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Tag: Congress

Lawmakers Uneasy about FBI’s Facial Recognition Technology

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Some Democrats and Republicans in Congress are calling for a temporary ban on the federal government’s use of facial recognition technology after the FBI revealed it had accumulated more than 640 million photographs.

The photos, which come from driver’s licenses, mug shots, passports, social media and other places, can be used for the bureau’s facial recognition technology.

“This technology is evolving extremely rapidly without any real safeguards,” Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said during the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Tuesday. “Whether we are talking about commercial use or government use, there are real concerns about the risks that this technology poses to our civil rights and liberties and our right to privacy.”

The technology has been criticized, not just over transparency and privacy concerns, but because of its unreliability. Studies have shown the technology is less accurate on darker faces, which could lead to arrests based on false matches.

Kimberly Del Greco, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services section, told lawmakers that “Trust is crucial” to the FBI.

“Protecting the privacy and civil liberties of the American people is part of our culture.”

Some lawmakers questioned why the FBI was using noncriminal photos.

How Democrats Plan to Continue Fight over Mueller Report And Defiant Trump Officials

Former special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The fight over the Robert Mueller report is far from over.

After Democrats threatened to impose fines on Attorney General William Barr for refusing to turn over the full, unredacted report, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., expressed optimism that Mueller would testify before Congress.

“The American people have a right to hear what the man who did the investigation has to say and we now know we certainly can’t rely on the attorney general who misrepresented his conclusions,” the House Intelligence Committee chairman said on “This Week” Sunday. “So he is going to testify.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Schiff also said Democrats are not backing down from imposing fines and holding contempt hearings against Trump officials who refuse to comply with congressional subpeonas.

“We’re are going have to use that device if necessary, we’re going to have to use the power of the purse if necessary,” he said. “We’re going to have to enforce our ability to do oversight.”

Also on Sunday, Schiff said he fears the country cannot “survive another four years” of Trump.

“I don’t think this country could survive another four years of a president like this, who gets up every day trying to find new and inventive ways to divide us,” the congressman cautioned. “He doesn’t seem to understand that a fundamental aspect of his job is to try to make us a more perfect union. But that’s not at all where he’s coming from.”

FBI Director Wray Defends Bureau, Says No Evidence ‘Spying’ Occurred

FBI Director Christopher Wray

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray distanced himself from Attorney General William Barr, saying Tuesday he’s unaware of any illegal surveillance and that he doesn’t use the politically charged term “spying.”

“That’s not the term I would use,” Wray told senators at a budget hearing when asked about Barr’s allegations that the bureau may have abused their powers in investigating Trump’s campaign.

The question came from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who said he “was very concerned by” Barr’s “use of the word spying, which I think is a loaded word.”

Wray also was asked if he had “any evidence that any illegal surveillance” of Trump’s campaign occurred.

“I don’t think I personally have any evidence of that sort,” Wray said.

The FBI director also offered to help explain to Barr how the Russia investigation began.

Trump Flip Flops, Says Mueller ‘Should Not Testify’ Before Congress

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump has reversed his position on whether special counsel Robert Mueller should testify before Congress, suggesting Democrats want “a redo” of the investigation.

Two days after telling reporters that Attorney General William Barr should decide whether Mueller testifies, Trump on Saturday changed his tone.

“Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!” the president tweeted Sunday.

“After spending more than $35,000,000 over a two year period, interviewing 500 people, using 18 Trump Hating Angry Democrats & 49 FBI Agents — all culminating in a more than 400 page Report showing NO COLLUSION — why would the Democrats in Congress now need Robert Mueller to testify,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“Are they looking for a redo because they hated seeing the strong NO COLLUSION conclusion? There was no crime, except on the other side (incredibly not covered in the Report), and NO OBSTRUCTION,” Trump added.

Bar told a Senate committee last week that he has no objection to Mueller testifying.

Mueller Expresses Frustration with AG Barr’s Characterization of Full Report on Russian Interference

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Robert Mueller shared his misgivings in a letter to the Justice Department about how Attorney General William Barr characterized the special counsel’s full report on the Russia investigation.

In a letter to the Justice Department in late March, Mueller expressed opposition to Barr’s summary, which President Trump used to claim he was exonerated of collusion and obstruction of justice, The Washington Post, CNN and The New York Times report.

Mueller complained to Barr that his summary to Congress “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the special counsel’s 448-page report, especially when it came to obstruction of justice.

“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions,” Mueller wrote. “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

After Barr received the letter, he and Mueller, who are longtime friends, also spoke over the phone. Barr said he was pushing for the full report to be released as soon as the appropriate redactions were made.

The discovery of Mueller’s letter came one day before Barr is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. On Thursday, Barr is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

Democrats are likely to hammer Barr over the rift between himself and Mueller.

In Barr’s summary, he said Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice. Barr concluded in his summary that he examined the evidence and concluded it was insufficient to rise to the level of charges.

Democrats are questioning whether Barr is acting like an independent, objective attorney general or the personal attorney for Trump.

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.

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.”

Roger Stone Accuses Feds of ‘Gestapo Tactics’ But Leaves Door Open to Cooperate

Roger Stone on ABC’s “This Week.”

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Roger Stone, the longtime Trump loyalist and Republican strategist who was arrested last week on charges of lying to Congress, accused the FBI of engaging in “Gestapo tactics” to “depict me as public enemy No. 1.”

But during his appearance Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week,” he also left open the possibility of cooperating with Robert Mueller’s investigation.

When asked whether he would cooperate, the self-described “dirty trickster” responded, “You know, that’s a question I would have to — I have to determine after my attorneys have some discussion. If there’s wrongdoing by other people in the campaign that I know about, which I know of none, but if there is, I would certainly testify honestly.”

He added, “I’d also testify honestly about any other matter, including any communications with the president.” he

“It’s true that we spoke on the phone, but those communications are political in nature, they’re benign, and there is — there is certainly no conspiracy with Russia.”

Still, Stone questioned why FBI agents showed up with weapons during a pre-dawn raid at his home in Florida.

“This was an expensive show of force to try to depict me as public enemy number one … to attempt to poison the jury pool,” Stone said. “These are Gestapo tactics.”

At one point in the interview, Stone said, “They could have simply have called my lawyers and I would have turned myself in.”

Federal law enforcement has not yet said why they arrested Stone in such a dramatic fashion but indicated there was a legitimate reason that soon will be made public.