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Tag: Russia

Firing Comey: 10 Strong Reactions from Congress on FBI Director’s Ousting

congress copyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s sudden and brazen decision to fire FBI Director James Comey drew immediate and fierce criticism from both sides of the aisle Tuesday, with some comparing the bombastic Republican to Richard Nixon.

Here are 10 reactions from elected officials:

  1. “This is Nixonian,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania. 
  2. “The only way the American people can have faith in this investigation is for it to be led by a fearless, independent special prosecutor,” said the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
  3. “I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Jim Comey’s termination,” said Sen. Richard M. Burr, R-N.C. 
  4. “What happened during the Nixon period, there were people of principle who stood up against some of then-President Nixon’s actions,” Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee. “I’m hoping in the coming days that we’ll see either out of the administration, and frankly from a lot of my colleagues, a willingness to rise above partisanship.”
  5. “The President’s sudden and brazen firing of the FBI Director raises the ghosts of some of the worst Executive Branch abuses,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in a statement. “We cannot stand by and watch a coverup of the possible collusion with a hostile foreign power to undermine American democracy.”
  6. “Not since Watergate have our legal systems been so threatened and our faith in the independence and integrity of those systems so shaken,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut.  
  7. “I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “The president’s decision to remove the F.B.I. director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee.”
  8. “We are careening ever closer to a Constitutional crisis, and this development only underscores why we must appoint a special prosecutor to fully investigate any dealings the Trump campaign or administration had with Russia,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts.
  9. “The inescapable conclusion from the circumstantial evidence here is the President wanted to stop or stifle this investigation,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told ABC News.
  10. “Russia attacked our democracy and the American people deserve answers. President Trump’s decision to make this move tonight is an attack on the rule of law and raises more questions that demand answers. Firing the FBI Director does not place the White House, the President, or his campaign above the law,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

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.