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Trump ‘Obsessed’ with Renovating FBI Building, Treating It Like Trump Tower Project

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C., named after J. Edgar Hoover.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump has become obsessed with revamping the FBI headquarters because he can’t stand looking at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington D.C.

“The building is terrible” a source cited Trump as saying, Axios reported. “It’s one of the brutalist-type buildings, you know, brutalist architecture.”

Brutalist architecture generally refers to buildings with exposed concrete.

“Honestly, I think it’s one of the ugliest buildings in the city,” Trump reportedly said.

The source said Trump, who is known for micro-managing building projects in the private sector, reportedly wants to do the same with the FBI building, treating it like a Trump tower project.

But those projects don’t have the same level of security required for an FBI building.

“POTUS has interest in the issue and has met with FBI officials, but more importantly the GSA [General Services Administration] team. GSA has concerns that the building can’t be rehabilitated particularly given the security requirements and has relayed that to him,” the White House told Axios of Trump’s plans to renovate.

The FBI has been searching for a new headquarters for years, but funding problems continue to delay the project.

TSA Secretly Tracking Travelers Not on Government Watch Lists

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Federal air marshals are conducting surveillance on thousands of unsuspecting Americans as part of a secret TSA program called “Quiet Skies.’”

The Boston Globe reported that the undisclosed surveillance targets travelers who “are not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base,” citing a TSA bulletin from March. 

The bulletin indicates the program is intended to diminish threats to commercial flights posed by “unknown or partially known terrorists.”

Here’s how the program works: All U.S. citizens are subjected to screenings, and thousands of Americans have already been surveilled. Travelers are then added the Quiet Skies list for up to 90 days or three encounters. At no time are Americans alerted they are on the list.

It’s unclear what prompts the federal agency to add a traveler to the watch list.

Americans added to the list are then monitored by marshals, who fly with the travelers and look for sleeping patterns, “excessive fidgeting,” a “cold penetrating stare” or an “Adam’s apple jump.”

The Globe questions whether the tracking is legal:

Quiet Skies represents a major departure for TSA. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the agency has traditionally placed armed air marshals on routes it considered potentially higher risk, or on flights with a passenger on a terrorist watch list. Deploying air marshals to gather intelligence on civilians not on a terrorist watch list is a new assignment, one that some air marshals say goes beyond the mandate of the US Federal Air Marshal Service. Some also worry that such domestic surveillance might be illegal. Between 2,000 and 3,000 men and women, so-called flying FAMs, work the skies.

Trump Claims Mueller Holds a Grudge, Calls Probe ‘Illegal Scam’

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump continued his tirade against special counsel Robert Mueller, suggesting again that the former FBI chief has “conflicts of interest,” citing a “very nasty and contentious business relationship.”

In a series of weekend tweets designed to erode the public’s confidence in the investigation over Russia meddling in the presidential election, Trump claimed Mueller also held a grudge because he was not appointed FBI director.

Sunday’s tweet was more specific than past claims of alleged conflicts of interest involving Mueller, who was appointed by the president’s own Justice Department after he fired then-FBI Director James Comey.

Trump’s claim about a “contentious business relationship” appears to involve a dispute with Mueller over fees at Trump’s National Golf Club in Virginia.

Here are additional tweets from Sunday:

Trump Threatens Government Shutdown If Costly Border Wall Is Not Funded

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump is again threatening a government shutdown if Congress fails to fund his border wall and strengthen immigration laws.

“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!” Trump tweeted Sunday.

The budget deadline is September.

Trump said he would “shut down” the government if Congress fails to fund his proposed wall, which he initially said Mexico would finance – an unlikely scenario.

In May, Trump threatened “closing up the country for a while” if the wall was not funded by Congress. 

“They don’t want the wall,” Trump said. “But we’re going to get the wall, even if we have to think about closing up the country for a while.”

Trump shut down the government twice since he became president.

FBI Investigating Border Patrol-Involved Shooting That Killed Woman

KGNS captured video of the aftermath of the shooting.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating an alleged Border Patrol-involved shooting in Rio Bravo, Texas that left one woman dead.

The agency confirmed to KGNS a Border Patrol agent used a service weapon Wednesday after agents said they were attacked with blunt objects while investigating possible illegal activity. 

At least one round was fired at the suspects, killing 20-year-old Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez from Guatemala

One of the men detained in video captured by Texas resident.

In a Facebook live video, a woman named Martha V. Martinez is heard accusing agents of shooting and killing a woman while two men were detained near her home. 

The Texas Rangers also are investigating.

Weekend Series on Law Enforcement History: Ex-FBI Director Louie Freeh & Bill Clinton

ATF Agent Drowns in Alabama

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF agent Hugh Anthony O’Connor died Sunday drowning on the Tennessee River in Marshall County, Ala.

Marine patrol troopers say the incident happened around 5:40 p.m. Sunday near Painted Bluff in the vicinity of the Marshall and Madison county lines, station WAFF reports.

Authorities say O’Connor jumped into the water from a boat to help a woman retrieve items that blew from their boat and he failed to surface. His body was recovered approximately 100 yards downstream, the station reports.

ATF issued a statement on Facebook:

ATF is saddened to report the death of one of our own. We mourn the loss of Special Agent/ Certified Explosive Specialist Bomb Technician (CESBT) Hugh A. O’Connor. Our thoughts are with the O’Connor family and the National Center for Explosives Training and Research (NCETR).

Responses on Facebook included:

 Bill Atkinson: I miss you brother. You have been a good friend and mentor, and you had my six on a lot of PBSO-ATF Violent Crime Task Force search warrants and felony takedowns while I was a TFO and shared an office with you in West Palm Beach.Rest easy until we can join you someday- keep some Guinness and Jamason ready.

Cheryl Basham: One of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. RIP Hugh.

Matthew BlakemanWhat an amazing guy. Tough loss.

Court Battle Begins in Portland for FBI Agent Accused of Lying About Firing His Weapon

Robert “LeVoy” Tinicum

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

 The court battle began this week between the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland, Ore., and FBI agent Joseph Astarita who is charged with lying about firing his rifle at Robert LaVoy Finicum in the moments before the rancher was killed by state police on a rural Oregon highway.

In opening statements Wednesday, the Washington Post reports, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Sussman told jurors that Astarita’s two shots were covered up by officers on the scene — and that aerial footage captured from two FBI planes will show officers picking up items in the snow near where the victim lay.

Defense attorney Robert Cary suggested to jurors those two shots could have come from Oregon state troopers as well as Astarita’s supervisor. “What does the government have?” Cary asked, noting that there were no other eyewitnesses or ballistic evidence, the Post reported.

Astarita has denied firing his weapon.