with law enforcement — is something that comes naturally given his experience as a former state legislator. 

Although one former House Intelligence Committee staffer expressed surprise that Comey had hired a liaison who started with comparatively few Capitol Hill contacts, Brower noted, “I’ve kind of been there on that side of things and kind of know how that sausage-making process works.

“It’s not just the language differences, but the mentality. I feel like I have, over the years, sometimes literally at the same time, had to think like a lawyer and think like a legislator.”

Part of Brower’s job has been responding to queries from lawmakers who want clarification about anonymously sourced stories on the FBI’s Russia investigation that they have seen in the press. 

It’s often up to Brower to sort out any disconnects between what’s reported and what’s really going on — “as best we can, to the extent we can.” He acknowledges that can sometimes be a difficult task given the bureau’s longstanding policy of not talking about ongoing investigations. 

Body Cam Video Shows Drunk, Armed FBI Agent at Grand Rapids Police Department

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A drunk and armed FBI agent walked inside Grand Rapids Police Department headquarters after his partner was arrested for shooting at officers.

Agent John Salazar hasn’t been charged, even though he was in possession of a gun while being drunk. He also appeared to drive to police headquarters, WoodTV.com reports.

His partner, Ruben Hernandez was in custody after firing at a Grand Rapids officer outside of a gym.

Body cam footage shows Salazar acting strangely.

Records obtained by 24 Hour News 8 show that Salazar and Hernandez bought 12 beers at a steakhouse before going to Sensations Showgirls nightclub for five more drinks.

The shooting occurred after the two separated for the night.

Prosecutors are now reviewing the video to determine whether charges are appropriate.

FBI, State Police Raid Home, Office of Michigan Senator

Michigan Sen. Bert Johnson

Michigan Sen. Bert Johnson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — The FBI and Michigan State Police on Monday raided the Highland Park home and Lansing state office of Michigan Sen. Bert Johnson.

The second-term Democrat has a history of recent financial issues, the Detroit News reports

Fox 2’s M.L. Elrick reports that a federal grand jury has been looking whether Johnson had one or more “ghost” employees on the payroll and whether he took kickbacks from those employees.

Agents emerged from the home with boxes and bagged items.

FBI spokesman Tim Wiley aid agents were “on the scene at a residence in Highland Park conducting a law enforcement activity.”

No other information was available.

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