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Rod Rosenstein, Overseeing Russia Probe, Plans to Leave His Post

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee in December 2017.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who hired Robert Mueller to investigate Russian interference during the election, is preparing to leave his post.

The career prosecutor’s departure comes as the Senate prepares to confirm President Trump’s pick for attorney general, William Barr. The hearing is set to begin Jan. 15, and it could take a month or more before he is confirmed.

There are no signs that Rosenstein is being forced out by Trump, ABC reports.

Speculation mounted that Trump would fire Rosenstein in September after The New York Times reported the deputy AG considered secretly recording the president and invoking the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

Trump has called the Mueller investigation a witch hunt, even as the special counsel secured convictions of some of the president’s former top aides.

Rosenstein had the authority to appoint a special counsel to investigate election interference because then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from any inquiries into Russia’s contacts with the Trump campaign team. Rosenstein appointed Mueller after Trump fired his FBI director, James Comey, who told lawmakers the president pressured him to stop investigating his national security director, Michael Flynn, who was later indicted.

 

Russian in Trump Tower Meeting Charged in Case That Reveals Close Ties to Kremlin

Trump Tower

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The Russian lawyer who met with top Trump campaign aides at Trump Tower in 2016 was charged Tuesday in a money-laundering case that reveals her close ties to the Kremlin.

Federal prosecutors in New York charged Natalia V. Veselnitskaya with obstruction of justice in a U.S. money-laundering case involving Yury Chaika, a wealthy Russian businessman connected to the Trump Tower meeting, The New York Times and Guardian report.

The June 2016 meeting was prompted by a representative close to the Kremlin who told Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., that Chaika could provide incriminating information about Hillary Clinton.

The meeting has become a focus of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election. Attending the meeting were top campaign aides, Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, who has been convicted of crimes in unrelated cases.

Although the case against Veselnitskaya is unrelated to the Trump Tower meeting, the indictment reveals how closely she is connected to the Russian government.

DEA Agent Accused of Helping Drug Cartel Was Denied Bond Because of ‘Double Life’

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A former police officer accused of joining the DEA so he could protect a Puerto Rican drug cartel was ordered to stay behind bars Monday until his September trial.

DEA Agent Fernando Gomez, who worked in the Chicago field office, was arrested in December and charged with racketeering conspiracy for his alleged decade-long affiliation with the Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos. The gang, which imported vast shipments of cocaine into the U.S., was accused in the indictment of participating in at least eight drug-related killings in New York and Puerto Rico.

Manhattan federal Judge Jesse Furman denied bail to Gomez, saying he was a flight risk because he lived double lives for decades, New York Post reports.

“It raises in my mind an extraordinary level of deviousness,” Furman said.

Gomez is accused of helping the gang beginning in 2006 when he was a detective with the city of Evanston.

Trump’s Shutdown Endangers Airport Safety As Unpaid TSA Screeners Call in Sick, Quit

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump said the government shutdown could last months or even years because border protection is so important.

But what about airline safety?

In the first weeks of the shutdown, protection at U.S. airport has been compromised because TSA screeners are calling in sick – and some are quitting – because they can’t afford to work without a paycheck.

The agency’s 51,739 screeners are required to work during the shutdown because their services – screening bags and passengers for weapons – are considered essential.

But with no assurances of getting paid until the shutdown is over, a growing number of screeners have called in sick.

Airports are increasingly concerned about airport safety and disruptions.

“We’re concerned that a prolonged government shutdown could potentially impact security and wait times at airports,” Christopher Bidwell, a senior vice president for security at the Airports Council International-North America in Washington, told Time.

During previous government shutdowns, Congress made sure that federal employees who are forced to work are paid. That has happened yet.

Under normal circumstances, screeners would get paid this Friday. If they don’t, airports are bracing for long wait times, disturbances and potential threats to airlines and passengers.

Trump’s Pick for AG Has Long History of Defending Corporations, Telecommunications Companies

Trump’s attorney general pick, William Barr.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

William Barr, President Trump’s choice for attorney general, has a long history in the corporate world, often fighting the Justice Department that he could be leading for a second time.

Critics told The Wall Street Journal that Barr’s defense of large corporations and telecommunications companies for 25 years could create a bias as the top law enforcement official in the nation.

Barr, however, previously served as attorney general under President H.S. Bush and was known for being tough on crime.

Republicans scheduled Barr’s confirmation hearing for Jan. 15.

If confirmed, Barr would replace Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who has been criticized for refusing to step away from Robert Mueller’s investigation.

After Barr stopped serving as attorney general, he spent most of his time defending large companies, including telecommunications giant GTE.

Trump Aides Face Potential Perjury Charges As House Democrats Help Mueller with Records

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The Democratic takeover of the U.S. House could spell trouble for current and former aides of the president, including his son Donald Trump Jr. and his long-time aide Roger Stone.

Democrats plan to hand Mueller all evidence the House collected during its investigation of Russian interference, according to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

That increases the chances of perjury charges against Trump Jr. and Stone if they lied to Congress during closed-door interviews with the House intelligence committee.

Schiff said Sunday that he plans to soon provide special counsel with transcripts of the congressional testimony, “including for the bringing of perjury charges, if necessary, against any of the witnesses ,but also to see the evidence that they contain.”

“I don’t want to go into enumerating particularly who I have concerns about, but I do have concerns about certainly multiple witnesses,” Schiff told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Bob Mueller, by virtue of the fact that he has been able to conduct this investigation using tools that we didn’t have in our committee, meaning compulsion, is in a better position to determine, OK, who was telling the truth?” Schiff said. “Who wasn’t? And who can I make a case against in terms of perjury?”

Schiff said some witnesses felt like they had “some kind of immunity” when Republicans controlled the committee.

“There’s no reason to protect these witnesses,” Schiff said. “There’s every reason to validate Congress’ interest in not having people come before it and lie.”

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Kansas City Mob

DOJ Creates Department to Investigate FBI Officials Leaking Classified Information

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

So much classified information is being leaked from the FBI that the Justice Department created a new counterintelligence division to address the issue.

Records obtained by The Young Turks show the anti-leak department was created during the first year of President Trump’s administration.

“By law, the FBI is the lead federal agency responsible for the investigation of violations of the espionage laws of the United States,” reads the “Functions and Mission Statement” section of a document dated Nov. 10, 2017.

“The complicated nature of — and rapid growth in — unauthorized disclosure and media leak threats and investigations has necessitated the establishment of a new Unit,” the document reads.