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Tag: Russia

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.

DOJ Watchdog Report Set for Release Today, Dismisses Trump’s Claims of FBI Spying

IG Michael Horowitz, via DoJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s internal watchdog is set to announce today that top FBI and DOJ officials did not illegally spy on Trump’s campaign in 2016, delivering a blow to one of the president’s most repeated and unfounded conspiracy theories.

The report examined the investigation into possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia and found that the FBI had sufficient evidence to open the probe ahead of the 2016 election, according to several media accounts.

Michael Horowitz, the DOJ’s inspector general, concluded that the FBI did not improperly launch the investigation, dismissing Trump’s wild claims that the bureau turned rogue in an effort to smear his campaign.

The report, however, is expected to document mistakes by some FBI and DOJ officials. But none of the missteps changed the course of the investigation, the report is to conclude.

Nevertheless, Trump likely will seize on the missteps to bolster his unproven claims.

FBI Did Not Spy on Trump’s Campaign, DOJ Inspector General Found

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump has repeatedly claimed that the FBI turned rogue and spied on his campaign in 2016 in what he said was “perhaps the biggest scandal in the history of our country.”

The Justice Department’s inspector general found no evidence that the FBI infiltrated Trump’s campaign or launched a politically motivated investigation to undermine his candidacy, according to The New York Times and NBC News.

The findings are in a draft copy of an inspector general report that is due out on Dec. 9 as part of a larger examination of the Russia investigation.

The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, also undercuts claims that the FBI’s pursuit of a secret wiretap on a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, was politically motivated.

In April, Attorney General William Barr told a Senate committee that he suspected “spying did occur.” A few days later, Trump insisted, “There was absolutely spying into my campaign.”

But in May, FBI Director Christopher Wray took issue with the characterization that the bureau was “spying” on Trump’s campaign, saying, “I don’t think I personally have any evidence of that sort.”

Russian Spies Penetrated FBI Communications in Brazen Counterintelligence Operation

Russian leader Vladimir Putin

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Russia’s unprecedented campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election appeared to be the primary reason why the Obama administration forced out three dozen Russian diplomats from the U.S. at the end of his term.

But something more sinister was going on.

Russian spies were using two rural East Coast estates to carry out a brazen counterintelligence operation that targeted FBI communications, Yahoo News reports, citing former U.S. officials.

Russians managed to decrypt what was believed to be secure types of communications, enabling spies to tap into surveillance used by elite FBI teams. The FBI’s ability to track spies on U.S. soil was hampered, and the bureau and CIA even stopped contacting some of their Russian assets.

The counterintelligence operation was so successful that some U.S. officials feared a Russian mole had penetrated U.S. intelligence agencies.

“It was a very broad effort to try and penetrate our most sensitive operations,” a former senior CIA official said.

Despite the discovery, President Trump continues to brag about his good relationship with Russia and has never divulged the severity of the country’s counterintelligence just before he took office.