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Trump Taps Secret Service Official As New Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump tapped Anthony Ornato, deputy assistant director of the Secret Service, as his new deputy chief of staff for operations.

Trump announced the move on Twitter on Saturday, saying Ornato “will do a fantastic job!”

Ornato will replace Daniel Walsh, who is leaving the post to take a job in the private sector.

“Thank you to Dan Walsh for his great service, and congratulations to Tony!” Trump tweeted.

Ornato will serve as one of the three deputies to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

DOJ Watchdog Report Set for Release Today, Dismisses Trump’s Claims of FBI Spying

IG Michael Horowitz, via DoJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s internal watchdog is set to announce today that top FBI and DOJ officials did not illegally spy on Trump’s campaign in 2016, delivering a blow to one of the president’s most repeated and unfounded conspiracy theories.

The report examined the investigation into possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia and found that the FBI had sufficient evidence to open the probe ahead of the 2016 election, according to several media accounts.

Michael Horowitz, the DOJ’s inspector general, concluded that the FBI did not improperly launch the investigation, dismissing Trump’s wild claims that the bureau turned rogue in an effort to smear his campaign.

The report, however, is expected to document mistakes by some FBI and DOJ officials. But none of the missteps changed the course of the investigation, the report is to conclude.

Nevertheless, Trump likely will seize on the missteps to bolster his unproven claims.

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Watergate Break-in

Spokane Man Charged with Threatening to Kill FBI Agents, Federal Judges

Scott Joseph Franklin

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Spokane man is accused of threatening FBI agents, a federal courthouse and federal judges in letters he wrote while in jail for threatening to blow up another courthouse.

Scott Joseph Franklin pleaded not guilty Wednesday to sending threatening letters to the U.S. District Court in Washington state. The letters were written in jail, where he has been lodged since he was convicted in 2013 of threatening to bomb a courthouse.

In the latest case, a U.S. District Court clerk said she received the handwritten letters in October, and they listed Franklin as the sender, according to federal court records obtained by KXLY. He also signed one of the letters, “cordially; Scott J. Franklin.”

“When I get out, I’m killing every agent of FBI and ever [sic] Federal Judge within your federal courthouse in Downtown Spokane,” he wrote.

Franklin’s letter’s described his plans to build a bomb “so powerful to blow a 2 block radiant [sic].”

In one letter, he states, “You can’t charge me with mailing threatening communications under Title 18 U.S.C. because that letter is a promise I swear to god and this is no joke, for real.”

In a jailhouse interview with federal agents, Franklin admitted he wrote the letters, saying, “I was gonna do exactly what I said… I was going to try to figure out how to make a bomb and blow up the [expletive] building.”

Franklin has been charged with a federal count of mailing threatening communications.

Amid Fierce Criticism, Homeland Security Abandons Plans to Photograph American Travelers at Airports

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Facing a firestorm of criticism, Homeland Security is abandoning plans to expand the federal government’s facial recognition system by requiring all travelers, including Americans, to be photographed if they are leaving or entering the country.

Homeland Security was expected to propose the regulation change in July, igniting privacy concerns and trepidation about the accuracy of facial recognition technology.

Homeland Security officials responded by saying it no longer plans to move forward with the plan.

“There are no current plans to require U.S. citizens to provide photographs upon entry and exit from the United States. CBP intends to have the planned regulatory action regarding U.S. citizens removed from the unified agenda next time it is published,” the agency said in a news release.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who was among the toughest critics, had pledged to introduce legislation to stop the proposal.

Facial recognition technology has come under intense criticism from local, state and federal lawmakers because of its lack of accuracy, especially when applied to people of color.

Reputed Gang Member Sentenced to Nearly 17 Years for Shooting ATF Agent in Face

Ernesto Godinez

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A reputed gang member who shot an ATF agent in the face in Chicago last year was sentenced to nearly 17 years in prison Wednesday.

A federal jury found Ernesto Godinez guilty in June in the shooting of Kevin Crump, who was nearly killed when a bullet tore through his neck and exited between his eyes on May 4, 2018.

Godinez, 29, was sentenced to 16 years and 8 months in prison, CBS News reports.

Calling the attack “brazen, callous, and cowardly,” federal prosectors said Crump is lucky to be alive.

“The depravity of the defendant’s crime is remarkable. A sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment is the only fair answer here, both to punish this reprehensible crime and to protect the community he endangered time and time again,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing recommendation.

Police said Crump was placing a tracker on Godinez’s car when the reputed gang member ambushed the agent and opened fire. Prosecutors said Godinez, who was arrested three days later, believed he was shooting a rival gang member.

Surveillance cameras captured Godinez before and after the shooting.

Godinez’s attorney acknowledges his client was in the area the morning of the shooting, but insists Godinez was not involved in the shooting. The 12-member jury didn’t buy that.

Judge Tosses Lawsuit Calling for Exhumation of John Dillinger’s Body

Gangster John Dillinger, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

John Dillinger may continue to rest in peace.

A judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit by the nephew of the 1930s American gangster, who sued for permission to exhume Dillinger’s gravesite in Indianapolis to determine if he’s actually buried there, the Associated Press reports.

Dillinger’s nephew, Mike Thompson, believes he may have evidence that his bank-robbing uncle was not fatally shot by the FBI at a theater in Chicago in 1934.

His plans were thwarted by Crown Hill Cemetery, which refused to give him permission to exhume the body.

Marion County Superior Court Judge Timothy Oakes dismissed the lawsuit, saying state law requires a cemetery’s consent to exhume a body.

“The limited question before the Court today is whether disinterment may occur under this section of the statute without cemetery approval. Court finds that the statutory requirements for this section of the statute are clear in that disinterment requires the cemetery owner to give consent before disinterment may occur,” Oakes wrote.

Indiana law, the judge added, “does not require that the cemetery have a valid, rational, or meaningful reason” for withholding its consent.

In the 1930s, then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover declared Dillinger as “Public Enemy No. 1” after his gang killed at least 10 people, robbed banks and even staged three jailbreaks.

The FBI has disputed claims that the FBI killed another man who was not Dillinger.

“A wealth of information supports Dillinger’s demise including 3 sets of fingerprints, all positively matched,” the FBI tweeted on Aug. 1.

Attorneys for the cemetery dismissed the nephew’s claims as “a decades-old conspiracy theory.”

One of the attorneys, Alice McKenzie Morical, said Wednesday that relatives identified Dillinger after he was fatally shot.

“His close family believed it was him and they wanted him in the family plot,” she said.

Homeland Security Wants to Photograph Americans at Airports for Expanded Facial Recognition System

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities are mulling a plan to expand the U.S. government’s facial recognition system by requiring all travelers, including Americans, to be photographed as they are departing or entering the country.

Homeland Security is expected to officially propose the new requirements in July, the Associated Press reports.

The proposal comes as several airlines are testing facial recognition technology at U.S. airports.

The plan has already come under criticism by federal lawmakers, including Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who pledged to introduce legislation to stop the proposal.

Facial recognition technology has come under intense criticism from local, state and federal lawmakers because of its lack of accuracy, especially when applied to people of color.

“This new notice suggests that the government is reneging on what was already an insufficient promise,” Jay Stanley, a policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “Travelers, including U.S. citizens, should not have to submit to invasive biometric scans simply as a condition of exercising their constitutional right to travel.”