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Tag: donald trump

AG Barr Says Trump’s Tweets ‘Make It Impossible for Me to Do My Job’

Attorney General William Barr on ABC News.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr delivered a rare rebuke of President Trump, saying his tweets about the Justice Department “make it impossible for me to do my job.”

In an interview with ABC News, Barr said, “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.”

“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody … whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president,” Barr said. “I’m gonna do what I think is right. And you know … I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”

Barr’s candid remarks come after Trump injected himself into the case of his friend and confidant Roger Stone, who was convicted in November of seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction, and witness tampering. Trump tweeted that the sentence recommendation of seven to nine years in prison was “horrible and very unfair” and called it a “miscarriage of justice!” Soon after the tweet, senior Justice Department officials overruled the recommendation, saying it was excessive, prompting a team of prosecutors to withdraw from the case.

Barr defended the department’s decision to overrule the sentence recommendation and insisted Trump was not a factor.

Barr insisted he notified his staff to amend the recommendation before Trump’s tweet, which he said put him in a tough position.

“Do you go forward with what you think is the right decision or do you pull back because of the tweet? And that just sort of illustrates how disruptive these tweets can be,” he said.

After the sentence recommendation was lowered, Trump congratulated Barr.

“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,” Trump tweeted.

Barr insisted he would never bow to political pressure from Trump.

“If (Trump) were to say, ‘Go investigate somebody because’—and you sense it’s because they’re a political opponent, then the attorney general shouldn’t carry that out, wouldn’t carry that out,” Barr said.

House Democrats Demand Secret Service Payments to Trump Organization

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

House Democrats are asking the Secret Service to disclose how much money it is spending at President Trump’s company while protecting him at his properties, often while he’s golfing.

The request comes after The Washington Post revealed that the Secret Service was spending as much as $650 per night for rooms for each agent. The costs added up to more than $471,000 for stays between January 2017 and April 2018.

In a letter to Secret Service Director James Murray, Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney and Jackie Speier requested payment records and any contracts between the Trump Organization and the Secret Service.

“The payment of rates far above government rates and the Trump Administration’s lack of transparency raise serious concerns about the use of taxpayer dollars and raise questions about government spending at other Trump properties,” Maloney and Speier wrote in the letter. “These concerns are heightened since President Trump has spent a third of his presidency at his private clubs and hotels, and his Treasury Secretary has attempted to shield Secret Service expenses from public scrutiny.”

The letter notes that Eric Trump, the president’s son and executive Vice President of the Trump Organization, told Yahoo Finance that the government “saves a fortune” when it stays at properties he owns. But records show the payments are higher than usual.

The House Democrats also criticized the Secret Service’s failure to disclose the “full scope of its payments to the president’s businesses or its expenses for presidential travel to his own properties.”

Trump Congratulates AG Barr for Intervening in Roger Stone Sentencing Recommendation

Attorney General William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A team of career prosecutors withdrew from the case of Roger Stone Jr. after senior prosecutors for the Justice Department sought a shorter sentence for President Trump’s confidant and friend.

The prosecutors had recommended seven to nine years after Stone, a GOP dirty trickster, was found guilty in November on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.

Senior Justice Department officials overruled the sentencing recommendation, saying it was excessive, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. Under the revised recommendation, the Justice Department said the sentence should be “far less,” suggesting the earlier one “does not accurately reflect the Department of Justice’s position on what would be a reasonable sentence in this matter.”

The abrupt and unusual intervention of senior officials raised serious questions about whether the Justice Department – and more specifically, Attorney General William Barr – was bowing to pressure from Trump, who declared on Tuesday that the DOJ’s sentence recommendation was “horrible and very unfair.”

On Wednesday morning, Trump congratulated Barr for intervening.

“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,” Trump tweeted. “Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!”

About 10 minutes later, Trump added, “Two months in jail for a Swamp Creature, yet 9 years recommended for Roger Stone (who was not even working for the Trump Campaign). Gee, that sounds very fair! Rogue prosecutors maybe? The Swamp!”

Of the four prosecutors who withdrew from the case, one resigned entirely from the Justice Department.

Legal experts criticized the Justice Department’s intervention.

Michael R. Bromwich, who was the DOJ’s inspector general under President Bill Clinton, tweeted to “all career DOJ employees:” “Report all instances of improper political influence and other misdeeds to the DOJ IG, who is required to protect your identity.”

“This is not what you signed up for. The four prosecutors who bailed on the Stone case have shown the way,” Bromwich tweeted.

Trump Budget Calls for Moving Secret Service Back to Treasury Department

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service, which has been a part of the Department of Homeland Security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, may soon return to the Treasury Department.

The move is part of President Trump’s 2021 budget.

CQ Roll Call spotted the proposal in a footnote to an Office of Management and Budget summary table for the next year’s budget.

“The funding totals for 2019 actual and 2020 enacted are comparatively adjusted to reflect the Administration’s 2021 Budget proposal to shift the U.S. Secret Service from DHS to the Department of the Treasury,” the footnote said.

The move would need legislative approval and is supported by current and former Secret Service directors.

Top Senators from both parties are discussing the move.

“The good news is we have bipartisan support in the Senate. They’ll be introducing this legislation,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a Fox Business Network interview last week. “I think you know the Secret Service was started at the Treasury Department to prevent counterfeiting.”

Trump’s administration says the move will boost efforts to combat cyber-enabled financial crimes and improve national security efforts.

Trump Administration Shrouds CBP in Secrecy by Changing Its Designation to ‘Security Agency’

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Trump administration has changed CBP’s designation to make it a “security agency,” a move that shrouds the agency in secrecy.

An internal memo signed by CBP’s Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan revealed the change in designation, which became effective Jan. 31, The Nation reports.

With added layers of secrecy, CBP has the same designation as agencies like the FBI and Secret Service.

The change allows CBP to exempt key records from being disclosed to the public.

“I am pleased to announce CBP has been designated as a Security Agency under Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) official Data Release Policy, effective immediately,” the memo states. “Previously, only frontline law enforcement, investigative, or intelligence positions held this designation. This policy change now protects all CBP employee names from subsequent responses to Freedom of Information Act requests or other public disclosures for CGP employee data.”

Government transparency advocates warned that the change would make the agency less transparent at a time when it has come under intense public scrutiny.

“It puts their employees in the same category as FBI agents,” Irvin McCullough, national security analyst with the Government Accountability Project said. “The problems we’ve seen out of our immigration agencies over the past few years show that we need more transparency, not less. Why is there such a rush to restrict this information from the public? Given their track record, the burden is on them to explain exactly why they need these restrictions.”

FBI Director Wray to Testify before Congressional Committee about Bureau ‘Oversight’

FBI Director Christopher Wray.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray will take the hot seat Wednesday as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee about flaws found in the bureau’s investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The hearing, which is set for 10 a.m., will examine oversight issues, including findings by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz that the bureau bungled its surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Horowitz said that the FBI’s applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Page contained “significant inaccuracies and omissions” and that agents “failed to meet the basic obligation” to ensure the applications were “scrupulously accurate.”

Horowitz also dismissed some conservatives’ longstanding allegations about the investigation into the Trump campaign, including that top FBI officials were motivated by political bias and illegally spied on Trump advisers.

Trump Applauds Ice Agents for ‘Swinging’ at MS-13 Members

ICE official, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump praised ICE agents for getting into fist fights while apprehending members of MS-13, a notoriously violent gang.

Trump’s remarks came at a campaign rally Tuesday in Wildwood New Jersey

“These ICE people, they love our country,” Trump said. “They’re proud and they’re tough people. They’ll go right into a pack, they call it a pack, and they start swinging and everyone’s swinging, and they end up standing up and that’s the end of that. You know what they do is they bring the MS-13 and many other gang members back to El Salvador, back to Honduras, back to Guatemala, back to Mexico.”
Trump said ICE agents for the “incredible abuse they take and the incredible job they do.”

Trump also accused Democrats of supporting “deadly sanctuary cities.”

“What the hell is going on?” Trump asked. “And once set loose, these criminal aliens are free to continue their crime spree against innocent Americans.”

DOJ Says Surveillance of Carter Page Should Have Ended Earlier

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department says it lacked sufficient evidence to continue surveilling former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in 2017.

The department revealed its assessment that it should have ended the surveillance sooner in a December letter to the Foreign Surveillance Court, which oversees surveillance of suspected foreign spies.

The letter, which was made public Thursday and obtained by Reuters, suggested the DOJ lacked probable cause to continue wiretapping Page.

The letter follows a review by the DOJ’s internal watchdog that concluded the FBI left out evidence evidence and went too far in its investigation of possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign.