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Trump Officially Nominates Wray to Replace Ousted FBI Director

Christopher A. Wray

Christopher A. Wray

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump has officially nominated Christopher Wray to replace ousted FBI Director James Comey.

The White House on Monday sent its formal nomination of Wray to the Senate, which will decide whether to approve the nomination.

Wray, a former assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush, released a statement through the Justice Department, touting his experience working with federal investigators.

“From my earliest days working with agents as a line prosecutor to my time working with them at the Department of Justice in the aftermath of 9/11, I have been inspired by the men and women of the FBI – inspired by their professionalism, integrity, courage, and sacrifice for the public.” Wray said. 

“If confirmed, it will be a privilege and honor to once again work with them.  America faces grave threats both here and abroad, and the FBI, in concert with its federal, state, and local partners, continues to work steadfastly to prevent and hold accountable those responsible for these threats.” 

Trump’s termination of Comey has led to allegations that the president tried to obstruct justice to end the Russia-related investigation. 

FBI Grilled Trump Adviser Carter Page for 10-Plus Hours on Russia

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, has acknowledged he has was extensively questioned by the FBI in March in connection with the ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

In an unverified collection of memos popularly known as the Trump-Russia dossier, Page is accused of being the middleman between the campaign and Russia.

The dossier, written by Christopher Steele, a former British spy who spent years working in Moscow, alleges Page was part of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation between (Trump associates) and the Russian leadership.”

Page said he denied the allegations during five FBI interviews that lasted more than a combined 10 hours.

Steele is no stranger to the FBI. During his time on British intelligence agency’s M16 Moscow desk, the FBI repeatedly worked with him on Russia-related investigations.

In a message to CNBC, Page said:

During my extensive discussions with the FBI agents just weeks before Comey’s departure, they acknowledged that I’m a loyal American veteran but indicated that their ‘management’ was concerned that I did not believe the conclusions of the fake January 6 intelligence report. I told them that I learned the lessons from the intelligence failures of the original Dodgy Dossier from 2003 which cost this country thousands of service members lives and over a trillion dollars. Our frank and open conversations gave me confidence that there are still logical, honest individuals at the Bureau who respect civil rights and the Constitution, despite the recent devastating impact on our democracy by self-centered politicians at the top of the Clinton-Obama-Comey regime.

Border Patrol Finds Pounds of Cocaine Taped to Woman’s Chest

The 21-year-old woman tried to hide cocaine by taping it to her chest and stomach, via Border Patrol.

The 21-year-old woman tried to hide cocaine by taping it to her chest and stomach, via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Even in the days of breast augmentation, Border Patrol agents weren’t fooled by the bulging chest of a 21-year-old woman who had taped about eight pounds of cocaine to her chest and stomach.

At the Morley Pedestrian Gate at the border between Arizona and Mexico, agents wanted a closer look at what was behind the Tucson resident’s strangely bulging shirt.

After a drug-sniffing dog also shared its suspicions, a secondary inspection found about $135,000 worth of cocaine stuffed in her shirt.

The woman, whose identity wasn’t immediately released, was arrested.

Other Stories of Interest

Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent Kidnapped, Beaten After Protecting Family

Fernando Puga

Fernando Puga

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An off-duty Border Patrol agent was kidnapped and brutally beaten by two strangers in Northeast El Paso after he tried to keep them away from his family.

Agent Lorenzo Hernandez, who is assigned to the agency’s Deming area, was helping his mother at her food truck when two suspicious men, one of whom had gun, asked Hernandez for a ride on June 9, saying their car had broken down, according to FBI affidavits obtained by the El Paso Times. 

Concerned the men, later identified as Sergio Ivan Quiñonez-Venegas and Fernando A. Puga, would harm his mother and minor brother and nephew, Hernandez offered the strangers a ride in his 2014 Ford Focus.

“When one of the subjects paid for some tamales purchased from BP Agent Hernandez’s mother, Hernandez noticed a large amount of cash in the subject’s wallet,” according to the affidavit by FBI Special Agent Jesus Nieto of El Paso. “BP Agent Hernandez also observed that one of the subjects had a handgun in the waistband of his pants. BP Agent Hernandez stated that he felt compelled to give the subjects a ride to a nearby gas station because he had become concerned for the safety of his mother and his minor brother and nephew who were present at the food truck.”

One of the suspects stuck a gun into Hernandez’s ribs and said, “This is a kidnapping.”

During a 50-mile drive to an area outside of Las Cruces, the suspects threatened to kill him. When the car stopped, Hernandez confronted the men outside of his car.

“Although BP Agent Hernandez reported he was able to gain control of the handgun in a struggle, it was of poor quality and he was unable to fire it at the subjects,” according to the affidavit. “As a result, BP Agent Hernandez threw the handgun away into the field/desert area adjacent to the dirt road. During a physical struggle and foot chase, BP Agent Hernandez was assaulted and struck/stabbed multiple times with a machete by Puga.”

Hernandez was taken to the hospital with fractures to his skull and arms and severe stab wounds to his body and fingers.

Quiñonez-Venegas was arrested June 13 and told FBI agents that he was forced to participate in the kidnapping by Puga. Two days later, the FBI and a local sheriff’s office arrested Puga, who claimed he was kidnapped by Quiñonez-Venegas.

Both men face federal kidnapping charges.

FBI, Justice Department Offer Starkly Different Positions on Trump’s Budget Cuts

Photo via FBI

Photo via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Top officials for the FBI and Justice Department are at odds over the impact of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe offered Congress starkly different positions on whether Trump’s spending reductions would hurt FBI operations, Politico reports.

McCabe told the House Appropriations subcommittee that “every program” in the bureau would be adversely affected and would force the reduction of employees, including agents.

“It will certainly impact us in many ways. It is a broad and deep reduction that will touch every program. it will touch headquarters. It will touch our field offices,” McCabe told a House Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday. “It is a reduction that is not possible to take entirely against vacancies. It’s a reduction that will touch every description of employee within the FBI. We will lose agent positions. We will lose analyst positions and, of course, professional staff.”

Rosenstein seemed to suggest McCabe was exaggerating and that the spending cuts would not impact national security or violent crime.

“I believe that if you look at the budget, we are not cutting the critical areas — violent crime, terrorism, the areas that you’ve raised are areas where there will be no cuts, cybercrime, all those areas,” Rosenstein said at a parallel Senate hearing, under questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “And so the effort in this budget, as I understand it, is to reduce only in areas that are not critical to those operations.”

According to Rosenstein, the number of FBI agents would increase by 150 to 12,484.

But according to the FBI’s website, the bureau has about 13,500 agents.

Russian Cyberattacks on Election Systems Adds Pressure to Homeland Security

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Mounting evidence that Russia used cyberattacks to impact the presidential election has turned up the heat on Homeland Security to protect America’s democratic system from hackers.

Homeland Security officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that they have evidence to suggest Russian operatives targeted election systems in 21 states.

The Hill reports that lawmakers are urging the department to help states protect their election systems. 

“I’m deeply concerned about the danger posed by future interference in our elections,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice chairman of the intelligence panel, said Wednesday. “We have elections in 2018, but in my home state of Virginia, we have statewide elections this year. So this needs a sense of urgency.”

Senators asked Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to provide more details about the targeted election systems, including which states were targeted.

(D-Ore.). “We obviously need to know about vulnerabilities, so that we can find solutions, and we need better cybersecurity to protect elections from being hacked in the first place.”

Bernie And Jane Sanders Hire Lawyers Amid FBI Probe of Alleged Bank Fraud

Jane and Bernie Sanders, via Twitter

Jane and Bernie Sanders, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane Sanders have hired high-profile defense lawyers in light of a federal investigation into allegations of bank fraud.

The FBI investigation involves a multimillion-dollar loan that Jane Sanders secured while president of the now-defunct Burlington College.

CBS reports the FBI is investigating allegations that Jane Sanders falsified school donor levels in 2010 in an attempt to buy 33 acres of land for the school, which closed in 2016. 

Bernie Sanders has hired Burlington attorney Rich Cassidy, while his wife has retained Larry Robbins, a Washington-based defense attorney.

Sanders has declined to discuss details of the investigation, but said in May that the investigation was politically motivated and would show his wife did nothing wrong.

Russia Recalling U.S. Ambassador Kislyak Amid FBI Investigation

Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who has been the subject of an investigation into his country’s alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election, is being recalled after 10 years on the job.

Buzzfeed reports the Kremlin has ordered its U.S. ambassador to return to Russia amid growing investigations by the FBI and Congress into whether the foreign government tried interfere in the election to help Donald Trump. 

The FBI is probing meetings held between Kislyak, 66, and Trump’s campaign team. Among those who met with Kislyak are Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former national security adviser Mike Flynn. During Sessions’ confirmation hearing, he failed to disclose at least two meetings with Kislyak, whom one U.S.-based diplomat responded “could use some time away.”

At other times, Kushner and Flynn denied now-confirmed meetings with the ambassador.

Russia has yet to confirm when Kislyak is returning to Russia  or whether he’ll be reassigned.