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FBI Reviewing How It Handled Tip Months Ago about Florida School Shooter

Nikolas Cruz via instagram

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI is reviewing how it handled a tip months ago about a YouTube user named Nikolas Cruz who boasted he was “going to be a professional school shooter.” 

The name is the same as the shooter who opened fire with an AR-15 on Wednesday at a Florida high school, killing at least 17 people.

Ben Bennight, a bail bondsman, said he flagged the comment on YouTube in September and emailed a screenshot to the FBI, who paid him a visit and asked whether he knew the commenter.

The FBI told the New York Times it reviewed databases and conducted open-source checks and is now trying to determine what steps were taken to identify the commenter.

“There was no particular information about the particular time, location or further identifiers about the person who posted the comment,” Rob Lasky, the F.B.I. special agent in charge in Miami, said. “No additional information was found to positively identify the person who posted this comment. There was no connection found to South Florida.”

The FBI said it’s options were limited because of scant information that would have made it difficult to obtain a grand jury subpoena to identify the YouTube user.

“I hope he would have been interviewed by the F.B.I. or referred to the local police assuming he was identified,” said Eugene Casey, a veteran former F.B.I. agent. “I would have done my best to identify the individual who made the threat, but he could have posted it to YouTube from a public computer in a library or somewhere else.”

FBI Obtained Photos of Alleged Abuse by Rob Porter More Than a Year Ago

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI obtained photos of alleged abuse at the hands of former White House aide Rob Porter just a week after President Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

The revelations, first reported by CNN, raise more questions about when the White House learned of allegations that Porter abused his two ex-wives. 

The Trump administration has maintained that it was unaware of the allegations until recently, but the FBI has contradicted those claims, saying it provided the White House with reports on Porter in March, July, November and January.

The photos obtained by the FBI show Porter’s ex-wife Colbie Holderness with a black eye she said Porter gave her in 2005.

The allegations, also supported by a police report, prevented Porter from getting a security clearance.

National security expert Mark Zaid said it “isn’t reasonable” that the White House first learned of the abuse allegations in news reports last week, when Porter resigned.

“I would be surprised that if in their partial report in March, the FBI either didn’t include the photo or, at a minimum, reference they had photographic evidence of the domestic assault,” he said.

Senate Confirms John Demers to Head DOJ’s National Security Division

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The Senate on Thursday confirmed John Demers to head the Justice Department’s national security division after a Republican senator lifted a hold on his confirmation over a dispute on marijuana.

Demers, an attorney for Boeing and former member of the Justice Department’s national security division team, is set to become assistant attorney general for national security.

“John Demers was on the leadership team at the creation of the National Security Division, which today plays a crucial role in protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

“I am grateful to the Senate for confirming John and I look forward to his return to the department, where his significant experience in both the private sector and public service will most certainly benefit the American people.”

The confirmation was made possible after Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado lifted a hold on the nomination over a dispute with Sessions’ zealous crackdown on marijuana, even in states that legalized pot.

“I have decided to lift my holds on the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, United States Attorneys, and United States Marshals as an act of good faith,” Gardner said in a statement. “My holds on all other DOJ nominees will remain in place as discussions continue.”

Other Stories of Interest

Bannon Met Several Times This Week with Special Counsel Investigating Trump, Russia

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon met several times this week with the special counsel team investigating President Trump and his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.

The former Breitbart news chief, who continued today to defy a subpoena to testify before a House committee about the Russia and Trump probe, was interviewed for about 20 hours by the team led by Robert Mueller, NBC News reports

Details of the interview are unclear, but Bannon is considered a key witness in the investigation because he was a close confident of Trump and played key roles in both the campaign and the presidential administration.

In an explosive book published last month, Bannon blasted the campaign’s handling of Russia and suggested the Mueller investigation will focus on money laundering. He also said it was “treasonous” for some in the Trump campaign, including the president’s son, to meet with a group of Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016.

Bannon, who resigned in August, is facing contempt charges for continuing to refuse to answer questions by the House Intelligence Committee.

CNN reports that Bannon met briefly with the committee today and told the panel he had been instructed by the Trump administration to invoke executive privilege. 

Timothy Slater Named Head of FBI’s Detroit Division, Where He Began Career

Detroit riverfront. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Timothy Slater, special agent in charge of the Criminal/Cyber Division at the Washington D.C. Field Office, has been appointed to take over the FBI’s Detroit Division, where he began his career with the bureau in 1999.

In March, Slater will take over the position previously held by David Gelios, who retired from the position last month.

Slater served in the Detroit Division’s Violent Crimes Task Force and has since held leadership positions in the Criminal Investigative Division, as the senior supervisory resident agent over four resident agencies in the Oklahoma City Division, in the Critical Incident Response Group, and in the Knoxville Division. Before heading up the Criminal/Cyber Division, Slater served as the deputy assistant director of the Critical Incident Response Group at Quantico, Va., which provides expertise in crisis management, negotiations, behavioral analysis, countering explosives, aviation, and tactical operations.

FBI Alerted Months Ago about School Shooting Threat by YouTuber Named Nikolas Cruz

Nikolas Cruz via instagram

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI was alerted to an alarming comment on YouTube from a user named Nikolas Cruz, who posted months ago that he planned to become a “professional school shooter,” according to a Mississippi man.

Ben Bennight, a bail bondsman, said he flagged the comment on YouTube last fall and emailed a screenshot to the FBI, who paid him a visit and asked whether he knew the commenter.

“They came to my office the next morning and asked me if I knew anything about the person,” Bennight told BuzzFeed News. “I didn’t. They took a copy of the screenshot and that was the last I heard from them.”

Cruz opened fire with an AR-15 Wednesday at a Florida high school, killing at least 17 people. 

Bennight said he was contacted again by the FBI after the shooting.

“I would like to think that they were already investigating this guy and they had him on the top of their radar and that’s how they ended up contacting me so quickly,” Bennight said.

It’s unclear how seriously the FBI took the threat and whether agents talked to Cruz.

The bureau declined to comment.

Cruz’s YouTune account was active until Wednesday evening, when it was finally deleted.

Former FBI Agent Breaks Down in Tears on CNN over Florida School Shooting

Ex-FBI Agent Phillip Mudd broke down in tears on CNN.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Philip Mudd, a former FBI agent and deputy director for the FBI’s national security branch, has interviewed terrorists and investigated some of the most atrocious attacks.

That experience didn’t prepare him for news Wednesday that 17 people were killed by a gunman at a Florida high school.

A CNN counterterrorism analyst, Mudd broke down in tears while talking about the attack with the network’s Wolf Blitzer.

“I have 10 nieces and nephews who are talking about bump stocks,” he said. “We’re talking about legislation. A child of God is dead. Cannot we acknowledge in this country that we can’t — we cannot accept this.”

Mudd tried to continue but couldn’t: “I can’t do it, Wolff, I’m sorry.”

Trump’s Legal Team Builds Argument Against Sit-Down Interview with Mueller

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s legal team is building an argument to prevent the president from a sit-down interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. 

Mueller has requested an interview with Trump as part of the investigation into whether the president obstructed justice.

Although Trump boasted two weeks ago that he has nothing to hide and will answer questions under oath, his lawyers are urging to him to avoid the interview because they fear he will lie and be charged with perjury.

Trump’s legal team plans to present three arguments against an interview, according to the Washington Times

First, they argue, Mueller has been given unprecedented access to White House documents and aides. Second, there is no stated crime. And third, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in 1997, during the Bill Clinton administration, that investigators must first exhaust all other avenues for information before turning to the president.