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Archive for June, 2018

U.S. Secret Service Overpaid Presidential Campaigns About $4 Million for Plane Travel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Secret Service is owed some money.

The agency overpaid presidential campaigns an estimated $4 million for plane travel during the 2016 election, a government watchdog says in a new report obtained by CNN.

A Government Accountability Office report found that Secret Service officials realized eight months before Election Day that they were using the wrong formula to calculate the costs, “but did not ensure the agency reverted to its longstanding policy.”
The Secret Service says it has asked the campaigns that were overpaid to provide the government refunds.

ATF Is Lenient on Punishment When Guns Are Sold Illegally, the N.Y. Times Reports

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

One of ATF’s jobs is to police  gun sales. But something seems to be off, at least according to a story by Ali Watkins of the New York Times, who reports:

As they inspect the nation’s gun stores, federal investigators regularly find violations of the law, ranging from minor record-keeping errors to illegal sales of firearms. In the most serious cases, like a sale of a gun to a prohibited buyer, inspectors often recommend that gun dealers lose their licenses.

But that rarely happens. Senior officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regularly overrule their own inspectors, allowing gun dealers who fail inspections to keep their licenses even after they were previously warned to follow the rules, according to interviews with more than half a dozen current and former law enforcement officials and a review of more than 100 inspection reports.

One store was cited for failing to conduct background checks before selling a gun. Another store owner told investigators he actively tried to circumvent gun laws. One threatened an A.T.F. officer, and another sold a gun to a customer who identified as a felon. All were previously cited by the A.T.F. In each instance, supervisors downgraded recommendations that the stores’ licenses be revoked and instead let them stay open.

ATF declined requests to comment on the story.

Trump Rips Into Justice Department/FBI for Not Warning Him About Manafort

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

President Donald Trump, continuing on his Twitter tear, on Sunday questioned why the Justice Department or FBI did not notify him during the campaign that Paul Manafort was under investigation, insisting that Manafort would have never been hired if he had known, CNN reports.

“As only one of two people left who could become President, why wouldn’t the FBI or Department of ‘Justice’ have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort (on charges that were 10 years old and had been previously dropped) during my campaign?” Trump wrote on Twitter Sunday morning. “Should have told me!”

In a second tweet, CNN reports, Trump downplayed Manafort’s role on his campaign, saying the Republican strategist “came into the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time,” but “we should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on him, and he wouldn’t have been hired!”

Ouch! Off-Duty FBI Agent Dancing at Club, Drops Gun, Accidentally Shoots and Wounds Fellow Customer

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Whatever the facts, we have to assume the off-duty FBI agent has some explaining to do.

After midnight on Saturday morning, the agent is seen at Mile High Spirits in Denver on a 32-second video obtained by Denver7 dancing in front of appreciative onlookers and performing the flip. Then, a muzzle flashes as he grabs his fallen pistol. A person nearby was shot and wounded in the leg, the Denver Post reports.

“It’s a personnel matter for the FBI,” agency spokeswoman Amy Sanders tells the Denver Post. “Given the circumstance unfortunately we can’t provide details … ”

Denver police are leading the investigation.

The police “don’t have any updates,” spokeswoman Marika Putnam said Sunday.

Weekend Series on Crime History: Sam Giancana, Sinatra and JFK

Off-Duty ATF Agent Accused of Shooting Dog Outside Middle School in Virginia

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A dog owner says an off-duty ATF agent fatally shot his mastiff puppy outside of a middle school in Spotsylvania County, Va., Fox 5 reports.

Vance Gibbs said he brings his dogs , four puppies and three adult mastiffs, to a large field at Ni River Middle School several times a week. On Tuesday, he watched his 8-month-old Presa Canario mastiff puppy Ari die in his arm.

Gibbs said it all happened when a golden retriever belonging to an off-duty ATF agent walked up on his dog, and his dogs, started chasing after it.

He said the dogs started fighting and Gibbs threw himself into the middle to try and get his dogs away. He said the ATF agent pulled out a gun and fired twice into the ground, and then a third time, hitting his dog Ari in the side. She died minutes later.

“If he would have gave me the time in the first place, I would have got them all together,” Gibbs tells Fox 5. “If the shots didn’t scare them the one time – stop. What are you doing? Shooting a puppy? I understand he is protecting his family and everything else, but I am on the ground with your dog.”

Ex-Head of Chicago FBI Rips Trump For Talk About Commuting Rod Blagojevich’s Sentence

Robert Grant/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Robert Grant, a longtime colleague and friend of special counsel Robert Mueller who headed the FBI’s Chicago office at the time of the Rod Blagojevich investigation, blasts President Donald Trump for suggesting he might commute the 14-year sentence of Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor.

He accuses Trump of acting out of spite against federal law enforcement and Mueller’s work as a special counsel, according to a report in Politico.

“It’s so disheartening to think that the president of the United States would overturn the evidence heard by a judge and jury, all out of an animus toward Bob Mueller, James Comey and [former U.S. Attorney] Pat Fitzgerald,” Grant, who is retired from the FBI, tells Politico.  “Blagojevich got caught by wiretaps and microphones and he was engaging in a practice that we believed he was taking part in for quite awhile … I don’t think anybody who listened to those tapes would think anything but it was an incredibly corrupt governor who was dealing with corrupt associates.”

“So if Trump gets himself into an obstruction of justice case or lies, then that’s OK. But that’s not the case for the poor kid on the South Side,” Grant said. “I think [Trump] tries to hurt anybody he doesn’t like. He will use his office because he can. Not to use it judiciously, but out of spite and animus. When the framers of the Constitution framed that power, I don’t think they envisioned this.”

Rep. Adam Schiff’s Letter to the FBI Praises The “Hard Working Men and Women at the Bureau’

Rep. Adam Schiff.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin writes a column titled: “A letter to the FBI that would be unnecessary under any other president.”

She writes about ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), who wrote an open letter to the FBI on Wednesday, ostensibly voicing his support for the men and women who’ve been under a partisan assault from Republicans on the Hill, as well as from the president.

“In reality, it was a devastating indictment of Republicans’ handling of the Russia investigation,” writes Rubin, who is considered “center-right” in her political views, but has been a regular critic of  President Donald Trump.

Schiff began by defending the exemplary work of the FBI in its various law enforcement capacities. He continued:

In recent weeks, the FBI has come under unprecedented and unjustified criticism. FBI agents have been slandered as “stormtroopers” for executing lawful search warrants and described as part of a corrupt “deep state” for pursuing a lawful counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s interference in our elections.

The president’s allies have put forward a succession of attacks against the FBI and the intelligence agencies that responded to Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections. Each has withered under scrutiny, but they have served their purpose of casting a shadow on the origins of the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign, and ultimately Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s work….

I have not always agreed with the decisions of the FBI, either as an assistant U.S. attorney or as a member of Congress, and nor would I expect to. But I have never questioned the integrity of the hard working men and women at the Bureau and for a simple reason; you have never given me cause to do so. The American people have entrusted the FBI with the tremendous task of enforcing the law, fairly and without favor. That trust has been well placed.

I can assure you that the vast majority of the American people share my high regard for the FBI, and so do my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans. While I wish that more of them felt free to say so, the FBI is widely respected on the Hill for its professionalism, talent, and integrity. Despite the static that you may hear from time to time, do not for a moment believe that it is otherwise.