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Comey Defends FBI’s Trump-Russia Investigation, Takes Aim at Barr

Former FBI James Comey in previous testimony, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

Former FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday defended the bureau’s investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia, saying it was “essential,” as Republicans dismissed the probe as politically motivated.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating the Trump-Russia probe, Comey also took aim at Attorney General William Barr’s assertion that the investigation was unwarranted. 

Asked about Barr’s criticism that the FBI had sufficient evidence to launch an investigation, Comey responded that he had “no idea what on earth” he meant, The Washington Post reports.

“This was an investigation that was appropriately predicated and that had to be opened, and it was in the main, conducted in the right way,” Comey said, pointing out the dozens of people who were charged as a result of the investigation. “The notion that the attorney general believes that was an illegitimate endeavor to investigate mystifies me.”

Comey also suggested Barr was “acting like the personal lawyer for the president.”

“It ought to be a concern for all of us, because we need that institution, and we need that institution to be seen as separate from our tribal warfare,” Comey said.

Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017, setting off the special counsel investigation. 

Comey acknowledged mistakes were made, particularly with the bureau’s controversial surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. 

“I’m not looking to shirk responsibility,” he said. “The director is responsible.”

At the beginning of the hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., criticized the handling of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“This is not just an abuse of power against Mr. Page and the Trump campaign,” Graham said. “This is a system failure, and you could be next.”

An inspector general’s review of the FISA process found missteps, but concluded there was no political bias. 

Judge Doesn’t Dismiss Michael Flynn Case, Says He’s Not ‘Rubber Stamp’

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

A federal judge overseeing the criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn raised more questions Tuesday about the Justice Department’s decision to drop the case. 

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said his role “is not intended to serve merely as a rubber stamp” for prosecutors who want to dismiss a case, NBC News reports.

By Steve Neavling ticklethewire.com

Accusing the judge of “abject bias” against Flynn, who served briefly under President Trump, Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell said she plans to ask Sullivan to recuse himself from the case. 

Powell also revealed to the court that she recently met in person with Trump and asked him not to pardon Flynn. 

“I provided the White House an update on the status of the litigation,” she said. “And I asked that the president not issue a pardon.”

In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Columbia Circuit ruled that Sullivan can does not have to promptly dismiss the case just because the Justice Department sought to drop it.

In 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. 

Now the Justice Department and Flynn want the case to be dismissed, drawing criticism from Democrats and legal experts who have questioned Attorney General William Barr’s motives for intervening in a case tied to Trump.

Michael F. Paul Named Special Agent in Charge of Minneapolis Field Office

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Michael F. Paul has been appointed to serve as special agent in charge of the bureau’s Minneapolis Field Office after holding the active role since this summer.

Before the appointment, Paul also was serving as a section chief in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters.

Beginning in 1994, Paul was as an honors intern for the FBI before being hired as a management and program analyst for the Criminal Justice Information Services Division. 

In 1999, he was tapped to be a special agent and began working in the Detroit Field Office to investigate health care fraud, drug diversion, and environmental crimes. For several years beginning in 2001, Paul handled counterterrorism cases and served on Detroit’s SWAT Team, Hazardous Materials Response Team, and as an operational medic.

In 2005, Mr. Paul became supervisory special agent in the Counterterrorism Division and was assigned to the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, coordinating investigations and intelligence-sharing about sensitive international weapons of mass destruction threats. 

In 2006, he served as a senior detailee and unit chief under the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, where he oversaw FBI personnel detailed to the CIA, National Counterterrorism Threat Center, and the National Security Agency.

In 2008, Paul became the chief of the WMDD’s executive staff, and in 2009, he was chosen as a Joint Terrorism Task Force field supervisor for the Cleveland Field Office, a position he held until 2013. 

After that, he was tapped as assistant special agent in charge of the Norfolk Field Office in Virginia, where he led the office’s counterintelligence, counterterrorism, intelligence, and crisis management programs.

Paul was promoted in 2015 to chief of the Domestic Terrorism Operations Section at FBI headquarters. In addition, he led the National JTTF and served as co-chair of the Department of Justice’s Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee. 

Paul transferred within the Counterterrorism Division in 2018 to serve as chief of the Technology and Data Innovation Section. 

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Paul earned advanced degrees from West Virginia University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Black ATF Agent Sues ATF Again After Settling Lawsuit over Nazi-Tattooed Colleague

ATF Agent Bradford Devlin with a Nazi-themed tattoo, via U.S. District Court.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A black ATF supervisor who receive $450,000 to settle a lawsuit in which she claims the agency discriminated against her after she launched complaints about another supervisor with a Nazi-themed tattoo has sued the agency again.

Cheryl Bishop, a senior supervisor agent in Seattle and former bomb-dog handler, alleges in the latest lawsuit that she was smeared and retaliated against after the settlement in the first case was published in a newspaper, The Seattle Times reports.

According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Bradford Devlin, the supervisor who was previously accused of abusive, racist behavior, was back at it again, sending an email to 150 ATF employees in which he defended himself and used racist tropes and false allegations against Bishop. Devlin is the resident agent in charge of the ATF’s Eugene, Oregon’s, office.

The lawsuit alleges the ATF’s failure to discipline Devlin or address his racist action led to more abuse.

“The Government’s repeated failure to discipline its employees for violating the law, unsurprisingly, leaves them to feeling free to do so again and again,” Bishop’s Seattle lawyer, Jesse Wing, said. “The Agency’s behavior, shrugging off continued defiant acts of race harassment and retaliation committed by a known racist supervisor in its ranks, reflects the need for fundamental change at ATF.”

The ATF declined to comment.

In the previous lawsuit, Bishop alleged the ATF scuttled her appointment to a job at Washington D.C.’s headquarters after she blew the whistle on abusive behavior by Devlin and complained about a Nazi-themed tattoo on his arm.

Devlin, who is now the senior supervisor in ATF’s Seattle Field Division, denied being abusive and says he got the Nazi tattoo while working undercover investigating an outlaw white-supremacist biker gang in Ohio.

Although the agency offered to pay for the removal of the tattoo, Devlin decided to keep it, calling it a “war trophy.”

Judge to Hear Arguments about DOJ’s Bid to Dismiss Case against Michael Flynn

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A judge may decide today whether to accept the Justice Department’s unusual move to dismiss the criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a former President Trump appointee who pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.

The case returns to U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Columbia Circuit ruled in late August that he can does not have to promptly dismiss the case just because the Justice Department sought to drop it.

Sullivan will hear final arguments in the case.

The Justice Department and Flynn want the case to be dismissed, while former federal judge John Gleeson is arguing that Sullivan can move forward and sentence Flynn.

Democrats and legal experts have questioned Attorney General William Barr’s motives for intervening in a case tied to Trump.

Showtime’s ‘The Comey Rule’ Debuts: It’s ‘a Horror Film’

“The Comey Rule.” Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg/CBS Television Studios/Showtime

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Comey Rule, a two-part miniseries exploring the relationship between former FBI Director James Comey and President Trump, debuted Sunday on Showtime.

The real-life, four-hour drama features Jeff Daniels as Comey and Brendan Gleeson as Trump.

“The Comey Rule is a horror film,” Slate wrote, “and the monster is Donald Trump.”

The New York Times calls it “a slo-mo horror story.”

The AV Club says it’s flawed, but is “damned compelling.”

The miniseries is based, in large part, on Comey’s 2018 memo “A Higher Loyalty.”

The cast also includes Holly Hunter as Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Michael Kelly as Comey’s deputy Andrew McCabe, Oona Chaplin and Steven Pasquale as FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, Kingsley Ben-Adir, as President Obama, and Jennifer Ehle as Comey’s wife Patrice.

In the first half, Comey and the FBI are investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and are weighing whether to notify Congress of the probe.

The second part, which airs today, depicts the relationship between Comey and Trump, who ultimately fires the FBI director after he refused to pledge loyalty to the president.

Meadows Continues Attack on Wray: ‘We Want to Make Sure He’s Doing His job’

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on “Face the Nation.”

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows doubled down on his criticism of FBI Director Christopher Wray on Sunday and even suggested he could be replaced, ramping up the baseless narrative that mail-in votes are going to lead to widespread fraud.

“As we look at this, we want to make sure he’s doing his job. There are different degrees of confidence in different Cabinet members,” Meadows said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Certainly, he’s still there. The minute that the president loses confidence in any of his Cabinet members — they serve at his pleasure — he will certainly look at replacing them.”

The rebuke of Wray comes after he told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday that there’s no evidence of “any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort.”

Meadows lashed out at Wray on Friday, saying the FBI director “has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI, let alone finding out whether there is any kind of voter fraud.”

On Sunday, Meadows said Wray was too quick to dismiss election fraud.

“To suggest that there is a process that is full of integrity is trying to make a verdict before you’ve actually heard the case,” Meadows aid. “That’s my problem with Director Wray. They need to investigate it and make sure that the voting populace, make sure their vote counts and no one else’s does.”

But Wray emphasized to lawmakers last week that the FBI “would investigate seriously” any evidence of election fraud.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson weighed in Sunday.

“It’s disconcerting to see the president and his chief of staff cast doubt on the integrity of our democracy,” Johnson said “Face the Nation.” “In fact, mail-in voting is almost as old as the nation. There are states now where the predominant way to vote is by mail.”

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