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Archive for December, 2017

Russian Hackers May Have Access to FBI’s Fingerprint-Analysis Software

Fingerprint analysis, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Russian firm with close ties to the Kremlin created the code used by the FBI’s fingerprint-analysis software, raising concerns that foreign hackers may be able to obtain sensitive biometric information on millions of Americans, according to documents and two whistleblowers.

Authorities also are worried that Russians could compromise national security by infiltrating the FBI’s computer systems, BuzzFeed reports

The software also is used by roughly 18,000 of other law enforcement agencies in the U.S.

The Russian code was inserted into the fingerprint system by a French company, a former subsidiary of the Paris-based conglomerate Safran, which concealed Russia’s involvement from U.S. officials.

Republican Congressman Calls for ‘Purge’ of Biased Agents in FBI, DOJ

U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The conservative Republican attack on the FBI’s credibility  continued Tuesday when Rep. Francis Rooney called for the “purge” of the bureau’s “deep state” personnel.

The Florida congressman told MSNBC that the Trump-Russia “investigation is totally off the rails” and that the Justice Department must also clean house. 

“I’m very concerned that the DOJ and FBI, whether you want to call it ‘deep state’ or what, are kind of off the rails,” the Republican said. 

The verbal attacks on the FBI have picked up steam following the discovery that one of the FBI’s top investigators had sent anti-Trump text messages.

In less than a week, Trump slammed former FBI Director James Comey, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and outgoing FBI general counsel James Baker, raising questions about whether his criticism amounts to witness intimidation

Report Slams Justice Department for Inappropriate Handling of Sexual Misconduct Cases

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is increasingly mishandling sexual harassment complaints and often failing to properly discipline government employees who behave inappropriately, according to the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General.

The report, which called on “high level action,” citied examples of some employees receiving mild forms of discipline and even later getting bonuses or performance awards, the Washington Post reports

The number of sexual misconduct allegations has increased since 2012 and include senior officials.

“We’re talking about presidential appointees, political appointees, FBI special agents in charge, U.S. attorneys, wardens, a chief deputy U.S. marshal, a U.S. marshal assistant director, a deputy assistant attorney general,” DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said.

Trump’s Ex-Campaign Manager Manafort May Face Another Indictment

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates may face another indictment in the Trump-Russia probe headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The Daily Beast reports that Washington D.C. lawyers anticipate Mueller will file a superseding indictment of Manafort and Gates to replace the current indictment. 

“I would expect a superseding indictment to come down relatively soon,” said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law school professor.

“There was much in the narrative of the indictment that referenced crimes not charged,” he added. “Prosecutors will often issue a superseding indictment as the grand jury continues its work. There’s also a tactical reason for this, that superseding indictments tend to grind defendants a bit more over time.”

Both men pleaded not guilty to an Oct. 30 indictment that alleges conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, being an unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading statements under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and false statements.

Manafort’s foreign financial transactions may draw potential new tax charges, the indictment hinted.

Other Stories of Interest

Ethics Lawyers: Trump’s Tweets May Amount to Witness Intimidation

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s persistent and stubborn Twitter attacks may finally land him in hot water.

Several legal experts said Trump’s drumbeat of criticism of the FBI may amount to witness intimidation.

In less than a week, Trump slammed former FBI Director James Comey, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and outgoing FBI general counsel James Baker.

In a tweet on Saturday, Trump blasted Comey for helping leak a memo to a reporter. The president also claimed that McCabe’s wife’s state Senate campaign received $700,000 from “puppets” of Hillary Clinton.

On Sunday, Trump suggested that McCabe used “his FBI Official Email Account to promote (his wife’s) campaign. You obviously cannot do this.”

Richard Painter, the top ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, said the president is making special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation easier.

Newsweek wrote:

The FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller are investigating Trump’s 2016 campaign, including whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey in May—and it’s possible that Comey, McCabe and Baker could be witnesses in that probe. Comey has already testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, in June, and McCabe met with the House Intelligence Committee on December 19. Both committees are overseeing their own investigations into Russia’s election meddling and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. On December 21, McCabe also met with members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Judiciary Committee.

Norm Eisen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and special assistant for ethics and government reform for former President Barack Obama, said Trump is at risk of “witness tampering charges.”

Trump Tweets FBI Is ‘TAINTED’ Because Salacious Dossier Is Unsubstantiated

Donald Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The salacious dossier that claims Donald Trump and Russia may have colluded to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign remain unsubstantiated, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified before Congress last week.

Trump and conservative lawmakers are pouncing on McCabe’s testimony to suggest the FBI’s top ranks are biased against the president and are bent on bringing him down.

The dossier was funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

In a tweet Tuesday morning, Trump said the dossier is “bogus” and the FBI is “TAINTED.”

But what Trump didn’t mention is that special counsel is still investigating the report and may determine it has credibility. Furthermore, the special counsel investigation has already charged four people connected to Trump without relying on the dossier. 

Death of Border Patrol Agent’s Death Remains a Hotly Contested Rumor

Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez was found dead at the bottom of a ravine in west Texas.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump was quick to exploit the death of a Border Patrol agent by suggesting – without evidence – that he was killed by illegal immigrants. Other conservative lawmakers made the same premature conclusion.

But a month after Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez was found in a ravine in West Texas and later died, local and federal law enforcement said they still don’t know what prompted the death and added it may have been an accident. Martinez’s partner was severely injured and can’t remember what happened.

Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carrillo told the Dallas Morning News that the men may have been hit by a truck on a nearby interstate.

“If this was an assault, believe me, as sheriff, I’d be the first one out there emphasizing safety in our community and with our deputies, pairing them up,” he told the newspaper. “But from what I know and see, that was not the case here.”

The theory that the agents were attacked began with the National Border Patrol Council, the border agents’ union. Chris Cabrera, a spokesman for the union, called Carrillo a “dingbat.”

“All these other theories, it’s tarnishing the name of our agents,” he said in an interview with the New York Times

Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent Killed in Motorcycle Crash in California

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An off-duty Border Patrol agent was killed when the motorcycle he was riding appeared to collide with a pickup truck in Southern California.

Alex Franco, who has been a Border Patrol agent since February 2009, drifted into oncoming traffic on the Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday afternoon, the Associated Press reports

Border Patrol spokesman Ralph DeSio sent the agency’s condolences to Franco’s friends and family.