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Archive for January, 2018

Special Counsel Probe Reaches Trump’s Inner Circle with AG Sessions Interview

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before Congress about contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The special counsel investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia has officially penetrated the president’s inner circle.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned for several hours last week as special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of legal experts dive deeper into allegations against President Trump and his former and current associates, the New York Times reported. 

It wasn’t immediately clear what questions were posed to Sessions, but he is a key witness in several targets of the probe: During the campaign, Sessions met with several Russian officials and was involved in developing Trump’s positions on Russia.

The attorney general also may have information about the firing of then-FBI director James Comey.

The president’s relationship with Sessions has been rocky since he recused himself in any future investigations involving Trump’s campaign since the former Alabama senator had close ties  of his close ties to the campaign.

So far, Mueller’s investigation has produced indictments against four former Trump campaign.

Trump to Acting FBI Director: Whom Do You Vote for in Presidential Election?

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testifies before Congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Shortly after Andrew McCabe became the acting FBI director to replace the ousted chief, James Comey, President Trump summoned the new bureau boss to the Oval Office for what was supposed to be an introductory meeting.

During the meeting, Trump asked McCabe whom he voted for in the 2016 presidential election – an oddly timed question for a new commander in chief accused of firing Comey for refusing to end an investigation involving former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn, who later pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents.

McCabe responded that he didn’t vote, according to several current and former U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Post.

While the FBI director is chosen by the president, the position is supposed to be non-partisan. Trump eventually appointed Christopher Wray to serve as the FBI director.

It was widely reported this week that Wray threatened to resign after the Trump administration pressured him to fire McCabe, who returned to his position as deputy FBI director.

Other Stories of Interest

President Exaggerates Missing Texts Involving FBI Agent Accused of anti-Trump bias

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump pounced on news that the FBI is missing text messages involving a top counter-intelligence official who was removed from the special counsel’s investigation of Russian meddling because of an anti-Trump bias.

In a Tuesday morning tweet, the president suggested the five months’ worth of missing text messages from the agent, Peter Strzok, is “one of the biggest stories on a long time.”

Trouble is, Trump overstated the number of missing texts – “perhaps 50,000” – prompting the Justice Department to correct the president.

Hundreds of text messages between Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page were released to reporters and Congress last month. The FBI released additional text messages on Friday, saying a computer glitch caused the messages to be improperly stored.

The Justice Department is trying to recover the messages.

Trump and conservative allies have pointed to the messages in an aggressively targeted campaign to suggest the special counsel investigation is a “witch hunt” perpetrated by anti-Trump investigators.

Trump’s FBI Director Threatened to Quit After Sessions Pressured Him to Fire Deputy Direct

Christopher Wray is sworn in as the new FBI director. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray was preparing to resign after he said he came under relentless pressure from the Trump administration to fire his deputy director, who triggered the special counsel investigation into alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Wray, who took the helm at the FBI after the Senate confirmed him in August, responded that he would resign if his deputy, Andrew McCabe, was forced out, according three sources with direct knowledge of the situation, Axios reported

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was leading the charge to fire McCabe, urging Wray to make a “fresh start” and fire his deputy, who had come under repeated attacks by Trump.

McCabe recently announced he plans to retire by March.

Wray was appointed by Trump after the president fired then-FBI Director James Comey, allegedly for refusing to stop investigating Michael Flynn, the former Trump national security advisor who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents in December 2016.

Some legal experts have said Trump committed obstruction of justice when he fired Comey.

Michigan Man Threatened to Gun Down CNN Employees over ‘Fake News’

CNN headquarters in Atlanta, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A suburban Detroit man was arrested on felony charges after police say he threatened to carry out a mass shooting at CNN headquarters over what he considered fake news, echoing President Trump’s relentless attacks on the network and other media outlets. 

Brandon Griesemer, of Novi, was arrested last week after federal authorities said he made 22 calls to the news network, including one in which he complained about “fake news” and pledged, “Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down.”

He reportedly added, “I’m smarter than you, More powerful than you. I have more guns than you. More manpower. Your cast is about to get gunned down in a matter of hours.”

During some of the calls, Griesemer made disparaging comments about African American and the network.

Griesemer was charged Friday in U.S. District Court with a felony county of transmitting interstate communications with the intent to extort and threat to injure. Griesemer is free from jail after posting a $10,000 bond. 

“We take any threats to CNN employees or workplaces, around the world, extremely seriously. This one is no exception. We have been in touch with local and federal law enforcement throughout, and have taken all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our people,” CNN said Monday in a statement

Civilian Engineer at Michigan Military Facility Falsely Accused of Being Israeli Spy; Subjected to Anti-Semitism At Work


David Tenenbaum (Facebook photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — For the past 33 years, David Tenenbaum has worked as a civilian engineer at the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, known as TACOM, near 11 Mile and Mound roads in Warren, a suburb of Detroit.

And for a good part of that time, he tells the Detroit Jewish News, he was subjected to vile anti-Semitism from co-workers and from the Army itself. At one point, he was falsely accused by co-workers of being a spy for Israel, something that eventually triggered a painful FBI probe.

Tenenbaum, a Southfield, Mich.,  resident, was eventually cleared. And in 2008, the Inspector General found that Tenenbaum was “subjected to unusual and unwelcome scrutiny  because of his faith and ethnic background, a practice that would undoubtedly fit a definition of discrimination.”

Still, til this day, he says he has been purposely underutilized, subjected to isolation and remains a pariah at work.

Now, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Michigan Democrat Sen. Gary Peters, a committee member, have sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis asking that he provide closure and relief for the 60-year-old Tenenbaum. They want the Army to stop any workplace retaliation, and stop limiting his opportunities.

One of the reason he was hired at TACOM was his familiarity with Israel and his ability to speak Hebrew with Israeli counterparts.

The Jewish News reports:

Everything fell apart, however, when some of Tenenbaum’s local co-workers secretly and falsely accused him of spying for Israel in 1996. Tenenbaum later discovered they had been secretly accusing him of such spying as early as 1992. He found out they would observe him, an Orthodox Jew, carrying his kosher lunch to work every day in a backpack and they would fantasize that the backpack could be used to smuggle classified documents out of the building.

Some co-workers didn’t like him, he said, because he was a diligent employee who didn’t goof off on the job or join co-workers at restaurants for lunch or at bars after office hours. Some co-workers made anti-Semitic remarks behind his back, and a bag of pork rinds was once placed on his desk.

He recounts that one reason people said they suspected him of spying for Israel was that he spoke Hebrew with the Israelis — ironically one of his major qualifications for being hired at TACOM in the first place.

The letter by the two senators says:

“DOD’s lack of a remedy in accordance with the Inspector General’s findings sends a message that DOD is not concerned with even the most egregious cases of discrimination and employee retaliation,

Trump’s Scaremongering about Impact of Government Shutdown Is Overstated

ICE agents are expected to continue working during the shutdown.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As the federal government shutdown entered its third day on Monday, the impact on Americans is expected to become more clear as the new work week begins.

Nearly half of the federal government’s 2 million civilian are expected to be furloughed until Republicans and Democrats break an impasse over President Trump’s spending plan.

Despite Trump’s claim on Twitter over the weekend that the shutdown jeopardizes Americans’ safety, a vast majority of the military and federal law enforcement will continue working because they are considered essential to public safety. Most employees who work for the FBI, Justice Department, TSA, Border Patrol and other federal law enforcement won’t be furloughed.

While some department such as HUD and EPA will require more than 90% of its employees to stay home until the shutdown ends, only about 17% of Justice Department workers will be required to take off work. But many of those employees may be asked to work without payt.

The shutdown also won’t affect the special counsel investigation of possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Democrats and Republicans are expected to meet again Monday to reach a compromise to end the shutdown.

On Saturday, Trump accused Democrats of endangering Americans in favor of protecting illegal immigrants. But as Trump tweeted during President Obama’s shutdown in 2013, the impact of shutdowns are minimal.

FBI Investigating New Person of Interest in Las Vegas Shooting Rampage

Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI agents investigating the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. in Las Vegas in October announced they are probing a new person in its investigation.

Local and federal law enforcement had previously believed Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old high-stakes gambler, acted alone when he went on a shooting rampage from his 32nd floor hotel room that killed 58 people at a concert.

“The FBI has an ongoing case against an individual of federal interest,” Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told a press conference, but he declined to give details, Newsweek reports.

The Friday announcement of a person of interest is the first indication that another person may have helped Paddock, who killed himself following the attack.

The FBI recently announced that Paddock’s girlfriend likely wouldn’t be charged because she was unaware of the planned attack.