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Airport Worker Who Crashed Stolen Plane Asked, ‘Can This Thing Do a Back Flip?’

Via YouTube video taken by a resident near the accident scene.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

FBI agents have recovered the flight data recorder from a plane that was stolen and crashed by a 29-year-old airport worker whose only training appears to be video games.

Authorities are trying to determine whether the crash in which Richard Russell died was deliberate or accidental.

The rogue Horizon aircraft took off Friday evening after Russell stole the twin-engine turboprop from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and flew it in circles above the Pugent Sound in Washington before crashing in a wooded area near the island.

CNBC reports that it’s unclear whether Russell had any formal training, but Horizon Air CEO Gary Beck said he did not appear to have a pilot’s license. 

A worker on the grounds crew told air traffic control that Russell played video games.

“There were some maneuvers that were done that were incredible maneuvers,” Alaska Air CEO Brad Tilden said. “I don’t know how he achieved the experience that he did.”

Beck emphasized that “commercial aircraft are complex machines” that are not easy to fly.

“I wasn’t really planning on landing it,” Russell told air traffic controllers and a pilot, according to a recording of the incident.

 “I’ve played video games before and I know what I’m doing a little bit,” adding he knew how to “put landing gear down.”

Russell appeared to be having fun, asking, “Pilot guy, can this thing do a back flip, you think?”

The FBI, which also recovered parts of the cockpit voice recorder from the plane, said human remains were found at the crash site.

“I got a lot of people that care about me and it’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them,” Russell is heard saying before the recording ends. He called himself “just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess, never really knew it until now.”

Trump Threatens to ‘Take Action’ Against FBI, Heightens Campaign to Discredit Russia Probe

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump lashed out at the FBI, Justice Department and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a series of tweets over the weekend.

As the showdown continues between the president and Robert Mueller over an interview, Trump is pumping up his rhetoric and threats against the groups that are overseeing the investigation of Russia’s meddling.

“Our A.G. is scared stiff and Missing in Action. It is all starting to be revealed – not pretty. IG Report soon? Witch Hunt!” Trump tweeted from his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey. 

Trump has been furious with Sessions since he recused himself from the Russia investigation, which continues to pick up steam.

In another tweet, Trump threatened “to get involved” with a public records request involving his former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

“Why isn’t the FBI giving Andrew McCabe text messages to Judicial Watch or appropriate governmental authorities. FBI said they won’t give up even one (I may have to get involved, DO NOT DESTROY). What are they hiding?”

The tweets are part of a heightened campaign to sow doubts about the credibility of federal authorities involved in the investigation, which is looking into whether the president obstructed justice or his campaign colluded with Russia.

Jury Acquits FBI Agent Accused of Firing Gun During Oregon Standoff

FBI photo of the shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during the 2016 armed standoff.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A federal jury has acquitted an FBI agent accused of lying to investigators about whether he fired his gun twice at a militia elder involved in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

The jury on Friday found Agent Joseph Astarita not guilty of obstruction and making false statements.

The 41-year-old agent repeatedly denied he fired his weapon at Robert “LaVoy” Finicum because he was worried about crossfire.

Astarita’s attorney, David Angeli, told CNN that prosecutors lacked eyewitness and ballistic evidence that would show the agent fired his service weapon in during the 2016 standoff. 

“We are grateful to the men and women of the jury who saw through a case that never should have been brought,” Angeli and another defense attorney Rob Cary said in a statement.

At the time of the alleged shooting, the FBI was told to hold fire while local and state law enforcement handled Finicum, who led police on a chase in his pickup and was then shot by state police after he appeared to reach for his gun.

The jury was focused on who fired two errant shots, not who killed Finicum because the deadly force was deemed justified.

Astarita’s lawyers argued that alleged evidence against the agent was the result of lies from the “reckless” actions of one Oregon State Police trooper who fired most of the shots and later changed his story.

FBI Investigating Weeks-Old Attack on City’s First Latino Mayor over Immigration

Burien Jimmy Matta

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Three weeks after the city of Burien’s first Latino mayor said he was attacked by a man angry about his policies supporting immigrants, no charges have been filed.

Now the FBI is stepping in after several law enforcement agencies have failed to charge the 62-year-old Burien man who Mayor Jimmy Matta said attacked him at a block party in this suburb city in King County, Washington.

Matta told police that a man in his 60s put him into a headlock and pulled him to the ground on July 21, whispering to the mayor, “We’re not going to let you Latino illegal take over our city,” the Seattle Times reported at the time. 

The attack is

Both the King County prosecuting attorney and state attorney general said they have conflicts of interest.

A spokesman for Attorney General Bob Ferguson said state prosecutors are waiting for the FBI to complete the investigation.

“We’re still waiting to receive the investigation file,” the spokesman said in an email to the Seattle Times.  “Hard to guess at a timeline when we’re not sure when we’ll get the file, but I’m sure the team will need some time with it to review the evidence before making a recommendation.”

Matta has been an outspoken supporter of making Burien a so-called sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants.

Jury May Decide Fate of Manafort This Week Before He Faces Another Trial

Paul Manafort

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A verdict in the bank and tax fraud case against Paul Manafort could come as early as this week, and a guilty verdict could has the potential of putting President Trump’s former campaign chairman in prison for the rest of his life.

Robert Mueller’s prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case today, depending on what the defense does, the case could go to the jury by midweek.

A lot is at stake in the first trial since Mueller was appointed in May 2017 to investigate Russia’s meddling in the election. A victory could restore faith in the investigation, while a defeat could give Trump more ammunition to claim the probe is part of a “witch hunt,” a far-fetched claim that nonetheless has gained traction among many Republicans.

Monday marks the 10th day in Alexandria, Va., federal court.

When the trial resumes Monday afternoon, prosecutes are expected to call to the stand James Brennan, an executive at the Federal Savings Bank.

What’s unclear is whether Manafort’s lawyers plan to call their own witnesses.

Whatever the case, not even an acquittal ends the legal troubles of Manafort, a longtime GOP operative accused of concealing millions of dollars he made from Russian-friendly Ukrainian officials by depositing the money into foreign bank accounts to avoid taxes.

A second Manafort trial is scheduled for mid-September in Washington D.C., a case that alleges Manafort laundered money and failed to register as a lobbyist while working for the Ukrainian government.

Giuliani Backtracks, Says Trump Never Discussed Flynn with Ex-FBI Director Comey

Rudy Giuliani on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

One of the key obstruction of justice allegations against President Trump is that he urged then-FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into one-time National Security Director Michael Flynn.

The president’s attorney Rudy Giuliani is now saying that Trump will deny he ever encouraged Comey to fire Flynn, contradicting past statements he made to the media.

“There was no conversation about Michael Flynn,” Trump’s personal attorney said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “That is what he will testify to if he’s asked that question.”

Giuliani denied that he told ABC’s “This Week” last month that Trump had asked Comey to give Flynn “a break.”

Giuliana backtracked, maintaining that he “said that is what Comey is saying.”

Confused yet? 

In the ABC interview in early July, Giuliani denied that Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation, saying, “He didn’t direct him to do that. What he said to him was, ‘Can you give him a break?’”

Comey testified that Trump told him, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”

Trump reluctantly fired Flynn when news surfaced that the retired Army general had misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with a Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.

In December 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the Russian contacts.

During Sunday’s interview, Giuliani said that if Trump is forced to testify before Robert Mueller’s investigators, the president will deny he told Comey to “let this go.”

Mueller was appointed to investigate Russia after Trump fired Comey in May 2017.

So far, the president’s lawyers are refusing an interview between Trump and Mueller’s team. The fear is that Trump will perjure himself. 

Weekend Series on Crime History: How John Gotti Became The Teflon Don

Constitutional Law Expert: Enough Is Enough. Time to Subpoena President Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump and his lawyers have stalled long enough, and the time has come to subpoena the president.

So says Harry Litman, a constructional law professor at the University of California at San Diego.

“Enough is enough. It’s time to subpoena the president,” Litman argued in a column for the Washington Post

Litman said special counsel Robert Mueller has been “patient while Trump and his representative engaged in scarcely credible gamesmanship.”

Trump continues to call the special counsel investigation “a witch hunt” as he tries to chip away at the credibility of the FBI and Justice Department, an effort that appears to be paying off as most of the president’s most ardent supporters agree with his calculated remarks about federal law enforcement.

“It has become increasingly apparent that neither Trump nor anyone in his orbit has any interest in his answering Mueller’s questions,” Litman wrote. “In a word, they are playing Mueller, and in the process, playing the country.”