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Comey on AG Barr’s Claims: ‘I have never thought of that as spying’

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI director James Comey joined the criticism of Attorney General William Barr after he suggested in congressional testimony this week that the FBI and Justice Department spied on the Trump campaign.

“When I hear that kind of language used, it’s concerning because the F.B.I., the Department of Justice conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance,” Comes told the New York Times. “I have never thought of that as spying.”

Barr testified that he plans to examine the origins of the FBI investigation into Russia’s election meddling, saying the bureau may have acted improperly.

“I think spying did occur,” Mr. Barr said. “The question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I’m not suggesting that it wasn’t adequately predicated. But I need to explore that.”

Barr created a firestorm by using the term “spying,” which typically refers to illicit surveillance.

Trump repeated Thursday that he believed “there was absolutely spying into my campaign.”

“I’ll go a step further: In my opinion, it was illegal spying, unprecedented spying, and something that should never be allowed to happen in our country again,” Trump said. “And I think his answer was actually a very accurate one.”

Paralyzed Secret Service Agent to Join Boston Marathon to Give Back

Garrett FitzGerald and his wife Joan.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Secret Service agent who was paralyzed in a car crash while on duty in New Hampshire in 2015 will join the throngs of runners in the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Agent Garrett FitzGerald will be joined by his supervisor, Don McGrail, who is the assistant to the special agent in charge.

“We were struck head-on by a driver driving the opposite direction who was high on heroin,” FitzGerald told WMUR.com.

FitzGerald and McGail are running under the name, Team Fritz, in hopes of raising $20,000 for Journey Forward, where Fitzgerald spend four days a week for nearly three years in rehabilitation.

As of Monday morning, they have raised $11,662.

“What they do here is nothing short of a miracle,” FitzGerald said.

“Team Fitz is more than just a running club,” McGrail said. “We are there to support the Fitzgerald family, whether that’s a meal train or helping them move in and out of a home — whatever it is. There is a whole group of people there to support the family.”

FitzGerald never gave up, and seven months ago he became a father.

“It’s been wonderful being a dad,” he said. “It’s different. Certainly, nothing can prepare you for that change or the sleepless nights, but it’s good.”

Son of Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested Over Fires at 3 Black Churches in La.

Suspect Holden Matthews. Via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The 21-year-old son of a St. Landry Parish deputy has been identified as the suspect accused of setting fire to three historic black churches in Louisiana.

“A suspect has been identified in connection with the three church burnings in Opelousas, Louisiana, and is in state custody,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph in a statement. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office, ATF, and FBI are working with state and local law enforcement and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the victims and those St. Landry Parish residents affected by these despicable acts.”

Holden Matthews was turned in by his father, Deputy Roy Matthews, on Wednesday evening, CBS News reports.

The three fires have a lot in common: They broke out at historic African American church buildings in Louisiana Landry Parish at night, were located in rural areas and occurred when no one was inside.

The suspect lives in the Landry Parish.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether authorities have a motive.

The ATF and other agencies are holding a press conference at 10 a.m. Thursday to release more information.

Earlier this week, the NAACP called the church burnings “domestic terrorism” aimed at people because of their race and faith.

The first fire broke out on March 26 and burned St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre to the ground. The second fire occurred Tuesday at the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas, and the third fire broke out Thursday at the 100-year-old Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas.

AG Barr Says He Suspects ‘Spying Did Occur’ on Trump Campaign

AG William Barr testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr took Washington D.C. when he told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that he’s investigating what he described as “spying” on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

“I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016,” Barr said. “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal.”

Asked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., whether he believes Trump’s campaign was spied on, Barr responded, “I think spying did occur.”

“The question is whether it was adequately predicated,” he said. “I’m not suggesting it was not adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”

Barr presented no evidence to back up why he believed “spying” occured, but he appears to be referring to a secret surveillance warrant obtained by the FBI to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Barr said he plans to work with FBI Director Christopher Wray to examine what prompted the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.

Appearing before a subcommittee for the second consecutive day, Barr also indicated he “hoped” to publicize a redacted version of the Mueller report “next week.”

AG Barr Says He Believes ‘Spying’ on a Political Campaign Occurred in 2016

Attorney General Barr testifying Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William P. Barr, the latest figure to generate headlines on Capitol Hill,  said Wednesday he thought “spying” on a political campaign occurred in the course of intelligence agencies’ investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Washington Post reports:

At a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Barr was asked about his statement a day earlier that he would review how the FBI launched its counterintelligence investigation that sought to determine whether Donald Trump’s associates were interacting with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It’s a big deal,” said Barr, noting that there are long-held rules to prevent intelligence agencies from collecting information on domestic political figures.

“I’m not suggesting that those rules were violated, but I think it’s important to look at that,” he said. “I’m not talking about the FBI necessarily but intelligence agencies more broadly.”

 

FBI’s Art Crime Team Gains Respect After Solving High-Profile Cases

Red “Wizard of OZ” slippers stolen from a museum.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Terrorism. Bank robberies. Government corruption.

They are among the key responsibilities of the FBI.

But the bureau has been gaining more attention for investigating crimes involving art.

Launched in 2005, the FBI’s 22-person Art Crime Team has grabbed headlines in the past few years for solving high-profile cases and recovering valuable pieces of art.

Just last year, the team of agents recovered a pair of “ruby slippers” worn by Judy Garland in “Wizard of Oz,” artwork looted by Nazis and a Marc Chagall painting stolen from an elderly couple’s Manhattan home nearly three decades ago.

“People just think what we’re doing is cool,” Supervisory Special Agent Tim Carpenter, who now runs the unit from the FBI’s Washington headquarters, told Reuters.

“I think we’ve changed a lot of perceptions, even within the organization,” he said. “So now my phone rings off the hook weekly for folks wanting to be on the team.”
Since its creation 14 years ago, the team has tracked down nearly 15,000 pieces of art valued at $800 million. More than 90 people have been convicted of art-related crimes during that period.

AG Barr Pledges to Investigate FBI, DOJ Actions in Trump Probe

AG William Barr testifies before U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Now that the special counsel investigation of Russia is complete, Attorney General William Barr is flipping the focus on the Justice Department and FBI’s decisions to investigate President Trump and his campaign.

“I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016,” Barr told the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee Tuesday.

The idea is to determine whether the investigation into possible collusion with Russia was motivated by an anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice Department.

That topic is expected to gain steam Wednesday as Barr is scheduled to appear before a GOP-led Senate subcommittee.

Trump has long complained that the investigation was a “witch hunt.”

Bias? Feds Worried Black Activists Would Join ISIS, Other Terrorists

File photo of President Trump protesters in Ypsilanti, Mi. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities became worried in 2014 that black activists who were calling for an end to the police killings of African Americans would join international terrorist groups such as ISIS.

Unsurprisingly, authorities found no evidence to substantiate their baseless concerns, according to documents obtained by the government transparency group Property of the People and shared exclusively with The Intercept.

The records “reveal that officials with the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence exaggerated the significance of isolated social media activity, mostly by foreign accounts, advocating for a connection between the domestic movement against police brutality and foreign terrorism.”

As protests broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 and Baltimore in 2015, DHS officials worried that ISIS may try “to use the situation in Ferguson as a recruitment tool” or call on “Baltimore rioters to join them.”

A year later, as protests spread to other cities, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, a cabinet position, issued a memo about a single, foreign pro-Al Qaeda Facebook user who urged “‘Black’ Americans to take up arms” and “start armed war against the U.S. government.”

This wasn’t the first time federal law enforcement warned of black activists.

In a 2017 threat assessment report, the FBI came up with the label, “Black Identity Extremism,” to warn about potential homegrown violence stemming from anger over police shootings.

No evidence was ever found to tie black activists with terrorism.

“They try to make it more scary, it’s like, ‘If we link Islam to it, and we link Muslims to it, then people will see this as a real threat, because nothing is scarier than Muslims,’” Umar Lee, a well-known St. Louis activist, who is Muslim, told The Intercept. “Nothing is scarier than, ‘Hey, if the Muslims get together with these scary black dudes, then we got a real problem, so we need every resource available to stop this.’”