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March 2018
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How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Manafort Seeks Dismissal of Charges, Arguing Mueller Overstepped His Authority

Ex-Trump campaign leader Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling

President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is facing up to 305 years in prison, urged a federal judge Wednesday to dismiss the charges against him because they exceed the legal authority of the special counsel appointed to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In a motion to dismiss the charges, Manafort’s attorneys argued the alleged crimes predate Manafort’s involvement in the Trump campaign and therefore fall outside of the jurisdiction of special counsel Robert Mueller.

His attorneys contend Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein overstepped his authority by giving Mueller permission to prosecute any unrelated crimes that are discovered during the investigation of Russia.

“It is a blank check the special counsel has cashed, repeatedly,” Manafort’s filing read.

Manafort made a similar argument for a separate batch of charges file against him by the special counsel team.

Unless Manafort strikes a deal with prosecutors, the former high-paid political consultant is on track to become the first person to be tried in connection with Robert Mueller’s investigation

Manafort’s longtime business partner, Rick Gates, is among three former Trump aides who have pleaded guilty to assortment of charges and have agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team of prosecutors. Gates, who also served on Trump’s campaign, is expected to provide information about crimes he said he and Manafort committed as business partners.

Gates and Manafort were both charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, tax fraud and money laundering stemming from lobbying and consulting work related to Ukrainian politicians who are strong allies of Russia.

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Columnist: Trump’s Pledge to Build 2,000-Mile Border Wall Is Pure Theater’

By Steve Neavling

President Trump’s visit to California to inspect prototypes for a border wall was “pure theater” by a “performance artist.”

So wrote Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman, who argues Trump won’t come close to fulfilling his campaign pledge to build an impenetrable, 2,000-mile wall along the border and get Mexico to pay for it.

The length of the wall has already been cut in half – to 1,000 miles with large gaps.

“The cost would be enormous,” Chapman wrote. “An internal report by the Department of Homeland Security put the price at $21.6 billion. A study by the Democratic staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee calculaIted it at $70 billion, not counting maintenance.That’s more than $200 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — and zero dollars for every man, woman and child in Mexico.”

Chapman said Trump’s claim that the wall would be “99%” effective “is enough to make a lizard laugh.”

The Congressional Research Service concluded the “primary fence” but in San Diego “by itself, did not have a discernible impact on the influx of unauthorized aliens coming across the border in San Diego.”

The Coast Guard also reported that 95% of drugs smuggled from Mexico to the U.S. come in container ships or other boats. And when there is a fence, drug dealers dig a tunnel to cross.

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FBI Officials Recommend Officially Firing Ex-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testifies before Congress.

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — The FBI, which has taken a beating in the public relations arena in recent times, got some more damaging news on Wednesday.

Officials within the FBI have recommended that the agency’s embattled former deputy director, Andy McCabe, be fired just days before he is set to officially leave government, ABC News reports, citing  a source with knowledge of the recommendation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will make the final decision. McCabe was not a favorite, by any means, of the White House, which could influence Session’s decision.

Trump is not well regarded among a number of FBI agents, and James Comey, who was fired as director, didn’t care for the president while he held the top FBI job.

Sources tell ABC that McCabe never intentionally misled investigators and did his best to accurately address investigators’ questions.

The recommendation from the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility came after an internal report by the Justice Department’s inspector general accused the FBI veteran of misleading investigators looking into an array of matters connected to the 2016 presidential campaign, the source said, according to ABC News.

If fired, McCabe worries that he could lose his full pension, the station reports.

In January, FBI Director Christopher Wray pressured McCabe to quit in advance of an inspector general report examining the agency,  CBS News reported.

McCabe is due to retired on March 18.


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Neighbor Provides Surveillance Video of Third Package Explosion in Austin

By Steve Neavling

The FBI has surveillance footage of what authorities believe is the third package bomb to explode in Austin, Texas, since March 2.

After the third blast critically injured a 75-year-old woman around noon on Monday, a neighbor turned over surveillance video to the FBI.

Richard Rodriguez, who lives one block from the third package explosion, said he hopes the surveillance will help investigators track down the suspect.

“If it was my grandmother I would want them to help, so that’s why I did it,” Rodriguez told Fox 7. “If it does, that’s great but if not, hopefully it leads to at least some clue…a car or person walking or something. But, I hope they, you know, find somebody because it just wasn’t right.”

Police believe the package was placed on the front doorsteps of the elderly woman’s home. The bomb detonated when she picks it up, causing serious injuries.

Each of the first two package bombs killed the person who tried to open it.

Police believe the same person or people are behind the package attacks.

The FBI and ATF are assisting local police.

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Timothy Gallagher to Retire As Special Agent in Charge of Newark Division

Timothy Gallagher to retire as head of the FBI’s Newark Division.

By Steve Neavling

Timothy Gallagher, a 22-year veteran of the FBI, plans to retire as head of the bureau’s Newark Division.

Gallagher has served as special agent in charge of the field office since 2016.

His replacement has not yet been announced.

Gallagher began his FBI career as an agent in Canton, Ohio, and served as a deputy assistant director in the FBI’s Criminal Investigative division.

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Border Patrol Agent Helps Save Life of Accident Victim in Arizona

Accident photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

An off-duty Border Patrol agent was riding his bike in Douglas, Ariz., when he came across the twisted wreckage of pickup truck that had rolled off he road and ejected the driver.

The Douglas Station agent, with the help of another motorist, provided life-saving medical care to the ejected driver, Tucson News Now reports

The passers-by stabilized the driver until medics arrived and took the victim to a local hospital.

Agents are tough basic medical training throughout their careers to provide life-saving care.

Other Stories of Interest

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Book: Indicted Ex-Campaign Aide Told Feds Trump Encouraged Meeting with Putin

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling

George Papadopoulos, former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign and cooperating witness in the special counsel probe, told federal investigators that Donald Trump encouraged him to try and secure a secret meeting with Russian President Donald Trump, according to the book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on Ametrica and the Election of Donald Trump,” by Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff and Mother Jones’ David Corn.

Papadopoulos, a 28-year-old political newcomer at the time, told Trump during a meeting on March 31, 2016, that he believed he could establish a meeting between Trump and the Russian leader.

According to the book, Trump considered the prospect “interesting” and encouraged Papadopoulos to arrange the meeting.

Papadopoulos, who agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller’s investigation after pleading guilty in October 2017 to making false statements to the FBI, shared the information with federal prosecutors, according to the book.

The information could prove to be helpful to Mueller’s team as investigators try to determine whether Trump or anyone else from his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere it the 2016 presidential election.

Trump continues to denounce the investigation as a fruitless “witch hunt” by top intelligence officials who want him out of the White House.

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Sex Coaches Jailed in Thailand Claim to Have Evidence of Russian Interference in Election

Russian leader Vladimir Putin

By Steve Neavling

The FBI has tried to arrange a meeting with two self-proclaimed “sex coaches” housed in a Thai jail over claims that they have information about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

FBI agents attempted to set up a meeting with Anastasia Vashukevich and Alexander Kirillov, both Belarusian citizens, but the bureau was rebuffed by Thai officials who insist only the detainees’ lawyers and family members are allowed to have access to them, CNN reported Tuesday

The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok received handwritten letters last month from the women, who offered to provide evidence of Russian meddling in exchange for asylum.

The women were arrested along with other Russian-Speaking sex coaches at a seminar in Thailand last month.

Vashukevich claims to be a former mistress of a Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the letter, she said she witnessed meetings between the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, and unidentified Americans in 2016 and 2017.

Deripaska denies the affair.

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