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Archive for May, 2017

Trump Considers Appointing First Woman to Lead 82-Year-Old FBI

Fran Townsend, via Twitter

Fran Townsend, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump is reportedly considering appointing the first woman to head the FBI after firing Director James Comey earlier this month under suspicious circumstances.

Politico confirmed that Fran Townsend, the former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, was approached by the Trump administration about the coveted job. 

“I’ve talked to folks in the administration about it,” she said.

Acknowledging that her candidacy is “history-making,” Townsend would be the first woman to take the helm of the FBI since the bureau was founded in 1935. “The fact that women are in that mix says a lot about how far we’ve come. That hasn’t been true before,” she said. “Regardless of whatever decision is made, we have begun to shatter a glass ceiling about what is the population of people who are qualified and competitive to hold such a position.”

Asked whether she’d take the job if its was offered, Townsend dodged the question.

As for whether she’d take the job if offered, the former Bush official demurred: “You know what? I learned in the White House I don’t do hypotheticals,” she said, “but I will say I was quite honored and quite flattered to be approached.”

Trump’s Search for New FBI Director Starts from Scratch Again

President Trump, via White House

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just a week after President Trump said he was “very close” to choosing a new FBI director, his administration is now starting from scratch, a senior administration official told CNN.

That means former Sen. Joe Lieberman is no longer the leading candidates.

Trump, who sources said had narrowed down his choices to just a handful of finalists, now wants more candidates from which to pick.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a big role in the process, interviewing candidates, including acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former congressman and FBI special agent Mike Rogers, and Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush. If appointed, Townsend would be the first woman to lead the FBI in the bureau’s history.

What’s unclear is whether Trump’s often combative relationship with the intelligence community and his treatment of former FBI Director James Comey would make the job less appealing to qualified candidates.

Among the candidates who have already bailed out are former Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, Associate Judge Michael Garcia of the New York Court of Appeals, career FBI official Richard McFeely, Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn and South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy.

Special FBI Agent’s Brush with Death Doesn’t Slow Her Down


By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An 11-year veteran of the FBI, Special Agent Diane Wehner believed she was in good physical shape.

After all, she worked out daily at the gym at the FBI’s Charlotte Field Office and passed her required annual fit tests.

But after completing the fit test in September 2015, the 36-year-old said she “didn’t feel very well. My neck hurt, my back hurt,” she told the Charlotte Observer. 

Just when she thought she was beginning to feel better, she began to slur her speech.

“When we first met Diane, she was in the middle of having a stroke and with strokes, time is very important,” said Dr. Joe Bernard, an Endovascular Neuro Surgeon at Carolinas Medical Center where Wehner was eventually airlifted.

Likely from doing sit-ups during the fit test, Wehner dissected both parties in her neck.

The doctor wasted no time and operated to remove the clot before it was too late.

“Sometimes we have hours to be able to do this. Sometimes we just have minutes,” Dr. Bernad said.

After her near brush with death, Wehner returned to the FBI, focusing on counterintelligence, white-collar crime and terrorism.

Dr. Bernard said Wehner is alive today because she didn’t hesitate to go to the hospital.

“Diane’s unusual because most strokes happen in older patients, but part of the awareness that needs to be broadcast is strokes can happen to anybody,” Dr. Bernard said.

Trump’s Budget Calls for Tightening Border Security with a Wall, New Agents

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s new 2018 budget asks for $2.6 billion to begin building a wall along the border of Mexico.

To follow through on his pledge to combat illegal immigration, Trump also is requesting money for 500 new Border Patrol agents and 1,000 new ICE agents and officers.

In his new budget, revealed today, Trump said he’s exploring ways to calculate “net budgetary effects of immigration programs and policy” before implementing big changes.

“Once the net effect of immigration on the federal budget is more clearly illustrated, the American public can be better informed about options for improving policy outcomes and saving taxpayer resources,” the president said in the new blueprint. “In that regard, the budget supports reforming the U.S. immigration system to encourage: merit-based admissions for legal immigrants, ending the entry of illegal immigrants, and a substantial reduction in refugees slotted for domestic resettlement.”

Ex-CIA Director: Russia May Have Recruited Trump Aides to Influence Election

Former CIA Director John Brennan testifies during Tuesday's congressional hearing. Photo via U.S. Capitol.

Former CIA Director John Brennan testifies during Tuesday’s congressional hearing. Photo via U.S. Capitol.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former CIA Director John Brennan said publicly for the first time that he suspected the Russian government may have successfully recruited aides from Donald Trump’s campaign to help influence the presidential election.  

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals,” Brennan told members of the House Intelligence Committee. “It raised questions in my mind about whether Russia was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”

But Brennan said he left office in January before having enough evidence to determine “whether such collusion existed.”

Members of the House Intelligence Committee during the Brennan testimony. Photo via U.S. Capitol.

Members of the House Intelligence Committee during the Brennan testimony. Photo via U.S. Capitol.

Brennan, who served as CIA chief during the Obama administration from 2013-2017, said he briefed congressional leaders in August about the “full details” of his suspicions that Russia was trying to influence the presidential election.

“They were very aggressive,” Brennan told lawmakers.

Brennan also criticized Trump for recently sharing classified information with Russian officials, describing the leaks as “very, very damaging … and I find them appalling and they need to be tracked down.”

The hearing, which was ongoing when this story was published, is intended to dig up information about the investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s team and Russia.

After the hearing, Brennan will meet with lawmakers behind closed doors to provide information he couldn’t in the open session.

Watch the testimony here.

Secret Service Joins Probe into Violent Clash Between Protesters And Erdogan Bodyguards


By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service, State Department and D.C. police are investigating a violent clash between protesters and allies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan outside the Turkish embassy in Washington.

Protesters were calling for the release of a Kurdish opposition party leader last week when they were violently attacked by a group of men that included Erdogan’s bodyguards.

Video shows allies of Erdogan, who was watching the melee, brutally attacking protesters, many of whom were left bleeding on the ground.

D.C. police eventually were able to separate the two groups, but not before several protesters were beaten so severely they needed to be hospitalized.

“The investigation is being conducted by the MPD, U.S. Secret Service, and Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service,” a State Department official told the Washington Free Beacon. “All three law enforcement organizations are actively sharing information.‎ However, as we have indicated before, as this is an ongoing investigation we will not go into specifics.”  

President Trump Asked Top Intelligence Officials to Help End FBI Investigation of His Campaign

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

After President Trump repeatedly asked then-FBI Director James Comey to swear loyalty to the president during a one-on-one meeting in the White House in February, the Republican is accused of trying to get two top intelligence officials to intervene.

The Washington Post reports that Trump asked the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency to help him stop a FBI investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia. 

Trump wanted the top intelligence officials to public deny the existence of evidence of collusion during the 2016 presidential election.

The requests, which were denied by both men, happened during two separate meetings that could be used to help build the case that Trump was obstructing justice.

Trump to Comey: Jail Journalists Who Refuse to Identify Anonymous Sources


typewriter-reporterBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump continued his attack on the free press by asking then-FBI Director James Comey to jail journalists who refuse to disclose the names of anonymous government sources responsible for leaking embarassing information about his administration.

It was the same Feb. 14 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump is accused of asking Comey to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Saying he was tired of news leaks detailing his private conversations with several leaders worldwide, Trump asked Comey to aggressively pursue the leakers.

When Comey advised the president that it would be difficult to identify the leaks without the cooperation of journalists, Trump told the FBI director to send reporters to jail if they refused to help provide information.

The unusual request was written in a memo by Comey, who kept meticulous notes on his meetings with Trump.

A press freedom advocacy group came to the defense of journalists, saying Trump’s comments “cross a dangerous line.”

“The comments attributed to President Trump cross a dangerous line. But no president gets to jail journalists,” Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said in a statement.

“Reporters are protected by judges and juries, by a congress that relies on them to stay informed, and by a Justice Department that for decades has honored the role of a free press by spurning prosecutions of journalists for publishing leaks of classified information.”