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Michigan Republican Indicted on Charges of Attempted Extortion, Bribery, Lying to FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal grand jury has indicted Michigan state Rep. Larry Inman on charges of attempted extortion, bribery and lying to an FBI agent.

The Republican from Traverse City faces up to 15 years in prison after authorities said Wednesday that he solicited money via text messages from the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights.

In one of the text messages, the third-term Republican wrote, “We never had this discussion.”

In exchange for the money in June, Inman pledged to vote “no” on repealing the state’s prevailing wage law, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Offie for the Western District of Michigan.

“We will get a ton of pressure on this vote,” Inman is accused of texting to a union representative, asking for a larger increase in donations to his campaign. “Its not worth losing assignments and staff for $5,000. . . . My suggestion is you need to get people maxed out.”

House Speaker Lee Chatfield, a Republican, called for Inman to resign.

“Everyone in the House is surprised and disappointed by this news,” Chatfield said in a statement. “The indictment just came to my attention this morning, and I am still gathering more information. There’ll be more to say once we’ve been able to have a longer conversation with Rep. Inman. Until then, I have directed the House Business Office to take control of the representative’s office to ensure consistent services are available for the people of Grand Traverse County. Additionally, Rep. Inman has been removed from his committee assignments effective immediately.”

Inman also is accused of lying to the FBI, denying he solicited bribes.

Russians Hacked 2 Florida Voter Databases, But FBI Won’t Identify the Counties

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Russian hackers accessed voter databases in two Florida counties, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday after a meeting with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

DeSantis’ meeting came after the Robert Mueller report revealed that “at least one” Florida county’s election system was successfully penetrated by Russians.

DeSantis said he was told to keep the information secret and was unable to identify the two counties that were targeted.

“I’m not allowed to name the counties. I signed a [non]disclosure agreement,” DeSantis told The Miami Herald, emphasizing that he “would be willing to name it” but “they asked me to sign it so I’m going to respect their wishes.”

DeSantis emphasized that the hackers were only able to glimpse at the voter polls and did not manipulate any information.

“It did not affect any voting or anything like that,” he said.

The FBI declined to divulge details to the media, but an FBI spokesperson told The New York Times that “investigators did not detect any adversary activity that impacted vote counts or disputed electoral processes during the 2016 or 2018 elections.”

Trump Jr. Reaches Deal to Testify Before Senate Intelligence Committee Again

Donald Trump Jr., via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump Jr. has reached an agreement with the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify before the panel in mid-June.

As part of the deal, Trump Jr.’s interview will be limited to four hours and will take place behind closed doors.

Trump Jr. is expected to be questioned about a proposed Trump Tower Moscow project and his involvement in a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

Some Democrats suspect Trump Jr. may have lied to congressional investigators when he said he never told his father about the June 2016 meeting. According to Robert Mueller’s report, Michael Cohen recalled Trump Jr. telling his father over the phone about a meeting to collect “adverse information” on Clinton.

It will be Trump Jr.’s second closed-door interview.

Report: Steve Bannon Urged FBI Officials in 2017 to Put ‘Differences’ with Trump Behind Them

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s decision to ask then-FBI Director James Comey to pledge loyalty to his presidency was one of the primary reasons special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed.

But it turns out, Trump wasn’t the only White House official to engage with the FBI as it investigated Russia’s role in the presidential election.

A day after Trump asked for Comey’s loyalty in April 2017, then-White House strategist Steve Bannon asked two top FBI officials to put their “differences” with Trump’s administration behind them, according to The Guardian, which cited “people familiar with the matter.”

Bannon’s discussion was with then-Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe and Bill Priestap, who was then serving as the bureau’s assistant director of counter-intelligence.

According to The Guardian, McCabe documented Bannon’s remarks in a memo obtained by Mueller’s team. Bannon also was questioned about the discussions.

But for reasons that remain unclear, Mueller’s final report never mentioned Bannon’s meetings with the top FBI officials.

Legal analysts said it “was highly unusual for a senior White House official to make such remarks to the FBI officials, especially at a time when the White House was facing scrutiny,” The Guardian reported.

Richard Painter, former White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, said the remarks were “reckless” because it could appear that Bannon was pressuring the FBI officials.

“This is the type of conduct that risks obstruction charges. You do not make public comments, you do not contact the FBI or anyone at the DoJ about a pending investigation, and the reason is that those types of contacts can be seen as obstruction of justice,” Painter said. “When you say ‘we are all on the same team’, well, what does that mean?”

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