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Tag: james comey

Ousted Member of Russia-Trump Probe May Have Saved Clinton from Charges

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In what could become a distracting setback to the credibility of the Trump-Russia investigation, the FBI agent who was removed from the special counsel probe for mocking the president altered the language used to describe Hilary Clinton’s actions in the email inquiry last year.

Peter Strzok’s change in the original writing, which was by then-FBI Director James Comey, was significant and may have helped Clinton avoid charges, legal observers told CNN

Strzok, a former top counterintelligence expert at the FBI, altered Comey’s earlier draft language, from “gross negligence” to “extremely careless.”

Several people were involved with the decision to change the language, a U.S. officials familiar with the matter said. The change in language carries significant legal implications because federal law makes it a crime to mishandle classified material in a grossly negligent way.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Director Defends Agents Against Dubious Trump Attacks

Christopher Wray is sworn in as the new FBI director. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray defended his bureau against repeated attacks from President Trump and sought to assure employees and agents that they’re appreciated and admired. 

Responding to the president’s unfunded and dubious claims on Twitter that the FBI’s standing was “the worst in History,” Wray sent an email to the bureau’s 35,000 agents and support staff and said he is “inspired by example after example of professionalism and dedication to justice demonstrated around the bureau. It is truly an honor to represent you,” The New York Times reports

Wray, whom Trump nominated to replace fired FBI Director James Comey, didn’t mention the president by name but showed his loyalty is to his employees, not the president. Wray has been on the job for about four months.

Trump has become more vociferous and conspiratorial as the special council investigation continues to heat up and get closer to his inner circle.

Wray encouraged his employees to ignore criticism and continue to focus on enforcing the law and Constitution.

Witnesses: Kushner Urged Trump to Fire FBI Director Comey

Jared Kushner. Photo by Lori Berkowitz Photography, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner was behind the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

According to four people familiar with the discussions, The Wall Street Journal reports that Kushner urged the president to fire Comey during meetings with other top officials.

Kushner believed Comey was too unpredictable, and the White House adviser wrongly believed Democrats would applaud the FBI director’s firing because of his handling of the Clinton investigation. Kushner also believed FBI agents were cheer the firing because of their unhappiness with Comey’s performance.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team is looking into the allegations.

“When the president made the decision to fire FBI Director Comey, Mr. Kushner supported it,” Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, told the the Wall Street Journal.

“There’s no apparent evidence of Jared’s involvement in any decision-making process having to do with Mr. Comey’s firing,” a White House attorney said.

Justice Department Watchdog to Determine by Spring Comey’s Statements on Clinton Before Election

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies about President Trump before the Senate Intelligence Committee in early June.

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies about President Trump before the Senate Intelligence Committee in early June.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department inspector general revealed on Wednesday that he hopes to finish his review by early spring to determine whether FBI Director James Comey improperly made public statements about the Hillary Clinton investigation ahead of the 2016 election. 

“We have interviewed dozens of people. We are not at the 100 level yet, but we’re in the dozens range. We’ve reviewed about 1.2 million records in the course of the investigation,” Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said, in testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives panel, Reuters reports.

“We are aiming to release the report in late winter/early spring, so hopefully in that March-April time period.”

Earlier this year, Horowitz’s office announced a review of Comey’s decision to release information about the status of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.

It’s unusual for the FBI to release information early about an ongoing investigation.

FBI Originally Accused Hillary Clinton of Gross Negligence in Handling of Emails

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI originally characterized Hillary Clinton as “grossly negligent” for her handling of classified information, according to an early draft by then-FBI Director James Comey.

The language, which may have been strong enough to warrant charges, was softened to indicate Clinton had been “extremely careless” when Comey announced in July 2016 that no criminal charges would be filed against Clinton, The Hill reports

Federal law makes it a crime to handle classified material with gross negligence. 

Neither the FBI nor Clinton responded to questions for comments.

The memos were disclosed to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating Comey’s handling of the Clinton investigation.

“There is evidence to support a conclusion that Secretary Clinton, and others, used the email server in a manner that was grossly negligent with respect to the handling of classified information,” reads the statement, one of Comey’s earliest drafts from May 2, 2016.

For reasons that remain unclear, the draft statement was changed about a month later to conclude that Clinton’s use of an insecure personal email server was “extremely careless.”

Now the committee wants to know who made the changes and why.

“Apparently, as of May 2016, then-Director Comey and other FBI officials believed the facts fit that gross negligence standard until later edits were made,” Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote to Wray in the letter demanding more information.

Senate Investigators Receive Documents Related to Clinton Probe

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Senators investigating former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail case received hundreds of memos related to the bureau’s probe of the former secretary of state and presidential candidate.

Sources told The Hill that the FBI began turning over memos to help Congress’ review of the case.

Included in the memos are details about the FBI’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton for using her private email as secretary of state to transmit classified information.

The Senate committee’s investigation centers around Comey’s decision to absolve Clinton of criminal wrongdoing before the investigation was completed.

Other Stories of Interest

Trump Blasts Comey As a ‘Failure,’ Suggests FBI Is Incompetent

Former FBI Director James Comey

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As the special counsel investigation picks up more steam, President Trump continues to go on the offensive, this time suggesting fired FBI Director James Comey’s “leadership was a disaster.”

Trump was responding to Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show on Thursday, when Carlson blasted the FBI’s record on preventing domestic terrorism and was shootings.

“The @TuckerCarlson opening statement about our once cherished and great FBI was so sad to watch,” Trump tweeted. “James Comey’s leadership was a disaster!”

Carlson called the FBI ‘incompetent” and suggested the bureau missed opportunities to prevent recent mass murders.

“The more likely and in fact the far more terrifying explanation is incompetence,” Carlson said, referring to the Las Vegas shooting that killed 59 people. “The people running this case don’t really know what they’re doing.”

The FBI is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired Comey in May.

Comey Blames Trump for Distracting from Discussions on Race, Law Enforcement

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey

Former FBI Director James Comey

Former FBI Director James Comey began his lecture series on “law enforcement and race” at Howard University on Wednesday evening, describing a growing divide between police and people of color and blaming President Trump for muddying the issue with distractions.

Comey said the U.S. has lost some of its focus on the tension between law enforcement and people of color, partly blaming Trump.

“I have noticed that since the election of our current president, [the issues] have not had the place in American life that I saw in late 2014, throughout ‘15, throughout ‘16,” Comey said, according to Newsweek. “I think the most likely explanation is that issues involving the new administration, including the emergence of appalling voices of white nationalism and racism, have crowded out the topic of law enforcement from American public life.” 

Comey added in his third public speech since being fired: “Although I think it is vital that we confront racism when it comes at us in the form of torch marches or racism or hate crimes, it is critical that we not lose sight of the issue that we began discussing in earnest two and a half years ago.”

Comey encouraged frank discussions between people with different viewpoints.

“My goal is to try to model, especially for students, how to have a conversation about really hard, emotional things,” he said. “It’s only by all of us adopting that attitude, the attitude that, ‘Hey, you could be right and I could be wrong,’ that we have the best chance of learning something in a deep away.” He added, “We are in a dangerous place in this country right now, where we hate too quickly, where disagreement becomes anger too quickly.”