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FBI on Pace to Set Record for Most Background Checks for Guns

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is on track to break the record for the most gun background checks in a single year.

The surge in background checks follows highly publicized mass shootings, with some of the largest increases coming in August and September, USA Today reports.

Firearms experts said gun sales traditionally rise amid fears of tightened gun laws.

“People respond to what they perceive as threats to their (Second Amendment) rights, and this has been going on since August,” Larry Keane, general counsel for the firearms industry trade group National Shooting Sports Foundation, tells USA Today.

So far this year, the FBI has conducted at least 2 million background checks every month – the most since the bureau began conducting the checks.

The record for annual background checks is 27.5 million, and the FBI is on pace to beat that record.

Guns sales traditionally spike on Black Friday.

“The rising numbers may be a symptom of a reawakened gun owner community,” Robert Spitzer, a political science professor at the State University of New York in Cortland, said. “How far you can go in that direction is yet to be determined, but it does suggest how flexible the market is for gun sales.”

Ted Cruz Jokes That He’s the Notorious Skyjacker D.B. Cooper. But Why?

FBI sketches of D.B. Cooper.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz jokingly confessed that he is the notorious skyjacker D.B. Cooper.

“I did it,” Cruz said, retweeting a post from the FBI on Sunday that read, “#OTD in 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper parachuted from a plane he had just hijacked, clutching a bag filled with stolen cash. Who was Cooper? Did he survive the jump? What happened to the stolen money? Read about this unsolved mystery.”

But why would the conservative Texas senator crack the joke?

For at least a year, people on Twitter have suggested Cruz bears a striking resemblance to FBI sketches of D.B. Cooper. Around the same time, Twitter users jokingly suggested Cruz was the Zodiac Killer.

In case you don’t know about Cooper, he boarded a plane in Portland, Ore., and claimed to have a bomb and had the plane fly to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where he got the ransom money. He subsequently parachuted from the plane and was never found.

Here’s what Cruz looks like. You be the judge.

Sen. Ted Cruz

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Russian Mob

Secret Service Spends $250,000+ at Trump-Owned Properties in First 5 Months of Presidency

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service racked up more than $250,000 in taxpayer money at President Trump-owned properties in the first five months of his presidency, according to records obtained by the government watchdog group Property for the People.

A majority of the money was spent at Trump’s golf courses from January 27 to June 9.

More than $35,000 was spent at the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C., and an additional $45,000 went to Trump’s hotel in Las Vegas.

Presidents are barred from profiting off the U.S. government under the domestic emoluments clause, which Trump has called “phony.”

Former FBI Lawyer Accused of Altering Document Related to 2016 Russia Probe

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former FBI lawyer is accused of altering a document related to the 2016 Russia investigation.

The accusations are part of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s actions during the Russia investigation. The report is expected to be released Dec. 9.

The former low-level FBI lawyer is accused of doctoring a document associated with the court-ordered surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, The Washington Post reports.

The allegations are contained in a draft of the report, which says the lawyer altered an email to support his erroneous claim that the FBI had factual basis for the surveillance application.

The altered report, however, did not change Horowitz’s position that there was proper legal and factual basis in the application.

FBI Sought Interview with Whistleblower Who Help Initiate Impeachment Inquiry

Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI requested an interview with the whistleblower who helped initiate the impeachment inquiry into President Trump and Ukraine.

An agent in the Washington Field Office sought the interview last month by reaching out to the CIA analyst’s attorney, according to sources who spoke with Yahoo News, the Associated Press and The New York Times.

It wasn’t clear why the FBI wanted to interview the whistleblower, and the interview never happened.

One of the attorneys for the whistleblower declined media interviews, as did the FBI.

Yahoo News reports that top FBI officials were divided on whether to get involved. But it wouldn’t be unusual for the bureau to investigate allegations of wrongdoing within the federal government.

An interview could impact the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Border Patrol Agent Who Intentionally Hit Migrant with Truck Sentenced to Probation

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent who intentionally struck a Guatemalan migrant with his truck in 2017 – and called immigrants “subhuman” – was sentenced to three years of probation and supervised release.

Matthew Bowen, a 39-year-old agent stationed in Nogales, had faced up to one year in prison after admitting in August that he intentionally struck a 23-year-old migrant while arresting him for illegally crossing the border.

“I want you to remember this,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Ferraro told Bowen during the federal sentencing hearing in Tucson, The Phoenix New Times reports. “I can’t ignore the seriousness of this offense. Nationally, people are complaining about ICE and Border Patrol and the job that they do. Your conduct reinforces their stereotypes, and makes it much more difficult for your colleagues to preform their duties. It only takes one incident like this to really undermine things.”

Bowen also has come under fire after text messages surfaced showing he called immigrants “subhuman” and “mindless murdering savages.”

Bowen, a 10-year veteran of the Border Patrol, was placed on unpaid suspension in June 2018, shortly after he was indicted on assault charges. As part of a plea agree, Bowen resigned.

A video of the incident showed Bowen “accelerating aggressively” and striking Antolin Lopez Aguilar twice with the front of his truck. Bowen then arrested Lopez.

Bowen’s attorney, Sean Chapman, denied his client was racist, despite the evidence against him.

“There have been claims in the media that Mr. Bowen made racist comments about the immigrant community, and it’s simply not true,” Chapman said.

FBI Investigating Whether ‘Criminal Enterprise’ Played Role in Epstein’s Death

Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer testifying before Congress.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating whether Jeffrey Epstein’s prison cell death was the result of a “criminal enterprise.”

In testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer admitted investigators are looking into whether anyone other than Epstein was involved in the death, CNBC reports.

But Sawyer also testified that there’s “no indication” that the Aug. 10 death “was anything other than a suicide.”

The testimony came on the same day that two jail guards assigned to watch Epstein were criminal charged with falsifying records to hide the fact that they failed to conduct mandatory safety checks on Epstein on the night of his death.

The FBI has not commented on the investigation.

“I have received no information from the FBI investigation yet,” Sawyer said.