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Tag: Russia

DOJ Official Leading Trump-Russia Investigation Unexpectedly Leaving

The DOJ's Mary McCord is stepping down during Trump probe.

The DOJ’s Mary McCord is stepping down during Trump probe.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The high-ranking Justice Department official who is heading the government’s investigation into potential ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign announced unexpectedly that she is leaving the DOJ in May.

Mary McCord, acting assistant attorney general for national security, told staff that she is leaving in mid-May, according to NPR. 

“The time is now right for me to pursue new career opportunities,” May told NPR.

The departure leaves an important position unfilled and raises questions about what’s next for the investigation.

NPR writes:

Her exit leaves a huge vacancy at one of the Justice Department’s most important divisions, at a time when the Trump administration is struggling to fill the ranks. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the only leader so far in the building to have secured Senate confirmation. His picks for deputy and associate attorney general await votes by the full Senate. The administration has not yet announced political appointees for other top posts.

Protecting national security is the top Justice Department priority no matter which political party is in power. The National Security Division, created after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, has filed criminal charges against Chinese and Russian hackers, sent Americans inspired by the Islamic State and al-Qaida to serve decades in prison and launched counterintelligence probes involving suspected spies.

The investigation into Russian election meddling is one of the highest profile matters in the division’s short history. It’s not clear whether the probe will result in criminal charges against anyone. But both the Justice Department and the FBI are taking it seriously.

Other Stories of Interest

Was Ex-Trump Aide Carter Page a Russian Agent? FBI Investigating

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Three years before Carter Page became a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump, FBI agents were already concerned about him being influenced by a Russian spy.

So when Page delivered a Russia-friendly speech at a prestigious Moscow Institute last July while working on Trump’s campaign, the FBI’s curiosity piqued. Agents began digger deeper to determine whether there were any ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign, current and former law enforcement and intelligence official told the New York Times.   

Page, a 45-year-old Navy veteran and businessman, had lived in Moscow for three years. When he stepped down from the Trump campaign in September, the FBI obtained a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor his communications, suspecting he was a Russia agent.

Page is just the latest member of Trump’s campaign or administration to come under fire for connections to Russia.

The investigation is ongoing.   

CIA, FBI Search for Leaker Who Gave Classified Documents to Wikileaks

cia-lobby-sealBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The CIA and FBI are on the hunt for a traitor inside the spy agency who turned over a trove of classified documents to Wikileaks.

Government officials told CBS News that the leaker either works for the CIA or is a government contractor.

Making the investigation more difficult, hundreds of workers had access to the data, which was published by Wikileaks in March.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo criticized Wikileaks for releasing the documents.

“It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” Pompeo said while speaking to the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

President Trump, however, had a much different opinion of Wikileaks during the presidential campaign.

“I love Wikileaks!” Trump said to a rally of supporters in Wilkes-Barre, Penn. in October.

FBI Used Trump Dossier to Bolster Case for Monitoring Advisor on Russia

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI gained approval to secretly monitor a Donald Trump associate after using a dossier of allegations that Russians were conspiring with Trump to help him win the presidential election, U.S. officials told CNN. 

The dossier, which alleges quid-pro-quo deals with Russia, helped the FBI gain approval from the secret court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to track the communications of Carter Page, who served as an advisor to Trump on national security.

U.S. officials said they conducted their own investigation apart from the dossier to conclude that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

CNN wrote:

The dossier alleges that Page met senior Russian officials as an emissary of the Trump campaign, and discussed quid-pro-quo deals relating to sanctions, business opportunities and Russia’s interference in the election. Page has denied meeting the officials named in the dossier and says he never cut any political deals with the Kremlin.

During the campaign, he traveled to Russia in July, where he gave a lecture critical of US policy toward Russia. That trip drew the attention of the FBI and raised concerns about Page’s contacts with suspected Russian operatives, according to US officials briefed on the matter. Page has said he made the trip independent of the Trump campaign and his speech reflected his own views.

FBI Obtained FISA Warrant to Monitor Trump’s Former Campaign Adviser on Russia

Carter Page

Carter Page

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI obtained a warrant to secretly monitor President Trump’s former campaign adviser, Carter Page, on suspicions that he was acting as an agent of Russia, The Washington Post reports. 

Using a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant, the FBI and Justice Department targeted Page’s communications as part of a clandestine mission to determine whether he engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Russia.

This is just the latest revelations allegedly linking Trump’s campaign team to Russia, which federal authorities say influenced the outcome of the presidential election.

It’s premature to say whether the Justice Department investigation will uncover illegal activity. 

“This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance,” Page said in an interview Tuesday. “I have nothing to hide.” He compared surveillance of him to the eavesdropping that the FBI and Justice Department conducted against civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Watch Ex-FBI Agent Explain How Russian Trolls Influenced Presidential Election

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Russian meddling in the U.S. election was about more than the hacking of DNC emails and covert communication with Donald Trump’s campaign team.

It’s also about Russian trolls who used social media to spread fake news and propaganda, according to former FBI special agent and national security expert Clint Watts, Vice News reports.

“If you looked at [Trump’s] Twitter feed this morning, he cited a Wikileaks release essentially which was conducted by the Russians to attack Hillary Clinton, yet again, even after the election,” Watts said during a live interview Monday with VICE News. “Russia stole information. [Trump] is still using it against his opponent, and he already won the election. So he’s giving Russia a victory even after the election, and they were already winning before.”

FBI Plans to Launch Special Unit to Investigate Russian Interference in American Politics

The FBI's current headquarters in Washington D.C.

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Showing how serious the FBI is about allegations of Russian interference in American politics, the bureau plans to create a special unit at its Washington D.C. headquarters to coordinate the probe.

The special unit also will give FBI Director James Comey “greater visibility into the investigations granular details,” the Financial Times reports.

“It’s meant to surge resources,” one FBI agent said.

The FBI also used temporary units to investigate WikiLeaks.

Because of the high-profile investigation of Russia and the massive amount of resources involved, the special unit allows the inquiry to have a central manager.

“It’s getting unwieldy,” said one person briefed on the plan. “It’s too big and it’s on the front page of the newspaper every day.” 

An FBI spokesman declined to comment.

Trump Defends Michael Flynn After He Offered to Testify Against the President

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

President Trump is defending former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s offer to testify in ongoing probes of Russian hacking of the 2016 election in exchange for legal immunity.

Trump wrote on Twitter early Friday morning that investigation had become “a witch hunt,” echoing language used by his former campaign adviser’s attorney.

Flynn’s lawyer told The Wall Street Journal one day earlier that the retired lieutenant general is willing to talk to the House and Senate intelligence panels as part of their probes into Russian election meddling and Trump and his aides’ alleged ties to Moscow. But any testimony or interview would have to come with a promise that Flynn would not be prosecuted.