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Tag: politics

Democrats’ Control of the House Affords Protections to Mueller

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Democrats’ takeover of the House of Representatives is good news for special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation of Russia and President’s Trump’s campaign.

The House only need a simple majority to impeach Trump, a maneuver that political observers believe is unlikely unless Trump tries to interfere with the election or is later found guilty of committing crimes. 

Democrats have tiptoed around the issue because of the political ramifications, especially since a vote of two-thirds of the Senate is required.

Trump has hinted that he may take bold steps after the midterm elections, such as firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation.

With control of the House, Democrats also have subpoena power, which could become critical if Trump tries to interfere with the investigation.

While the House cannot issue criminal charges, it can hold public hearings and refer issues to the Justice Department for investigation.

Updated: Fingerprint Match and Misspellings Lead to Arrest of Man Sending Bombs

One of the devices with a return address of Rep. Debbie Wasserman

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Updated: 4:16 p.m. Sat.  — The Washington Post reports: A Florida man with a criminal history and a fervor for President Donald Trump sent at least 13 mail bombs to prominent Democrats, Justice Department officials said, crediting DNA, a fingerprint match and misspellings for the key break in a case that spread fear of election-season violence with little precedent in the U.S.

Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida, faces five federal charges in connection with a mail bomb plot that spurred a weeklong, coast-to-coast investigation that continued even after he was taken into custody Friday as investigators scrutinized additional suspicious packages.

______________________________

Federal authorities’ hunt for a serial mail bomber who targeted critics of President Trump is honing in on Florida, where at least some of the 10 packages originated.

Bomb squad, canine units and federal investigators examined a U.S. mail distribution center at Opa-Locka,  northwest of Opa-Locka, where authorities believe some of the packages were passed through.

“Some of the packages went through the mail. They originated, some of them, from Florida,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielse said during an interview with Fox News. “I am confident that this person or people will be brought to justice.”

Florida became a focal point after a device addressed to former Attorney General Eric Holder was discovered en route to the return address of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.

So far, no suspects have been identified.

Each package consisted of a manila envelope with bubble wrap, a computer-printed address label and six “forever” postage stamps. Stuffed inside each envelope was a tape-wrapped device assembled with pieces of plastic PVC pipe that included black powder and shards of shrapnel, perhaps glass. Each pipe had a timing-like mechanism.

Trump initially called for “unity” and civility Wednesday, but at 3:15 a.m. Friday, he slammed CNN, where one of the bombs was sent.

“Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!’” Trump tweeted.

The bombs have been sent to Bill and Hillary Clinton, former California Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former President Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former attorney general Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan, billionaire philanthropist George Soros and CNN’s New York headquarters.

What to Expect from Weeklong FBI Probe into Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh

Christine Blasey Ford testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Friday.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh makes it to the nation’s highest court may come down to a one-week FBI investigation.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., called for an FBI investigation on Friday following an intense and emotional nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I think that we ought to do what we can to make sure that we do all due diligence with a nomination this important,” Flake said just hours after he said he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

So what would a week-long FBI investigation entail?

The Republican-led committee called for the probe to be “limited to current credible allegations against the nominee.”

Three women have come forward to claim Kavanaugh sexually assaulted them.

But one of those women’s accusations aren’t being treated seriously, said Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Julie Swetnick, who said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her and that she was gang-raped at a party decades ago.

“This investigation is only as good as the scope,” Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Swetnick, told USA TODAY. “If the scope doesn’t include my client and the others who have accused Mr. Kavanaugh, how can it be a credible investigation?” 

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted that the “FBI’s hands must not be tied in this investigation.”

“We need the facts,” she wrote.

But on Friday, President Trump said the investigation “must be limited in scope.”

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said the FBI must determine what “limited scope” means but indicated the probe cannot “be a fishing expedition.”

Following a rally in West Virginia on Saturday, Trump said the FBI has “free rein.”

“Whatever it is they do, they’ll be doing things that we’ve never even thought of,” the president said.

The FBI declined to comment.

Most likely, FBI agents will try to determine the veracity of the claims by Christine Blasey Ford, who said Kavanaugh pulled her into a room, held her down, fondled her and cupped his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming. That means interviewing everyone who attended the party, including Mark Judge, whom Ford said stood watch outside the locked room while Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.

According to the USA Today, the FBI has contacted Deborah Ramirez, a former Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s, who said he exposed himself during a drunken party.

The FBI has the resources to handle special investigations, former bureau officials said.

“They could knock this thing out in a couple of days,” said Jim Davis, a former agent who participated in at least 50 such background inquiries.

The investigation’s findings will be turned over to the White House, which then must share them with the Senate committee.

A full Senate vote could happen later this week or next week.

With a 51-seat majority, all but one Republican must approve the nomination if every Democrat opposes it, as long as Vice President Mike Pence casts the tie-breaking vote in Kavanaugh’s favor.

Former Head FBI’s Minneapolis Division Running for Governor in Kansas

Michael Tabman, retired special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis division.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Michael Tabman, the former special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis division, is running for governor in Kansas.

The agent-turned-security consultant is among more than 20 candidates vying for the governor’s seat.

Since retiring from the bureau in 2007 after 24 years of service, Tabman has lived in Johnson County in Kansas with his wife and children and wants to give back.

“As Governor, I want to restore all that makes Kansas such a wonderful place to live,” the New York native said on his campaign website.

Tabman said his priorities are improving and protecting schools, reducing health care costs and protecting civil liberties.

No stranger to violence, Tabman advocates more stringent regulations on “weapons of mass murder” but still supports the right to own a firearm.

In 2005, Tabman was the special agent in charge of the mass shooting at a Native American reservation in Minneapolis known as the “Red Lake Massacre.”

After Tabman retired, he sued the FBI, claiming the bureau smeared his character and denied him promotions because of false allegations that he mishandled a complaint against Special Agent Harry Samit. 

A judge dismissed the suit.

Special Counsel Probes Sessions’ Russian Contacts at Republican National Convention

Republican National Convention.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was a U.S. senator at the time, had secret conversations with a Russian ambassador at the Republican National Convention and Washington’s Mayflower during Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, according to a new report. 

Mueller’s team also is questioning attendees of the July 2016 convention in Cleveland about a last-minute decision to remove language from the Republican Party platform that was hostile to Russia, Reuters reported, citing two sources familiar with the special counsel probe. 

Investigators want to know the extent of conversations between Sessions and then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak. They also are questioning whether Sessions met privately with Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016.

Under oath last year, Sessions originally told lawmakers he had no recollection of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, but later acknowledged he did.

Because of his contacts with Kislyak, Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, which allowed his deputy to appoint Mueller to lead an investigation into collusion and possible obstruction of justice.

Mueller’s team also is inquiring about the removal of language from the GOP’s platform that called for the U.S. to  supply “lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine’s armed forces and greater coordination with NATO on defense planning.”

Diana Denman, a member of the platform committee’s national security subcommittee, told Reuters in 2016 that Trumps team was directly involved in changing the language.

Retired FBI Agent Vying for Democratic Nomination for Congress in Pa.

Retired FBI agent Todd Rowley.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Todd Rowley, who spent more than 24 years serving the FBI, is running as a Democrat for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 13th District.

The 53-year-old Donegal Township man retired from the FBI in July 2014 after a career spent on counterintelligence and counterterrorism.

Rowley, who works as a state park ranger and substitute teacher, said he wants to bridge the partisan divide that so often hampers progress in politics.

“We must begin the process of lessening the division and discourse that our country and its citizens are mired in,” he told TribLive.com. “That starts with elected officials — without abandoning their principles — being committed to and finding compromise and common ground on the many important issues our country faces today.”

The primary election is May 15 for a seat that covers  the eastern part of Westmoreland County along with Somerset, Bedford, Blair, Huntingdon, Fulton, Franklin and Adams counties, and portions of Cambria and Cumberland counties.

Other Stories of Interest

Trump to Acting FBI Director: Whom Do You Vote for in Presidential Election?

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testifies before Congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Shortly after Andrew McCabe became the acting FBI director to replace the ousted chief, James Comey, President Trump summoned the new bureau boss to the Oval Office for what was supposed to be an introductory meeting.

During the meeting, Trump asked McCabe whom he voted for in the 2016 presidential election – an oddly timed question for a new commander in chief accused of firing Comey for refusing to end an investigation involving former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn, who later pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents.

McCabe responded that he didn’t vote, according to several current and former U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Post.

While the FBI director is chosen by the president, the position is supposed to be non-partisan. Trump eventually appointed Christopher Wray to serve as the FBI director.

It was widely reported this week that Wray threatened to resign after the Trump administration pressured him to fire McCabe, who returned to his position as deputy FBI director.

Other Stories of Interest

Retired FBI Agent Running As Republican for Congress in New Jersey

Retired FBI Agent Robert Turkavage

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A retired FBI agent who lives in New Jersey is throwing his hat in the ring for Congress.

Robert Turkavage, a 32-year FBI veteran, is running as a Republican  for the 2nd District congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, who is not seeking re-election, the Press of Atlantic City reports

“For over 23 years, Congressman LoBiondo has served all of the residents of southern New Jersey with honor and distinction,” Robert Turkavage said in a press release. “LoBiondo was a true believer in the notion that the private sector, not the government, creates jobs and fosters economic growth.”

Turkavage said he wants to continue the work of LoBiondo, a fellow Republican, and forge ties with Democrats for sensible legislation.

“Every vote I cast will be weighed against three benchmarks: Is it good for my constituents? Is it good for my country? And most importantly, is it good for our children?” Turkavage said.

Turkavage served as a supervisory special agent of pubic corruption and government fraud in New York City. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Turkavage supervised the Office of Intelligence analytical squads.

In 2005, Turkavage retired from the bureau and became vice president with JPMorgan Chase Bank in New York City, overseeing the fraud prevention unit.