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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.

Sinaloa Cartel Paid $1M a Month to Bribe Mexican Officials, Ex-Trafficker Testifies in El Chapo Trial

‘El Chapo’ Guzman

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

How much did it cost to bribe Mexican officials to run one of the world’s largest drug-trafficking empires?

The Sinaloa Cartel dished out as much as $1 million a month in bribes to police and military officials, according to Vicente Zambada Niebla, who testified during the trial of alleged drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, The New York Times reports

Zambada is the son of Ismael Zambada García, one of the cartel’s leaders. 

El Chapo has pleaded not guilty to charges of international drug trafficking and conspiracy to murder rivals.

Robert Mueller & Rod Rosenstein Named ticklethewire.com Feds of the Year for 2018

Rod Rosenstein and Robert S. Mueller III

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III have been named ticklethewire.com’s Feds of the Year for 2018.

It’s the first time since 2008 when the award was first established, that ticklethewire.com has named two people the recipients of the award.

These are extraordinary times. Not since the White House was occupied by Richard Nixon have we seen the integrity of the justice system challenged in this way.

We’ve seen two Attorney Generals fired along with an FBI director and deputy FBI director. And that’s only in two years.

We’ve seen a president belittle, via twitter and speeches, the Justice Department and FBI.

Under intense pressure, and extremely challenging circumstances, Rosenstein has stood for integrity and undertaken the herculean task of dealing with the White House and maintaining justice at the Justice Department.

It’s been no easy mission, and frankly, something few could pull off and survive.

All that said, it made Rosenstein an obvious choice for this award.

At the same time, Robert Mueller has carried out his duties as special counsel with nothing but class and integrity.

Once again, he too has come under repeated attacks by the White House while carrying out this important mission.

It is his presence in this ongoing investigation as a watchdog of government that has given many Americans renewed faith in our justice system.

It’s an honor to have two public servants as dedicated as these two.

Previous recipients of the ticklethewire.com Fed of the Year award include: Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (2008):   Warren Bamford, who headed the Boston FBI (2009), Joseph Evans, regional director for the DEA’s North and Central Americas Region in Mexico City (2010);  Thomas Brandon, deputy Director of ATF (2011); John G. Perren, who was assistant director of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Directorate (2012); David Bowdich, special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Los Angeles (2013);  Loretta Lynch, who was U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn at the time (2014); John “Jack” Riley,  the DEA’s acting deputy administrator (2015); D.C.  U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips (2016) and Joe Rannazzisi, a retired DEA deputy assistant administrator (2017) .

 

Stjeskal: Of Rats and Witch Hunts

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.

By Greg Stejskal

“Conspiracies hatched in hell can not have angels for witnesses.” – is an adage sometimes used by prosecutors in criminal cases. The point being that in order to prove the existence of a conspiracy, which by design is done in secrecy, it may be necessary to have as witnesses a person or persons who were involved in the conspiracy. (A good Hollywood dramatization of how this works is depicted in Elia Kazan’s film, “On the Waterfront.”)

Greg Stejskal

Coconspirators turned cooperating witnesses are problematic for the prosecutor because the witness by his/her own admission was a participant in a criminal conspiracy. In order to make a strong case, these non-angelic witnesses’ testimony is usually corroborated by other evidence.

Further strengthening their credibility, the testifying conspirator has admitted their involvement in the conspiracy and have often pleaded guilty and been sentenced for the act(s) for which they are testifying.

Using coconspirators as witnesses is a long established and necessary practice in criminal prosecutions. The federal rules of evidence allows for an exception to the hearsay rule: the conspirator can testify as to statements by another conspirator in furtherance of the conspiracy. It is also common practice for the defense to attack the credibility of these witnesses.

What is unusual in my experience is attacking the practice of using a conspirator as a witness as something to be “outlawed” and referring to such witnesses as “flippers.” Such attacks were recently made by the president of the United States.

President Donald Trump

Flippers are apparently witnesses who have admitted to their participation in a criminal conspiracy, pleaded guilty to their involvement and agreed to truthfully testify under oath about the conspiracy. The president has also characterized some of these witnesses as “rats,” saying they are disloyal and lying to get a more favorable sentence. Thus, sounding more like Johnny Friendly, a mob boss, in “On the Waterfront” than the president.

The president has also seemed to imply that those who don’t flip and remain loyal to him will be rewarded with a presidential pardon – the ultimate “get out of jail free card.” (A pardon presupposes guilt for the act or acts that are being pardoned.) And this is where it gets really bizarre – the president using his pardon power to encourage potential witnesses to not cooperate with the US Department of Justice. That would seem to be a prima facia case of obstruction of justice.

If as the president has repeatedly said, the special counsel probe is a “witch hunt” then the president has nothing to fear from cooperating witnesses who will be under oath and subject to perjury charges should they lie.

It was Abraham Lincoln who said: “I have never met or heard of anyone who could out-smart honesty.”