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News Story

FBI Director Wray Defends Bureau Against Incessant Attacks by Trump & His Allies

FBI Director Christopher Wray defends the bureau in an interview on “CBS This Morning.”

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray is defending the bureau against incessant attacks, most notably from President Trump, over the investigation of Russia meddling during the presidential election.

Wray told “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Norah O’Donnell that critics like Trump are waging a disinformation campaign designed to hurt the FBI’s reputation.

When asked whether Wray thinks “there are some questions about the reputation of the FBI,” the director said the public is being deceived.

“Well, I think sometimes watching the news and certainly trolling the internet, you would think that the FBI has only had two investigations over the last three years,” Wray said. “But I will tell you that when you get out into real America, people know differently.

Trump continues to call the Russia probe a “witch hunt” intended to undermine his presidency.

FBI Swoops in on Space Observatory without Explanation, Prompting UFO Conspiracy Theories

Sunspot Solar Observatory, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Conspiracy theories are swirling after the FBI secretly swooped in on a space observatory in New Mexico and evacuated it without explanation.

FBI agents, some of whom arrived in a Blackhawk helicopter, shut down the Sunspot Solar Observatory for an unexplained security issue with no word on when it will reopen.

Otero County Sheriff Benny House told Alamogordo Daily News that local law enforcement was asked to be on standby.

“The FBI is refusing to tell us what’s going on,” House said. “We’ve got people up there (at Sunspot) that requested us to standby while they evacuate it. Nobody would really elaborate on any of the circumstances as to why. The FBI were up there. What their purpose was nobody will say.”

House said the FBI’s response was unusual.

“For the FBI to get involved that quick and be so secretive about it, there was a lot of stuff going on up there,” House said. “There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers but nobody would tell us anything.”

The observatory’s website only indicated the shutdown occurred “due to unforeseen circumstances” and would remain closed “until further notice.”

The FBI’s actions and subsequent silence on the issue triggered conspiracy theories about the detection of extraterrestrial life.

The observatory is close to the famous Roswell landing site, where a UFO in 1947 fell from the sky. Officials said the object was a weather balloon, but conspiracy theorists have long maintained it was an alien craft.

House said he can’t understand why the FBI is involved.

“They’re not federal employees,” the sheriff said. “It maybe somebody who threatened one of their workers. If that’s the case, why didn’t call us and let us deal with it. These guys are regular workers that work for this company. I don’t know why the FBI would get involved so quick and not tell us anything.”

Homeland Security Shifted $10M from FEMA to Combat Immigration

Hurricane Florence

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The Trump administration shifted nearly $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency earlier this year to fund the detention and deportation immigrants, according to documents obtained by USA Today

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., released the documents Tuesday, saying the Department of Homeland Security requested the money as the hurricane season was gearing up.

Merkley said the money is desperately needed in case the U.S. is hit as hard as it was last year by hurricanes.

“It’s almost guaranteed to happen again, so this is just incredibly irresponsible,” Merkley said. 

Sure enough, the documents were released just days before Hurricane Florence is expected to pound the Carolinas, leading to the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people. 

The documents also reveal that millions of dollars also were taken the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Coast Guard to finance ICE.

Trump Launches Fresh Attacks against FBI, DOJ on 9/11 Anniversary

President Trump and his wife Melania Trump at the site of the Flight 93 crash in Shanksville, Pa., via White House.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump seized on the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to launch dubious assaults on the FBI and Justice Department.

The president repeated an unfounded allegation by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who claimed former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page employed a “media leak strategy” to undermine his administration, the Washington Post reports.

Trump then criticized the FBI and Justice for failing to act on the dubious claim.

Strzok’s attorney said the “media leak strategy” was referring to an effort to tackle unauthorized disclosures to reporters. 

FBI Agent Sued in Botched Mission to Rescue Hostage in Houston

Jimmy Tony Sanchez was one of three people arrested in the kidnapping case.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent who shot and killed a hostage during a botched rescue mission in Houston in January has been sued.

The lawsuit was filed by Brooke Pearce, the sister of Ulises Valladares, who was killed when an unidentified FBI agent fired two shots into a Houston home.

The lawsuit alleges an illegal search and seizure and wrongful death, the Houston Chronicle reports

“(Valladares) had a very good job and was studying to be an engineer, so had the FBI not killed him he would’ve been able to support his son,” said Randall Kallinen, one of the attorneys who brought the lawsuit along with U.A. Lewis. “The main goals are to find out what happened so other hostages aren’t killed, and also to get compensation for this child’s future.”

The FBI responded that the shooting is being investigated by the bureau, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the Houston Police Department.

“No additional information will be provided, as this matter is under review by the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General,” an FBI spokeswoman said.

The Houston Chronicle wrote:

Law enforcement raided a Houston residence in the 7300 block of Elbert Street in the early hours of Jan. 25, nearly a day after Valladares, 47, was taken for ransom from his Conroe home by two men who later claimed to be members of a Mexican cartel. Investigators have since said that was a scare tactic designed to intimidate Valladares’ brother, Ernesto Valladares, into giving them money.

An FBI agent used an M-4 assault rifle to break into an unlit side room through a window where Valladares was held and bound, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said in January. The agent, who did not know Valladares was in the room and fearing that one of the kidnappers was attempting to wrestle the rifle away from him, fired two shots, one of which killed the Conroe father.

Terrorism Threats Are More Ubiquitous 17 Years After Sept. 11 Attacks, FBI Director Says

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Seventeen years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the threat of terrorism “is everywhere, coast to coast, north, south, east, west,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told “CBS This Morning” in a multi-part interview that airs today. 

In the past year, Wray revealed the FBI made about 120 terrorism-related arrests.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, America is “safer,” Wray told “CBS This Morning,” but he emphasized that the threats have “evolved” and create new challenges to federal law enforcement.

For example, he said, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force receives about 15,000 tips a year, or “basically 40 tips a day, two tips an hour.”

The good news is that the bureau has stymied numerous terrorism attacks in the past year, from plots to wage violence at the San Francisco pier to a shopping mall in Miami.

“People think of the 9/11 threat, they think New York, they think D.C. Today’s terrorism threat is everywhere, coast to coast, north, south, east, west,” Wray said. “It’s not just big cities.”

One of those cases was in Harrisburg, Pa., where a 21-year-od woman “was circulating kill lists of U.S. service members, with names, addresses and photographs.”

Actors Flip Remarks About Trump Triggers Secret Service Probe

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Making flip remarks about the president isn’t always so wise.

The Secret Service is looking into a remark made by veteran TV star Carole Cooke as she exited a West Hollywood restaurant Sunday night, TMZ reports.

TMZ photographer asked her what she thought about President Donald Trump and she remarked that it would be a good idea for someone to “John Wilkes Booth” President Trump.

When she was asked if  she meant Trump should be assassinated she responded, “Why not?”

Ex-Trump Aide Papadopoulos Said He Lied to FBI to Protect the President

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign aide who was sentenced to 14 days in federal prison, said he lied to the FBI to protect the president.

“At the time of my interview with the FBI, I think around three or four days before that, I was at the inauguration attending parties with senior-level transition officials,” Papadopoulos told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.” “I understood that there was an incipient investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

He continued, “And I found myself as somebody who worked incredibly hard over the past year with the campaign to actually have the candidate Trump be elected. And then I found myself pinned between the Department of Justice and the sitting president and having probing questions that I thought might incriminate the sitting president.”

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October to lying to the FBI about meetings in London he had with a Maltese professor, Joseph Mifsud, who claimed to have troves of emails related to the Clinton campaign.

“He sat me down and he was quite giddy,” Papadopoulos said. “And he told me, ‘I have information that the Russians have thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails.’”

When asked whether be believed special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation had enough evidence to demonstrate coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, Papadopoulos responded, “I have no idea.”

“All I can say is that my testimony might have helped move something towards that, but I have no idea.”

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