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Russia, Iran Trying to Influence Presidential Election with Voter Information, FBI Warns

FBI Director Christopher Wray, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI has warned that Russia and Iran have obtained voter information and are using it to sow division and chaos and undermine confidence in the upcoming election. 

The FBI Director Christopher Wray and National Security Director John Radcliffe said the two countries are trying to influence the presidential election. 

Iran has used the information to target American voters with emails demanding they vote for President Trump, the officials said, adding that there’s no evidence either country managed to alter election results or registration information.

“We are not going to tolerate foreign interference in our elections or any criminal activity that threatens the sanctity of your vote or undermines public confidence in the outcome of the election,” Wray said during a news conference with Ratcliffe, The Washington Post reports. “When we see indications of foreign interference or federal election crimes, we’re going to aggressively investigate and work with our partners to quickly take appropriate action.”

Radcliffe said the voter data “can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos and undermine your confidence in American democracy.”

Trump Calls on Barr to Investigate Bidens As Election Nears

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

Trailing in the polls, President Trump on Tuesday urged Attorney General William Barr to immediately investigate unfounded claims about his Democratic opponent Joe Biden and his son Hunter. 

By pressuring Barr to take action to discredit a political opponent, Trump is asking the attorney general to abandon the Justice Department’s long tradition of not getting involved in elections.

When asked on Fox News if he supports the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the Bidens’ actions in Ukraine and China, Trump said, “We’ve got to get the attorney general to act. He’s got to act, and he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption and this has to be known about before the election.”

Trump has not said what crimes he believes the Bidens have committed. 

In a letter to Barr, 11 Republicans are urging Barr to appoint an “independent, unbiased special counsel” to probe allegations made in a controversial New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s emails. 

https://biggs.house.gov/media/press-releases/congressman-biggs-calls-special-counsel-investigate-former-vice-president-joe

DEA’s Violent Crime Operation Leads to 1,500+ Arrests

DEA evidence from Project Safeguard. Photo via DEA.

By Steve Neavling

A DEA operation to combat violent crime has netted more than 1,500 arrests and seized 2,135 firearms since it was launched in August, the agency announced Tuesday. 

The initiative, nicknamed Project Safeguard, also seized 162 nearly $24 million in assets and more than 6,100 kilograms of illicit drugs, including 158 kilograms of fentanyl.  

The operation comes at a time when violent crime is increasing in many cities. 

“Drug trafficking and violent crime are inextricably linked,” DEA Acting Administrator Timothy J. Shea said in a statement. “From the extreme levels of violence in Mexican cartels, to the open air drug markets in American cities, drug traffickers employ violence, fear, and intimidation to ply their trade.  Neighborhoods across our country are terrorized by violent drug trafficking organizations that have little regard for human life, and profit from the pain and suffering of our people. Along with our law enforcement partners, DEA is committed to safeguarding the health and safety of our communities.”

Assisting the DEA in Project Safeguard are federal, state and local agencies, including the ATF and the U.S. Marshals Service. The project has three priorities: Target violent drug trafficking organizations, prosecuting firearms traffickers, and capturing violent fugitives.

“For decades, New York has been a major distribution point for drug traffickers with drug-related crime following in its footsteps,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan, New York Division said. “With rising crime rates, DEA has reinforced investigations into local drug gangs and networks that threaten public safety and instill fear in our neighborhoods while continuing to identify and investigate major drug trafficking organizations responsible for supplying illicit drugs to New York.” 

U.S. Charges Six Russian Intelligence Officers with Hacking

GRU Emblem

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department on Monday indicted six Russian intelligence agency officers in connection with what prosecutors called some of the world’s most destructive cyber attacks.

The attacks targeted the Ukrainian power grid in 2016, the French elections in 2017 and the winter Olympics in 2018. 

A grand jury in Pittsburgh returned the seven-count indictment on Thursday, which includes charges for conspiracy, wire fraud, computer fraud, and aggravated identity theft. 

Those charged are officers within Unit 74455 of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate, known as the GRU, which is a military intelligence agency.

“No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement.  “Today the department has charged these Russian officers with conducting the most disruptive and destructive series of computer attacks ever attributed to a single group, including by unleashing the NotPetya malware.  No nation will recapture greatness while behaving in this way.”

U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady for the Western District of Pennsylvania said the charges are part of a two-year investigation.

“For more than two years we have worked tirelessly to expose these Russian GRU Officers who engaged in a global campaign of hacking, disruption and destabilization, representing the most destructive and costly cyber-attacks in history,” Brady said.  “The crimes committed by Russian government officials were against real victims who suffered real harm.  We have an obligation to hold accountable those who commit crimes – no matter where they reside and no matter for whom they work – in order to seek justice on behalf of these victims.” 

Robert R. Wells Named Special Agent in Charge of Charlotte Field Office in North Carolina

By Steve Neavling

Robert R. Wells has been named special agent in charge of the Charlotte Field Office in North Carolina. 

Most recently, Wells had served as deputy assistant director in the Counterintelligence Division at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Wells’s career as an FBI special agent began in 2003, when was assigned to the Washington Field Office to work counterterrorism and counterintelligence. He also served as a crisis negotiator. 

In 2010, Wells was promoted to supervisory special agent in the Counterterrorism Division at headquarters.

In 2011, Wells became supervisory special agent of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in the Louisville Field Office in Kentucky, where he was responsible for international and domestic terrorism investigations, in addition to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Program and special events.

In 2015, Wells was promoted to assistant section chief of the International Terrorism Operations Section of the Counterterrorism Division. After another promotion in 2017, he became assistant special agent in charge in the Washington Field Office, where he was responsible for all international terrorism investigations in Washington and Northern Virginia.

In 2018, Mr. Wells began serving as the chief of staff for the deputy director, leading the deputy’s staff and helping oversee all criminal, national security, and intelligence programs in the FBI. 

He was promoted again in 2019 to deputy assistant director over the China Branch of the Counterintelligence Division.

Wells earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Western Kentucky University, and before joining the FBI, he worked as a probation officer in the Western District of Kentucky. 

Glock Donates $30,000 to DEA Survivors Fund

By Allan Lengel

GLOCK Inc. recently donated $30,000 to the Drug Enforcement Administration Survivors Benefit Fund (DEASBF), which helps pay line of duty death and continuing education benefits to the families of DEA Agents and Task Force Officers killed in the line of duty.

“GLOCK, Inc. has a long history of supporting the individuals and families of those that go into harm’s way,” said GLOCK National Sales Manager Robert Radecki in a statement.

“We are proud to contribute to this great organization which makes such a vital impact in the communities in which we all live.”

Retired DEA agent Richard Crock, chairman of the fund, said “the fund would not exist without donors and partners like GLOCK.”

Currently, the fund finances the college education of six children who lost their father in the line of duty.

Anyone wishing to donate can click here.

Instructors at DEA Training Academy Accused of Racial Discrimination

By Steve Neavling

Instructors at the DEA’s Training Academy have come under scrutiny following a rash of recent complaints about racial discrimination, The Associated Press reports.

In one case, an instructor is accused of calling a Black recruit a “monkey” and taunting others by making “monkey noises” on a loud speaker at the firing range. 

“We were like, ‘It’s 2019. That shouldn’t even be a thing that we’re dealing with,'” Derek Moise, a white trainee, said. “Everybody knows what those sounds and noises stand for.”

The complaints come as the DEA struggles to diversify its ranks. 

The DEA “has received a string of recent complaints describing a culture of racial discrimination at its training academy in which minorities are singled out, derided with insults and consistently held to a higher standard than their white counterparts,” The AP wrote, citing records and interviews with former recruits and law enforcement officials.  

In another case, an instructor said a Black recruit’s skin color made him a perfect candidate to work undercover. 

Hispanic recruits also leveled complaints about racial discrimination. 

Only 8% of the DEA’s special agents are Black, and 10% are Hispanic. 

“DEA takes allegations of misconduct very seriously and will not tolerate discriminatory behavior of any kind,” the agency said in a statement. “DEA is committed to recruiting, retaining and promoting a workforce that reflects the diversity of our country and the people we serve.”

Secret Service Agents Often Don’t Wear Masks While Accompanying Trump to Events

By Steve Neavling

Secret Service agents are tasked with protecting the president, but they often don’t wear masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus at campaign events, according to an ABC News review of videos and photographs.

Secret Service agents are required to wear masks, and the CDC recommends the use of face coverings as a primary defense against COVID-19. 

Agents who accompany Trump to rallies and events – both indoor and outdoor– frequently don’t wear masks. Then again, neither does Trump, who was diagnosed with the coronavirus earlier this month.

Trump event mocked Democratic presidential candidate Vice President for relying on masks. 

“I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with biggest mask I’ve ever seen,” Trump said.

At events and rallies for Biden, by contrast, Secret Service agents are seen wearing masks.

The Secret Service declined to explain why agents protecting the president often don’t wear masks, but said in a statement, “The Secret Service continues to follow CDC guidelines regarding the use of PPE. While we continually assess the environment in which we conduct our protective operations, we will not discuss the manner in which we conduct them.”

The Secret Service has been tight-lipped about whether agents have been infected in connection with the diagnosis of Trump and others in his inner circle.