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Tag: donald trump

ATF Loses Agents And Resources As Gun Deaths, Mass Shootings Rise

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

As law enforcement struggles with how to handle the proliferation of mass shootings in the U.S., the agency tasked with enforcing gun laws is underfunded and without a permanent leader.

The ATF is expected to lose 300 agents to retirement in 2018 and 2019, and the agency isn’t hiring enough replacements.

The agency has no permanent leader, and its budget continues to be cut.

Kenneth E. Nelson, former acting ATF director, said the agency is being handled like “political football.”

“If they are really concerned, Congress would give ATF the resources to prevent and respond to mass shootings, but ATF is a political football,” Nelson told The Washington Times.

Since 2001, the number of gun deaths have risen 34%, but the number of federal agents – about 2,600 – has not increased.

“The growth of violent gun crime is an external challenge that has strained ATF’s ability to respond to requests for assistance to address the needs of the nation’s cities and citizens most affected by this violence,” ATF wrote, adding that “requests for services and support continue to exceed our ability to respond.”

In 2018, the ATF hired 156 agents but lost 172 to retirement. With about 17% of agents aged 50 or older, the agency is expected to lose a lot more staff.

President Trump has even discussed transferring the ATF’s responsibilities to the Treasury Department.

David Chipman, a former ATF agent, said the gun lobby is to blame.

“We all agree gun violence is a significant public safety threat, so why is the ATF the size that it is?” he said. “That is largely because the gun lobby has been concerned about an effective and aggressive ATF, and their influence over legislators has kept the ATF ineffectual, at least budgetwise.”

Senate May Vote on Chad Wolf’s Nomination to Lead Homeland Security by Tuesday

Chad Wolf

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Senate may vote as early as Tuesday on President Trump’s pick of Chad Wolf as acting Homeland Security secretary.

If approved by the Republican-controlled Senate, Wolf would be Trump’s fifth leader of Homeland Security, a department that has been shaken up by its focus on immigration.

A closure vote today would open the door for a full floor vote next week, CBS News reports.

Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan would resign if Wolf’s nomination is approved.

It’s unclear whether Trump plans to tap Wolf for the permanent secretary position.

Sen. Bernie Sanders Calls for Dismantling ICE, CBP And Pausing Deportations

Sen. Bernie Sanders at a Detroit rally. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled his immigration plans Thursday, calling for a moratorium on deportations and an end to ICE raids and President Trump’s “racist and ineffective” wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The long-anticipated plan, entitled “A Welcoming and Safe America for All,” pushes for a pathway to citizenship and says “Trump has manufactured” a humanitarian crisis at the border.

Sanders also wants to dismantle ICE and CBP and “redistribute their functions to their proper authorities.” To do so, Sanders is calling for the restructuring of the Department of Homeland Security, an agency that the Vermont senator voted against in 2002.

Under the plan, the Justice Department would once again handled deportation, enforcement and border authority. The Treasury Department would take over customs. And the State Department would handle naturalization and citizenship authority.

If elected, Sanders says he will “end the barbaric practice of ripping children from their parents and locking children in cages” on his first day in office.

Sanders also pledges to end Trump’s “racist and disgusting Muslim ban and instruct DOJ to drop any litigation or funding restrictions relating to sanctuary cities.”

Trump Plans to Name Chad Wolf As Fifth Homeland Security Secretary in Less Than 3 Years

Chad Wolf

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump plans to name Chad Wolf as the next acting Homeland Security secretary, Politico reports.

Wolf, the acting undersecretary for strategy at Homeland Security and former chief of staff to then-Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, would replace Kevin McAleenan, who was scheduled to resign Thursday but agreed to stay on to create a smooth transition in leadership.

That would make Wolf the fifth Homeland Security secretary in less than three years under Trump.

The White House was trying to find a loophole in a federal law to appoint immigration hardliner Ken Cuccinelli. But Republican senators warned the president against making the appointment.

Officials told Politico that Trump has some concerns about Wolf, including that he’s not strong enough on immigration. But Wolf was involved in the migrant family separation policy at the border.

Still, a senior administration official told Politico that Wolf would be “an outstanding pick by the President.”

“Chad is uniquely qualified to lead the Department and he’s widely respected within DHS and the interagency community for his experience and vision,” the official said.

Republican Senators to Trump: Don’t Appoint Immigration Hardliner to Lead Homeland Security

Ken Cuccinelli

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Republican senators are warning President Trump not to exploit a potential loophole in a federal law to appoint an immigration hardliner to lead Homeland Security.

As Tickle the Wire reported Wednesday, the White House is looking for ways to bypass the Federal Vacancies Act that limits who can take over cabinet-level positions. Trump and immigration hardliners appear to favor Ken Cuccinelli to become the fifth Homeland Security director in less than three years.

As acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Cuccinelli would not be eligible unless the administration found a loophole that involves appointing him to assistant secretary of Homeland Security. Doing so would risk a protracted legal battle at a time when Homeland Security needs a permanent leader.

“The White House would be well advised to consult with the Senate and senators before they take any decisive action that might be embarrassing to Mr. Cuccinelli or to the White House itself,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), according to Politico.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also said he does not like the idea.

Cuccinelli, one of the president’s top lieutenants as an immigration hardliner, has not won over Republicans because he once led the Senate Conservatives Fund, a group that was critical of the GOP establishment.

On Wednesday, Cuccinelli told lawmakers he ended a program that temporarily protected immigrants from deportation if they’re battling life-threatening illnesses in the U.S.

Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan is scheduled to resign today.

FBI Launches Probe of Death Threats Targeting CIA Whistleblower

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating death threats leveled against the CIA whistleblower whose complaint prompted the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry.

Since the whistleblower’s identify is still anonymous, the threats were sent to the legal team representing the CIA official, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told the New York Daily News.

Several of the death threats mentioned executing and shooting the CIA informant.

One email sent to the legal team says, “The whistleblower should be shot.”

Another person wrote, “In Putin’s country, they would execute this person.”

According to the source, the FBI is taking the threats “incredibly seriously.”

President Trump has turned up the hateful rhetoric directed at the whistleblower, calling him a “partisan operative,” “spy,” and “never Trumper.”

“Sounding more and more like the so-called Whistleblower isn’t a Whistleblower at all,” Trump tweeted last month.

White House Explores Loophole to Appoint Immigration Hardliner to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security

Ken Cuccinelli

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Immigration hardliners have been gunning for Ken Cuccinelli as acting secretary of Homeland Security, but a federal law appeared to make the appointment impossible.

The White House may have found a way to bypass the federal Vacancies Act, which limits who can take over cabinet-level positions.

Under the law, the acting official is required to be the next in the line of succession, have served 90 days under the previous secretary or receive Senate approval.

As acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Cuccinelli would not be eligible.

One possible loophole is for Trump to appoint Cuccinelli to the vacant position of assistant secretary of the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office and then tap him to be the acting secretary of Homeland Security, The New York Times reports.

Trump’s fourth acting Homeland Security secretary in less than three years is Kevin K. McAleenan, who is retiring at the end of the month.

Trump has demanded loyalty from that position, and he’s desired a secretary whose man focus is on immigration, not terrorism.

Debates Rage on over Removing J. Edgar Hoover’s Name from New Headquarters

Current FBI headquarters, via FBI

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Plans to build a new FBI headquarters have been in limbo under President Trump, but that hasn’t stopped lawmakers and others from debating whether to remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from a new building.

The Washington Times talked to lawmakers and former FBI officials to get their take. Some lawmakers scoff at the legacy of Hoover, the bureau’s first and longest-serving director. They say he discriminated against gay workers and squashed the civil liberties of black protesters, citing his obsession with Martin Luther King Jr.

“J. Edgar Hoover was an abomination on our history,” said Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat and chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “I think they should find a name more reputable than J. Edgar Hoover. I mean, all that came out about him after his death: the way he threatened people, what he did in the African American community, what he did to Martin Luther King, what he did to the LGBT community, I could go on and on.”

Former agents say he was a crime-busting and national security hero and transformed the FBI into an effective, modernized federal agency.

“As a former agent, I am disappointed in the FBI for not doing more to defend Mr. Hoover’s legacy,” said William D. Brannon, a 30-year FBI veteran and chairman of the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes Hoover’s legacy with scholarships to underprivileged college students.

“He really is the father of modern law enforcement,” said John F. McCaffrey, director of the J. Edgar Hoover Institute and a former agent. “We need to recognize that. He did things like establish an identification division, he brought science to law enforcement. He may have had his shortcomings, but his accomplishments were tremendous, and we want to see him recognized.”

One Congressional Black Caucus member, Rep. Val Butler Demings, D-Fla., said agents should be able to decide the name of the new headquarters.

“I think it’s really important to understand how the men and women of the bureau feel about the first FBI director,” she said. “I think it’s really important to listen to them.”

But first, the federal government has to decide on a plan for a new headquarters. The current one is decrepit, can’t accommodate a lot of new technology and constitutes security concerns.

Until Trump came along, federal officials had narrowed down the locations for a new headquarters to Maryland and Virginia. Congress had even security a third of the funding.

But six months into his administration, Trump officials abandoned the previous plans, and the project has been in limbo since.