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Archive for November, 2017

Witnesses: Kushner Urged Trump to Fire FBI Director Comey

Jared Kushner. Photo by Lori Berkowitz Photography, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner was behind the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

According to four people familiar with the discussions, The Wall Street Journal reports that Kushner urged the president to fire Comey during meetings with other top officials.

Kushner believed Comey was too unpredictable, and the White House adviser wrongly believed Democrats would applaud the FBI director’s firing because of his handling of the Clinton investigation. Kushner also believed FBI agents were cheer the firing because of their unhappiness with Comey’s performance.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team is looking into the allegations.

“When the president made the decision to fire FBI Director Comey, Mr. Kushner supported it,” Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, told the the Wall Street Journal.

“There’s no apparent evidence of Jared’s involvement in any decision-making process having to do with Mr. Comey’s firing,” a White House attorney said.

FBI Investigating Mysterious Death of Border Patrol Agent in Texas

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Was a Border Patrol agent killed or did he fall? What about his partner, who is in critical condition at a hospital?

The FBI is investigating what happened to the agents on a treacherous stretch of west Texas late Saturday night.

“There are a number of possible scenarios, but right now we are going to pursue it as an assault on a federal agent,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. said during a Tuesday briefing in El Paso, the Los Angeles Times reports. “This is the most important investigation in the El Paso division of the FBI. We will be aggressively investigating all leads.” 

Here’s what the FBI knows: Angelo Rogelio “Roger” Martinez, who was responding to a triggered sensor, was found with “traumatic head injuries” and broken bones. He died early Sunday from head injuries.

His partner, who has not been identified, also was found with head injuries. As of Tuesday evening, he was in critical but stable condition.

The union representing Border Patrol officers insist they were attacked with rocks.

“There’s no way he fell,” Chris Cabrera, a union spokesman and veteran agent based in McAllen, Texas, said of the agent who died. “Border Patrol agents are like mountain goats. They don’t fall. Especially two at the same spot.”

The FBI isn’t so sure. The agents were found at the bottom of a 9-foot-deep culvert in a treacherous area.

The death is still be investigated as a homicide.

Pa. Congressman Under FBI Probe for Allegedly Bribing Opponent to Drop Out

Rep. Bob Brady, D-Pennsylvania.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating whether a Pennsylvania congressman or his campaign bribed his primary opponent to drop out of a 2012 race against him.

A judge authorized a search warrant for the FBI to search the email account of  Rep. Bob Brady, a Democrat, the Daily Beast reports

His primary opponent, Jimmie Moore, dropped out of the primary election in November 2012 after he allegedly accepted $90,000 from Brady’s campaign. The money was allegedly transferred to one of Moore’s aides to pay down services rendered to the Moore campaign.

“The payments were routed in this manner so that the FEC reports filed by the Brady and Moore campaigns would not show that Brady had made a payment to his primary opponent in violation of FECA [Federal Election Campaign Act] contribution limits,” the affidavit states.

The FBI affidavit states that Brady, Moore and three others were likely “involved in the commission of several crimes, including conspiracy, false statements, producing false records, false campaign contribution reports, and violating limits on campaign contributions and expenditures.”

Brady also is under investigation for allegedly lying to the FBI.

Special Counsel Turns Up Heat on Kushner Over Actions During Trump Transition

Jared Kushner

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special Counsel Robert Muller is investigating contacts between foreign leaders and Jared Kushner, who is President Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Mueller’s investigators are turning up the heat on Kushner’s interactions with foreign leaders during the presidential transition. 

The investigators have questioned witnesses about their involvement with Kushner.

Among the questions is what role Kushner played in the controversy surrounding a U.N. resolution in December 2016 that criticized Israeli settlement construction.

At the time, President-Elect Trump called for the U.S. to veto the resolution, calling it “extremely unfair to all Israelis.”

Several days later, the resolution passed, but the U.S. abstained from voting.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Israeli officials contacted Trump’s transition team, including Kushner and former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon.

Special Counsel investigators also are scrutinizing whether Kushner set up meetings and communications with foreign leaders during Trump’s transition.

Trump’s Lawyers Try to Keep President Calm to Prevent Self-Sabotage

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump is a nightmare client for lawyers.

Predisposed to self-sabotage, Trump is worrying his attorneys about his impulse to be combative in the face of federal investigations.

Vanity Fair reports that Trump’s lawyers are “taking pains to project calm, telling the president he has nothing to fear and that the investigation, which some posits is just getting started, will wind down soon.” 

“The people who have been interviewed generally feel they were treated fairly by the special counsel, and adequately prepared to assist them in understanding the relevant material,” White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who has urged the president to cooperate with Mueller and his team, told The Washington Post. “They came back feeling relieved that it was over, but nobody I know of was shaken or scared.” 

Vanity Fair wrote:

One of the goals of this effort, it appears, is to prevent Trump from flying into a rage and firing Mueller, as several of his allies have suggested he do if it appears Mueller is expanding the scope of his investigation into the president’s finances. “I’ve done my best, without overstepping, to share my view that the perception of the inquiry—that it involved a decade or more of financial transactions and other alleged issues that were mistakenly reported—just wasn’t true, and that the issues were narrower and wholly consistent with the mandate provided by the Justice Department to the Office of the Special Counsel,” he said, adding that he believes the investigation will be wrapped up by the end of the year, or shortly thereafter. As for further revelations regarding foreign contacts that are reportedly on the horizon, Cobb said he does not expect them to “unduly extend the inquiry.”

DOJ Disperses Crime-Fighting Grants to Cities That Help Feds Crack Down on Illegal Immigration

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Local police departments that cooperate with federal immigration officials were given preferential treatment for crime-fighting funds.

The Justice Department dangled more than $98 million as a reward for police departments that cooperate with President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration by letting immigration officials inside local jails and notifying the feds about undocumented immigrants, BuzzFeed reports.

At the same time, Trump’s administration is threatening to withhold crime-fighting grants from so-called sanctuary cities.

The Justice Department is disbursing $98.5 million to 179 local law enforcement agencies to hire a total of 802 officers.

About 80% of the 179 agencies that received a grant were given preferential treatment because they have agreed to cooperate with the crackdown on illegal immigration.

“Cities and states that cooperate with federal law enforcement make all of us safer by helping remove dangerous criminals from our communities,” Sessions said in a statement. “Today, the Justice Department announced that 80 percent of this year’s COPS Hiring Program grantees have agreed to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in their detention facilities. I applaud their commitment to the rule of law and to ending violent crime, including violent crime stemming from illegal immigration.”

DEA Task Force Finds Enough Fentanyl to Kill 6 Million People

File photo of pills laced with fentanyl.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A joint investigation involving the DEA netted 16 arrests in New York City and the discovery of cocaine, heroin and enough fentanyl to kill 6 million people, NBC New York reports

DEA agents and local police seized a whopping 25 pounds of fentanyl, a deadly opioid that is resulting in an alarming number of overdoses nationwide.

“This investigation helped shut down a multi-state narcotics operation that dealt in cocaine, heroin and deadly fentanyl,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill. “If these defendants thought they could hide behind a call-in drug delivery service they underestimated the reach of the Bronx District Attorney’s Office and the DEA Strike Force.”

The drugs were smuggled from Florida and other areas and then sold in the Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester County and New Jersey.

The investigation was handled by DEA New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, a team of federal and local law enforcement agencies.

Other Stories of Interest

Washington Post Writer: Time to Remove J. Edgar Hoover’s Name from FBI Headquarters

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C., named after J. Edgar Hoover.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s time to remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the FBI’s headquarters in Washington D.C.

So argues Washington Post opinion writer Richard Cohen, who called the bureau’s first director a “racist, anti-communist zealot, who, in the name of God and the American flag, set out to destroy Martin Luther King Jr.” 

Cohen points out that other monuments bearing the names of offensive historic figures, like Robert E. Lee, are being removed.

Much of Hoover’s legacy is odious, and it is repellent to honor it anywhere,” Cohen wrote, noting that Washington D.C. is 48% black.

“Yet Hoover reigns unnoticed and unprotested, as if his attempts to destroy King did not matter.”