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Tag: russians

Man Who Helped Special Counsel Prosecute Russians Fears for Life

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A cooperating witness whose testimony led to the indictment of Russian nationals during the special counsel investigation of the Kremlin meddling in the presidential election says he fears for his life.

Richard Pinedo, of California, told a court that he “lives in a constant state of fear” that Russians will seek retribution, ABC News reports

Pinedo, whose sentencing guidelines call for 12 to 19 months in prison, pleaded guilty to identify fraud for his involvement in selling bank accounts to Russians.

His attorney, Jeremy Lessem, is asking the judge for a non-custodial sentence, saying he “has suffered, and will continue to suffer, in ways far beyond what anyone else convicted of a similar offense would expect.”

Lengel: Comey Gets Kudos For Speaking Out, But Still No Free Pass For Doing Wrong Thing in Some Instances

Former FBI Director James Comey on A?BC’s 20/20.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-FBI Director James Comey delivered some damaging blows to the Donald Trump presidency during his Sunday night interview on ABC, calling Trump unfit for office and suggesting Trump obstructed justice when he asked that the Michael Flynn probe be dropped.

It was a welcome interview, and a candid one, that was needed under the circumstances with a president who has so little respect for boundaries, the truth and the rule of law.

But I still don’t buy Comey’s defense for saying far too much when he issued a statement in 2016 that there would be no charges in the Hillary Clinton case. Ditto for his explanation for sending the letter to Congress that he was re-opening the Clinton investigation. I don’t buy it.

Comey was a popular director beloved by many inside the FBI. He was a modern-day G-man, articulate and smart. But he did have an ego, as many in official Washington have,  and sometimes he was a little too concerned about his boy scout image above all else.

First off, let’s get to the statement he made about the Clinton investigation in 2016. In Sunday’s interview he says:

“My view was– and this is a longstanding practice of the Department of Justice, that in rare cases, you should offer transparency so the American people can take a look at what you did and know that it was done in an honest, competent, independent way.”

There were certainly people inside the FBI, particularly in New York, who assumed the agency had enough to criminally charge Clinton. So, yes it’s understandable that Comey wanted to be transparent, defend himself and explain why he wasn’t charging. But right is right. Any federal prosecutor or agent knows you can’t announce that you’re not charging someone, then go on and trash them as if you just had.

It’s improper.

Then there’s the letter to Congress days before the election. The Justice Department policy is not to influence an election when at all possible.

Comey is asked by George Stephanopoulos: “If you knew that letter would elect Donald Trump, you’d still send it?”

Comey responds: “I would. I would. In fact, that was a question asked by one of my best people– a deputy general counsel in the FBI who is a very thoughtful and quiet person, who didn’t speak a lot. And that– that morning we were making that decision, she asked, ‘Should you consider that what you’re about do to may help elect Donald Trump president?’

“And I paused, and then I said, ‘Thank you for asking that question. That’s a great question. But the answer is not for a moment because down that path lies the death of the FBI as an independent force in American life. If I ever start considering whose political fortunes will be affected by a decision, we’re done. We’re no longer that group in America that is apart from the partisans, and that can be trusted. We’re just another player in the– in the tribal battle.”

Comey indicates his honor and the FBI’s honor was on the line and he had to tell Congress that there was a new development in the Clinton probe.

That being said, so too, on the line, was the integrity of the election.

He decided his image was more important than the election.

Plus, truth be told,  he had a cover. The Justice Department told him not to send the letter, and technically, the Justice Department is his boss.

If he had gotten grief from members of Congress about not notifying them of the new development before the election, he could have said he wanted to but the Justice Department told him not to.

All that being said,  Comey gets kudos for helping bring more transparency to a troubled presidency.

Comey: Trump Morally Unfit to Be Prez; Russians Could Have Something on Trump

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Fired FBI Director James Comey, in a much-awaited interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday evening, said President Donald Trump is morally unfit to be president, and accused Trump of urging him to drop the investigation into National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Comey also said Trump might be compromised by the Russians.

“I think it’s possible. I don’t know,” Comey said of the Russians. “These are more words I never thought I’d utter about a president of the United States, but it’s possible.”

To read the transcript of the interview click here. 

Belows are snippets of the interview: Video 1: Comey Talks about Trump being unfit to be president. Video 2: He says he thinks the Russians may have something on Trump. Video 3:  He talks about Trump demanding loyalty. Video 4: Comey says firing Mueller would be an attack on the rule of law.



Russian-Linked Bots Suspected of Sowing Divisions Immediately After Florida School Shooting

Cyber crime expert, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Suspected Russian-linked Twitter accounts pounced on the gun control debate just an hour after last week’s school shooting in Florida.

Many of the social media accounts, the New York Times reports, had been the target of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference during the presidential election in 2016. 

“This is pretty typical for them, to hop on breaking news like this,” said Jonathon Morgan, chief executive of New Knowledge, a company that tracks online disinformation campaigns. “The bots focus on anything that is divisive for Americans. Almost systematically.”

The news comes after last week’s indictments of 13 Russians accused of waging an unprecedented propaganda campaign to help Donald Trump get elected.

To experts on disinformation campaigns, it’s no surprise that Russian agents quickly seized the opportunity to sow division among Americans. The bots are designed to pit Americans against each other on divisive issues such as gun control, race and immigration.

The bots are “going to find any contentious issue, and instead of making it an opportunity for compromise and negotiation, they turn it into an unsolvable issue bubbling with frustration,” said Karen North, a social media professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “It just heightens that frustration and anger.”

Top intelligence officials warned Congress earlier this month that Russian agents, emboldened by their success during the presidential campaign, are planning a similar disinformation campaign during the mid-term elections this year.

The automated Twitter accounts pounced on the hashtag #Parklandshooting, injecting the issue of metal illness in the gun control debate. Some of the accounts also claimed the gunman searched for Arabic phrases on Google before the massacre.

Why Jared Kushner May Become Key Focus of Trump-Russia Investigation

Jared Kushner. Photo by Lori Berkowitz Photography, via Wikipedia

Jared Kushner. Photo by Lori Berkowitz Photography, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When the CIA director began to notice in the spring of last year that the Russians were trying to influence the presidential election, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner met with senior Russians.

Now the FBI is focusing on a series of those meetings held by Kushner, who investigators believe may be key to helping them understand if the campaign was colluding with the Kremlin, The Washington Post reports. 

In a hearing on Russia on Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan explained why he was worried about collusion.

“Having been involved in many counterintelligence cases in the past, I know what the Russians try to do,” Brenna said. “They try to suborn individuals, and they try to get individuals, including U.S. persons, to try to act on their behalf, either wittingly or unwittingly. And I was worried by a number of contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons.”

As Brennan kept watch, he was alarmed by the number of people tied to Trump meeting with the Russians. They were Michael Flynn, now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Kushner, among others.

Since April 2016, Kushner met at least twice with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.

And that is why Kushner has caught the attention of investigators.

Sen. Reid: FBI Director Comey Should Be Investigated Over Russian Hacking Probe

Sen. Harry Reid.

Sen. Harry Reid.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Harry Reid has called on an investigation of FBI Director James Comey on Saturday, alleging he refused to reveal information about Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The Senate Democratic leader alluded to reports that the CIA had concluded people with Russian connections disclosed hacked Democratic emails to WikiLeaks to help Donald Trump win the election, the Washington Post reports.

“The FBI had this material for a long time but … Comey, who’s of course a Republican, refused to divulge this information,” Reid told MSNBC. “… He has let the country down for partisan purposes.”

Reid even compared Comey to J. Edgar Hoover and said he should be investigated by the Senate and  “should be investigated by other agencies of the government including the security agencies because if there ever were a matter of security, it’s this.”

On Sunday, Trump said it was “ridiculous” to suggest Russia helped his campaign, saying the claims are “just another excuse” by Democrats.

FBI Spies on Russian Intelligence by Bugging Binders with Listening Devices

spy graphic

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI resorted to Cold War spy tactics to eavesdrop on Russian intelligence agents in New York City, planting listening devices into binders full of “confidential” information, according to court documents revealed this week.

The covert action came to light in court filings in the trial of Evgeny Buryakov, who is accused of posing as a Russian bank employee. Federal prosecutors said Buryakov was really working for the Russian foreign intelligence agency, SVR, CNN reports. 

According to court documents, Buryakov thought he was meeting with an energy company analyst in 2012, but he actually was communicating with an undercover FBI agent.

The agent supplied the bugged binders to Buryakov in 2013, allowing the FBI to eavesdrop on hours of conversations among Russian intelligence.

The recordings “make clear” that the men “were operating as SVR officers by receiving taskings from Moscow, gathering responsive information and sending it back to SVR headquarters,” the court documents say.

FBI Agent Robert Hanssen’s Suburban Home Up For Sale for $725,000; He Now Lives in Supermax Prison in Colo.

FBI Spy Robert Hanssen

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

To the FBI, the White House, the CIA and the American people, FBI agent Robert Hanssen was nothing more than a traitor, a Russian spy who did some serious damage to national security in exchange for diamonds and cash worth $600,000.

But in the real estate world, his name means little. His five-bedroom home in Vienna, Va., a nice little suburb of Washington, is just another listing.

USA Today reports that Hanssen’s dark wood and brick split-level is up for sale for $725,000. It makes no mention online of Hanssen.

“We’re not obviously marketing to that aspect,” real estate agent Patrick Kilner told USA Today. “It’s not a salient issue.”

USA Today reports that info Hanssen provided to the Russians over 15 years resulted in the executions of at least two Russian agents working for the United States.

USA Today reported when Hanssen, now 67, pleaded guilty to espionage charges in 2001, the family home was one of the few possessions  the government did not seize. The property was assigned to Hanssen’s wife, Bernadette, whose name remains on property records.

hanssen home/llewellyn realtors

Hanssen is serving a life sentence and is currently being housed in the Supermax prison in Colorado, a far cry from his cozy home in Virginia.