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Archive for March, 2018

Trump Mulls Hiring Clinton Impeachment Attorney As Mueller Probe Intensifies

President Trump at the White House, via the White House.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

As the special counsel investigation continues to expand into uncomfortable territory, Donald Trump has met with veteran attorney Emmet T. Flood, who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial, to join the president’s legal team.

Trump met with Flood in the Oval Office to discuss duties that would include “a day-to-day role helping the president navigate his dealings with the Justice Department,” The New York Times reports. 

While the sources said the meetings don’t necessarily reflect developments in the investigation, it does underscore Robert Mueller’s probe is far from over.

If hired, Flood would not replace Ty Cobb, who has been Trump’s lawyer throughout the investigation, the sources said.

On Sunday, Trump slammed New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman for writing the story, saying he is happy with his current legal team.

“The Failing New York Times purposely wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case and am going to add another lawyer to help out. Wrong,” Trump tweeted. “I am VERY happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow. They are doing a great job.”

According to the Times, Cobb has told friends he doesn’t expect to remain in his job much longer.

In addition to representing Clinton during the impeachment process, Flood represented Vice President Dick Cheney in his civil suit against CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Hunt Continues for Missing FBI Agent Levinson 11 Years After Disappearance in Iran

Robert Levinson

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

It has been 11 years since former FBI agent Robert Levinson was last seen alive.

Levinson, who would have turned 70 years old on Saturday, disappeared while on a CIA operation on Kish Island in Iran.

The Iranian government initially responded that it had detained Levinson but soon backed off that story and has since maintained it has no idea about Levinson’s whereabouts.

“This is something the FBI has never forgotten. His fellow agents have never forgotten Bob,” Tom O’Connor, the head of the FBI Agents Association, told WTOP. “The FBI Agents Association stands with his family and with the FBI in the efforts that everyone is making to reunite Bob with his family.”

The FBI has not given up. O’Connor said.

“There are people that are dedicated to working nothing but the Bob Levinson kidnapping case,” he said.

Some intelligence officials believe Levinson may be dead, but that hasn’t stopped the search.

“By remembering these solemn anniversaries — 11 years is a long time — we hope that somebody will come forward with information. There’s a reward out there, $5 million, for the return of Bob Levinson to his family,” O’Connor said.

“Representatives of the Government of Iran and the United States agreed to cooperate in sharing information which would lead to Mr. Levinson’s return,” the FBI said in a statement on Friday. “The FBI calls on the government of Iran to uphold this commitment so that Mr. Levinson and his family can be reunited.”

In his experience, O’Connor said he’s not giving up hope.

“I’ve worked on hostage cases in the past where someone was held in Iraq for 311 days, and it just was one piece of information that broke and he was reunited with his family,” he said. “People didn’t think that was going to happen and it did, so never give up hope.”

Ex-Trump Aide Nunberg Says Special Counsel Probe Not a ‘Witch Hunt’

Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Donald Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg, following a string of bizarre media appearances, said the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the president’s campaign is not a “witch hunt.”

“No, I don’t think it’s a witch hunt,” Nunberg told ABC. “It’s warranted because there’s a lot there and that’s the sad truth.”

But, he added, “I don’t believe it leads to the president.”

Nunberg said he believes may in Trump’s inner circle could be implicated, including his mentor and former Trump campaign aide Roger Stone.

“I’m very worried about him,” Nunberg said. “He’s certainly at least the subject of this investigation, in the very least he’s a subject.”

After defiantly daring Mueller to arrest him last week, Nunberg backed down from his pledge to ignore the investigation, including a subpoena to turn over records involving contacts with Trump’s inner circle.

On Friday, Nunberg met with Mueller and testified before a grand jury for more than five hours in Washington D.C.

Nunberg was fired from Trump’s campaign in August 2015 following the discovery of racially charged comments he made on Facebook.

Baltimore FBI Agent Stabs Wife to Death, Kills Self with Gun

FBI’s Baltimore Division.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A Baltimore FBI agent stabbed his estranged wife to death before ending his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police concluded following an investigation.

David Raynor, a special agent for the Baltimore Field Office, was embroiled in a divorce and custody case with his estranged wife Donna Fisher when the murder-suicide happened Wednesday.

At 8 a.m. Wednesday, a woman called 911 and reported that Donna Fisher had asked her to call “because she was being threatened by her recently estranged husband,” the Anne Arundel County Police Department told ABC News on Wednesday. 

Police found the couple’s bodies at Fisher’s Brownsville, Md., home. Later that day, the Fisher and Raynor were scheduled to appear in divorce court.

Fisher filed for divorce in March 2017.

Raynor, who joined the FBI in 1993, had worked at the Baltimore Field Office since February 2003.

FBI Investigates Brutal Police Beating of Black Man for Jaywalking in N.C.

Johnnie Rush was beaten, chocked and tasered after jaywalking in North Carolina.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A day after the FBI announced it was launching a criminal investigation into the brutal police beating and tasering of a black man stopped for jaywalking in North Carolina, the county’s district attorney filed felony assault charges against the white officer accused of using excessive force.

Asheville Police Officer Chris Hickman, who resigned following the bloody beating, was arrested Thursday on charges of felony assault by strangulation and misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats, USA Today reports.

Prosecutors say Hickman beat, chocked and used a stun gun on Johnnie Rush, 33, of Asheville, after he was stopped on Aug. 24 for allegedly jaywalking.

Hickman posted a $10,000 unsecured bond and was free of jail at 8:45 p.m. Thursday.

The FBI’s investigation is expected to focus on potential civil rights violations.

A body camera affixed to Hickman showed him punching and chocking Rush, who could be heard multiple times saying he could not great breathe.

FBI agents from the Charlotte office interviewed Rush in January.

Trump Accuses Mayor of Endangering ICE Agents, But Attacks Are Rare

An ICE agent.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions accused Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf of endangering federal agents by warning the public about a forthcoming immigration sweep.

“Here’s my message to Mayor Schaaf: How dare you?” Sessions said Wednesday in Sacramento. “How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement just to promote a radical open-borders agenda?”

Thursday, Trump said, “What she did is incredible and very dangerous … She really made law enforcement much more dangerous than it had to be.”

During the four-day enforcement operation, no ICE agents were hurt. In fact, ICE “has experienced relatively few line-of-duty deaths and assaults,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The Chronicle wrote:

According to federal records, a handful of ICE officers are injured in assaults each year, on average. James Schwab, an agency spokesman in San Francisco, said agents face “the same dangers as any other law enforcement officer out in the field.”

No ICE officers were injured or killed in line-of-duty assaults in 2016, the last year in which FBI data are available. In 2015, four officers were injured and none killed in assaults. Seven officers were injured in assaults and none killed in 2014, records show.

However, the FBI records do not appear to reflect some on-duty deaths. Absent, for instance, was the death of San Francisco-based deportation officer Brian Beliso, who according to the agency died of a heart attack he suffered during a foot pursuit in Redwood City on June 8, 2016. And a special agent in New Orleans, J. Scott McGuire, died Jan. 24. 2016, after being injured in a hit and run in Miami Beach, the agency stated on its website.

The reported injuries to ICE officers were among the lowest in federal law enforcement, FBI figures show. In 2016, 484 Customs and Border Protection officers were assaulted. The Bureau of Indian Affairs saw 504 assaults, while the Marshals Service saw 266 assaults.

Other Stories of Interest

Protester Hurls Russian Flag at Manafort After He Pleads Not Guilty in Special Counsel Case

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A protester threw a Russian flag at former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Thursday as he was leaving a courthouse after pleading not guilty to tax and fraud charges in the second case brought against him by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The protester, standing outside of a federal court building in Alexandria, Va., held a sign that read “blood money” and shouted “Traitor!” as Manafort left the courthouse, NBC News reports

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III placed Manafort on home confinement and required him to wear a GPS bracelet pending his trial date of July 10.

In a related case, Manafort last week pleaded not guilty and is set for a Sept. 17 trial.

Because of his age, Manafort faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison on numerous charges related to his business dealing in eastern Europe.

Unless Manafort strikes a deal with prosecutors, the former high-paid political consultant is on track to become the first person to be tried in connection with Robert Mueller’s investigation

Manafort’s longtime business partner, Rick Gates, is among three former Trump aides who have pleaded guilty to assortment of charges and have agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team of prosecutors. Gates, who also served on Trump’s campaign, is expected to provide information about crimes he said he and Manafort committed as business partners.

Gates and Manafort were both charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, tax fraud and money laundering stemming from lobbying and consulting work related to Ukrainian politicians who are strong allies of Russia.

Two weeks ago, the men’s Russian-connected attorney Alex Van der Zwaan was charged with misleading the FBI about work he did for Manafort and Gates. 

Last month, 13 Russians were charged in a sweeping indictment alleging they waged a propaganda campaign to help Trump get elected. 

The other former Trump associates who have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors are Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn and ex-campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.

In May 2017, Mueller was appointed to investigate Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. So far, more than 100 charges have been filed against a 19 people and three companies.

AG Sessions’ Fiery Attack on California’s Immigration Laws Sets Off War of Words

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions set off an unusually heated battle between California and the Trump administration after filing suit against the state over laws that impede the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

During a contentious, sometimes misleading speech in California’s capital, Sacramento, on Wednesday, Sessions accused California lawmakers of recklessly putting its residents at risk by obstructing federal immigration laws, the New York Times reports

California Gov. Jerry Brown responded by saying the Trump administration was “full of liars” and that Sessions was “basically going to war against the state of California.”

Brown added that Sessions was engaging “in a political stunt” with “wild accusations” meant to sow discord over immigration.

During Sessions’ speech, he said the lawsuit is designed to overturn laws designed to obstruct federal immigration agents from operating there.

Politifact.com called out Sessions for making a number of misleading comments.