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ATF Investigating Rash of Fires Targeting Jehovah’s Witness Centers in Washington State

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The ATF is investigating a rash of suspicious fires targeting Jehovah’s Witness worship centers in Washington State.

A predawn fire on Friday was the fifth suspected arson in Thurston County in the past nine months. The fire destroyed the kingdom hall, and the ATF said it was intentionally set.

No arrests have been made. Surveillance video captured one person, who was wearing a hoodie and coveralls, setting fire to the side of a hall.

Authorities aren’t sure if that’s the only culprit, and the motive remains elusive.

“Why is this specific religion being targeted?” Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza told KOMO, the ABC affiliate in Seattle. “Why are these churches being targeted? What are they doing that is so wrong and oppressive?”

Feds’ Latest Filings Suggest Potentially Big Problems for President Trump

President Trump

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The drama involving President Donald Trump and Robert S. Mueller III went up a notch on Friday when federal prosecutors filed new court papers directly implicating the president. The papers allege that Trump was involved in plans to buy women’s silence as far back as 2014, and offered new evidence of Russian efforts to forge a political alliance with Trump before he became president, the Washington Post reports.

The separate filings came from Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen is set to be sentenced Wednesday.

The Post goes on to write:

Taken together, the documents suggest that the president’s legal woes are far from over and reveal a previously unreported contact from a Russian to Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. But the documents do not answer the central question at the heart of Mueller’s work — whether the president or those around him conspired with the Kremlin.

Comic Kathy Griffin Says Secret Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office Came After Her With A Vengeance After Her Prank Photo Involving Trump

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

You might recall in 2017 that comic Kathy Griffin caused a major stir when she posed for a photo with her wearing a navy pussy-bow blouse and holding a bloodied imitation of President  Donald Trump’s decapitated head.

On Friday, she appeared on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert and talked about the fallout, which was substantial.

She tells Colbert that the Secret Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office opened a two-month investigation into a “conspiracy to assassinate the president of the United States.”

She also said she was put on a no-fly list for two months and an Interpol list, which resulted in her being detained in every foreign airport she was in while doing her worldwide tour, “Laugh Your Head Off.” She said she had to tour overseas because she could no longer get a job in the U.S.

She also said she got threats from Trump supporters and lost her New Year’s Eve job on CNN with co-host Anderson Cooper, who condemned the photo.

“The walls caved in on me,” she said, explaining she can’t get work in the U.S. She said she also lost a lot of friends.

Weekend Series on Crime: The Mexican Mafia

Trump Picks William Barr for Attorney General Nomination

William barr

President Trump announced Friday he plans to nominate William P. Barr to serve for a second time to as attorney general.

“He was my choice since Day 1,” Trump told reporters. “He’ll be nominated.”

Barr, who served as attorney general during the Bush administration from 1991-1993, supports the strong executive powers of a president and is a conservative attorney.

That also appeared to be the case for interim Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who replaced Jeff Sessions for what likely will be a brief, turbulent time.

In an interview with reporters on Friday, Trump described Barr as a “highly respected lawyer” and a “terrific man,” BBC reports.

During the nomination hearing, Barr is likely to be asked a lot of questions about the special counsel investigation, which he likely will inherit.

Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty Against Border Patrol Agent Accused of Killing 4 Women

Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Juan David

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent described as a serial killer was indicted on capital murder charges Wednesday, and prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty.

A grand jury upgraded the charges against Juan David Ortiz, a 10-year veteran of the agency who was arrested after he confessed to killing four sex workers in the area around Laredo, Tex., the Washington Post reports.

Ortiz found his victims from the side of the road and killed four of them in rural parts of Webb County, prosecutors said.

Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz cited numerous reasons he was seeking the death penalty.

“The horrific nature of the murders. His complete disregard for human life. His vigilante mentality. He violated his oath to his country and his agency that he swore to protect,” Alaniz said. “We also believe that there are no mitigating circumstances in his life where it is justified for life without parole.”

According to Alaniz, Ortiz said his motivation had been to “clean up the streets of Laredo by targeting this community of individuals who he perceived to be disposable.”

“The evidence that was presented to the grand jury this morning showed that he killed these four innocent individuals in a cold, callous and calculated way,” he said.

Bill Priestap Becomes Latest High-Ranking FBI Official to Leave Bureau

Bill Priestap

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, is retiring by the end of the year.

Priestap was among the bureau’s top officials tasked with overseeing investigations involving the 2016 presidential campaign, The Wall Street Journal reports

The 20-year veteran of the bureau began his career investigating organized crime and drug cases in Chicago before ascending the ranks following the Sept. 11, 2o01, terrorist attacks.

A person familiar with the retirement said Priest’s departure has nothing to do with the controversies surrounding the presidential election investigations.

He “became eligible to retire and has chosen to do so after 20 years of service,” the FBI said in a statement.

Mueller: Flynn Provided ‘Substantial Assistance’ in Russia Probe, Recommending No Jail Time

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller recommended no jail time for Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, saying he provided “substantial assistance” to several ongoing investigations.

Flynn cooperated during 19 interviews with federal investigators, providing early insight into the Russia investigation and possibly helping encourage others to cooperate, a court filing states.

Flynn, who was pressured to abandoned his post as national security adviser for misleading administration officials, is among five Trump aides who have pleaded guilty in the special counsel investigation.

The sentencing memo provided the first description from prosecutors about the extent of Flynn’s cooperation.

But for now, it’s unclear what information Flynn provided because the memo is heavily redacted.

Flynn was among Trump’s early supporters who led “Lock her up!” chants targeting Hillary Clinton.