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Archive for July, 2017

Trump Doubts Evidence of Russian Hacking Based on Misunderstanding with U.S. Spies

Anthony Scaramucci on CNN with Jake Tapper.

Anthony Scaramucci on CNN with Jake Tapper.


By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump doesn’t believe there’s ample evidence to prove Russia hacked into the Democratic National Committee because Kremlin operatives would have never been caught.

That’s what Trump’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, told CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday. 

“He basically said to me, ‘Hey you know, maybe they did it, maybe they didn’t do it,'” Scaramucci told a skeptical Tapper.

Scaramucci said Trump called him from Air Force One on Saturday and told “me yesterday that if the Russians actually hacked this situation, and spilled out those emails, you would’ve never seen it, you would’ve never had any evidence of that.”

But what Scaramucci appears to misunderstand is that intelligence experts have determined Russian operatives wanted it known that they were behind the cyberattack.

During a House Intelligence Committee hearing in March, former FBI director James Comey said, “Their loudness, in a way, would be counting on us to amplify it by telling the American people what we saw and freaking people out about how the Russians might be undermining our elections successfully.”

Vintage, 1980s-era FBI Surveillance Van for Sale on eBay

1980s-era FBI surveillance van is for sale on eBay.

1980s-era FBI surveillance van is for sale on eBay.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A North Carolina man is selling a 1980s-era FBI surveillance van on eBay.

Ginger Senfeldas said he bought the 1989 Dodge Ram 350 on a government auction website.

The van has custom features, including a toilet, extra 12-volt vehicle batteries, TV monitors, video recording equipment and hidden microphones on the exterior, CBS News reports

“We found out that there’s microphones as we took the side markers out of the van, and there’s microphones hidden in headlights and taillights. That’s why there’s little holes everywhere,” he said.

Senfeldas said there also were handcuffs, binoculars and leftover video from an old stakeout.

The auction on eBay , which ends Monday, reached more than $16,000 over the weekend.

FBI Denies AP Report About Missing Ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI issued a statement Saturday contesting a report by the Associated Press on Thursday,  which cited an anonymous U.S. official as saying many U.S. government officials believe ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson is no longer alive.

“This characterization is not accurate and diminishes the U.S. government’s resolve to safely return Robert (Bob) Levinson home to his family,” the FBI said in a statement. “Bob disappeared from Kish Island, Iran on March 9, 2007. In 2010, a video showing him in captivity was sent to the Levinson family by his captors. As Bob was taken inside Iran, the U.S. government continues to reiterate its call on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to locate Mr. Levinson and return him home to his family.”

Weekend Series on Crime History: New Orleans Congressman With FBI Money in Freezer Convicted

Trump’s Remarks Point to A Bumpy Road for Jeff Sessions and Christopher Wray

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Heading up a major law enforcement agency like the Justice Department or FBI is never easy. It’s a major headache. There’s always a crisis around the corner.

Keeping your job and doing it with integrity has only been more challenging under the Trump administration. Don’t count on Jeff Sessions sticking around as Attorney General for all too long, and expect Christopher Wray to face endless ethical dilemmas dealing with President Donald Trump after his confirmation as FBI director.

The president’s remarks to the New York Times give a pretty clear indication of tumultuous times ahead for the two.

Trump tells  the paper that he would never have hired Sessions had he known he was going to recuse himself in the probe into Russia.

“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump said.

Everyone, perhaps except Trump, realizes Sessions had no choice considering he was in the the inner circle of the Trump campaign in 2016, and he met with Russian officials. It was a no-brainer for Sessions, and frankly, had he not, he would have been under great pressure on the Hill and from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to recuse himself.

Then there’s the comment about the FBI director.

“The FBI person really reports to the president of the United States,” Trump said in what clearly is an untrue statement. Sure, the FBI director can brief the president on a regular basis, but he doesn’t answer to the president, at least not in the way Trump thinks.

The FBI’s website states, “Within the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI is responsible to the attorney general, and it reports its findings to U.S. Attorneys across the country. The FBI’s intelligence activities are overseen by the Director of National Intelligence.”

Trump won’t have a very hard time pushing Sessions out. That seems to be a certainty.

But considering he’s already fired one FBI director, Trump will have a tough time firing a second one without catching hell from Congress and the American people.

These are challenging and complicated times for law enforcement.

What isn’t complicated is doing the right thing and not bending to pressures from the White House.

President Nixon tried undermining the justice system, and we know justice prevailed.

Cummings, Conyers: Congress Must Act to Avoid Unchecked Powers of Trump’s Presidency

Rep. Elijah Cummings

Rep. Elijah Cummings

By Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings and John Conyers
Op-Ed, Baltimore Sun

On Saturday, Oct. 20, 1973, President Richard Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox because he refused to back down from his pursuit of the Watergate tapes. Nearly a half century later, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because of, in the president’s own words, “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia.” And Wednesday, the president complained about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation; Mr. Trump said he “would have picked someone else” to run the Department of Justice has he known that was coming.

How Congress responds to moments like these matters. The differences between Congress’ response in 1973 and our response today are stark — and, frankly, disappointing. In 1973, the House Judiciary Committee had a serious and bipartisan response, subpoenaing and eventually releasing the Watergate tapes. The current Republican response has been tepid at best; they have not issued a single subpoena to the White House, and Speaker Paul Ryan defended Mr. Trump’s interference in the Russia investigation by assuring us that “he’s just new to this.”

As the senior Democrats on the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees, we believe it is critical that Special Counsel Robert Mueller be given the independence, time and resources to conduct a thorough investigation and report his findings to Congress. At the same time, as a co-equal branch of government, Congress must fulfill its constitutional duty to investigate the full range of Trump administration and Trump campaign actions.

Successful congressional investigations develop a comprehensive, fact-based record to form the basis for further action. The House and Senate Watergate investigations led to Nixon’s resignation and adoption of the Ethics in Government Act. It was serious, deliberative, bipartisan, transparent and operated in parallel to law enforcement investigations.

In the absence of any meaningful investigation by House Republicans, Democratic members have sent requests for information on our own. Our efforts have been met with months of stonewalling. The Trump White House recently told government agencies “not to cooperate [with any oversight] requests from Democrats,” and issued a contrived Justice Department legal opinion that such queries are “not properly considered to be oversight requests.”

We will continue to press for answers because the information we seek goes to the central question of the Trump presidency: Is the administration acting in the public interest, or merely to benefit the private interests of President Trump?

To read more click here.

Trump’s Lawyer, Spokesman Step Aside Amid Reshuffling of Legal Team

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The head of Donald Trump’s outside legal team appears to be stepping aside amid reports that Trump is reshuffling his circle of lawyers representing him in the Russia investigation.

News that Marc Kasowitz is “out” as Trump’s attorney was first tweeted by CBS News White Correspondent Major Garrett. 

It wasn’t immediately clear if the move was motivated by a series of profanity-laced email exchanges that Kasowitz had with a seeming stranger.

Mark Corallo, the spokesman for Trump’s legal team, also resigned Thursday.

Kasowitz, who represented Trump in several cases in the past, was hired by the president in late May to represent him in the ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between the president’s campaign team and Russia.

Trump Asks about Powers to Pardon Aides, Family, Even Himself

President Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The looming investigation into alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia has prompted the president’s lawyers to explore his powers to grand pardons to aides, family and even himself, the Washington Post reports.

Trump has been asking advisers about the extent of his constitutional power to grant pardons in connection with the investigation, according to an unnamed source familiar with the queries.

One of Trump’s attorney’s, John Down, called the allegations “nonsense.”

“The President’s lawyers are cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller on behalf of the President,” he said.

The Post wrote:

Other advisers said the president is also irritated by the notion that Mueller’s probe could reach into his and his family’s finances.

Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.