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Archive for May, 2017

Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent Dies After Being Stabbed in the Face in El Paso

Border Patrol Agent Issac Morales, via Gofundme.

Border Patrol Agent Issac Morales, via Gofundme.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An off-duty Border Patrol agent has died after he was stabbed in the face early Saturday morning in front of his girlfriend in El Paso, Texas. 

Issac Morales, 30, was pronounced dead Wednesday.

Police said Morales was walking to his car in the parking lot of Union Drafthouse Bar shortly before 2 a.m. when 39-year-old Hisais Justo Lopez allegedly stabbed him. Police said the stabbing occurred after Morales identified himself as a Border Patrol agent.

Lopez was arrested and later charged with murder after Morales died.

To donate to the family, visit their Gofundme page. 

Former TSA Chief John Pistole Under Consideration for Top FBI Job

John Pistole/fbi photo

John Pistole/fbi photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

John Pistole, the former TSA chief who had been appointed by President Obama, is now being considered for the position of FBI director, CNN reports. 

Pistole, who was named deputy FBI director in 2014, met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to talk about the position over lunch. 

What’s unclear is whether Pistole is interested in the job, especially after President Trump has repeatedly attacked the intelligence community and tried to get the former FBI director to pledge allegiance to him. At least five people under consideration for the job have withdrawn their names.

In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Pistole ran the FBI’s counterterrorism division.

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.

President Trump Hits Reset on Search for New FBI Director

Former FBI Director James Comey

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As President Trump prepared for his overseas trip this month, he alerted reporters that he expected to “very soon” nominate a new FBI director.

For unknown reasons, those plans have been scrapped and the president is nowhere closer to replacing James Comey, whom Trump fired under suspicious circumstances on May 9.  At least 6 candidates have bailed out for various reasons. They include former Assistant United States Attorney General Alice Fisher,  ex-Sen. Joe Lieberman, New York State Court of Appeals Associate Judge Michael Garcia, Senator John Cornyn, U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy and former FBI official Richard McFeely.

The White House recently appointed a search team to look for fresh candidates for the top FBI job.

Goodbye Joe: Lieberman Withdraws Name From Consideration for FBI Director, Citing Possible Conflict of Interest

Ex-Sen. Lieberman/senate photo

Ex-Sen. Lieberman/senate photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex- Sen. Joe Lieberman is no longer in the running for FBI director.

Lieberman sent a  letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday withdrawing his name from consideration for FBI director, citing a potential conflict of interest, ABC News reports.

Lieberman notes that the White House has enlisted Marc Kasowitz — who works at his law firm, to coordinate the administration’s response to the Russia investigation.

“With your selection of Marc Kasowitz to represent you in the various investigations that have begun, I do believe it would be best to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, given my role as a senior counsel in the law firm of which Marc is the senior partner,” Lieberman wrote in the letter.

Lieberman seemed like an unlikely choice, anyways.

His law enforcement background was limited to being attorney general in Connecticut before being elected to the Senate. It’s not likely his nomination would have been received that warmly by the Senate.

Trump Calls for Full Investigation into U.S. Leaks of Probe into Manchester Attack

President Trump, via White House

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump is requesting a full investigation into whether U.S. officials leaked information about England’s probe of the Manchester terrorist bombing earlier this week.

Denouncing the leaks as “deeply troubling,” Trump pledged to “get to the bottom of this.”

He added: “The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security. I am asking the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to launch a complete review of this matter, and if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There is no relationship we cherish more than the Special Relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.”

British intelligence officials were incensed about the leaks, which included prematurely naming the suspects and crime-scene photos published in the New York Times.

Among the chief concerns is that the breach may undermine historically close intelligence sharing tie.s

Guardian: Trump Seems Primed to Return the FBI to the Hoover Era

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

By Editorial Board
The Guardian

The country is still reeling after the bombshell report that Donald Trump asked the former FBI director James Comey to shut down the bureau’s investigation into Michael Flynn. Did the president fire Comey to slow down the FBI Russia investigation? Did Trump obstruct justice?

These questions are getting the attention that they deserve. But the focus on Comey’s firing is obscuring the issue of who Trump will hire to replace him – and the threat that this appointment poses to Americans’ civil liberties and civil rights.

Recently, the journalist Ashley Feinberg uncovered Comey’s personal Twitter account; he had used the pseudonym “Reinhold Niebuhr”. Tellingly, the real Niebuhr was a theologian, public intellectual, and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient targeted for FBI surveillance because of his lawful opposition to the Vietnam war.

Niebuhr wasn’t alone. The FBI has a long history of abusing its power to serve political ends. In the early 20th century, J Edgar Hoover created his Radical Alien Division to conduct dragnet surveillance of American immigrants. It surveilled Marcus Garvey to collect evidence used in his deportation to Jamaica. It wiretapped Dr Martin Luther King Jr during the civil rights era. At President Dwight Eisenhower’s direction, Hoover compiled a “list of homosexuals” to root out gay people working for the government.

Comey had serious flaws. But he understood the past misdeeds of the FBI. He kept a copy of the original order to wiretap King on his desk and required new FBI agents and analysts to visit King’s memorial on the National Mall. As Comey put it in 2015, he tried to “to ensure that we remember our mistakes and that we learn from them”.

Trump, on the other hand, seems anxious to return to the Hoover era.

Justice Department Tries to Force Sanctuary Cities to Cooperate Under Budget Proposal

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump is not giving up on his plan to strip federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities.

A month after a judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked Trump’s  efforts to starve municipalities of federal money for failing to fully cooperate with immigration enforcement, the Justice Department is trying to change the law to give the federal government more leverage over localities when it comes to immigration enforcement, the Washington Post reports.

Local law enforcement agencies have expressed numerous reason for refusing to fully cooperate. Some police departments and sheriff’s offices are opposed because it’s an unfunded mandate, has legal implications and makes the community more unsafe because undocumented immigrants are afraid to report crimes.

The Post wrote:

Justice Department officials have said that under current law, holding illegal immigrants upon request is voluntary. And in a memo Tuesday, Sessions seemed to concede that his power in the matter was limited.

He declared that sanctuary cities, even under Trump’s executive order, were only those places that violated the particular federal law that stops local officials from putting any restrictions on information sharing with ICE. Only such jurisdictions, he said, were at risk of losing federal funding.

If the Justice Department’s proposal were to become law, though, all jurisdictions that do not honor detainer requests will be at risk. The law would block cities from enacting policies that stop compliance with legal Department of Homeland Security requests, including “any request to maintain custody of the alien for a period not to exceed 48 hours.”