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Tag: conspiracy theories

DOJ’s Review of the Origins of the Trump Investigation Evolves into Criminal Probe

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump has long claimed, with no evidence, that the Russia investigation was a hoax and a “witch hunt.”

Now, two years later, the Justice Department’s inquiry into the origins of the probe has evolved into a criminal investigation.

Attorney General William Barr has turned over the investigation to John H. Durham, who will serve as the prosecutor with subpoena power over testimony and documents and the power to convene a grand jury, The New York Times reports.

In other words, the Justice Department is investigating itself over what Democrats say is unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

Durham, a longtime prosecutor known for investigating CIA torture, will determine whether intelligence and law enforcement agencies acted within the law when they investigated possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Barr’s review of the Russia investigation began in May, when Barr said he had discussions with intelligence and law enforcement officials that led him to question the legitimacy of the investigation. At one point, Barr even described law enforcement’s actions as “spying” on the Trump campaign.

In an interview with Fox News in May, Barr said he had been pursuing questions about whether “government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale” to investigate the Russia link.

Since then, no credible evidence has been made public to suggest law enforcement acted inappropriately in investigating Trump’s campaign.

FBI Agents Slam Trump for Peddling Conspiracy Theory about Epstein’s Death

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump drew criticism and repulsion from current and retired FBI agents after he retweeted an unfounded conspiracy theory suggesting former President Bill Clinton was linked to the death of Jeffrey Epstein.

Despite mounting questions about how Epstein managed to kill himself so soon after being on suicide watch, no evidence has surfaced to give any conspiracy theory merit.

FBI agents told Business Insider that Trump’s decision to retweet the conspiracy theory to his 63 million followers was irresponsible and dangerous.

“The Epstein case was hypercharged from the get-go,” one current FBI agent, who requested anonymity, said. “The last thing investigators need is the president of the United States fanning the flames with these bullshit theories that have no basis in reality.”

Frank Montoya Jr., a recently retired FBI agent, called Trump’s actions “crazy talk.”

“This would be a bad TV melodrama if it weren’t real,” he added. “The world is watching. Trump may be successfully fooling a third of America with his sociopathic antics, but everyone else … sees how naked the Emperor is, and they are exploiting the advantage.”

Trump has a history of peddling baseless conspiracy theories, from suggesting President Obama was not born in the U.S. to feeding into the idea that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may have been murdered in his bed. Since becoming president, he’s suggested elections were rigged and that there’s “a deep state” conspiracy to drive him from office.

Those conspiracy theories make it more difficult for the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies to do their jobs and undermines confidence in investigations, the agents said.

FBI: Far-right Conspiracy Theories Are Motivating Domestic Terrorism

The pizzeria behind the conspiracy theory known as Pizzagate. Photo by Farragutful.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Conspiracy theories peddled online are motivating people to commit domestic terrorism, the FBI wrote in an internal threat assessment.

The bulletin, first obtained by Yahoo News, says “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” are a growing threat in the U.S.

“The FBI assesses anti-government, identity based, and fringe political conspiracy theories very likely motivate some domestic extremists, wholly or in part, to commit criminal and sometimes violent activity,” the report states. “The FBI further assesses in some cases these conspiracy theories very likely encourage the targeting of specific people, places, and organizations, thereby increasing the likelihood of violence against these targets. These assessments are made with high confidence, based on information from other law enforcement agencies, open source information, court documents, human sources with varying degrees of access and corroboration, and FBI investigations.”

The conspiracy theories are often rooted in white supremacy and anti-government ideologies. The FBI specifically mentions QAnon, a far-right conspiracy about a secret plot to remove President Trump from office, and Pizzagate, a belief that Hillary Clinton and her associates are running a pedophile ring out of a pizzeria basement, which doesn’t exist.

Also mentioned in the document is the gunman who killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Before the massacre, the shooter referenced the Zionist Occupation Government conspiracy theory.

With the rise of social media, conspiracy theories have been on the rise. Trump is often accused of fueling the hate that propels the conspiracy theories. In fact, he was arguably the loudest messenger of the conspiracy theory that President Obama was not born in the U.S.

As president, Trump continues to peddle conspiracy theories about “fake news” and a “witch hunt” to oust him.

The FBI recently warned that white supremacy is behind a majority of the domestic terrorism cases in the U.S. That has given rise to QAnon.

“Although conspiracy theory-driven crime and violence is not a new phenomenon, today’s information environment has changed the way conspiracy theories develop, spread, and evolve,” the report states. “The advent of the Internet and social media has enabled promoters of conspiracy theories to produce and share greater volumes of material via online platforms that larger audience of consumers can quickly and easily access.”

Comey Blasts Trump for ‘Dumb Lies’ about FBI, Defends Bureau’s Handling of Case

Former FBI Director James Comey.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey slammed President Trump as “a liar” for “ranting about treason and corruption at the FBI” and defended the bureau’s decision to investigate the Trump campaign.

In an op-ed published by the Washington Post, Comey denounced Trump’s claims as empty rhetoric and “dumb lies.”

“There was no corruption. There was no treason. There was no attempted coup,” Comey wrote. “Those are lies, and dumb lies at that.”

Comey said the “stubborn facts” are that seven weeks before the FBI discovered Russia was interfering in the presidential election in mid-June 2016, one of Trump’s key advisers told “an allied ambassador” that Russians had “dirt” on Clinton “in the form of thousands of emails.” In addition, the bureau learned “that the Russians could assist the Trump campaign through the animus release of information damaging to Clinton.”

“When we finally learned of it in late July, what should the FBI have done? Let it go? Go tell the Trump campaign? Tell the press? No. Investigate, to see what the facts were,” Comey wrote. “We didn’t know what was true. Maybe there was nothing to it, or maybe Americans were actively conspiring with the Russians. To find out, the FBI would live up to its name and investigate.”

And so the FBI did to investigate, “carefully, professionally and discreetly,” Comey wrote.

“If there was nothing to it, we didn’t want to smear Americans. If there was something to it, we didn’t want to let corrupt Americans know we were onto them. So, we kept it secret. That’s how the FBI approaches all counterintelligence cases.”

Comey said the FBI investigated “to see whether it was true that Americans associated with the campaign had taken the Russians up on any offer of help.”

“We didn’t gather information about the campaign’s strategy,” Comey wrote. “We didn’t ‘spy’ on anyone’s campaign.”

Comey denounced Trump’s campaign of illegal spying as a “conspiracy theory that makes no sense.”

But Comey didn’t make a case for not investigating the FBI’s role in the campaign because he said he’s confident “the work was done appropriately and focused only on discovering the truth of very serious allegations.”

GOP Operative Accused of Offering Money for False Claims Against Mueller

Jack Burkman

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Right-wing operative Jack Burkman and a shady intelligence firm are accused of offering to pay women to falsely accuse special counsel Robert Mueller of sexual misconduct.

Burkman, who hosts “Behind the Curtain with Jack Burkman,” is a prolific conspiracy theorist and firebrand conservative. He recently offered a $25,000 reward for information about Christine Blasey Ford, who had accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while they were in high school.

Details emerged this week that men claiming to work for Burkman and Surefire Intelligence offered to pay women to falsely accuse Mueller of sexual misconduct.

After the allegations surfaced, a far-right website Gateway Pundit posted a document from Surefire Intelligence that claims to have details of a woman who was sexually assaulted by Mueller, who is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

Burkman quickly denied the allegations.

“The allegations of paying women are false,” Burkman tweeted. “The left is trying to defend Mueller against sexual assault allegations so they attack me in desperation. The establishment media knows that Mueller may go down over this—they want to deflect attention.”

Whoever is responsible could be charged with obstruction of justice, witness tampering and making false statements, Justice Department officials told Business Insider

Aliens? Earth-Bound Asteroid? Group Explains Closure, FBI Probe of Space Observatory

Sunspot Solar Observatory, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Aliens? An Earth-bound asteroid? A super solar flare?

The mysterious closure of a space observatory in New Mexico last week spurred wild theories.

The group that manages the Sunspot Solar Observatory explained the closure in a Facebook post, saying it had been “cooperating with an on-going law enforcement investigation of criminal activity that occurred at Sacramento Park.”

The state from the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy continued, “we became concerned that a suspect in the investigation potentially posed a threat to the safety of local staff and residents. For this reason, AURA temporarily vacated the facility and ceased science activities at this location.”

The FBI initially swooped into the observatory without explanation, prompting even the local sheriff to question what was going on.

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

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

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

AURA, which later said the observatory was closed “based on the logistical challenges associated with protecting personnel at such a remote location, and the need for expeditious response to the potential threat,” gave no further explanation of the “criminal activity.”

AURA acknowledged how the “lack of communications while the facility was vacated was concerning and frustrating for some.

“However, our desire to provide additional information had to be balanced against the risk that, if spread at the time, the news would alert the suspect and impede the law enforcement investigation. That was a risk we could not take,” said the statement.

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.”

Trump Hires Conspiracy Theorist to Join Legal Team Involved in Mueller Probe

Attorney Joseph E. diGenova

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump, who has escalated his high-stakes campaign to discredit U.S. intelligence officials involved in the special counsel investigation, hired a tenacious, longtime Washington lawyer who has peddled a conspiracy theory that the FBI and Justice Department framed the president.

Joseph E. diGenova, a former Ronald Reagan-era U.S. attorney, will join the president’s legal team as an outspoken voice for Trump, but he won’t be taking a leading role role, the New York Times reports.

“Former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia Joe DiGenova will be joining our legal team later this week,” said Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s personal lawyers. “I have worked with Joe for many years and have full confidence that he will be a great asset in our representation of the President.”

DiGenova has claimed that a secretive group of FBI agents and Justice Department officials fabricated the Russia investigation to hurt Trump’s chances of winning the 2016 presidential election.

“There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime,” he said on Fox News in January.

DiGenova added, “Make no mistake about it: A group of F.B.I. and D.O.J. people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.”

DiGenova has been unable to provide evidence to substantiate the far-fetched plot.   

Trump, who had avoided referring to special counsel Robert Mueller on the advice of his lawyers, slammed the investigation on Monday as a “total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!”

On Sunday, Trump falsely claimed on Twitter that Mueller’s team has “12 hardened Democrats, big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans.”

Mueller is a registered Republican who was appointed by Republican Deputy Attorney General Jay Rosenstein after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who also is a Republican.

Trump stepped up his assault against the FBI and Justice Department following a spate of recent news that Mueller’s team has expanded its investigation to examine the business dealings of the president and his family.

So far, Mueller has indicted at least 19 people and three companies as part of its evolving investigation that began with allegations that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.