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Acting Homeland Security Director Appoints New CBP Commissioner

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In the latest staff shakeup at the Department of Homeland Security, the new acting secretary, Kevin McAleenan, named a replacement to fill his former post as Customs and Border Protection commissioner.

McAleenan, who was appointed acting DHS secretary to replace Kirstjen Nielsen following her April 7 resignation, tapped CBP Chief Operating Officer John Sanders to become acting CBP commissioner Monday.

Acting CBP Commissioner John Sanders

“John Sanders has proven instrumental to advancing CBP’s mission and organizational priorities across the agency,” McAleenan said in a statement, Fox News reports. “In addition to bringing greater focus on the agency’s operational requirements, he has provided strategic direction and oversight to critical enterprise services and operations support functions across the agency.”

He added: “With John Sanders’ leadership, CBP will continue to excel, remain ever vigilant, and accomplish the mission with steadfast resolve.”

Last week, U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles resigned after he was told to “prepare an exit plan.”

Career Secret Service member James M. Murray will replace Alles in May.

Other shakeups included DHS acting deputy secretary Claire Gradey, who also resigned last week, and ICE Acting Director Ron Vitiello, who is stepping down at the end of this week.


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Mueller’s Russia Report to Be Made Public Any Day. Here’s What to Expect

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr is expected to release to Congress a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s election meddling this week.

President Trump and his allies have applauded Barr’s summary of the report, which suggested that Mueller’s nearly two year investigation was unable to establish that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

The summary also indicated that Mueller’s team failed to prove that Trump obstructed the investigation, but the probe did not “exonerate” the president.

So what can we expect from the full document?

Mueller’s 400-page report most likely lays out the factual findings and legal analysis of the investigation, which resulted in numerous convictions.

Democrats also are skeptical of Barr’s conclusion because he has long been opposed to the special counsel investigation and was hired by Trump. The full report will show whether Barr’s summary left out anything damaging to the president.

But how much of the report is made public is an open question. Barr has repeatedly said he’s working with Mueller’s team to redact information that could compromise sources and other ongoing investigations.

Ticklethewire.com will provide details of the report once it becomes public.


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FBI-Related Hack Unearths Personal Info of Thousands of Federal Officials

FBI cyber crime agents, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A hacker group published the personal information of hundreds of federal law enforcement officials and thousands of other people online after breaching what it describes as more than 1,000 websites, including three belonging to the FBI National Academy Association.

The contents include “4,000 unique records” of names, titles, job descriptions, email addresses, mailing addresses and phone numbers, TechCrunch reports.

The hackers, who claimed to have stolen “over a million” pieces of data from the breach, said they plan to sell the information on the dark web.

When TechCrunch asked whether the information puts law enforcement officials at risk, one of the hackers responded, “Probably yes.”

“We hacked more than 1,000 sites,” the hacker said. “Now we are structuring all the data, and soon they will be sold. I think something else will publish from the list of hacked government sites.”
The hackers said they were motivated by gaining “experience and money.”

The FBI National Academy Association, a nonprofit education and training program for graduates of the FBI Academy, confirmed to NBC News that “personal information has been obtained to be sold on the web.”


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Comey on AG Barr’s Claims: ‘I have never thought of that as spying’

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI director James Comey joined the criticism of Attorney General William Barr after he suggested in congressional testimony this week that the FBI and Justice Department spied on the Trump campaign.

“When I hear that kind of language used, it’s concerning because the F.B.I., the Department of Justice conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance,” Comes told the New York Times. “I have never thought of that as spying.”

Barr testified that he plans to examine the origins of the FBI investigation into Russia’s election meddling, saying the bureau may have acted improperly.

“I think spying did occur,” Mr. Barr said. “The question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I’m not suggesting that it wasn’t adequately predicated. But I need to explore that.”

Barr created a firestorm by using the term “spying,” which typically refers to illicit surveillance.

Trump repeated Thursday that he believed “there was absolutely spying into my campaign.”

“I’ll go a step further: In my opinion, it was illegal spying, unprecedented spying, and something that should never be allowed to happen in our country again,” Trump said. “And I think his answer was actually a very accurate one.”


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Paralyzed Secret Service Agent to Join Boston Marathon to Give Back

Garrett FitzGerald and his wife Joan.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Secret Service agent who was paralyzed in a car crash while on duty in New Hampshire in 2015 will join the throngs of runners in the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Agent Garrett FitzGerald will be joined by his supervisor, Don McGrail, who is the assistant to the special agent in charge.

“We were struck head-on by a driver driving the opposite direction who was high on heroin,” FitzGerald told WMUR.com.

FitzGerald and McGail are running under the name, Team Fritz, in hopes of raising $20,000 for Journey Forward, where Fitzgerald spend four days a week for nearly three years in rehabilitation.

As of Monday morning, they have raised $11,662.

“What they do here is nothing short of a miracle,” FitzGerald said.

“Team Fitz is more than just a running club,” McGrail said. “We are there to support the Fitzgerald family, whether that’s a meal train or helping them move in and out of a home — whatever it is. There is a whole group of people there to support the family.”

FitzGerald never gave up, and seven months ago he became a father.

“It’s been wonderful being a dad,” he said. “It’s different. Certainly, nothing can prepare you for that change or the sleepless nights, but it’s good.”


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Son of Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested Over Fires at 3 Black Churches in La.

Suspect Holden Matthews. Via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The 21-year-old son of a St. Landry Parish deputy has been identified as the suspect accused of setting fire to three historic black churches in Louisiana.

“A suspect has been identified in connection with the three church burnings in Opelousas, Louisiana, and is in state custody,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph in a statement. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office, ATF, and FBI are working with state and local law enforcement and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the victims and those St. Landry Parish residents affected by these despicable acts.”

Holden Matthews was turned in by his father, Deputy Roy Matthews, on Wednesday evening, CBS News reports.

The three fires have a lot in common: They broke out at historic African American church buildings in Louisiana Landry Parish at night, were located in rural areas and occurred when no one was inside.

The suspect lives in the Landry Parish.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether authorities have a motive.

The ATF and other agencies are holding a press conference at 10 a.m. Thursday to release more information.

Earlier this week, the NAACP called the church burnings “domestic terrorism” aimed at people because of their race and faith.

The first fire broke out on March 26 and burned St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre to the ground. The second fire occurred Tuesday at the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas, and the third fire broke out Thursday at the 100-year-old Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas.


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AG Barr Says He Suspects ‘Spying Did Occur’ on Trump Campaign

AG William Barr testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr took Washington D.C. when he told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that he’s investigating what he described as “spying” on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

“I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016,” Barr said. “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal.”

Asked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., whether he believes Trump’s campaign was spied on, Barr responded, “I think spying did occur.”

“The question is whether it was adequately predicated,” he said. “I’m not suggesting it was not adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”

Barr presented no evidence to back up why he believed “spying” occured, but he appears to be referring to a secret surveillance warrant obtained by the FBI to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Barr said he plans to work with FBI Director Christopher Wray to examine what prompted the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.

Appearing before a subcommittee for the second consecutive day, Barr also indicated he “hoped” to publicize a redacted version of the Mueller report “next week.”


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AG Barr Says He Believes ‘Spying’ on a Political Campaign Occurred in 2016

Attorney General Barr testifying Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William P. Barr, the latest figure to generate headlines on Capitol Hill,  said Wednesday he thought “spying” on a political campaign occurred in the course of intelligence agencies’ investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Washington Post reports:

At a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Barr was asked about his statement a day earlier that he would review how the FBI launched its counterintelligence investigation that sought to determine whether Donald Trump’s associates were interacting with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It’s a big deal,” said Barr, noting that there are long-held rules to prevent intelligence agencies from collecting information on domestic political figures.

“I’m not suggesting that those rules were violated, but I think it’s important to look at that,” he said. “I’m not talking about the FBI necessarily but intelligence agencies more broadly.”

 


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