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Barr Appoints U.S. Attorney to Investigate Origins of Russia Probe

U.S. Attorney John Durham.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr has assigned a U.S. prosecutor to examine what prompted the Russia probe and whether federal authorities overstepped their authority in investigating the Trump campaign, the AP and New York Times report.

The appointment of John Durham, a Republican and U.S. attorney in Connecticut, comes a month after Barr told members of Congress that he believed “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign.

FBI Director Christopher Wray has defended the bureau’s involvement, saying he was unaware of anyone overstepping their authority to investigate the Trump campaign in 2016.

Trump has long claimed the investigation was a “witch hunt” by “angry Democrats.”

A person familiar with the appointment told the AP that Barr wants to determine whether the investigation into Trump’s campaign was “lawful and appropriate.”

The Justice Department’s inspector general is conducting a similar investigation, which is expected to be completed in May or June.

Durham’s long career includes investigating national security officials and whether they act appropriately during their inquiries.

Silly Conspiracy Theory Woven from Comey Tweet Prompts School to Cancel Event

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An innocuous tweet from former FBI Director James Comey turned into a bizarre conspiracy theory that prompted a California school to cancel its upcoming fundraiser.

The Grass Valley Charter School Foundation wasn’t taking any chances after an online conspiracy theory targeted the school.

The conspiracy began after Comey took part in a popular Twitter game, “Five Jobs I’ve Had,” in late April. A conspiracy theorist “isolated random letters and threaded them together to suggest ‘Five Jihad(s)’ involving ‘Grass Valley Charter School Foundation,’” KCRA 3 reports.

“It was everything from Comey and his people were going to come and kidnap our children to there was going to be a mass shooting,” foundation President Wendy Willoughby said.

Kathy Dotson, parent and co-producer of the fundraiser, said “you can’t help but take it seriously.”

In a letter to parents, school Principal Scott Maddock explained why the festival was canceled.

“I want to stress the fact that there was no threat made against our school,” the letter reads. “Law enforcement agencies are completely certain that this conspiracy theory poses no danger to our school or community. We are canceling the Blue Marble Jubilee because of the negative attention placed on our festival.”

Law enforcement did not consider the threat to be credible, but school officials and event organizers said they were worried about copycats.

“These theories, although they hold no basis in reality or fact, what they can do and have the power to do through social media is embolden unstable people to take action and potentially do dangerous things,” Willoughby said.

School officials moved the fundraiser online.

How Democrats Plan to Continue Fight over Mueller Report And Defiant Trump Officials

Former special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The fight over the Robert Mueller report is far from over.

After Democrats threatened to impose fines on Attorney General William Barr for refusing to turn over the full, unredacted report, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., expressed optimism that Mueller would testify before Congress.

“The American people have a right to hear what the man who did the investigation has to say and we now know we certainly can’t rely on the attorney general who misrepresented his conclusions,” the House Intelligence Committee chairman said on “This Week” Sunday. “So he is going to testify.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Schiff also said Democrats are not backing down from imposing fines and holding contempt hearings against Trump officials who refuse to comply with congressional subpeonas.

“We’re are going have to use that device if necessary, we’re going to have to use the power of the purse if necessary,” he said. “We’re going to have to enforce our ability to do oversight.”

Also on Sunday, Schiff said he fears the country cannot “survive another four years” of Trump.

“I don’t think this country could survive another four years of a president like this, who gets up every day trying to find new and inventive ways to divide us,” the congressman cautioned. “He doesn’t seem to understand that a fundamental aspect of his job is to try to make us a more perfect union. But that’s not at all where he’s coming from.”

Weekend Series on Crime History: Nixon Loses Support

FBI Investigates Whether GOP Donor Funneled Chinese Donations into Trump’s Campaign

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating whether a Republican donor and Florida massage parlor entrepreneur illegally funneled money into the President Trump’s re-election campaign from China.

The bureau also is investigator whether Li “Cindy” Yang committed other possible campaign finance violations, The Miami Herald first reported.

A source familiar with the probe said investigators have obtained a federal grand jury subpoena seeking records from Yang’s associate, Bing Bing Peranio, an employee of Yang’s family’s spa business who donated a maximum $5,400 to Trump’s reelection campaign.

The subpoena is targeting records related to the March 5, 2018, donation.

Peranio confirmed to The Miami Herald that she had received a subpoena and that she was interviewed at home by FBI agents Thursday.

FBI agents are investigating whether Yang reimbursed Peranio for the donation.

Yang’s business offered Chinese executives access to Trump and his family at the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. Yang is no stranger there, having promoted events at the club and selling tickets on social media in China.

Comey Says Trump Would’ve Been Charged if Not President; Trump responds with Predictable Insults

Former FBI Director James Comey.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Hours after former FBI Director James Comey said on CNN that President Trump would have been charged with obstruction if he weren’t the president, Trump fired back in predictable fashion.

“James Comey is a disgrace to the FBI & will go down as the worst Director in its long and once proud history,” Trump tweeted Thursday night. “He brought the FBI down, almost all Republicans & Democrats thought he should be FIRED, but the FBI will regain greatness because of the great men & women who work there!”

Many historians would disagree with the hyperbole, especially since J. Edgar Hoover illegally spied on African Americans, suspected communists and others who disagreed with him. In fact, there has been a movement to remove Hoover’s name from the FBI’s headquarters because Hoover is almost universally despised.

The comments came exactly two years after Trump fired Comey, a move that triggered the special counsel investigation into Russian interference.

During a CNN town hall, Comey, who called Trump “a chronic liar,” said he had “no doubt” Trump would have been charged with obstruction if he weren’t the president, an opinion shard by more than 100 former federal prosecutors. Comey also said the GOP’s handling of the case is “why I’m no longer a Republican.”

Comey added the Justice Department would have to take a “serious look” at whether Trump should be charged after he leaves office.

“Whether it’s a wise thing to do to a former president, I don’t know that’s a harder question – a much bigger question – than the facts of the case,” Comey said.

Domestic Terrorism Remains ‘Persistent And Evolving,” FBI Official Says

FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Michael McGarrity.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The threats posed by domestic terrorists remain “persistent and evolving,” with the FBI investigating about 850 active cases, FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Michael McGarrity told the House Committee on Homeland Security on Wednesday.

“The FBI assesses domestic terrorists collectively pose a persistent and evolving threat of violence and economic harm to the United States. In fact, there have been more arrests and deaths in the United States caused by domestic terrorists than international terrorists in recent years,” McGarrity said, according to CNN.

Of those cases, about 40% are racially motivated, often involving white supremacists, he said.

Despite this, President Trump has insisted white nationalism isn’t a serious threat, saying “it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess.” That comes after Trump’s lukewarm response to the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, that left one person dead and others injured.

During Wednesday’s hearings, Democrats seized on Trump’s insistence on downplaying the threat posed by white supremacists.

“Unfortunately, President Trump has tried to play both sides with domestic terrorism,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who leads the committee. “His unwillingness to denounce and distance himself from these extremists has been taken by many as tacit support.”

In 2018, 17 people were killed in six attacks by domestic terrorists, McGarrity said.

Here’s What House Democrats Can Do Next After Panel Approved Contempt for Barr

AG William Barr.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The House Judiciary Committee approved a contempt resolution Wednesday after Attorney General William Barr refused to disclose Robert Mueller’s full, unredacted report, but that’s only the first step.

What options do Democrats have left?

The committee on Wednesday essentially recommended that the full House hold Bar in contempt of Congress, and that seems more likely as Democrats grow frustrated with the attorney general’s continued insistence that he will not disclose the unredacted report. President Trump also invoked executive privilege over the report.

If the full House approves the contempt resolution and the records still aren’t turned over, Democrats could then ask the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia or the Justice Department to charge Barr for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena. They also could ask a court to enforce the subpoena, or they have the authority to call on their sergeant at arms to arrest Barr.

The House and Senate have the authority to seek jail time for people who violate congressional orders, but that hasn’t happened in nearly a century, The Atlantic reports. Then again, these aren’t ordinary times.

“Its day in the sun is coming,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., told the Atlantic.

“This is not some peripheral schoolyard skirmish,” Raskin added. “This goes right to the heart of our ability to do our work as Congress of the United States.”

If Democrats don’t seek to hold Barr accountable, they could begin impeachment hearings, but that option is becoming less likely.

Whatever the case, Democrats made the first step Wednesday. What happens next is anyone’s guess.