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Tag: donald trump

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.

 

DOJ Official Leading Trump-Russia Investigation Unexpectedly Leaving

The DOJ's Mary McCord is stepping down during Trump probe.

The DOJ’s Mary McCord is stepping down during Trump probe.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The high-ranking Justice Department official who is heading the government’s investigation into potential ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign announced unexpectedly that she is leaving the DOJ in May.

Mary McCord, acting assistant attorney general for national security, told staff that she is leaving in mid-May, according to NPR. 

“The time is now right for me to pursue new career opportunities,” May told NPR.

The departure leaves an important position unfilled and raises questions about what’s next for the investigation.

NPR writes:

Her exit leaves a huge vacancy at one of the Justice Department’s most important divisions, at a time when the Trump administration is struggling to fill the ranks. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the only leader so far in the building to have secured Senate confirmation. His picks for deputy and associate attorney general await votes by the full Senate. The administration has not yet announced political appointees for other top posts.

Protecting national security is the top Justice Department priority no matter which political party is in power. The National Security Division, created after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, has filed criminal charges against Chinese and Russian hackers, sent Americans inspired by the Islamic State and al-Qaida to serve decades in prison and launched counterintelligence probes involving suspected spies.

The investigation into Russian election meddling is one of the highest profile matters in the division’s short history. It’s not clear whether the probe will result in criminal charges against anyone. But both the Justice Department and the FBI are taking it seriously.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Begins Restricting Media Access to the Bureau Following News Leaks

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI rolled out a new media policy that restricts contacts between the news media and bureau employees following controversies over recent leaks.

The policy was announced this week at a Washington conference attended by FBI agents in charge of 56 field offices, CNN reports. 

Under FBI Director James Comey, the bureau has improved media access to the bureau. But the new policy endangers that transparency.

The new restrictions follow leaked information for news stories about contacts between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives.

Under the new policy, only leaders of the field offices and PR employees are allowed to talk with the media. There are exemptions when proper authorization is given to bureau employees,

The FBI declined to comment.

Love Lost? Trump Administration Prepares to Charge Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange

Julian Assange on Fox News

Julian Assange on Fox News

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump praised the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks while he was running for president.

Now, his administration is preparing charges against the group’s founder, Julian Assange, according to CNN

The charges may include conspiracy, violating the Espionage Act and the theft of government property.

The decision to charge Assange, who revealed troves of damaging e-mails from the Hillary Clinton campaign, belongs to the Justice Department.

U.S. authorities are responding to WikiLeaks releasing 8,000 documents last week revealing secrets about the CIA’s spying capabilities.

Attorney General on Thursday called Assange’s arrest a “priority.”

“We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks,” he said. “This is a matter that’s gone beyond anything I’m aware of. We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious. So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.”

Assange’s lawyer responded.

“We’ve had no communication with the Department of Justice and they have not indicated to me that they have brought any charges against Mr. Assange,” Barry Pollack said. “They’ve been unwilling to have any discussion at all, despite our repeated requests, that they let us know what Mr. Assange’s status is in any pending investigations. There’s no reason why WikiLeaks should be treated differently from any other publisher.”

Was Ex-Trump Aide Carter Page a Russian Agent? FBI Investigating

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Three years before Carter Page became a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump, FBI agents were already concerned about him being influenced by a Russian spy.

So when Page delivered a Russia-friendly speech at a prestigious Moscow Institute last July while working on Trump’s campaign, the FBI’s curiosity piqued. Agents began digger deeper to determine whether there were any ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign, current and former law enforcement and intelligence official told the New York Times.   

Page, a 45-year-old Navy veteran and businessman, had lived in Moscow for three years. When he stepped down from the Trump campaign in September, the FBI obtained a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor his communications, suspecting he was a Russia agent.

Page is just the latest member of Trump’s campaign or administration to come under fire for connections to Russia.

The investigation is ongoing.   

CIA, FBI Search for Leaker Who Gave Classified Documents to Wikileaks

cia-lobby-sealBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The CIA and FBI are on the hunt for a traitor inside the spy agency who turned over a trove of classified documents to Wikileaks.

Government officials told CBS News that the leaker either works for the CIA or is a government contractor.

Making the investigation more difficult, hundreds of workers had access to the data, which was published by Wikileaks in March.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo criticized Wikileaks for releasing the documents.

“It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” Pompeo said while speaking to the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

President Trump, however, had a much different opinion of Wikileaks during the presidential campaign.

“I love Wikileaks!” Trump said to a rally of supporters in Wilkes-Barre, Penn. in October.

Trump’s Crackdown on Immigration Is Straining Already Backlogged Immigration Cases

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

File photo of a Border Patrol agent.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

New federal immigration rules under President Trump are placing a heavy burden on Border Patrol agents, judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys who already had been swamped.

The USA Today reports that Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration, which gives agents more leverage to deport undocumented immigrants, has been strain on “an immigration court system already juggling more than a half-million cases and ill-equipped to take on thousands more.”

“We’re at critical mass,” said Linda Brandmiller, a San Antonio immigration attorney who works with juveniles. “There isn’t an empty courtroom. We don’t have enough judges. You can say you’re going to prosecute more people, but from a practical perspective, how do you make that happen?”

The number of backlogged immigration cases have increased from 236,415 in 2010 to 508,036 this year, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research group at Syracuse University. 

The Border Patrol also is understaffed and having trouble hiring enough agents.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Used Trump Dossier to Bolster Case for Monitoring Advisor on Russia

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI gained approval to secretly monitor a Donald Trump associate after using a dossier of allegations that Russians were conspiring with Trump to help him win the presidential election, U.S. officials told CNN. 

The dossier, which alleges quid-pro-quo deals with Russia, helped the FBI gain approval from the secret court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to track the communications of Carter Page, who served as an advisor to Trump on national security.

U.S. officials said they conducted their own investigation apart from the dossier to conclude that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

CNN wrote:

The dossier alleges that Page met senior Russian officials as an emissary of the Trump campaign, and discussed quid-pro-quo deals relating to sanctions, business opportunities and Russia’s interference in the election. Page has denied meeting the officials named in the dossier and says he never cut any political deals with the Kremlin.

During the campaign, he traveled to Russia in July, where he gave a lecture critical of US policy toward Russia. That trip drew the attention of the FBI and raised concerns about Page’s contacts with suspected Russian operatives, according to US officials briefed on the matter. Page has said he made the trip independent of the Trump campaign and his speech reflected his own views.