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Tag: politics

Democrat-Controlled House to Re-Introduce Bill to Protect Special Counsel Mueller

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

As Democrats take control of the U.S. House today, the new leaders are expected to introduce new legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

Incoming House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-NY, plans to re-introduce legislation that would allow Mueller and future special counsels to challenge their termination in the courts, CNN reports.

Nadler is the incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which would be in charge of any future impeachment proceedings.

But the legislation faces an uphill battle because Republicans still control the Senate, which defeated a similar bill last year.

Ex-FBI Director Comey Reaches Deal to Meet Privately with GOP-Controlled House Committee

Former FBI Director James Comey on ABC’s 20/20.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey has made a deal with Republicans to testify privately before the House Judiciary Committee after threatening to block a subpoena to appear.

The deal comes after Comey’s attorney, David Kelley, contested a House subpoena on the grounds that it was equivalent to “dragging (Comey) into a dark alley” and asked, “What its the purpose of keeping it out of the public eye?” according to the USA Today

In a deal with House Republicans, Comey agreed to testify as long as a transcript of the interview is released within 24 hours and that the former FBI boss can speak publicly about the testimony.

Comey, who was fired by President Trump in April 2017, said he was primarily concerned that Republicans would selectively use the testimony to try to discredit the Robert Mueller investigation.

The House committee is expected to ask Comey about the FBI’s decision to drop the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and his involvement in the probe into Russian meddling in the presidential election.

“Grateful for a fair hearing from judge,” Comey tweeted on Sunday. “Hard to protect my rights without being in contempt, which I don’t believe in. So will sit in the dark, but Republicans agree I’m free to talk when done and transcript released in 24 hours. This is the closest I can get to public testimony.” 

How Democrats Plan to Protect the Robert Mueller Investigation

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Congressional Democrats’ latest hopes of protecting Robert Mueller’s investigation hinges on a high-priority spending bill.

Democrats said they plan to tie the protection measure to the spending bill, a move that could cause spark a high-stakes clash with Republicans and President Trump.

Democrats also plan to revive the congressional investigations into Russian interference during the presidential election in 2016, the USA Today reports

On another front, Democrats continue to call for the resignation of Matthew Whitaker, a Trump loyalist whom the president appointed to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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.