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Tag: Illinois

Comey: How a Trump Presidency Shows the Constitutional System is Working

FBI Director James Comey, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey sees a silver lining in a Trump presidency.

“I think our country is being stress-tested now. And I actually believe our current president has illuminated things for us that we were taking for granted,” Comey told University of Chicago law students Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune first reported.

“I think he is accomplishing, without intending to, a shrinking of the presidency, which I think is … closer to the design of the founders, and the energizing of the Congress and the courts that hasn’t happened in a couple of decades,” Comey said.

The former FBI director said over the weekend that he supports the impeachment inquiry, saying, “If the news accounts are accurate, the president engaged in a shocking abuse of power.”

While Comey didn’t mention the impeachment at the University of Chicago, he said truth is the “touchstone” of American values.

“I see good things happening as a result of what he’s doing,” Comes said. “I see people say we have a constitutional crisis. No. I don’t think so. I see the design working. It’s a nerve-wracking stress, but I see it working.”

FBI Raids Home, Offices of Illinois State Senator Sandoval

State Sen. Martin Sandoval.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI agents raided the home and offices of Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Agents in suits were spotted removing evidence from the state capitol building, Sandoval’s political office in Cicero and his home in Chicago.

The FBI is investigating whether Sandoval received kickbacks for using his political office to steer business to at least one company, The Chicago Tribune reports.

It’s just the latest FBI investigation involving public officials in Chicago and Illinois.

In November, the FBI raided the City Hall office of Ald. Edward M. Burke, who since has been indicted on racketeering charges.

DEA Agent Indicted on Charges of Decade-Long Affiliation with Deadly Drug Gang

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A sweeping federal indictment alleges a DEA agent began working with a gang a decade ago while he was a police officer in Illinois and continued the work while at the drug agency’s Chicago field office.

According to the indictment, Fernando Gomez, 41, was affiliated with the Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos, a Puerto Rico-based group that imported vast amounts of cocaine into the U.S. and was involved in at least eight drug-related killings.

He was arrested at the DEA’s field office Tuesday morning, The Chicago Tribune reports

When Gomez was a detective for Evanston police, prosecutors said he began working with the gang, obtaining guns from drug dealers and giving them to gang leader Jose Martinez-Diaz, AKA “Tony Zinc.”

The indictment alleges Gomez became a DEA agent to provide protection for the gang.

FBI: Abduction Suspect Viewed Sexual Fetish Website Before Kidnapping

Abduction suspect Brendt Christensen, via LinkedIn.

Abduction suspect Brendt Christensen, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

About two months before police say he kidnapped a Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois, the 28-year-old suspect appears to have visited the most popular sexual fetish networking site on the internet.

Brendt Allen Christensen was charged in the June 9 abduction of 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, who authorities believe is dead. On April 19, federal investigators said Christensen used his phone to visit FetLife.com, a forum that included threads called “Perfect abduction fantasy” and “planning a kidnapping,” CNN reports. 

Christensen, who remains behind bars, is expected in federal court in Urbana on Monday.

FetLife bills itself as “the Social Network for the BDSM, Fetish & Kinky Community” and was created in 2008 by Canadian software developer John Baku. Since then, the site claims to have more than 5 million registered members.

The site dubs itself as a “safe place for kinksters” and is only intended for consensual adults.

According to the FBI, Zhang was kidnapped during the day after she was running late to sign a lease. Authorities believe she agreed to hop in the case with Christensen, a stranger, after missing two buses.

During surveillance, the FBI said Christensen admitted to kidnapping the Chinese scholar.

Congressman Among Activists Handcuffed at Sit-In at ICE Office

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez was among several immigrant advocates briefly handcuffed by federal officials for staging a sit-in at the regional ICE office Monday to protest President Trump’s immigration policies.

The Democrat from Illinois joined other activists at the Chicago office, rallying against increased targeting of undocumented immigrants for deportation, the USA Today reports. 

Federal Protection Service officers gave the protesters three warnings before placing them in handcuffs. But agents had a change of heart and allowed the protest to continue.

“They threatened us with arrest. We said ‘We’re ready to go to jail,'” Gutierrez told reporters after ending the protest. “We stood up to the bullies here…Unfortunately, tonight and tomorrow they will continue to prey on very vulnerable, defenseless people in their homes in the darkness of the night.”

Gutierrez said he was concerned after meeting with ICE officials, who gave incomplete answers about whether raids would be carried out in churches, schools and other sensitive places.

FBI Warned Illinois Republican Party That Its Email System May Have Been Hacked

hacker-istock-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI warned the Illinois Republican Party in June that hackers may have targeted GOP political email accounts.

But party officials said the FBI never mentioned potential links to the investigation of Russia trying to hack America’s political system, the Chicago Triune reports, citing the state GOP’s executive director. 

Nick Klitzing said the party found of its 18 emails on DCLeaks.com, which appears to be connected to a unit controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency, GRU.

But the emails in question largely belong to inactive or rarely used accounts andante back to 2015.

Republicans are trying to distance themselves from the hacking controversy after the CIA said there’s substantial evidence that Russia was involved in targeting the emails of the Democratic National Committee.

FBI Investigating Breaches Against Two State Voter Systems

ballot box flintBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is trying to determine who hacked voting registration databases in Illinois and Arizona ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election.

The FBI discovered breaches in the databases in both states and is urging officials in both states to increase security, Reuters reports. 

Agents are now investigating whether other states also were targeted.

But it’s unclear whether there was an effort to manipulate votes since much of the information is already publicly available.

Still, the FBI has become increasingly concerned about Russian-sponsored hackers who likely targeted the Democratic National Committee and others within the party.

An FBI spokeswoman said the agency “routinely advises” on “various cyber threat indicators observed during the course of our investigations.”

New Legislation Aimed at Alerting FBI When Terror Suspect Tries to Buy Gun

Sen. Mark Kirk

Sen. Mark Kirk

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

New legislation is aimed at alerting the FBI when a terror suspect tries to buy a gun.

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois introduced the legislation in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre.

“Terrorists should not be able to buy weapons and the FBI should be notified if a suspected terrorist buys a weapon,” Kirk said in a statement, 5 NBC Chicago reports. “This commonsense legislation equips the FBI with a new tool to stop threats on American lives.”

The measure would require anyone who has been investigated for potential terrorism ties to be entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The FBI uses the NICS when it conducts background checks.