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Ex-Senate Aide Who Leaked Information to Reporters Sentenced to 2 Months in Prison

James Wolfe (Linkedin photo)

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A former Senate Intelligence Committee aide was sentenced to two months in prison Thursday for lying to the FBI about leaking information to reporters covering the panel’s investigation into Russian election meddling.

James A. Wolfe, 58, pleaded guilty in October to one count of making a false statement to FBI agents in a December interview. He falsely told investigators that he did not provide unclassified but protected information about a witness who had been subpoenaed to testify before the committee.

Prosecutors urged the judge to sentence Wolfe to two years in prison, saying he routinely shared sensitive information with “multiple young, female reporters.”

Wolfe, who admitted to providing the information to four reporters, said he lied to the FBI because he didn’t want his wife to find out about an affair.

When Wolfe is released from jail, he will have four months of supervised release and must complete 20 hours of community service for each of those months.

Judge Blasts Plea Deal with Michael Flynn, Setting Sentencing in Limbo

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, went to court thinking he’d receive leniency for cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors Tuesday.

After all, Flynn struck a deal with prosecutors, who argued this month that he should not get prison time for his help with the Russia investigation.

But U.S. District judge Emmet Sullivan disagreed, causing a delay in sentencing on a charge of lying to the FBI.

“I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense,  Sullivan said, adding he is deviating from Mueller’s recommendation, The Washington Post reports.

The judge also was unhappy when Flynn’s attorneys suggested he was duped into lying to the FBI.

“All along you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country, while serving as the national security adviser to the president of the United States!” he said. “Arguably, that undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably, you sold your country out!”

This means Flynn could serve substantial time in prison. ‘The judge requested a status report in 90 days before sentencing is scheduled.

Inspector General Clears DEA Official of Anonymous Allegations in South America

Richard Dobrich (DEA photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Office of Inspector General has officially cleared DEA official Richard Dobrich of wrongdoing. He retired in October as the Senior Executive Service Regional Director of DEA’s Andean Region (Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela).

The ordeal began when the DEA received an anonymous complaint in August alleging Dobrich directed Colombian drivers working for the U.S. Embassy in Bogota “to procure sex workers.” The Associated Press subsequently reported on the allegation.

A Dec. 7 letter obtained by ticklethewire.com from the DEA’s Principal Deputy Administrator Preston L. Grubbs to Dobrich stated:

On August 28, 2018, OIG initiated this investigation in response to an anonymous letter received on August 22, 2018. The anonymous author alleged that you have violated DOJ policy. The OIG investigation revealed no evidence to support this allegation.

Because you have retired from federal service, I have returned the investigative file to OPR administrative closure. If you were still employed by DEA, I would have issued a Letter of Clearance.

Dobrich wrote a column in ticklethewire.com in October titled: “Cowardly Anonymity, False Accusations, Betrayal, Lost Leadership and Tabloid News.”

The column in part read:

Don’t confuse my situation with the current upheaval in D.C. Mine is not a battle between Red versus Blue, nor He Said versus She Said, nor Accuser versus Accused.

Mine is a story of absurd and unfounded allegations, official leaks, a leadership vacuum, and tabloid press from a supposedly responsible news organization.

I find myself as the subject of a now-debunked anonymous and maliciously false letter which was sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

I was accused of engaging in the Colombian sex trade, i.e., soliciting prostitutes while serving as the DEA Regional Director. More specifically, the allegation stated that I directed my local staff to assist me in this despicable conduct.

I was not accused of this phantom behavior by anyone involved in the sex trade – no victims have accused me of any such abhorrent behavior – and let me be clear here, I fully recognize that the sex industry in Colombia has nothing but victims – usually young women with severe economic hardships or deplorable histories of sexual abuse at home during their adolescence.

 

Michael Flynn Faces Potential Prison Time Today When He Is Sentenced

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former national security director, Michael Flynn, will learn today whether he will be sent to prison for lying to the FBI.

The sentencing of Flynn comes just one day after unsealed court records showed two of his former associates have been charged with conspiracy to violate federal lobbying rules.

On Monday, prosecutors provided new details of how Flynn lied to federal investigator about conversations in December 2016  with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. According to the documents, Flynn admitted he lied when he told the FBI that he had not urged Kislyak to restrain from escalating tension with the U.S. after the outgoing Obama administration imposed sanctions against Russia.

Flynn, who faces up to six months in prison, has urged for leniency, saying he cooperated with special counsel prosecutors who are investigating Russia and Trump’s campaign.

Former FBI Director Comey Slams Republicans, Fox News After Congressional Hearing

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey walked out of his closed-door testimony to the House Judiciary and Oversight Committee and slammed House Republicans and Fox News.

“At some point, someone has to stand up and in the face of fear of Fox News, fear of their base, fear of mean tweets, stand up for the values of this country and not slink away into retirement but stand up and speak the truth,” Comey, a longtime Republican, said. “I find it frustrating to be here answering questions about things that are far less important than the values this country is built upon.”

Comey also said the failure of House Republicans to defend the FBI from Trump’s drumbeat of criticism is “to their everlasting shame.”

“Their silence is shameful,” Comey said. “Someday, they gotta explain to their grandchildren what they did today.”

During the closed-door session, Comey said he was barraged with questions about Hillary Clinton’s email server and Christopher Steele’s dossier.

Since Democrats are taking over the House in January, Monday was likely their last time to control hearings involving Comey.

Trump’s decision to fire Comey in May 2017 was quickly followed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing  special counsel Robert Mueller.

Russian Troll Farms Disproportionately Targeted African Americans, Congressional Reports Show

An image posted by a Russian troll farm, Black4Black.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Russia’s campaign to spread misinformation during the 2016 presidential race disproportionately targeted African Americans on numerous social media platforms, more than previously known, according to reports commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Two reports show the extent to which the Russian Internet Research Agency, a troll farm, sought to divide Americans with misinformation and meme content during the election.

One of the primary goals of the campaign, which was launched on every major social media platform, was to support Trump and to stir up racial tensions, according to the reports. 

The social media accounts were designed to look like Africans Americans were running the accounts, when in fact Russians had created and ran them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube and Reddit. The reports emphasized that Russia made an extraordinary effort to target African Americans.

“The most prolific I.R.A. efforts on Facebook and Instagram specifically targeted black American communities and appear to have been focused on developing black audiences and recruiting black Americans as assets,” one of the reports reads.

Black4Black, an account and website created by Russian troll farms.

The report adds that while “other distinct ethnic and religious groups were the focus of one or two Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts, the black community was targeted extensively with dozens.” 

Some of the examples include Facebook ads targeting users interested in black history, Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party. The most popular was an Instagram account called @blackstagram that gained more than 300,000 followers.

In addition, the troll farm created a dozen websites that looked like they were run by African Americans, with names like blackmattersus.com, blacktivist.info, blacktolive.org and blacksoul.us. 

Russian-created YouTube accounts played a big role in covering the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, creating channels called “Don’t Shoot” and “BlackToLive.”

Simultaneously, the Russians created “Southern pride” accounts with Confederate flags.

The tactic of sowing racial divisions is nothing new with Russians, who decades ago exploited the sensitive topic of race in the U.S. to turn Americans on each other.

Many Trump voters cited anti-brutality protests as a reason they supported the president.

Alarmingly, the reports warned that Russians continue to use the social media platforms and plant to launch similar propaganda during the 2020 elections.

Michael Flynn Associates Charged with Illegal Lobbying for Turkey to Help Dictator

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Two former business associates of President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, have been charged with conspiracy in connection with a secret campaign to extradite an enemy of the Turkish government.

Bijan Kian and Ekim Alptekin were indicted on charges of conspiring to violate federal lobbying rules, according to court documents that were unsealed Monday, The New York Times first reported

The pair are accused of helping Turkey pressure the U.S. to expel Fethullah Gulen, an enemy of Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogan, who is widely considered a dictator because of a history of human rights abuses and overseeing the lack of fair and open elections. He also has jailed journalists and opponents. 

Despite the serious and well-documented allegations, Trump has forged a close relationship with Erdogan’s government. Trump also has used similar tactics of calling the American media “fake” and an “enemy of the people.”

The investigation began in 2016 after Flynn, who has since been indicted for lying to the FBI and is awaiting sentencing, wrote an oped for The Hill, criticizing Gulen. 

The conspiracy deepens because sources recent said Trump was considering extraditing Gulen, a cleric living in Pennsylvania who has been accused by Turkey of helping instigate a failed coup of Erdogan’s corrupt government.

Turkish dictator Recap Tayyip Erdogan

The Washington Post reported Monday that Kian, who was a partner of Flynn’s Intel Group, appeared in court, but Alptekin, a Turkish businessman, remains in Turkey. 

Flynn, who has been convicted of lying to the FBI, is expected to be sentenced Dec. 18. He’s asking for no jail time for cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, whose 20-month investigation into Russia and Trump’s campaign aides have led to numerous indictments.

The new developments show that Mueller has broadened the investigation into unregistered foreign lobbyists and aides of Trump who had forged closed relationships with leaders with histories of human rights abuses.  

A Detroit DEA Agent Talks About A Case That Became the Subject of the Clint Eastwood film, ‘The Mule’

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — In 2011, Kent Kleinschmidt, an agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, headed an enforcement group in the Detroit office that was investigating ties between a local drug organization and the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico led by the notorious Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

The case eventually lead to some serious seizures of cocaine and  money and the arrest in October 2011 of Leo Sharp, an 87-year-old “mule” caught transporting 104 kilos of cocaine from Arizona to Michigan for the cartel. Michigan State Police, at the direction of the DEA, pulled over Sharp on I-94 in Washtenaw County and arrested him. Kleinschmidt was nearby watching.

Sharp was sentenced in Detroit to three years in prison. He got out early because of a terminal illness and died Dec. 12,  2016 at 92.

Now Sharp is the subject of a Clint Eastwood film, “The Mule.” (See the trailer.)

Kleinschmidt, an assistant special agent in charge of the Detroit DEA, talked about the film on Thursday, a day before the national debut.