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Archive for November, 2020

Lengel: Biden Needs to Assure Americans He’ll Rehire FBI Director Christopher Wray If Trump Fires Him

By Allan Lengel

The FBI has taken a beating over the last four years. Yes, it hasn’t always been perfect. But that being said, it remains the preeminent law enforcement agency that deserves far better treatment than it has gotten from President Trump.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in February.

Trump fired Director James Comey, and there’s been talk of doing the same to Christopher Wray, who angered Trump by not promoting his political narrative during the campaign.

While Wray may not be the most charismatic guy to ever lead the FBI, he has done a good job of flying under the radar and maintaining the integrity of the bureau.

The bottom line is, the FBI director job carries a 10-year term, and so far as I can tell, Wray deserves to finish it out.

President-elect Joe Biden needs a pre-emptive strike at this point. He needs to assure everyone that he’ll rehire Wray in January if Trump fires him between now and then.

The FBI has some very able and stand-up folks at the top who can hold down the fort for several weeks if Trump gives Wray the boot.

Convicted Sex Offender Threatened to Blow Up FBI Building, Kill Democrats, Prosecutors say

By Steve Neavling

A convicted sex offender from New York City was arrested Tuesday after authorities said he threatened to “blow up” an FBI building and called for the “extermination of anyone that claims to be a democrat” on social media. 

Brian Maiorana also is accused of making a veiled threat to Sen. Chuck Schumer, whom he called “the Jew Senator from New York,” The New York Times reports.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested the 54-year-old Tuesday morning. 

He was charged with making threatening interstate communications. 

In a criminal complaint, prosecutors said Maiorana suggested President Trump’s election had been “fraudulently stolen from us” and threatened to kill people who celebrated Joe Biden’s victory. 

On an unidentified social media platform, Maiorana is accused of writing that “pipe bombs need to be thrown into these mobs” of anti-police brutality protesters. 

“The carnage needs to come in the form of extermination of anyone that claims to be a democrat,” he wrote two days after the election, according to the complaint.  

As people celebrated Biden’s victory Sunday, Maiorana wrote, “All right thinking people need to hit the streets while these scumbags are celebrating and start blowing them away,” the complaint said.

Seth DuCharme, the acting United States attorney in Brooklyn, said authorities won’t tolerate such threats. 

“The Department of Justice will not stand idly by when people like the defendant allegedly threaten to kill elected officials, lawful protesters and law enforcement simply because of animus towards the outcome of an election,” DuCharme told The New York Times. “Americans have a constitutional right to voice their opinions, but this office will not tolerate violence or threats of violence used to intimidate others with whom they disagree.”

Authorities found weapons at his home. 

In 2007, Maiorana was convicted of sexual assault in Pennsylvania.

McCabe Says FBI Had Sufficient Reasons to Believe Trump Was a ‘Danger to National Security’

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, in previous testimony before Congress.

By Steve Neavling

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on Tuesday defended the bureau’s investigation into President Trump’s campaign’s links to Russia, saying the bureau had reason to believe Trump was a national security threat. 

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, McCabe also said the FBI had sufficient reasons to investigate whether Trump obstructed the investigation and was a counterintelligence threat, The Washington Post reports.

“It became pretty clear to us that he did not want us to continue investigating what the Russians had done,” McCabe said. 

He added, “We had many reasons at that point to believe that the president might himself pose a danger to national security and that he might have engaged in obstruction of justice, if the firing of the director and those other things were geared towards eliminating or stopping our investigation of Russian activity.”

McCabe’s testimony is part of the committee’s inquiry into the Russia investigation.  

Following the testimony, Trump slammed McCabe, calling him “an ignorant fool.” 

“Andrew McCabe was exposed for who he is today in the U.S. Senate,” Trump tweeted. “He was totally destroyed – an ignorant fool. The great people of the FBI must make sure that he and his former boss, James Comey, pay the price for what they have done to the reputation of the FBI.”

The Senate committee has already questioned Comey, as well as former deputy attorneys general Rod Rosenstein and Sally Yates, all of whom defended the FBI’s investigation. 

TSA Seizes Cigar Humidor That Resembled Pipe Bomb

A homemade cigar humidor seized at LaGuardia Airport. Photo via TSA.

By Steve Neavling

TSA screeners were in for a scare at LaGuardia Airport on Sunday when they spotted what appeared to be a pipe bomb inside a traveler’s carry-on luggage.  

Turns out, the nine-inch PVC pipe was a homemade cigar humidor. Along with the pipe where two torch-style lighters.  

When TSA officials opened the pipe, they found a half-smocked cigar.

But because the pipe “could too easily be perceived bu the flight crew and other passengers as a pipe bomb,” TSA officials said the Hopewell Junction, N.Y., resident could not board the plane with the humidor. 

 “Our TSA officers are vigilant about looking for explosive devices, and this certainly gave the impression that it could be a pipe bomb that someone was attempting to carry onto an aircraft,” Robert Duffy, TSA’s federal security director for LaGuardia Airport, said in a statement. “Fortunately it turned out not to be an explosive device, but had he pulled it out during his flight, it could have caused a panic. Replica weapons are not permitted on aircraft and this easily could have passed for an improvised explosive device. It was a good catch on the part of the officers who were staffing the checkpoint.”

Woman Repeatedly Impersonates FBI Agent to Score Free Chick-Fil-A Meals

By Steve Neavling

A Georgia woman impersonated an FBI agent and even threatened to arrest employees of a local Chick-Fil-A in repeated attempts to score free meals, according to the Rockmart Police Department.  

The ruse landed her in jail. 

Kimberly Ragsdale, 47, was charged with impersonating a public officer and released from jail Saturday on $3,000 bond, The Associated Press reports.

When police arrived to arrest her Thursday, Ragsdale continued to claim she was an FBI agent, insisting her credentials were electronic-only. As she was handcuffed, police said she began to “talk into her shirt like she was talking into a radio telling someone that we were arresting her and to send someone to Rockmart PD,” officers wrote in the arrest report, according to the arrest report. 

“You will not hear a real officer demand a meal anywhere,” Chief Randy Turner said. “If it is given, we appreciate it. If it is discounted, we appreciate it. We will not ask for it or make threats and demand it.”

Former Tulsa Police Officer Charged with First-Degree Murder in Death of Daughter’s Boyfriend

Former Tulsa Police Officer Shannon Kepler. Photo via Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

By Steve Neavling

A former Tulsa police officer accused of fatally shooting his daughter’s boyfriend in 2014 has been charged with first-degree murder after he was tried four times in state court. 

Shannon James Kepler was previously found guilty by a jury but the case was appealed as his defense argued his state-level conviction should be vacated and the case be transferred to the Muscogee Creek Nation, where is a member.  

Kepler was charged with first-degree murder in Indian Country, causing death by using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to crimes of violence, and assault with a dangerous weapon in Indian Country, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Oklahoma.

“Nineteen-year-old Jeremey Lake’s life was senselessly cut short in 2014 when Shannon Kepler allegedly shot and killed him,” U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said in a statement. “Our victim specialists are communicating with Jeremey’s family and will be with them every step of the way as this case moves forward in federal court. Our prosecutors have worked hand in hand with our partners at the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office to ensure this young man and his family experience a full measure of justice.”

The Tulsa Police Department and FBI led the investigation. 

TSA Prevents Traveler from Boarding Plane with Baby Shark Submerged in Liquid

Baby shark submerged in liquid. Photo via TSA.

By Steve Neavling

The TSA made a startling discovery at a security checkpoint at Syracuse International Airport.

A traveler with a dead baby shark in a jar of “unknown” liquid wanted to board a plane. 

The shark, it appears, wasn’t the problem. It was the liquid in the jar. 

TSA prevented the man from boarding the plane with baby Jaws.

“Due to the chemical nature of and quantity of the liquid, it was not allowed on the plane,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein posted on Twitter on Sunday, along with a photo of the shark.

Travelers also are prohibited from boarded a plane with more than 3.4 ounces of bottled liquid, which must be packed in a quart-sized bag. 

Weekend Series on Crime History: Undercover FBI Agent Jack Garcia