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Trump Allies Fear FBI Agents Seized Recorded Conversations in Raid

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was known to record conversations with his clients and associates, stoking fear among the president’s allies that digital audio files were seized in the FBI’s raid of Cohen’s offices and residences earlier this week.

Cohen often recorded phone conversations and replayed them for colleagues, the Washington Post reports

FBI agents seized Cohen’s computers and phones in a raid that sought, among other records, all communications between Cohen and Trump and his campaign aides.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Cohen taped conversations with Trump, who one associate said was aware of Cohen’s practice of recording phone calls because the attorney often played the recordings he had with other top Trump advisers.

“It was his standard practice to do it,” one source told the Post.

Legal experts said recorded conversations would be bad news for Cohen.

“If you are looking for evidence, you can’t do any better than people talking on tape,” said Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor.

Other Stories of Interest

Fugitive Drug Lord, Accused in DEA Agent’s Murder, Put on FBI’s Most Wanted List

Former Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro-Quintero

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Fugitive Mexican cartel boss Rafael Caro-Quintero, who disappeared underground after being sentenced in the torture and murder of DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camerena, has been added to the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

Caro-Quintero, who is known as the “Godfather” of drug-trafficking, is the first DEA suspect to be added to the list, the Washington Post reports.

Caro-Quintero was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 1985 murder of Camerena, who was tortured to death while investigating the Guadalajara Cartel. But a judge ordered the early release of the cartel boss, who escaped underground and has evaded Mexican and U.S. authorities since.

“Special Agent Camarena was devoted to stopping drug trafficking and breaking the cycle of drug-related crime,” said FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich in a statement Thursday. “It is because of his courage, and his selflessness, that we’re not going to stop looking for Caro-Quintero until we find him and put him back behind bars where he belongs.” 

Caro-Quintero, who is in his mid-60s, has since taken a leadership role in the Sinaloa gang, the world’s most powerful drug-trafficking organization.

DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson praised the FBI’s commitment to track down Caro-Quintero “until the moment he is captured and returned to his rightful place in prison.

“Kiki Camarena holds a special place in our hearts and his sacrifice will always be remembered by the men and women of DEA who carry out our mission every day,” Patterson said.

Amid Impeachment Threat, DOJ Gives Nunes Access to Trump Probe Document

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, who threatened to hatch a plan to impeach senior Justice Department officials for failing to turn over a confidential report, said Wednesday he’s “finally” received the highly classified document that launched the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Nunes, a President Trump ally and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had threatened to impeach FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein if they didn’t turn over the report.

Nunes and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., went to the Justice Department to view the document, which is said to spell out the justification for launching the investigation n 2016 into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, CNN reported

Nunes didn’t comment on the substance of the report, and because it’s classified, didn’t reveal details.

“After numerous unfulfilled requests for an Electronic Communication (EC) related to the opening of the FBI’s Russia counterintelligence probe, Chairman Trey Gowdy and I met this afternoon with Attorney General Rod Rosenstein,” Nunes said in a statement.

“During the meeting, we were finally given access to a version of the EC that contained the information necessary to advance the Committee’s ongoing investigation of the Department of Justice and FBI,” Nunes continued.

Steve Bannon Pitches Plan to Save President by Stymying Mueller Probe

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon has pitched a bold plan to protect President Trump from the advancing special counsel investigation.

The Washington Post reports that Bannon, who was ousted last summer, advised members of Trump’s inner circle and congressional allies to encourage the president to first fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller in May to investigate Russian melding in the 2016 presidential election and approved the raid on the office of Trump’s attorney. 

Bannon also suggested the White House should stop cooperating with Mueller, invoke executive privilege to prevent further interviews with staff and fire his current legal team. The former Breitbart chief said Trump could then make a legal case that past interviews between his staff and Mueller’s team should be stricken from the record because the president’s attorneys didn’t advise him of all his options.

“The president wasn’t fully briefed by his lawyers on the implications” of not invoking executive privilege, Bannon told The Washington Post in an interview Wednesday. “It was a strategic mistake to turn over everything without due process, and executive privilege should be exerted immediately and retroactively.”

Legal experts were skeptical of the plan, and it’s unclear whether Trump will consider, though he has suggested taking similar steps in the past.

Democrats and some Republicans said they would vote to impeach the president if he fires Mueller, who is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia and if the president obstructed justice by firing then-FBI Director James Comey.

According to past interviews, Bannon believes crimes were committed by Trump’s campaign. He even told author Michael Wolff that the Mueller probe likely will focus on money laundering, saying, “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.” 

Bannon also told 60 Minutes that firing Comey was the biggest mistake “maybe in modern political history.”

Feds Investigating National Enquirer’s $30,000 Payment over Trump Love-Child Rumor

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Federal investigators who raided the office and hotel room of President Trump’s longtime personal attorney are zeroing in on the National Enquirer over payments to an ex-Playboy model and a former doorman who said he had juicy information on Trump having an illegitimate child with an employee at Trump World Tower.

The Associated Press reports that the Enquirer, the nation’s largest tabloid, paid $30,000 to ex-doorman Dino Sajudin for exclusive rights to the rumor about Trump fathering a child with an employee at Trump World Tower, a skyscraper the president owns near the United Nations. 

The National Enquirer never ran the story, effectively keeping the rumor quiet. The penalty for revealing the rumor to anyone else would subject Sajudin to a $1 million payment to the National Enquirer.

The FBI raided the office and hotel room of Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen earlier this week over a $130,000 payment he said he made to porn star Stormey Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006.

The AP wrote:

On Wednesday, an Enquirer sister publication, RadarOnline, published details of the payment and the rumor that Sajudin was peddling. The website wrote that the Enquirer spent four weeks reporting the story but ultimately decided it wasn’t true. The company only released Sajudin from his contract after the 2016 election amid inquiries from the Journal about the payment. The site noted that the AP was among a group of publications that had been investigating the ex-doorman’s tip.

During AP’s reporting, AMI threatened legal action over reporters’ efforts to interview current and former employees and hired the New York law firm Boies Schiller Flexner, which challenged the accuracy of the AP’s reporting.

Asked about the payment last summer, Dylan Howard, the Enquirer’s top editor and an AMI executive, said he made the payment to secure the former Trump doorman’s exclusive cooperation because the tip, if true, would have sold “hundreds of thousands” of magazines. Ultimately, he said the information “lacked any credibility,” so he spiked the story on those merits.

“Unfortunately…Dino Sajudin is one fish that swam away,” Howard told RadarOnline on Wednesday.

But four longtime Enquirer staffers directly familiar with the episode challenged Howard’s version of events. They said they were ordered by top editors to stop pursuing the story before completing potentially promising reporting threads.

FBI’s General Counsel Turns Over Notes to Mueller About Comey and Trump

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Dana Boente, the FBI’s general counsel and former acting attorney general, has been interviewed by Robert Mueller and turned over notes that appear to corroborate fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony that President Trump pressured him to end the Russia probe.

The news indicates Mueller is actively investigating whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey.

TheWashington Post reports that Mueller interviewed Boente, who was involved in the early part of the FBI’s investigation into Russian wedding during the election, “some months ago … on a wide range of topics, including his recollections of what former FBI Director James Comey told him about troubling interactions with Trump.”

Trump has claimed Comey was lying about the conversations, but the former FBI director’s notes – and now handwritten notes from Boente – cast doubt over the president’s claims.

 

Firing Mueller Won’t Make Everything Go Away For Trump Confidants

President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Even if President Trump figures out a way to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, it won’t end the legal problems of some of his closest confidants.

That’s because Mueller isn’t handling all of the cases. For example, federal prosecutors in New York are handling the cases against his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Vox reports. Because those probes are separate from Mueller’s investigation, firing the special counsel won’t end the potential legal problems for people like Kushner and Cohen.

Even though Trump attacked the special counsel’s investigation again as a “witch hunt” after Cohen’s office was raided by the FBI, Mueller did not sign off on the probe.

The investigation into Kushner’s business dealings involves another set of prosecutors separate from Mueller, and they’re looking into a $285 million bank loan from Deutsche Bank.

In these cases, Trump won’t be able to end the investigations with firings.

Bi-Partisan Group to Craft Legislation to Protect Mueller

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s suggestion that he may fire Robert Mueller has prompted a bipartisan group to craft legislation that is expected to be introduced Wednesday that would protect the special counsel’s job.

The bill, crafted by Republican Sens Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware and Cory Booker of New Jersey, would give any special counsel 10 days to seek an expired judicial review if he or she is fired, CBS News and the Associated Press

The two Republicans introduced seminary bills in August, but the legislation went nowhere because the lawmakers said they didn’t believe Trump would move to fire Mueller. But that has changed since Trump’s latest tirade over the FBI’s raid of the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

The legislation calls for an expedited review to determine whether there was good cause to fire the special counsel. In addition, records from the investigation would be preserved.

But moving the bill through the House and Senate would be difficult because Republicans control both legislative bodies and many have indicated they are confident Trump won’t move to fire Mueller.

“I don’t think he’s going to be removed,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “I think he’ll be allowed to finish his job.”

Nevertheless, some Republicans warned that firing Mueller would lead to consequences for Trump.

“There would be serious repercussions,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. “I’ve shared with the president what a massive mistake it would be for him to do this. I’ve done that in person.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, added Tuesday on Fox Business News: “It would be suicide for the president to want to talk about firing Mueller. The less the president said on this whole thing, the better off he would be, the stronger his presidency would be.”