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Tag: Senate Judiciary Committee

Trump Withdraws Nomination of Chuck Canterbury to Lead ATF Amid GOP Opposition

Kenneth “Chuck” Canterbury via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump formally withdrew his nomination of Kenneth “Chuck” Canterbury to lead the ATF on Tuesday amid opposition from Republicans.

Trump nominated Canterbury, the former national president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, in June 2019 to replace Thomas Brandon, who was retiring.

Trump notified Congress that he was withdrawing the nomination, The Hill reports.

The ATF has been without a permanent director since 2015.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in July, Republicans expressed concerns that Canterbury wasn’t supportive enough of gun rights. A vote to confirm Canterbury in September was postponed.

The latest development is part of a long history of powerful gun rights groups like the NRA blocking confirmation of ATF directors out of fear they’ll be too aggressive about enforcing the nation’s gun laws.

FBI Employees Also Exchanged Pro-Trump Text Messages During Campaign

Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifying before Senate Judiciary Committee.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump has long seized on anti-Trump text messages between two FBI employees to push his unfounded conspiracy theories that the bureau tried to undermine his candidacy.

Turns out, some FBI employees were found to have tweeted politically charged text messages in favor of Trump.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz revealed that he also found pro-Trump text messages between FBI employees.

“So FBI employees held personal political views that were both favorable & unfavorable toward the candidate at that time?” Sen.Dianne Feistein D-Calif., asked.

“Correct,” Horowitz responded without elaborating.

FBI Director: White Supremacy Behind Rise in Domestic Terrorism Cases

FBI Director Christopher Wray

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that white supremacy is behind an increase in domestic terrorism cases this fiscal year.

In the past nine months, the FBI has recorded about 100 domestic terrorism arrests, which is an increase over previous years.

“A majority of the domestic terrorism cases we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence,” Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

The number of domestic terrorism cases now rivals the number of international terrorism cases, Wray said, contradicting President Trump’s claims that white nationalism was not on the rise.

The increase comes amid concerns that President Trump’s rhetoric is fueling white supremacy.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asked Wray whether the bureau is taking the domestic terror threat seriously in light of Trump’s rhetoric.

“There is a concern that this is not being taken as seriously as it should be as one of the real threats in our country,” Durbin told Wray.

“We take domestic terrorism or hate crime, regardless of ideology, extremely seriously, I can assure you, and we are aggressively pursuing it using both counterterrorism resources and criminal investigative resources and partnering closely with our state and local partners,” Wray responded.

Another concern is that a vast majority of the domestic cases are not leading to terrorism charges.

5 Takeaways from Attorney General Barr’s Testimony about Mueller Report

Attorney General William Barr testifies on Wednesday.

Attorney General William Barr was defiant Wednesday while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Here are five takeaways from the hearing:

1. Calls for Barr to resign

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, demanded Barr resign, accusing him of lying to Congress and covering up for President Trump.

“You lied to Congress.” Hirono said. “Now we know more about your deep involvement and trying to cover up for Donald Trump. Being attorney general of the United States is a sacred trust. You have betrayed that trust. America deserves better. You should resign.”

2. “Misleading” testimony

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, accused Barr of “purposely misleading” the committee when he suggested he was “not aware of any challenge to the accuracy of the findings.”

Leahy pointed out that Mueller expressed his misgivings with Barr about his handling of the Mueller report.

“Mr. Barr, I feel that your answer was purposely misleading, and I think others do, too,” Leahy told the attorney general.

3. Barr suggests Trump ‘fully cooperated’

Barr insisted Trump “fully cooperated” with Mueller’s investigation, drawing criticism from Democrats.

Mueller’s report repeatedly indicated that Trump and his team failed to cooperate with a lot of the investigation and that the president refused to sit down for an interview.

The report states, “We again requested an in-person interview, limited to certain topics, advising the President’s counsel that ‘this is the President’s opportunity to voluntarily provide us with information for us to evaluate in the context of all of the evidence we have gathered.’ President Trump declined.”

4. Barr has no qualms with Mueller testifying 

When Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, asked Barr if Mueller should testify, Barr responded, “I already said publicly, I have no objection.”

But when Durbin asked if former White House counsel Don McGahn should testify, Barr said, “That’s a call for the President to make.”

Durbin responded, “Well, he’s a private citizen at this point.”

Barr said, “I assume he would be testifying about privileged matters.”

5. Barr refers to Mueller report as “my baby”

Barr testified that Mueller’s report was “my baby” after the special counsel turned it over to the Justice Department.

“His work concluded when he sent his work to the attorney general,” Barr said. “At that point, it was my baby, and I effective overrode the regulations, used discretion, to lean as far forward as I could to make that public. And it was my decision how and when to make it public, not Bob Mueller’s.”

Barr is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee.

What to Expect from Weeklong FBI Probe into Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh

Christine Blasey Ford testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Friday.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh makes it to the nation’s highest court may come down to a one-week FBI investigation.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., called for an FBI investigation on Friday following an intense and emotional nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I think that we ought to do what we can to make sure that we do all due diligence with a nomination this important,” Flake said just hours after he said he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

So what would a week-long FBI investigation entail?

The Republican-led committee called for the probe to be “limited to current credible allegations against the nominee.”

Three women have come forward to claim Kavanaugh sexually assaulted them.

But one of those women’s accusations aren’t being treated seriously, said Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Julie Swetnick, who said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her and that she was gang-raped at a party decades ago.

“This investigation is only as good as the scope,” Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Swetnick, told USA TODAY. “If the scope doesn’t include my client and the others who have accused Mr. Kavanaugh, how can it be a credible investigation?” 

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted that the “FBI’s hands must not be tied in this investigation.”

“We need the facts,” she wrote.

But on Friday, President Trump said the investigation “must be limited in scope.”

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said the FBI must determine what “limited scope” means but indicated the probe cannot “be a fishing expedition.”

Following a rally in West Virginia on Saturday, Trump said the FBI has “free rein.”

“Whatever it is they do, they’ll be doing things that we’ve never even thought of,” the president said.

The FBI declined to comment.

Most likely, FBI agents will try to determine the veracity of the claims by Christine Blasey Ford, who said Kavanaugh pulled her into a room, held her down, fondled her and cupped his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming. That means interviewing everyone who attended the party, including Mark Judge, whom Ford said stood watch outside the locked room while Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.

According to the USA Today, the FBI has contacted Deborah Ramirez, a former Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s, who said he exposed himself during a drunken party.

The FBI has the resources to handle special investigations, former bureau officials said.

“They could knock this thing out in a couple of days,” said Jim Davis, a former agent who participated in at least 50 such background inquiries.

The investigation’s findings will be turned over to the White House, which then must share them with the Senate committee.

A full Senate vote could happen later this week or next week.

With a 51-seat majority, all but one Republican must approve the nomination if every Democrat opposes it, as long as Vice President Mike Pence casts the tie-breaking vote in Kavanaugh’s favor.

Dem Senator Says Confirmation Vote on Kavanaugh Should Be Delayed Pending Outcome of FBI Probe Into Sexual Assault Allegations

Brett Kavanaugh during the Senate confirmation hearings.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Senate should wait on voting for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court until the FBI conducts an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations.

That’s according to Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Feinstein’s statement follows a Washington Post report that detailed a first-hand account of sexual abuse by California professor Christine Blasey Ford. 

In a written statement, Feinstein said the professor’s allegations, which include being pinned down, groped and forced into silence at a high school party, were “extremely serious and bear heavily on Judge Kavanaugh’s character.”

Whether Feinstein gets his way is another story. At least three Democrats said Sunday that the confirmation hearings should continue, despite the allegations.

Senate Committee Approves Bill to Protect Mueller’s Firing

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill Thursday to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fire by President Trump.

The committee advanced the measure with a 14-7 vote, putting pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow the full Senate to vote.

Four Republicans joined Democrats to pass the legislation: Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

McConnell pledged last week to prevent the bill from reaching the Senate floor for a vote, saying there was “no indication” that Trump would fire Mueller and it was unlikely he would approve the measure.    

Grassley said Thursday “this bill should be considered by the full Senate,” despite the objections of McConnell, The USA Today reports.

“Because special counsel investigations only occur where there is a conflict of interest within the executive branch, special counsel investigations are usually matters of great national concern,” Grassley said. “And Congress, by exercising its oversight powers, can help the American people to have confidence that these investigations are conducted efficiently and independently.”

McConnell Shut Down Bi-Partisan Bill to Protect Mueller from Trump

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to shoot down any legislation aimed at protecting special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by President Trump.

McDonnell says the bill is a waste of time because he’s confident Trump won’t fire Mueller, whose investigation so far has landed indictments against 22 individuals and entities.

“I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor. That’s my responsibility as the Majority Leader, and we will not be having this on the floor of the U.S. Senate,” the defiant Republican said in an interview Tuesday on Fox News

A small band of Republicans has emerged to support a bill that would give a fired special counsel 10 days to request an expedited judicial review on whether the termination was for “good cause.” In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to have enough votes next week to pass the bill.

But McConnell emphatically said he would not hold a floor vote on the legislation. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Trump’s intentions are irrelevant because the protections are good policy to have on the books.

“I don’t think he’s going to fire Mueller, but I think institutionally it would be nice to have some protections,” Graham said Tuesday.

Trump has stepped up his attacks on the FBI, Justice Department and special counsel probe said the federal raid on his personal lawyer’s various properties, phones and computers. He also has hinted at firing Deputy Attorney General Andrew McCabe, who hired Mueller and oversees the special counsel investigation. 

The legislation would give any special counsel a 10-day window to seek expedited judicial review of a firing, and would put into law existing Justice Department regulations that require a firing to be for “good cause.”