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Archive for April, 2018

McConnell Shut Down Bi-Partisan Bill to Protect Mueller from Trump

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to shoot down any legislation aimed at protecting special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by President Trump.

McDonnell says the bill is a waste of time because he’s confident Trump won’t fire Mueller, whose investigation so far has landed indictments against 22 individuals and entities.

“I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor. That’s my responsibility as the Majority Leader, and we will not be having this on the floor of the U.S. Senate,” the defiant Republican said in an interview Tuesday on Fox News

A small band of Republicans has emerged to support a bill that would give a fired special counsel 10 days to request an expedited judicial review on whether the termination was for “good cause.” In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to have enough votes next week to pass the bill.

But McConnell emphatically said he would not hold a floor vote on the legislation. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Trump’s intentions are irrelevant because the protections are good policy to have on the books.

“I don’t think he’s going to fire Mueller, but I think institutionally it would be nice to have some protections,” Graham said Tuesday.

Trump has stepped up his attacks on the FBI, Justice Department and special counsel probe said the federal raid on his personal lawyer’s various properties, phones and computers. He also has hinted at firing Deputy Attorney General Andrew McCabe, who hired Mueller and oversees the special counsel investigation. 

The legislation would give any special counsel a 10-day window to seek expedited judicial review of a firing, and would put into law existing Justice Department regulations that require a firing to be for “good cause.”

Seething Trump Changes Mind about Mueller Interview After Raid of Personal Attorney

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump is so infuriated by the FBI’s seizure of records from his personal attorney that he has decided he won’t sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller and instead is searching for a larger arsenal of attorneys.

Trump previously ignored the advice of his lawyers and pledged to sit down with Mueller, who is investigating whether the president’s campaign colluded with Russia or Trump obstructed justice. But that all changed on April 9, when FBI agents raided Michael Cohen’s office, home, hotel, computers and phones, the Washington Post reports.

The president’s lawyers are still willing to discuss an interview and are aware that Trump could change his mind – as he frequently does – but his legal team now believes a sit-down with Mueller is less likely.

The raid has concerned Trump that agents got their hands on sensitive correspondence between him and his attorney, and he believes the seizure was done in bad faith, two people familiar with the president’s frustration told the Post.

Meet the Little-Known Trump Official Who Could End the Mueller Probe

Solicitor General Noel Francisco

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The fate of the special counsel investigation that has cast a long shadow of the White House may ultimately fall into the hands of Solicitor General Noel Francisco, a little-known Trump appointee who happens to be no fan of the FBI or its former director, James Comey.

Many legal experts believe Trump lacks the authority to fire Rosenstein on his own, so the next quickest way to end the special counsel probe is to get someone else to do it.

If Trump fires Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and is overseeing the investigation, the next in line to become Mueller’s boss is Francisco, who has a history of fighting to protect what he sees as broad executive privileges.

Like Trump, Francisco has claimed Comey, whom the president fired in May, is motivated by a political biased against Trump. That has raised concerns that Francisco would be more likely to follow orders to fire Mueller, whose 11-month investigation has landed indictments against more than 20 people and entities.

“I don’t think we know enough to be confident,” Eric Columbus, a former senior Obama Justice Department official, told Politico. “I doubt he would fire Mueller but could limit him, which has always been the greater concern.”

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, the removal of the deputy AG would give control of the Mueller investigation to the third-ranking Justice Department official, the associate attorney general, a job that has been vacant since Rachel Brand resigned from the position in February and has yet to be replaced.

Under Justice Department rules, Francisco, 48, is the next in line.

If Trump follows through, the move would be strikingly similar to President Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre in which he fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general for refusing to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. The terminations left the decision up to Solicitor General Robert Bork, who fired Cox. A judge later ruled the termination was illegal.

 

As Trump Attacks, More Americans Are Losing Confidence in Mueller Probe

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The public’s confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller is dropping as President Trump and his allies step up their attacks against the probe, the FBI and the Justice Department.

Mueller’s favorability ratings fell 11 points over the past month, with 32% of Americans viewing the special counsel favorably, 30% holding an unfavorable view and 38% without an opinion, according to an NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist Poll

The poll shows Democrats and Republicans are deeply divided over the former FBI director appointed to investigate Russia and President Trump’s campaign. Mueller’s favorability among Democrats is at 56%, with 19% viewing him favorably and a quarter uncertain.

Nearly half of surveyed Republicans expressed an unfavorable view of Mueller favorability, a dramatic increase from 30% last month. About 16% of Republicans view Mueller favorably, and another 35% are undecided.

Independents are almost evenly divided, with 35% viewing Mueller favorably, 30% unfavorably and 34% are unsure.

David Bowdich Replaces McCabe as The FBI’s #2 Agent

David Bowdich (file photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

David Bowdich has been named deputy director of the FBI, officially replacing Andrew McCabe, who was fired shortly before his retirement.

Bowdich is regarded as being far more popular than McCabe among agents.

He recently served as the associate deputy director, where he oversaw the management of all FBI personnel, budget, administration and infrastructure, as well as the inspection and insider threat programs, a  press release said.

He began his career as a special agent in 1995 in the San Diego Field Office, where he investigated violent crimes and gangs and served as a SWAT Team operator and sniper.

In 2003, he was promoted to FBI headquarters where he served in the Criminal Investigative Division and the director’s office.

From September 2012 to December 2014, he served as the special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division in the Los Angeles Field Office.

From December 2014 to April 2016, Bowdich served as assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles Field Office.

In 2013, he was named ticklethewire.com Fed of the Year. 

Retired Head of FBI’s Minneapolis Division Takes Job with Federal Reserve Bank

Richard Thornton, former FBI agent in charge of the Minneapolis division.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Richard Thornton, the former agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis division, has been appointed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis as its vice president of law enforcement and operations.

Thornton, who retired from the FBI on Feb. 28, will take the helm at the Minneapolis Fed’s law enforcement department and operations at the Minneapolis and Helena, Mont., offices, according to the bank.

“We are very excited to have someone of Rick’s experience, stature and strong reputation join the bank,” Chief Operating Officer Ron Feldman said in a statement. “We know he will make great contributions to the bank, the Federal Reserve System and the community at large.”

In statement to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Thornton said, “The strong leadership and the important mission of the Minneapolis Fed made this an extremely attractive opportunity for me.”

Thornton was replaced in the bureau’s Minneapolis division by Jill Sanborn, a veteran counterterrorism agent who led the FBI’s investigation of the San Bernardino mass shooting in 2015. 

DEA Warns of New Drug More Potent Than Fentanyl After Death

Carfentanil is chemically similar to the deadly opioid fentanyl but is stronger.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The DEA is warning about a highly potent and dangerous drug that has already claimed a life in Arizona.

Carfentanil, which is chemically similar to the deadly opioid fentanyl but is stronger, is used to tranquilize elephants and has “an analgesic potency 10,000 times that of morphine and is used in veterinary practice to immobilize certain large animals,” according to the DEA’s online fentanyl fact sheet

A 21-year-old man with carfentanil in his system was found dead in his car parked outside of a restaurant, according to the DEA’s Phoenix Field Division.

“The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s report confirmed the presence of carfentanil, yet the source of the carfentanil remains unknown,” according to the alert.

Drug dealers are adding carfentanil into heroin and other illicit drugs because it’s relatively cheap and highly potent.

“Carfentanil is an extremely dangerous drug and its presence in Arizona should be incredibly alarming for all of us, including the DEA and our law enforcement partners who continue to combat the opioid epidemic in this state,” Doug Coleman, Special Agent in Charge of DEA in Arizona, told the AZFamily.com. http://www.azfamily.com/story/37968096/new-drug-on-arizonas-streets-dea-confirms-first-carfentanil-overdose-death

Jurors Deliberates Today in Trial of Border Patrol Charged with Killing Mexican Teen

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Jurors in the trial of a Border Patrol agent charged in the shooting death of a teenager in Mexico are set to begin deliberations Tuesday morning.

In closing arguments, prosecutors told the jury that Agent Lonnie Swartz fired his across the border in Nogales, Mexico, because he was fed up with people throwing rocks, the Associated Press reports. 

Defense attorneys countered that Swartz, who is charged with second-degree murder, feared for his and his fellow agents’ safety after he began hearing rocks striking the fence.

Swartz fired 16 shots, striking 16-year-old Elena Rodriguez wight times in the back and twice in the head.

Last week, Swartz testified for more than two hours, telling the jury that he heard rocks striking the fence and that a fellow agent had been injured. He added that an alleged drug smuggler, whom the rock-throwers were said to be protecting, had a large knife in his pocket.

“I was scared, scared to be hit by a rock, (scared) for my partner,” Swartz said. “I had to act quickly. I only had seconds to stop the threat.”

But the fellow agent testified earlier that he was not injured and that a rock rolled onto his foot.

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