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Tag: Congress

FBI to Reveal Details Today of Congressional Baseball Shooting in Virginia

Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI plans to release details today of the shooting that critically injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four other people last week on a northern Virginia baseball field.

The bureau’s Washington Field Office will reveal the investigative findings by agents and other law enforcement officials.

Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, was critically wounded when he was shot near the hip, but after several surgeries, his condition has upgraded to serious.

James T. Hodgkinson was killed by police after he shot four people at a congressional baseball game. Photo via Facebook.

James T. Hodgkinson was killed by police after he shot four people at a congressional baseball game. Photo via Facebook.

The shooting happened while Scalise and other congressional Republicans were practicing in advance of ann annual charity baseball game against Democrats.

James T. Hodgkinson, a harsh critic of President Trump and an employed home inspector, opened fire at the field and became involved in shootout with police before he was mortally wounded. 

Republican Congressman Chaffetz Slams Trump, Sessions on Transparency

Rep. Jason Chaffetz was the chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz was the chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the oversight leader of Congress with just two weeks left in office, slammed President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an interview with Sinclair Broadcast Group

“The reality is, sadly, I don’t see much difference between the Trump administration and the Obama administration,” the chairman of the House Oversight Committee said over the weekend.

The Utah Congressman, who announced his resignation last month, said Sessions is “worse” than Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch, when it comes to transparency.

“The attorney general has not changed at all. I find him to be worse than what I saw with Loretta Lynch in terms of releasing documents and making things available,” Chaffetz said. “That’s my experience, and that’s not what I expected.” 

Read the full interview here

FBI Investigates Anti-Trump Gunman Who Shot 4 People at Virginia Ballpark

James T. Hodgkinson was killed by police after he shot four people at a congressional baseball game. Photo via Facebook.

James T. Hodgkinson was killed by police after he shot four people at a congressional baseball game. Photo via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has taken over the investigation of a 66-year-old gunman who opened fire at a congressional baseball team, shooting four people including high-ranking Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who was in critical condition Wednesday night.

James T. Hodgkinson, a harsh critic of President Trump, was killed in a gun battle with police.

The FBI is investigating the background of shooter, his associates, social media activity and potential motivations.

According to the New York Times, Hodgkinson was living out of his van in the Northern Virginia suburbs and often posted venomous criticisms of Trump on Facebook. 

In the meantime, the ATF is tracing the history of the rifle and handgun used in the attack.

Dale Walsh, a friend of Hodgkinson, said the man was vibrant and positive when he was younger.

“He wasn’t evil,” Walsh said. “I guess he was tired of the politics.”

Congressional Democrats to Sue Trump over Foreign Payments to His Businesses

US CapitolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Nearly 200 Democratic members of Congress are planning to file a federal lawsuit today accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by accepting money from foreign governments for his business empire.

The suit alleges Trump violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause, who prohibits the president from accepting payments from foreign governments without congressional consent, the New York Times reports. 

At least 184 members of Congress have already signed the draft complaint, as of Tuesday evening.

Among the allegations is that Trump is profiting from foreign diplomats who stay in his hotels.

“The founders ensured that federal officeholders would not decide for themselves whether particular emoluments were likely to compromise their own independence or lead them to put personal interest over national interest,” the lawsuit states. “An officeholder, in short, should not be the sole judge of his own integrity.”

It is the third such lawsuit alleging that Trump is using his leadership position to profit from foreign governments.

Long-Delayed Plans for FBI Headquarters Hits Budgetary Snag Yet Again

The FBI's current headquarters in Washington D.C.

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The long-delayed plan to build a new FBI headquarters appears to have hit yet another funding snag.

The budget that Congress is set to consider this week is more than a half billion dollars short of what’s needed to build the new headquarters, and it could take another year to decide on the location, the Washington Post reports. 

Under President Obama, the plan was to build a new headquarters in the Washington D.C. suburbs for $1.4 billion. The proposed budget deal under consideration this week provides just $523 million.

But the budget deal leaves open the possibility of another $315 million to add to the $390 million previously appropriated for the project.

The GSA wants to build a new headquarters in Greenbelt, Md., Landover, Md., or Springfield, Va.

The current headquarters is too cramped and not built to accommodate new technology.

Comey May Have Wanted to Stay Out of Politics, But He Shaped the Election — N.Y. Times

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A New York Times examination of the 2016 election concludes that while FBI Director James Comey insisted on avoiding politics, he ended up shaping the election.

Reporters Matt Apuzzo, Michael Schmidt, Adam Goldman and Eric Lichblau of the New York Times write about the Hillary Clinton email probe:

But with polls showing Mrs. Clinton holding a comfortable lead, Mr. Comey ended up plunging the F.B.I. into the molten center of a bitter election. Fearing the backlash that would come if it were revealed after the election that the F.B.I. had been investigating the next president and had kept it a secret, Mr. Comey sent a letter informing Congress that the case was reopened.

What he did not say was that the F.B.I. was also investigating the campaign of Donald J. Trump. Just weeks before, Mr. Comey had declined to answer a question from Congress about whether there was such an investigation. Only in March, long after the election, did Mr. Comey confirm that there was one.

The paper goes on to write:

An examination by The New York Times, based on interviews with more than 30 current and former law enforcement, congressional and other government officials, found that while partisanship was not a factor in Mr. Comey’s approach to the two investigations, he handled them in starkly different ways. In the case of Mrs. Clinton, he rewrote the script, partly based on the F.B.I.’s expectation that she would win and fearing the bureau would be accused of helping her. In the case of Mr. Trump, he conducted the investigation by the book, with the F.B.I.’s traditional secrecy. Many of the officials discussed the investigations on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

 

Cell Phones Seized by Border Patrol Triples in One Year; Congress May Intervene

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The number of cell phones turned over to demanding Border Patrol agents has nearly tripled from 2015 to 2016.

That has led Congress to consider legislation the would require a warrant before people would be entitled to turn over their phones on the requests of agents, according to a new NPR report. 

Here’s a partial transcript of the interview:

As the Trump administration looks to carry out extreme vetting of those who want to enter the U.S., one screening practice has already been amped up. In 2016, the number of people asked to hand over their cell phones and passwords by Customs and Border Protection agents increased almost threefold over the year before. NPR’s Brian Naylor reports this is happening to both foreign visitors and American citizens.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: It happened to Sidd Bikkannavar in January. He was returning from a trip to Chile and at the Houston airport was told to report to passport control by Customs and Border Protection, CBP.

SIDD BIKKANNAVAR: And the CBP officer started a series of questions and instructions. It was all pretty benign and uneventful. He ultimately told me to hand over my phone and give the password to unlock it.

NAYLOR: Bikkannavar is an American citizen. In fact, he’s a NASA engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

BIKKANNAVAR: You know, as politely as I could, I refused. I told him I wasn’t allowed to give up the password. I have to protect access. It’s a work-issued phone. So I pointed out the NASA barcodes and labels on the phone.

NAYLOR: But all that didn’t matter to the CBP agents who continued to insist and handed Bikkannavar a document warning there’d be consequences if Bikkannavar didn’t go along. And so he did. Now, you might be wondering – doesn’t the Constitution protect Americans from this sort of thing? Well, it turns out the law isn’t entirely clear. CBP maintains it has the authority to look through everyone’s phones at border crossings and airport customs checkpoints. Here’s Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly before a Senate panel last week.

Federal Incentives for Seizing Assets Encourages ‘Policing for Profit’

frozen-cash2By Editorial Board
Sentinel & Enterprise

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan have introduced legislation to reform civil asset forfeiture, a practice by which law enforcement agencies seize the property and assets of individuals with minimal due process.

The practice has encouraged “policing for profit,” distorting the mission of police agencies toward revenue generation to the detriment of the property rights of Americans. Paul’s and Walberg’s bill should unite those concerned with upholding constitutional rights and justice more broadly.

The FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, previously introduced by Paul in 2014, seeks to shore up the rights of Americans facing civil asset forfeiture proceedings and curb the perverse profit incentives that underline the practice.

“The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime,” said Paul. “The FAIR Act will protect Americans’ Fifth Amendment rights from being infringed upon by ensuring that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process.”

Under current practices, federal agencies, often in partnership with state and local police departments, may seize a person’s cash, home or vehicle simply upon the suspicion that such assets were connected to criminal activity. One need not even be charged or convicted of a crime to have personal assets permanently seized.

All the government needs to do is meet the relatively low standard of a preponderance of the evidence to prevail in court — while innocent owners have the burden of trying to prove their innocence and bearing the costs of legally opposing government authorities.

This has created a situation where the federal government has seized billions of dollars in assets under questionable circumstances. According to the Institute for Justice, from 2001 to 2014, the forfeiture funds of the Department of Justice and Treasury Department took in nearly $29 billion. This provides financial incentive to both federal agencies and state and local partners, who get a cut of the money through “equitable sharing,” to increasingly focus on cases with revenue-generating potential.

To read more click here.