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DOJ Quietly Limited Special Counsel Probe of Russia, Making It Difficult to Explore Ties to Trump’s Campaign

Rod Rosenstein and Robert S. Mueller III

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department secretly narrowed the focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, a move that prevented authorities from fully pursuing links to Trump’s campaign, The New York Times reports.

Former Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein privately limited the investigation to a criminal one, rather than one that explored authorities’ concerns about counterintelligence issues related to Trump’s connections to Russia.

Rosenstein’s actions all but ensured the investigation “would go nowhere,” The Times wrote, citing former Justice Department and FBI officials.

Publicly, Rosenstein said Mueller’s job was to explore “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government,” which includes counterintelligence issues. Not even the bureau’s then-acting director Andrew McCabe knew Rosenstein had limited the scope of the investigation. Had he known, the FBI would have investigated the counterintelligence issues, McCabe said.

“We opened this case in May 2017 because we had information that indicated a national security threat might exist, specifically a counterintelligence threat involving the president and Russia,” McCabe said. “I expected that issue and issues related to it would be fully examined by the special counsel team. If a decision was made not to investigate those issues, I am surprised and disappointed. I was not aware of that.”

Rosenstein declined to respond to The Times story.

Trump Offered Top FBI Job to John Kelly If He pledged Loyalty to the President, New Book Says

President Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A day after President Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, he offered the bureau’s top job to then-Homeland Security John Kelly.

But there was a catch: Kelly must pledge absolute loyalty to Trump, according to the forthcoming book Donald Trump v. United States, as reported by Axios.

To get the job, “Kelly needed to be loyal to him, and only him.”

“Kelly immediately realized the problem with Trump’s request for loyalty, and he pushed back on the president’s demand,” New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt writes in the book. “Kelly said that he would be loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law, but he refused to pledge his loyalty to Trump.”

The report doesn’t indicate how Trump responded, but a month after firing Comey, Trump nominated Christopher Wray to be the FBI’s next director.

Kelly later served as Trump’s chief of staff.

During the special counsel investigation, Robert Mueller didn’t find out about Trump offering the job to Kelly, whose interview with Mueller was limited to two hours.

Kelly announced he was resigning as chief of staff on December 2018.

Before Comey was fired, he said Trump urged him to pledge loyalty, and he refused, the former director has repeatedly said.

Justice Department Opens Investigation into Police Shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into the police shooting of a Black man in Wisconsin on Sunday.

A Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back, leaving him partially paralyzed and sparking days of unrest.

The FBI will lead the investigation, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the DOJ said in a statement.

Blake, 29, was shot as he leaned into his car following an interaction with police at the scene. Police said they tried to use a Taser, but it was unsuccessful.

Police were called to the scene to investigate a reported domestic disturbance.

A knife was found in Blake’s car, but it’s unclear whether he was trying to reach for it when he was shot.

Secret Service Officer Shot Man Who Appeared to Be Holding a Gun. It was a comb

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A man shot by a Secret Service officer near the White House was holding a comb and suffered from mental illness, according to new court documents.

Myron Berryman, 51, who was charged with assaulting a police officer after the Aug. 10 shooting, approached the Secret Service officer and said he had a gun, The Washington Post reports. Court records say Berryman appeared to grab an object from the right side of his body and pointed his clasped arms at the officer.

Berryman was shot in the torso and is now recovering at a psychiatric hospital, his lawyer says.

It wasn’t until after the shooting that the officer realized Berryman had a comb, not a gun.

Just before the shooting, according to a police report, Berryman is accused of shooting at the officer, “I’m going to kill you. I’m going to shoot you.”

Comey Accuses Barr, Trump of ‘Leaving Legacy of Damage’ at DOJ

James Comey via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey lambasted President Trump and Attorney General William Barr, accusing them of “leaving a legacy of damage” at the Justice Department.

In a Washington Post op-ed, Comey pointed to the Justice Department’s handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and the intervention of criminal cases involving Trump allies.

“The Justice Department was damaged when the attorney general and the president lied to the American people about the work of the special counsel investigating the president,” Comey wrote.

He added, “They damaged it again when the attorney general intervened in a case involving the president’s friend Roger Stone to overrule the sentencing recommendation of career prosecutors. And they damaged it again when the attorney general tried to drop a case in which the president’s ally Michael Flynn had already pleaded guilty, twice.”

To repair the damage done by the Justice Department and Trump’s administration, Comey said voters must elect Joe Biden as president in November.

“We need a president who will appoint an attorney general not because he needs a personal defense lawyer but because American justice needs a guardian,” Comey said. “We need a president who has devoted his life to serving others through the rule of law. We need to elect Joe Biden.”

Man on FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List Since 2014 Has Been Captured

Yaser Abdel Said

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Yaser Abdel Said, who has been on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List since 2014, has been captured in Justin, Texas, on Wednesday and is in federal custody, the bureau announced Wednesday.

The 63-year-old taxi driver is accused of fatally shooting his two teenage daughters, Amina and Sarah on New Year’s Day 2018.

“Since that night, the members of the Irving Police Department and our partners with the Dallas FBI have tirelessly pursued justice for Amina and Sarah,” Irving Police Chief Jeff Spivey said in a news release. “Even after 12 years of frustration and dead ends, the pursuit for their killer never ceased. Today’s arrest of their father, Yaser Said brings us closer to ensuring justice is served on their behalf.”

FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno added, “The FBI-led Dallas Violent Crimes Task Force has worked tirelessly to find Yaser Abdel Said. These experienced investigators never gave up on their quest to find him and pledged to never forget the young victims in this case. Said was placed on the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List nearly six years ago for the heinous act he committed against his daughters. His capture and arrest bring us one step closer to justice for Amina and Sarah.”

Amina and Sarah Said, via Justice for Sarah and Amina Facebook page.

Said is accused of shooting his daughters, 17 and 18 years old, in his taxi cab.

A capital murder warrant was issued for his arrest on Jan. 2, 2008.

The search was led by FBI’s Dallas Violent Crimes Task Force, which includes of FBI special agents and officers from the Carrollton, Dallas, Garland, Grand Prairie, and Irving Police Departments and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Established in March 1950, the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list has helped track down hundreds of suspects. Said was the 504th person added to the list.

Trump to Nominate Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to Permanent Role

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump on Tuesday announced he will nominate acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to the role permanently.

Wolf has been serving as acting secretary since November, when he became the fifth leader of Homeland Security under Trump.

“I am pleased to inform the American Public that Acting Secretary Chad Wolf will be nominated to be the Secretary of Homeland Security,” Trump announced on Twitter. “Chad has done an outstanding job and we greatly appreciate his service!”

Wolf said in a statement, “As the homeland faces evolving threats from natural disasters, violent opportunists, malign cyber actors, and transnational criminal organizations, the mission of DHS is as critical as ever.”

Last week, the Government Accountability Office determined that Wolf was not qualified to hold the acting position because he was appointed through an invalid process.

Acting Homeland Security general counsel Chad Mizelle dismissed the findings as politically motivated.

“The GAO should rescind its erroneous report immediately,” Mizelle wrote in a letter to the congressional watchdog agency.

Wolf replaced acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who resigned in November after leading the agency for about six months. Wolf had served as chief of staff under Kirstjen Nielsen, who was the last Homeland Security secretary to be confirmed by the Senate. She resigned in April 2019.

Leading Homeland Security has been no easy task because Trump has demanded a secretary whose focus is clearly on immigration, which is only one part of the multi-faceted agency.

Head of FBI’s L.A. Office Quietly Reassigned After Ethics Violations at Dodgers Stadium

Dodger Stadium (deposit photo)

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s top official in Los Angeles has been quietly reassigned after an Inspector’s General’s report found he and other top bureau officials violated ethics requirements by holding a sensitive meeting at a 2018 Los Angels Dodgers playoff game.

Politoco reports that Paul Delacourt, who at the time was the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, was reassigned to FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. in recent weeks.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s office found that eight FBI officials discussed sensitive intelligence matters while “surrounded” by fans at other tables at the exclusive Stadium Club overseeing the baseball field. Seven of them also dined at the buffet without paying for the food in violation of the bureau’s gift policies. Using the exclusive club also violated the bureau’s gift policies, the IG found.

“The officials held an executive management meeting at the table, discussed sensitive law enforcement information during the executive management meeting, and ate food from a buffet in the club that had a market value of more than $60 per person,” the OIG said in July.

According to the bureau’s website, the chief of San Francisco office, John Bennett, is serving as the acting head of the L.A. office.