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Archive for December, 2018

Feds’ Latest Filings Suggest Potentially Big Problems for President Trump

President Trump

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The drama involving President Donald Trump and Robert S. Mueller III went up a notch on Friday when federal prosecutors filed new court papers directly implicating the president. The papers allege that Trump was involved in plans to buy women’s silence as far back as 2014, and offered new evidence of Russian efforts to forge a political alliance with Trump before he became president, the Washington Post reports.

The separate filings came from Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen is set to be sentenced Wednesday.

The Post goes on to write:

Taken together, the documents suggest that the president’s legal woes are far from over and reveal a previously unreported contact from a Russian to Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. But the documents do not answer the central question at the heart of Mueller’s work — whether the president or those around him conspired with the Kremlin.

Comic Kathy Griffin Says Secret Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office Came After Her With A Vengeance After Her Prank Photo Involving Trump

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

You might recall in 2017 that comic Kathy Griffin caused a major stir when she posed for a photo with her wearing a navy pussy-bow blouse and holding a bloodied imitation of President  Donald Trump’s decapitated head.

On Friday, she appeared on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert and talked about the fallout, which was substantial.

She tells Colbert that the Secret Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office opened a two-month investigation into a “conspiracy to assassinate the president of the United States.”

She also said she was put on a no-fly list for two months and an Interpol list, which resulted in her being detained in every foreign airport she was in while doing her worldwide tour, “Laugh Your Head Off.” She said she had to tour overseas because she could no longer get a job in the U.S.

She also said she got threats from Trump supporters and lost her New Year’s Eve job on CNN with co-host Anderson Cooper, who condemned the photo.

“The walls caved in on me,” she said, explaining she can’t get work in the U.S. She said she also lost a lot of friends.

Weekend Series on Crime: The Mexican Mafia

Trump Picks William Barr for Attorney General Nomination

William barr

President Trump announced Friday he plans to nominate William P. Barr to serve for a second time to as attorney general.

“He was my choice since Day 1,” Trump told reporters. “He’ll be nominated.”

Barr, who served as attorney general during the Bush administration from 1991-1993, supports the strong executive powers of a president and is a conservative attorney.

That also appeared to be the case for interim Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who replaced Jeff Sessions for what likely will be a brief, turbulent time.

In an interview with reporters on Friday, Trump described Barr as a “highly respected lawyer” and a “terrific man,” BBC reports.

During the nomination hearing, Barr is likely to be asked a lot of questions about the special counsel investigation, which he likely will inherit.

Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty Against Border Patrol Agent Accused of Killing 4 Women

Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Juan David

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent described as a serial killer was indicted on capital murder charges Wednesday, and prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty.

A grand jury upgraded the charges against Juan David Ortiz, a 10-year veteran of the agency who was arrested after he confessed to killing four sex workers in the area around Laredo, Tex., the Washington Post reports.

Ortiz found his victims from the side of the road and killed four of them in rural parts of Webb County, prosecutors said.

Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz cited numerous reasons he was seeking the death penalty.

“The horrific nature of the murders. His complete disregard for human life. His vigilante mentality. He violated his oath to his country and his agency that he swore to protect,” Alaniz said. “We also believe that there are no mitigating circumstances in his life where it is justified for life without parole.”

According to Alaniz, Ortiz said his motivation had been to “clean up the streets of Laredo by targeting this community of individuals who he perceived to be disposable.”

“The evidence that was presented to the grand jury this morning showed that he killed these four innocent individuals in a cold, callous and calculated way,” he said.

Bill Priestap Becomes Latest High-Ranking FBI Official to Leave Bureau

Bill Priestap

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, is retiring by the end of the year.

Priestap was among the bureau’s top officials tasked with overseeing investigations involving the 2016 presidential campaign, The Wall Street Journal reports

The 20-year veteran of the bureau began his career investigating organized crime and drug cases in Chicago before ascending the ranks following the Sept. 11, 2o01, terrorist attacks.

A person familiar with the retirement said Priest’s departure has nothing to do with the controversies surrounding the presidential election investigations.

He “became eligible to retire and has chosen to do so after 20 years of service,” the FBI said in a statement.

Mueller: Flynn Provided ‘Substantial Assistance’ in Russia Probe, Recommending No Jail Time

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller recommended no jail time for Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, saying he provided “substantial assistance” to several ongoing investigations.

Flynn cooperated during 19 interviews with federal investigators, providing early insight into the Russia investigation and possibly helping encourage others to cooperate, a court filing states.

Flynn, who was pressured to abandoned his post as national security adviser for misleading administration officials, is among five Trump aides who have pleaded guilty in the special counsel investigation.

The sentencing memo provided the first description from prosecutors about the extent of Flynn’s cooperation.

But for now, it’s unclear what information Flynn provided because the memo is heavily redacted.

Flynn was among Trump’s early supporters who led “Lock her up!” chants targeting Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s Tweetstorm May Be Considered Obstruction And Witness-Tampering

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s habit of firing off incendiary tweets without consulting with White House attorneys may have landed him in hot water.

As special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigates whether Trump obstructed justice in connection with his 2016 presidential campaign, he “edged closer to an open display of obstruction of justice and witness tampering,” The Washington Post reports

In a series tweet Monday, Trump urged former aides aim to refuse to cooperate with the federal investigators and even appeared to imply threats against those who do.

It began with an attack on his former attorney Michael Cohen, suggesting he should receive no deals for cooperating with investigators.

“‘Michael Cohen asks judge for no Prison Time.’ You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term? … He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence,” Trump tweeted.

Subjects of criminal investigations are prohibited from retaliating against people who testify against them. 

Trump followed up the tweet with a quote from Stone: “I will never testify against Trump.”

Trump added, “This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’ Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!’ ”

The Washington Post wrote:

So where he threatened a stick against Cohen, Trump offered a carrot to Stone, signaling where their allegiances should lie. This proof of potential witness tampering and obstruction of justice is made even stronger by the fact that the messaging is from the person who holds the most powerful get-out-of-jail-free card: a presidential pardon.”

Taken together, Trump’s statements Monday are a message not only to Cohen and Stone, but also to anyone else who may be considering testifying or cooperating against the president or any of his associates. And the message is quite clear: Those who cooperate with law enforcement and agree to be witnesses against Trump will be punished, while those who keep his secrets will be protected.

The tweets Monday are not, alas, isolated incidents. The president has tweeted before that he is being persecuted by the special counsel’s office, purportedly threatened those in a position to preserve the Mueller investigation, asked for loyalty of those who might prosecute his confederates and engaged in a host of additional conduct evincing an intent to block Mueller’s work, as well as committing overt acts seemingly directed at obstructing the investigation.