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Archive for December, 2020

Judge Dismisses Flynn’s Case, But Was Not Happy About It

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the three-year-old criminal case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, following  Trump’s pardon last month. 

But U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan took a parting shot, saying the pardon doesn’t make Flynn innocent, The Washington Post reports.

“President Trump’s decision to pardon Mr. Flynn is a political decision, not a legal one,” Sullivan wrote. “Because the law recognizes the President’s political power to pardon, the appropriate course is to dismiss this case as moot.”

“However,” Sullivan added, “the pardon ‘does not, standing alone, render [Flynn] innocent of the alleged violation.’ ”

Flynn was the target of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. But he later fired his attorneys and asked to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he was entrapped by the FBI and Justice Department.

Sullivan also said he “likely” would have rejected the Justice Department’s efforts to dismiss the case, saying the federal government’s intervention was “dubious to say the least.”

Trump celebrated the dismissal on Twitter. 

“Thank you and congratulations to General Flynn,” Trump tweeted. “He and his incredible family have suffered greatly!”

Flynn responded, “You and your family & our entire nation have suffered greatly and it has to stop. The American people deserve far greater respect from the institutions of our own Government and the Media!”

Jones, Garland Emerge As Biden’s Top Picks for Attorney General

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones.

By Steve Neavling

President-elect Joe Biden appears to have two leading contenders for attorney general: Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, The Associated Press reports, citing three people familiar with the matter.

But sources have emphasized that no final decision has been made, and the top picks could change. Sally Gates ,the former deputy attorney general, was long believed to be a top potential pick. 

Jones, who was defeated in the November election, has emerged as the top choice, according to NBC News.

President Clinton appointed Jones in 1997 to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. He emerged as champion for civil rights, successfully prosecuting two former KKK members for a 1963 bombing that killed four Black girls at a church in Birmingham. 

Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

His relationship with Biden dates back to at least 1998, when he helped Biden on his first presidential campaign in 1998. 

Garland, whom Obama nominated to fill a vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat in 2016, served as special assistant to Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti during the Carter administration from 1979 to 1981. Garland became U.S. attorney general in Washington D.C. in 1989 and then deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in 1993. 

In 1997, the Senate confirmed Garland’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In 2013, he became the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit. 

Carl E. Landrum Appointed Deputy Chief Border Patrol Agent for the Laredo Sector

Carl Landrum, deputy chief Border Patrol agent for the Laredo Sector in Texas.

By Steve Neavling

Carl E. Landrum has been tapped to serve as deputy chief Border Patrol agent for the Laredo Sector in Texas. 

Since joining Border Patrol in 1996, Landum has served in numerous supervisory and command positions, including special agent with the Federal Air Marshal Service in New York City and assistant chief patrol agent at Border Patrol headquarters in Washington D.C.

In 2011, Landrum was promoted to patrol agent in charge of the Cotulla Border Patrol Station in Texas, and in 2012, he became patrol agent in charge of the Laredo North Border Patrol Station. 

In 2014, Landum was promoted to division chief at the Laredo Sector. He also created the Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Force West in San Antonio. 

In 2016, he became deputy chief patrol agent of the Yuma Sector. 

Before joining Border Patrol, Landrum received a bachelor’s degree of science in information systems from the University of Phoenix. He earned a master’s degree in strategic studies form the U.S. Army War College and became the first civilian to attend the school’s Advanced Strategic Art Program.

The Laredo Sector covers over more than 84,000 square miles in 96 counties from the U.S.-Mexico border to the borders of Texasand Oklahoma and Arkansas and has more than 1,900 employees. The Laredo Sector has nine stations: Laredo North, Laredo South, Laredo West, Zapata, Cotulla, Hebbronville, Freer, San Antonio, and Dallas. 

Brian Dugan Becomes Special Agent in Charge of Norfolk Field Office

Brian Dugan, special agent in charge of the Norfolk Field Office in Virginia.

By Steve Neavling

Brian Dugan, a 22-year veteran of the FBI, has been named special agent in charge of the Norfolk Field Office in Virginia. 

Dugan most recently was the section chief of the HUMINT Operations Section in the Directorate of Intelligence at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Dugan became a special agent with the FBI in 1998, getting assigned to the San Diego Field Office, where he primarily investigated domestic terrorism. 

In 1999, he joined the San Francisco Field Office to investigate gangs.

In 2006, Dugan became an instructor at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., where he developed new law enforcement and human intelligence courses for the bureau. 

In 2009, he left the FBI Academy and began working on a violent gang squad in the Northern Virginia Resident Agency of the Washington Field Office.

In 2013, Dugan was promoted to supervisory special agent and joined the Chicago Field Office, where he led a squad investigating child pornography and human trafficking. He also established a new gang squad addressing gun and gang violence on the city’s north side. 

In 2017, Dugan was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of a counterintelligence branch at the Washington Field Office, where he investigated and helped prosecute several espionage subjects and ran counterproliferation operations.

In 2019, Dugan became section chief in the Directorate of Intelligence.

Before joining the FBI, Dugan served in the U.S. Marine Corps. and was commissioned as a second lieutenant, rising to captain and serving in Japan, Korea, and Russia. 

He earned a bachelor’s degree of science in criminal justice from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s in business administration from Touro University of California.

FBI Agent Wounded in Shootout in Louisiana ‘Expected to Make Full Recovery’

By Steve Neavling

An FBI agent is recovering after being wounded in a shootout with a murder and kidnapping suspect at a Louisiana motel last week.

The bureau on Friday declined to say whether the agent was still hospitalized, but said the unidentified agent “is in stable condition, in good spirits and is expected to make a full recovery,” NOLA.com reports

The agent, who worked out of the New Orleans Field Office, was among a coalition of local, state and federal law enforcement who tried to execute a search warrant on James David Hawley, 47, at a Pineville motel. After a several-hour standoff, the agent was struck by a bullet during a shootout with the suspect, the FBI said. 

Hawley is accused of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend, Thoue Nichole Bronowski, 45, after killing her mother Norma Matko, 69, of Belmont County. Authorities said he fled to Louisiana with Bronowski. 

The last agent from the New Orleans Field Office to be shot in the line of duty was wounded trying to arrest a kidnapping suspect at a Louisiana motel in May 2015. The agent survived. 

Barr Reportedly Considering Stepping Down Before Trump’s Term Ends

Attorney General William Barr, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General William Barr is considering resigning before the end of President Trump’s term, The New York Times reports, citing three sources familiar with the matter. 

Barr and Trump were generally on good terms until the attorney general said last week there was no evidence of widespread election fraud, contradicting the president’s baseless claims.

On Wednesday, Trump declined to say whether he still has confidence in Barr and repeated his disputed allegations of election crimes.

Barr, 70, was sworn in as attorney general on Feb. 19, three months after Sessions resigned under pressure. 

The sources told The Times it’s still possible Barr will remain in his position. 

If Barr steps down, he would be replaced by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen. 

Weekend Series on Crime: Central America’s Most Violent Gang

DOJ Calls for Prison Sentence for Ex-FBI Attorney Clinesmith Who Altered Email in FISA Request

Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith.

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department is seeking a prison sentence for the former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty in August to altering an email used to seek the continued surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Kevin Clinesmith admitted he doctored the email, which was submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA). 

Attorneys with special counsel John Durham are calling on a sentence of between two to six months, saying in a court filing that the case “filed public disgust of the FBI and entire” FISA program, The Washington Post reports.

“An attorney — particularly an attorney in the FBI’s Office of General Counsel — is the last person that FBI agents or this Court should expect to create a false document,” prosecutors Anthony Scarpelli and Neeraj N. Patel wrote. “This Court’s sentence should be designed, in part, to send a powerful message to the community that this type of conduct — falsifying information to hide facts from a court — will not be tolerated.”

Sentencing is set for Dec. 10. Clinestmith faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but the sentencing guidelines call for zero to six months behind bars. 

Clinestmith’s attorneys are requesting probation and community service. 

“By altering a colleague’s email, he cut a corner in a job that required far better of him. He failed to live up to the FBI’s and his own high standards of conduct,” lead Clinesmith defense attorney Justin V. Shur wrote in a sentencing request.

Clinestmith’s guilty plea stems from the investigation into how the Obama administration investigated Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The email suggested that Page was not a source for the CIA, even though he had a relationship with the agency.

Clinesmith admitted he was guilty but said he believed at the time that his statement about Page was true.