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Barr Slams Career Prosecutors As ‘Headhunters,’ Compares Them to Preschoolers in Boisterous Speech

Attorney General William Barr, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr lashed out at his own prosecutors on Wednesday, calling them “headhunters” in search of big name targets and equating them to preschoolers.

During the wide-ranging, boisterous speech at conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan, Barr also said nationwide coronavirus lockdowns would be the “greatest intrusion on civil liberties” outside of slavery, according to CNN.

“Individual prosecutors can sometimes become headhunters, consumed with taking down their target,” Barr said, The Associated Press reports. “Subjecting their decisions to review by detached supervisors ensures the involvement of dispassionate decision-makers in the process.”

Barr, who has been criticized for interfering in cases involving allies of President Trump, insisted he has the authority to intervene in such cases and that career prosecutors don’t always get the final say.

“Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it is no way to run a federal agency,” he said.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder blasted Barr’s criticism of career prosecutors.

“Though dangerous, Barr is becoming increasingly absurd. When I was at DOJ – regardless of my ultimate authority – I saw the career staff as trusted colleagues, not pre-schoolers,” Holder tweeted Wednesday. To my friends at DOJ, know that this nation values and supports you. I do.

Barr also castigated governors who have imposed restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” Barr said to thunderous applause.

Ex-DEA Agent, Wife Plead Guilty to Diverting $9M from Money Laundering Investigations

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A DEA special agent and his wife pleaded guilty Monday to a combined 19 charges as part of a seven-year scheme in which they diverted more than $9 million from undercover money laundering investigations and bought luxury cars, jewelry, and a home.

The money was deposited into bank accounts controlled by Jose Ismael Irizarry, 46, his wife, Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry, 36, and other co-conspirators. They used some of the laundered money to buy a Tiffany diamond ring, a $135,000 Land Rover and a home in Cartagena.

Irizarry, while investigating money laundering by Columbia’s drug cartels, worked with the drug traffickers to launder money seized from drop operations, prosecutors say.

“In a shocking breach of the public’s trust, former DEA Special Agent Jose Irizarry, together with his wife, Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry, abused his position by illegally diverting millions of dollars in drug proceeds from undercover operations to personally benefit themselves,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a news release. “Sworn law enforcement agents are entrusted with great responsibility, and the department will hold accountable those who exploit their positions to profit from public corruption.”

Irizarry pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, honest services wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit identity theft, and aggravated identity theft. Gomez-Irizarry pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

“This former federal agent turned his back on the people he swore to protect and caved to greed and deceit,” Special Agent in Charge Michael F. McPherson of the FBI’s Tampa Field Office said.  “The FBI will not tolerate those who abuse the public trust and will persist in safeguarding the American people from public corruption.”

Prosecutors say the scheme began after Irizarry filed for bankruptcy in December 2010. At no point in the bankruptcy proceedings did he disclose any of the illicit income to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

“Rather than upholding his oath to stop drug trafficking and money laundering, Irizarry actively participated in these schemes and collected millions of dollars for himself and his associates,” Special Agent in Charge James F. Boyersmith of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Miami Field Office said in a news release. “Irizarry’s conduct enabled criminals, endangered the public, and jeopardized public trust in law enforcement.”

Irizarry and his wife face prison time when they are sentenced at a later date.

Surge in Gun Sales Is Causing Delays in FBI Background Checks

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A large increase in the number of gun purchases since the coronavirus pandemic has caused delays in the FBI’s background check system, and that could mean firearms are ending up in the hands of people prohibited from owning them.

According to new data, the FBI has seen a 54% surge in background checks that have been delayed beyond three days between March and July, compared to the same time period in the previous year, Reuters reports.

Of the 5.9 million background checks, more than 5% were delayed past three days.

Gun dealers may sell firearms to customers who have to wait more than three businesses days for a background check.

The FBI is conducting a record number of background checks because more people than ever are trying to purchase guns. Between March and July, the bureau conducted 3 million background checks – a 93% increase over the same period last year.

Gun control groups are calling for more staff and resources to process the background checks in a timely process

Texas Border Patrol Station Would Be Renamed in Honor of Fallen Agent Under Bill

Fallen Border Patrol Agent Donna Doss.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Border Patrol Station in Rocksprings, Texas, would be renamed in honor of a fallen agent under a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican, introduced the Donna M. Moss Memorial Act of 2020 on Monday.

Moss, a 15-year-veteran of Border Patrol, was responding to a call for assistance when she was stuck and killed by a vehicle in Abilene on Feb. 2, 2019.

“In addition to leading a distinguished career with the Border Patrol, Agent Doss was a loving wife, daughter, sister, and stepmother,” Cornyn said in a news release. “Her loss was another solemn reminder of the courageous sacrifices law enforcement officers and their families make every day, and I hope memorializing her service at the Border Patrol Station in Rocksprings will help honor her ultimate sacrifice.”

Two days after Moss was killed, Cornyn honored the fallen agent on the Senate floor. Here’s what he said:

“It’s with a heavy heart that I come to the Senate floor this morning to express my deepest condolences for the friends, family, and colleagues of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Donna Doss, who was killed in the line of duty this last weekend.

During her more than 15 years of dedicated service, Agent Doss has made immeasurable contributions to public safety both in Texas and beyond.

In addition to leading a distinguished career, Agent Doss was a loving wife, daughter, sister, and stepmother. Her loss is another solemn reminder of the courageous sacrifices law enforcement officers and their families make every day.

We’re grateful to all of those who put their lives on the line when they put a uniform on each morning ready to confront the unknown challenges that lie ahead. I’m particularly grateful to the men and women in green who make up our nation’s Border Patrol, like Agent Doss. I want to thank Agent Doss’s family for her selfless service and sacrifice, and I send my heartfelt condolences to agent doss’s family, friends, Acting Sector Chief Matthew Hudak, and the agents of the Del Rio Border Patrol sector where she honorably served, and the entire Border Patrol family during this difficult time.”

Judge: Acting Homeland Security Director Wolf Likely Serving in Role Unlawfully

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is likely serving in his role unlawfully, a Maryland judge ruled said.

In the ruling, Judge Paula Xinis blocked the Trump administration’s new asylum restrictions because Wolf appears to lack the authority to introduce them, The Hill reports.

“In sum, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs are likely to demonstrate (former acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin) McAleenan’s appointment was invalid under the agency’s applicable order of succession, and so he lacked the authority to amend the order of succession to ensure Wolf’s installation as Acting Secretary,” Xinis’ said in a 69-page ruling on Friday.

The judge’s decision comes a month after the Government Accountability Office determined that Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, a senior official performing deputy secretary duties, were not appointed through a valid process and therefore aren’t legally qualified to hold their positions. The GAO said their appointments violated the laws detailing who can fill Senate-confirmed posts.

The White House has said it’s not acting on the findings.

DOJ Watchdog Is Investigating Handling of Roger Stone Sentencing Recommendation

GOP trickster and Trump ally Roger Stone.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department Inspector General’s Office is investigating the unusual intervention in the sentencing of Roger Stone, a dirty GOP trickster and longtime ally of President Trump, NBC News reports.

The review comes after a team of career prosecutors withdrew from the case in February after Attorney General William Barr and senior prosecutors for the Justice Department sought a shorter sentence for Stone, who had been convicted on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.

High-ranking Justice Department officials overrode the career prosecutors’ recommendation of seven to nine years in prison, saying the sentence should be “far less.”

Trump, who commuted Stone’s 40-month sentence on July 10, congratulated Barr in February for “taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought” and suggested the prosecutors who recommended the stiffer sentence were “rouge.”

While testifying before the House Judicary Committee on July 28, Barr defended intervening in the case.

“I agree the president’s friends don’t deserve special breaks, but they also don’t deserve to be treated more harshly than other people,” Barr said.

Jonathan Kravis, one of the prosecutors who withdrew from the case, wrote in a Washington Post column that “the department undercut the work of career employees to protect an ally of the president, an abdication of the commitment to equal justice under the law.”

New Documentary MLK/FBI Explores Surveillance of Civil Rights Icon

MLK/FBI movie poster.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A new documentary explores the FBI’s relentless surveillance and harassment of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.

The Sam Pollard documentary relies on recently declassified files, interviews and archival imagery of the civil rights movement.

“We felt it was important to really look at how King was looked at from the perspective of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, that they considered him a very dangerous man,” Pollard tells The Hollywood Reporter. “They were going at him by any means necessary to destroy him. At the same time, we wanted to convey King’s trajectory as we see the FBI is really digging into him, wiretapping, bugging his hotel rooms, and finding out that he was not a monogamous man.”

Pollard, who is known for editing Spike Lee films, said he sees a parallel between the civil rights movement a half century ago and the Black Lives Matter movement today.

The documentary will make its world premiere at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival.

Top Senate Republicans Call for Investigation of Mueller Team for Deleting Cell Phone Data

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Top Senate Republicans are calling on the Justice Department to investigate whether special counsel Robert Mueller and his team violated federal record-keeping laws by erasing their official cell phones of data.

In a letter to the FBI and Justice Department, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also is requesting the Justice Department to determine whether the deleted data can be recovered.

“It appears that Special Counsel Mueller’s team may have deleted federal records that could be key to better understanding their decision-making process as they pursued their investigation and wrote their report,” Grassley wrote. “Indeed, many officials apparently deleted the records after the DOJ Inspector General began his inquiry into how the Department mishandled Crossfire Hurricane. Moreover, based on this new information, the number of times and the stated reasons for the deletions calls into question whether or not it was a widespread intentional effort.”

A Freedom of Information Act request revealed that at least 15 phones used during the Russia investigation were wiped of information.

Homeland Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson requested an investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

On Twitter, President Trump compared the matter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deleting thousands of emails off a private server.

“ALERT: So now we find out that the entire Mueller ‘hit squad’ illegally wiped their phones clean just prior to the investigation of them, all using the same really dumb reason for this ‘accident’, just like Crooked Hillary smashing her phones with a hammer, & DELETING HER EMAILS!” Trump tweeted early Saturday morning.