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FBI, ATF Investigate ‘Suspicious’ Fires at 3 Historic Black Churches in Louisiana

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI, ATF and Louisiana state officials are investigating a series of “suspicious” blazes at historic black Baptist churches in Louisiana.

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, ABC News reports.

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.

Authorities said they’re on high alert and consider all three fires to be suspicious.

DHS Secretary Nielsen Resigns Amid Shakeup to Address Immigration

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned Sunday to address the Trump administration’s concern over illegal immigration.

In a tweet Sunday, Trump thanked Nielsen for her service and announced that Kevin McAleenan, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, would become the acting DHS secretary.

 

McAleenan is a longtime border official who has fostered a good relationship with Congress and the Trump administration.

Nielsen met with Trump at the White House on Sunday, unaware she was going to be forced to resign, two people familiar with the decision told the Associated Press.
The sources said the move was part of a shakeup over the number of Central American families spilling across the southern border.

In her resignation letter, Nielsen never mentioned a riff with the Trump administration and said she was proud of her service and the employees at DHS.

“It has been my great honor to lead the men and women of the Department as its sixth Secretary,” Nielsen wrote. “I could not be prouder of and more humbled by their service, dedication, and commitment to keep our country safe from all threats and hazards.”

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Cali Cartel

Justice Defends Barr’s Handling of the Mueller Report

AG William Barr

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

After reports surfaced that the Mueller team wasn’t happy with the summary of their report that was issued by Attorney General William Barr, the Justice Department barked back.

DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement Thursday that each page of Mueller’s report was marked saying that it may contain confidential grand jury information “and therefore could not be publicly released,” The Hill reports.

U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes: Mueller Probe Was Fueled by ‘Bad-faith Investigative Actions By Government Officials’

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

By U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes
For the Washington Examiner

As the Russia collusion hoax hurtles toward its demise, it’s important to consider how this destructive information operation rampaged through vital American institutions for more than two years, and what can be done to stop such a damaging episode from recurring.

While the hoax was fueled by a wide array of false accusations, misleading leaks of ostensibly classified information, and bad-faith investigative actions by government officials, one vital element was indispensable to the overall operation: the Steele dossier.

Funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democrat National Committee, which hid their payments from disclosure by funneling them through the law firm Perkins Coie, the dossier was a collection of false and often absurd accusations of collusion between Trump associates and Russian officials. These allegations, which relied heavily on Russian sources cultivated by Christopher Steele, were spoon-fed to Trump opponents in the U.S. government, including officials in law enforcement and intelligence.

To read the full column click here. 

 

Three Democratic Senators Want FBI to Evaluate National Security Risks at Mar-a-Lago

Mar-a-Lago (Facebook photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Three Democratic senators want the FBI to evaluate the national security risks at Mar-a-Lago in wake of the recent arrest there of a Chinese national,  Mother Jones reports.

Yujing Zhang had allegedly gained entry to Donald Trump’s private resort while carrying electronics that included a thumb drive containing malware.

“This latest incident raises very serious questions regarding security vulnerabilities at Mar-a-Lago, which foreign intelligence services have reportedly targeted,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote in a letter Wednesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The apparent ease with which Ms. Zhang gained access to the facility during the President’s weekend visit raises concerns about the system for screening visitors, including the reliance on determinations made by Mar-a-Lago employees.”

Mueller’s Investigators Tell Associates Report More Troubling Than Barr Portrayed

AG William Barr

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

And so the plot thickens.

Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that the findings in the Mueller report were more troubling than Attorney General William P. Barr let on in his summary, the New York Times reports.

That revelation will only emboldened Democrats in Congress to push Barr to provide them with an unredacted version of the report.

The Times goes on to write:

At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel’s office — is who shapes the public’s initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.

 

Thomas Brandon, ATF’s Top Official, Retiring

Acting head of ATF Thomas Brandon.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Thomas Brandon, who led ATF since 2015, is retiring, the website The Trace reports.  Brandon will step down on April 30.

“Deputy Director Brandon has faithfully served ATF for 30 years, starting as a Special Agent in 1989,” ATF spokesperson Bradley Engelbert said in an emailed statement to the new site. “He has earned his retirement.”

Brandon, a career agent,  filled the top spot but never nominated as director. So, at some point, even though he remained the top official, he was given the title of deputy director.

No replacement has been named. Last November, Politico reported that Chuck Canterbury, the head of the Fraternal Order of Police, was being considered for the position.