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Archive for June, 2020

WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Faces New DOJ Indictment That Broadens the Case Against Him

Julian Assange on Fox News

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department announced a new indictment that alleges WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange recruited and conspired with computer hackers to provide information for hacking groups LulzSec and Anonymous.

The superseding indictment broadens the scope of the allegations against Assange but does not include additional charges beyond the 18 counts unsealed last year by the Justice Department.

The indictment accuses Assange of recruiting hackers at conferences and conspiring with other hacking groups to obtain classified information.

“In another communication, Assange told the LulzSec leader that the most impactful release of hacked materials would be from the CIA, NSA, or the New York Times.  WikiLeaks obtained and published emails from a data breach committed against an American intelligence consulting company by an “Anonymous” and LulzSec-affiliated hacker,” the Justice Department says in a news release. “According to that hacker, Assange indirectly asked him to spam that victim company again.”

Assange faces up to 10 years in prison on each count, except for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Assange is detained in the U.K on an extradition request from the U.S.

William Barr’s Alma Mater, George Washington University, Accuses Him of Undermining the Rule of Law

Attorney General William Barr, via DOJ.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr isn’t getting a whole lot of love from his alma mater, George Washington University Law School.

Law professors and faculty from school said in a letter Tuesday he has “failed to fulfill his oath of office to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” CNN reports.

In a statement signed by 65 faculty and professors from the law school, the group wrote that Barr has “undermined the rule of law, breached constitutional norms, and damaged the integrity and traditional independence of his office and of the Department of Justice.”
“We include members of both major political parties, and of none,” they wrote. “We have different legal specialties and represent a broad spectrum of approaches to the law.”
Also on Tuesday, the New York City Bar Association sent a letter to House and Senate leaders saying  Barr is unfit for the “high position he occupies in our federal government” and should step aside, CNN reports.

Appeals Court Hands Justice Department and Michael Flynn a Victory

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Despite efforts to save the case, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivana must dismiss the charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn as the Justice Department had requested.

The  a 2-1 decision said it is not within the judge’s power to prolong the prosecution or examine the government’s motives for its reversal in the politically charged case, the Washington Post reports.

“This is not the unusual case where a more searching inquiry is justified,” wrote Judge Neomi Rao, a recent nominee of President Donald Trump.

Flynn twice pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his pre-inauguration contacts with Russia’s ambassador. But in May, the  Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss the charges.

 

Former FBI Agent Charged with Storing Sensitive Documents at His Home

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former FBI agent is accused of storing sensitive government documents at his home in Chicago.

Yen Cham Yung, who retired from the bureau in 2016, was arrested in Colorado and charged with stealing sensitive government documents, The Associated Press reports.

Some of the documents included information about gang surveillance and undercover informants, as well as emails between FBI supervisors who were leading investigations into organized crime.

The 57-year-old is accused of keeping memos of understanding between the CIA and FBI, in violation of national security protocols. He is not accused of trying to sell or disseminate the information.

The alleged transgressions came to light after his wife said in an a protection order against him that she had discovered the documents in August at their Colorado Springs home.

An FBI search of the home uncovered dozens of digital storage devises.

Yang’s career with the FBI began in 1996 and includes stints in field officers in Chicago, Hawaii, Washington, D.C., and Indonesia.

Former Roger Stone Prosecutor to Testify about ‘Significant Pressure’ to go easy on Roger Stone

GOP trickster and Trump ally Roger Stone.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A federal prosecutor is expected to tell lawmakers on Wednesday that he “faced political influence” to go easy on Roger Stone, a GOP trickster and longtime Trump ally who was convicted of lying to Congress during its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“I have never seen political influence play a role in prosecutorial decision making, with one exception: United States v. Roger Stone,” federal prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky said in testimony prepared for Wednesday’s hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, NPR reports.

Zelinsky is one of two whistleblowers who are expected to testify at the hearing and one of four prosecutors who withdraw from the Stone case after the Justice Department intervened and urged the judge to impose a lighter sentence.

According to his written statement, Zelinsky said the person in charge of the U.S. attorney’s office at the time told him “that the acting U.S. Attorney was giving Stone such unprecedentedly favorable treatment because he was ‘afraid of the President.'”

Zelinsky said he felt “significant pressure … to water down and in some cases outright distort the events that transpired in (Stone’s) trial and the criminal conduct that gave rise to his conviction.”

FBI, DOJ Investigate Noose Found in Garage of NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace

Talladega Superspeedway, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The discovery of a noose in the garage stall of NASCAR racer Bubba Wallace has triggered a federal investigation.

Wallace, the only black full-time NASCAR driver, was the driving force behind the stock car series banning the Confederate flag.

The noose was found just hours after Sunday’s race was postponed.

U.S. Attorney Jay Town told the AP that his office, the FBI and Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division were investigating.

“Regardless of whether federal charges can be brought, this type of action has no place in our society,” Town said.

A limited number of people had access to the garage stall because of strict new health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Those with access include crew members, NASCAR and Talladega employees, contracted security guards and safety crews.

NASCAR pledged to take action.

“We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” the series said in a statement. “As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.”

Paul Keenan Named Special Agent in Charge of Indianapolis Field Office

Paul Keenan, special agent in charge of the Indianapolis Field Office.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Paul Keenan, who was serving as a section chief for the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG), has been named special agent in charge of the Indianapolis Field Office.

Keenan’s career with the FBI began in 2003, investigating violent gangs out of the Los Angeles Field Office. In 2009, Keenan took charge of the Violent Gang Squad and later the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Squad investigating Mexican drug cartels.

In 2012, Keenan became the assistant legal attaché in Panama City, representing the bureau in Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. He helped capture two of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted fugitives.

In 2014, Keenan began serving in the Knoxville Field Office in Tennessee as the supervisory senior special agent of the Chattanooga Resident Agency. While there, he led the investigation into a homegrown violent extremist attack on two military installations.

In 2016, Keenan became the assistant special agent in charge of the Operational Support Branch of the Miami Field Office, which included all specialty teams, the Computer Analysis Response Team, media operations, and several other programs.

In 2017, Keenan became ASAC of one of Miami’s criminal branches, where he led investigations of the mass shootings at the Fort Lauderdale airport and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

In 2018, Keenan was named chief of the Investigative and Operations Support Section in CIRG, where he led the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime. In addition, he served as an acting deputy assistant director at CIRG.

Before coming to the FBI, Mr. Keenan was a special agent with the DEA. He holds a B.A. in political science from Indiana University.

James Comey on Firing of U.S. Attorney Berman: ‘Something Stinks’

James Comey (Twitter photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-FBI Director James Comey weighs in on the weekend firing of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in an Op-ed piece in the Washington Post titled “Geoffrey Berman upheld the finest tradition of the SDNY office.”

Berman on Friday refused to step down, so President Trump fired him.

Comey writes:

Geoffrey Berman’s office has apparently been handling cases very close to the president. In 136 days, there is an election that the incumbent appears likely to lose. The attorney general, surely not proceeding on his own, acts to bump the well-regarded head of the Office on a Friday night, in the middle of a pandemic. Something stinks.

The country is well-served by the independent spirit and reputation of the Southern District of New York. It has long been the place where hard cases could be done in a way Americans trusted. It was where Bill Clinton’s 11th-hour pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich could be credibly investigated. It is also the place with jurisdiction over so much of this president’s complicated life.

And it is a place that follows the facts alone to reach conclusions, without regard to politics, just as Stimson wanted. Maybe that’s why William P. Barr moved to knock off Berman on a Friday night and announced President Trump’s intention to replace him with someone who has never worked there. And maybe that’s why Berman, in the finest traditions of the office, stood up.