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A Defiant Bannon Snubs a Subpoena to Answer Questions about Trump-Russia Probe

Former top aide to President Trump, Steve Bannon.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Taking cues from the White House, President Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon repeatedly defied a subpoena Tuesday ordering him to respond to a congressional committee’s questions about possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Bannon refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee about the presidential transition team or his time in the administration. The decision was advised by his attorney, who conferred during the day with the White House, which strongly discouraged cooperation with lawmakers. 

The defiance and apparent collaboration with the Trump team shocked and enraged many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, of California, harshly criticized what he called a “gag order by the White House” designed to disrupt the investigation.

“This was the first time that we saw a witness refuse to answer questions on the instruction of the White House or on the claim that the White House might later invoke privilege in which [the majority was] not only unwilling to accept that answer but willing to act with great alacrity to subpoena that witness in real time and insist that he come back,” Schiff said.

Bannon also was issued a subpoena to testify before a grand jury as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the chances of his rival Hillary Clinton.

The special counsel investigation has so far netted indictments against four former members of Trump’s inner circle during the 2016 presidential election.

Former CIA Officer Arrested in Alleged Plot to Dismantle U.S. Spy Network

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former CIA officer long suspected of helping China disable the United States’ sophisticated spy network has been arrested and charged in federal court with the unlawful retention of nation defense information that he’s accused of leaking to Beijing.

The arrest of Jerry Chun Shing Lee at Kennedy Airport in New York on Monday capped a five-year investigation spearheaded by the FBI, the New York Times reports

Federal investigators became suspicious that the CIA had within its ranks a mole when the intelligence agency began losing its closely guarded informants in China. The FBI said it discovered Lee, who left the CIA in 2007 and moved to Hong Kong, was leaking the identities of the informants. 

In 2o12, while Lee was visiting family in the U.S., FBI agents scoured his luggage and found two volumes of handwritten notes containing classified information.

The dismantling of America’s spy network has been considered one of the U.S.’s worst intelligence blunders in recent years. 

Bannon Issued Subpoena to Testify Before Grand Jury in Trump-Russia Probe

Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Steve Bannon, the former White House chief adviser to President Trump, has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury as part of the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump associates.

The issuance of a subpoena, which compels testimony from Bannon, was a rare move by special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been interviewing dozens of former and current Trump officials in more informal settings that don’t require a subpoena, the New York Times reports

A notable exception was Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafot, who was subpoenaed and later indicted on various federal charges, including money laundering.

Why Mueller opted to subpoena Bannon, who joined the Trump campaign team in August 2016, is open to speculation.

On Tuesday, Bannon testified behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

Bannon was subpoenaed last week, just days after the release of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” an explosive book in which Bannon raised serious legal questions about a June 2016 meeting at the Trump Tower between the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer who reportedly offered to release compromising information about presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

Bannon, who was in the campaign’s inner circle when most of the alleged collusion with Russia took place, also predicted the special counsel probe is far from over and will focus on money laundering. 

“By forcing someone to testify through a subpoena, you are providing the witness with cover because they can say, ‘I had no choice — I had to go in and testify about everything I knew,’” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, a prosecutor for the independent counsel that investigated Bill Clinton when he was president.

‘Guns Up’ Salute by Texas Tech Student Draws Unwanted Attention of TSA

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Texas Tech University sophomore got caught up in school spirit and made the “guns up” salute with her hands at an airport.

The 19-year-old’s Red Raider pride wasn’t shared by the TSA at Houston’s Hobby Airport, where she was pulled out of the security line and asked to show her ID to TSA ages agents, the Houston Chronicle reports

After a quick tongue-lashing, the Houston woman was able to make her flight.

“I’ve never dealt with a situation like that before,” she told the Chronicle. “I am so very fortunate it was not worse, though. They let me off with a warning, and I made my plane on time. I know that for others the situation could have been much more serious. I feel very fortunate. The TSA officers know I meant no harm; by the end of it I think they were kinda laughing too!”

Steve Bannon, Lewandowski to Meet with House Panel on Russia This Week

Former top aide to President Trump, Steve Bannon.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two of Donald Trump’s most high-ranking campaign officials during the presidential campaign are expected to soon appear before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon plans to meet behind closed doors with the committee on Tuesday, just two weeks after the release of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” In the book, Bannon raises serious questions about the legality of a June 2016 meeting between the president’s  Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer, calling the gathering “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”

Corey Lewandowski

On Wednesday or Thursday, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski plans to meet with the committee.

“The House Intelligence Committee sent me a letter asking me to voluntarily come in and have a conversation about what I know, and what I’ve responded to them is, ‘I’ll be happy to come in and sit down,'” the former Trump campaign manager told host Rita Cosby on WABC Radio

“I have nothing to hide. I didn’t collude or cooperate or coordinate with any Russian, Russian agency, Russian government or anybody else, to try and impact this election. So they asked me to come in, I said I would,” Lewandowski continued, adding that he would be able to “set the record straight.”

FBI Forensic Expert Calls Apple ‘Jerks’ for Impossible-to-Crack iPhones

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

You can excuse Stephen Flatley for calling Apple “jerks” and “evil geniuses” for building notoriously impossible-to-crack iPhones.

After all, the tech company has made work exceedingly difficult for the FBI forensic expert and his colleagues who are tasked with trying to access suspects’ cellphones.

Speaking at the International Conference on Cyber Security in Manhattan last Wednesday, Flatley said investigators are bedeviled by the iPhones’ increasingly powerful encryption, Motherboard reports. In fact, the cryptography has become so strong that not even Apple can break into a locked mobile.

“At what point is it just trying to one up things and at what point is it to thwart law enforcement?” Flatley asked. “Apple is pretty good at evil genius stuff.”

A day earlier, FBI Director Christopher Wray renewed calls for Apple to ease up on default encryption settings because they hinder investigators’ ability to collect evidence from a criminal’s iPhone.

In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the FBI has been unable to access data from nearly 7,800 devices.

“This is an urgent public safety issue,” Wray said.

But tech companies and digital security experts have said more lax encryption would harm internet security and enable malicious hackers.

Father Who Spent 3 Decades in America Forced to Leave, Too Old for DACA

ICE official, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Jorge Garcia was only 10 years old when an undocumented family member brought him to the U.S. from Mexico.

Three decades later, after raising two teenage children with his beloved wife, the 39-year-old landscaper from suburban Detroit was forced to say goodbye  to his weeping family and return to Mexico under President Trump’s stiff crackdown on illegal immigration, the USA Today reports

Garcia, who appears to have a clean criminal record, was too old to qualify for Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era policy that protected children of undocumented immigrations from deportation. Immigrants who want to qualify for DACA status DACA must be 31 or younger as of June 15, 2012.

Garcia routinely checked in with ICE but was never forced to leave.

That changed in November during his last check-in, when immigration agents told him he must leave the country.

On Sunday night, a heavy-hearted Garcia said he was sad and worried.

 “I got to leave my family behind, knowing that they’re probably going to have a hard time adjusting, me not being there for them for who knows how long,” he said, his hands pressed against his forehead. “It’s just hard.”

That Time the FBI Urged Martin Luther King Jr. to Kill Himself

Martin Luther King Jr.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for nonviolent resistance in October 1964, the FBI was furious. 

Under the leadership of the bureau’s notorious director, J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI had spent nearly a decade keeping the civil rights leader under surveillance, convinced he was a Communist – or at least a national security threat. Agents recorded thousands of memos on the minister’s movements and interactions and even bugged his home, office and hotel rooms.

But they found nothing illegal or even dangerous.

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

Infamously obstinate and relentless, Hoover was determined to discredit the 35-year-old leader, especially after he won the Nobel Peace Prize and earned international acclaim.

While King prepared for his trip to Oslo to receive the award, Hoover denounced the Georgia-born minister as “the most notorious liar in the country” during a press conference in Washington D.C. in November 1964.

A few days later, the smear campaign escalated, marking one of the darkest chapter’s in the FBI’s history. One of Hoover’s deputies, William Sullivan, typed an anonymous, harshly worded letter to King that later would come to be known as the “suicide letter.”

Since Sullivan had nothing illegal on King, the letter focused on his extramarital sexual liaisons, which were captured on FBI surveillance. 

The anonymous author calls King a “filthy, abnormal animal”and an “evil, abnormal beast” and pledges to expose the extramarital affairs “with your filthy, dirty, evil companions.”

The letter suggests there are recordings of “all your dirt, filth, evil and moronic talk.”

“You are done,” the letter declares. “Your ‘honorary degrees,’ your Nobel Prize (what a grim farce) and other awards will not save you. King, I repeat you are done.”

The letter is crafted to give the impression it was written by someone within the civil rights movement, making a reference to “us Negroes.”

King quietly told friends that someone wanted him to kill himself.

The letter proceeds in what is an apparent reference to suicide, “King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. … There is but only one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

King wasn’t fooled by the misdirected writing. He was certain the FBI had written it, the New York Times reported. 

King’s suspicious were confirmed by the Senate’s Church Committee in 1975.

“Rather than trying to discredit the alleged Communists it believed were attempting to influence Dr. King, the Bureau adopted a curious tactic of trying to discredit the supposed target of Communist Party interest — Dr. King himself,” the committee concluded in a report.

King was killed by a sniper in 1968.