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Tag: Russia

DOJ Moves to Dismiss Charges Against Russians Accused of Running Troll Farms

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department filed a motion Monday to dismiss charges against two shell companies involved in Russian inference in the 2016 presidential election.

The move comes just two weeks before jury selection was to begin in the case against Concord Management and Concord Consulting, which were charged in 2018 as part of the special counsel Robert Mueller probe.

Prosecutors say the companies were using the case to try to gain access to sensitive information that could harm U.S. national security, The New York Times reports.

“Concord has been eager and aggressive in using the judicial system to gather information about how the United States detects and prevents foreign election interference,” prosecutors said in a motion filed in court on Monday.

Appeals Court: DOJ Must Disclose Grand Jury Material to Democrats on House Committee

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered the Justice Department to give House lawmakers secret grand jury testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, The Washington Post reported.

The 2-1 decision is a partial victory for House Democrats who have been trying to obtain the grand jury material. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals, which upheld a district court ruling a year ago, can be appealed to the full court or the Supreme Court.

That means the secret material from the investigation does not yet have to be disclosed.

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.

Michael Flynn Wants to Withdraw His 2017 Guilty Plea in Mueller Probe

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn wants to withdraw his guilty plea to lying to the FBI during the special counsel investigation into Russian interference, his lawyers said in a court filing obtained by Reuters.

Flynn’s change of heart comes after federal prosecutors reversed course and called for up to six months in prison for Flynn, the only member of the Trump administration to plead guilty in the Robert Mueller probe.

The prosecutors called for the stiffer sentence after Flynn began arguing that prosecutors violated his rights.

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about interactions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.

Federal Prosecutors Reverse Course, Call for 6 Months in Jail for Michael Flynn

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors are now calling for up to six months in prison for Michael Flynn, saying the former Trump national security adviser shows no signs of remorse after embracing a combative defense strategy.

The Justice Department initially suggested it was open to probation for Flynn, the only member of the Trump administration to plead guilty in the Robert Mueller investigation. At the time Flynn was cooperating with investigators. But after that, Flynn took a different course and tried in vein to get the case dismissed.

“Far from accepting the consequences of his unlawful actions, he has sought to blame almost every other person and entity involved in his case, including his former counsel,” federal prosecutors wrote in a memo to U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan. “Most blatantly, the defendant now professes his innocence.”

The sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 28.

Ex-FBI Agent Strzok Argues FBI, DOJ Violated his Free Speech Rights

Peter Strzok, via EPA.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who was at the center of the bureau’s Russia investigation in 2016, argues in a new court filing that the FBI and Justice Department violated his privacy and free speech rights.

The claims on Monday were a response to the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit in which he alleged he was wrongfully terminated, The Hill reports.

Strzok’s legal team argues that he, like other rank-and-file government employees, have a right to share personal political opinions. He claims he was fired for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech.

“The government’s argument would leave thousands of career federal government employees without protections from discipline over the content of their political speech,” the filing said.

“Nearly every aspect of a modern workplace, and for that matter nearly every non-workplace aspect of employees’ lives, can be monitored,” it added. “The fact that a workplace conversation can be discovered does not render it unprotected.”

The DOJ counters that his high-profile role in the investigation held him to a higher standard.

The FBI declined to comment on the court filing, citing ongoing litigation.

Former Trump Campaign Aide Rick Gates May Dodge Prison Time Today

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with Trump.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday morning in federal court in Washington D.C.

Gates, 47, who pleaded guilty in February 2018 to lying to the FBI and conspiring to conceal tens of millions of dollars, had faced possible jail time.

Gates had been facing up to six years in prison, but he may get no time behind bars because of what federal prosecutors said was his “extraordinary assistance” in the special counsel investigation, The Washington Post reports.

“Under exceedingly difficult circumstances and under intense public scrutiny, Gates has worked earnestly to provide the government with everything it has asked of him and has fulfilled all obligations under his plea agreement,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston wrote in a sentencing recommendation this month.

Gates’ attorney, Thomas Green, asked for probation and community service for his client.

“We submit that Richard Gates has accepted responsibility for his misconduct in every way possible,” Green wrote.

Trump Distorts IG’s Conclusions And Then Blasts FBI Director Wray for Backing Report

FBI Director Christopher Wray and John Glover. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump ripped into FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday morning, presumably for backing the inspector general’s conclusion that the bureau didn’t improperly open its investigation into the Trump campaign.

“I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me,” Trump tweeted. “With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!”

Trump’s criticism is as baffling as it is predictable. Inspector General Michael Horowitz clearly contradicted Trump’s conspiracy theory that his campaign was subjected to “a major SPY scandal,” as he tweeted in May 2018.

Horowitz’s report concluded that the FBI’s investigation was justified and unbiased, albeit plagued with a series of missteps. The report also found that the FBI did not improperly open its investigation into the Trump campaign.

Wray issued a lengthy response to the repot, saying he fully accepts the “findings and embraces the need for thoughtful, meaningful remedial action.”

Trump’s attempts to distort the report’s findings didn’t sway many on Twitter.