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Ex-FBI Agent Gets 4 Years in Prison for Leaking Classified Info To a Reporter

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI agent Terry J. Albury, 39, was sentenced in federal court Thursday in St. Paul, Minn., to four years in prison for leaking classified national defense information to a reporter who works for The Intercept.

“We are conducting perhaps the most aggressive campaign against leaks in Department history,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement. “Crimes like the one committed by the defendant in this case will not be tolerated.”

Authorities alleged that Albury, who worked as an FBI agent in the Minneapolis field office,  disclosed from 2016 to 2017 national defense information, classified at the Secret level.

In a press release, authorities alleged:

Albury employed methods to avoid detection, including printing documents that he created by cutting and pasting portions of an original document into a new document so as to avoid leaving a record of having printed the original, classified document. Albury also accessed documents on a classified computer and took pictures of the computer screen in order to photograph certain classified documents. Those additional classified documents were recovered on an electronic storage device found during a search of his home.

The New York Times provided some context for the case:

By the time Terry J. Albury arrived in Minneapolis in 2012, about 11 years after he went to work for the F.B.I., he had grown increasingly convinced that agents were abusing their powers and discriminating against racial and religious minorities as they hunted for potential terrorists.

The son of an Ethiopian political refugee, Mr. Albury was the only African-American field agent assigned to a counterterrorism squad that scrutinized Minnesota’s Somali-American community. There, according to his lawyer, he became disillusioned about “widespread racist and xenophobic sentiments” in the bureau and “discriminatory practices and policies he observed and implemented.”

In 2016, Mr. Albury began photographing secret documents that described F.B.I. powers to recruit potential informants and identify potential extremists. On Thursday, he was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty last year to unauthorized disclosures of national security secrets for sending several of the documents to The Intercept, which published the files with a series titled “The F.B.I.’s Secret Rules.”

Russian Woman Charged With Interfering With 2018 Elections

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In the first case of its kind involving the upcoming election, the Justice Department Friday announced that a Russian national has been charged with conspiracy to interfere in the U.S. political system, including the 2018 midterm election.

“Today’s charges allege that Russian national Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova conspired with others who were part of a Russian influence campaign to interfere with U.S. democracy,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers in a statement. “Our nation is built upon a hard-fought and unwavering commitment to democracy. Americans disagree in good faith on all manner of issues, and we will protect their right to do so. Unlawful foreign interference with these debates debases their democratic integrity, and we will make every effort to disrupt it and hold those involved accountable.”

In a criminal complaint, authorities alleged that Khusyaynova, 44, of St. Petersburg, Russia, served as the chief accountant of “Project Lakhta,” a Russian umbrella effort funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering.

Authorities alleged that Khusyaynova managed the financing of Project Lakhta operations, including foreign influence activities directed at the United States.

The financial documents she controlled include detailed expenses for activities in the United States, such as expenditures for activists, advertisements on social media platforms, registration of domain names, the purchase of proxy servers and “promoting news postings on social networks,” the Justice Department alleged in a press release.

Between January 2016 and June 2018, Project Lakhta’s proposed operating budget totaled more than $35 million, although only a portion of these funds were directed at the United States, the Justice Department said. Between January and June 2018 alone, Project Lakhta’s proposed operating budget totaled more than $10 million.

Those involved, the Justice Department alleged,  “took extraordinary” steps to make it appear as if they were ordinary American political activists. This included the use of virtual private networks and other means to disguise their activities and to obfuscate their Russian origin.

 

Trump Threatens to Deploy Military, Shut Down Mexican Border over Caravan of Immigrants

Border marker, via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump threatened Thursday to deploy the military and close the southern border if Mexico fails to stop thousands of immigrants heading toward the United States.

“I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught – and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!,” the president tweeted Thursday.

In another tweet, Trump continued to castigate Democrats for being weak on immigrations.

“I am watching the Democrat Party led (because they want Open Borders and existing weak laws) assault on our country by Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, whose leaders are doing little to stop this large flow of people, INCLUDING MANY CRIMINALS, from entering Mexico to U.S,” Trump said.

In a third tweet, Trump said trade is less important to him than stopping migrants from entering the country.

“The assault on our country at our Southern Border, including the Criminal elements and DRUGS pouring in, is far more important to me, as President, than Trade or the USMCA. Hopefully Mexico will stop this onslaught at their Northern Border,” he wrote. “All Democrats fault for weak laws!”

A caravan of more than 4,000 migrants fled Central American countries a week ago because of violence and poverty.

They appeared to be undeterred by Trump’s threats.

“We are going to continue,” 32-year-old Luis Navarreto told the Associated Press. “It is God who decides here. We have no other option but to move ahead.”

Mueller’s Team Questioning Manafort, Others about Longtime Trump Supporter Roger Stone

Roger Stone

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has been questioning former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others about Roger Stone.

Stone, who also worked on Trump’s campaign and previously was a partner at Manafort’s lobbying firm, Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, has been the subject of Mueller’s investigation.

Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s probe into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.   

“I am highly confident Mr. Manafort is aware of no wrongdoing on my part during the 2016 campaign, or at any other time, and therefore there is no wrongdoing to know about,” Stone told ABC News. “Narratives to the contrary by some in the media are false and defamatory.” 

Mueller’s team wants to know whether Stone had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans to release Hillary Clinton’s emails, which Russian hackers had stolen. At the time, Stone publicly suggested he had been in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over the emails, which were released to hurt Clinton’s chances of winning the 2016 presidential election.

Nearly a dozen people close to Stone – many of whom have appeared before a federal grand jury – have been questioned by Mueller’s team.

Special Counsel Expected to Reveal Findings of Investigation After Midterm Elections

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings related to his investigation into Russian election interference after the midterm elections.

Mueller is finishing up his report, which will include findings about whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia and whether the president obstructed justice during the probe, Bloomberg News reports.

The findings will be presented to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. It’s not yet clear whether the report will become public.

Regulations give some discretion to Rosenstein in deciding what to reveal to Congress and the public.

Senior FBI Official Busted for Accepting Free Sports Tickets from Reporters

Stock photo by Steve Neavling

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A senior FBI official violated federal regulations by accepting two tickets to professional sports events from a reporter without paying for them, the bureau’s Inspector General reported Tuesday.

The senior official, whose identity was not revealed, initially said under oath that he had paid for the tickets from a television correspondent. But five days later, the officials recanted and said the tickets were not paid for.

The inspector general found that the FBI official also accepted free tickets from another reporter.

During the investigation, the official retired, and prosecutors won’t pursue a criminal case.

Both reporters often covered the FBI and Justice Department.

Federal employees are barred from accepting gifts from sources.

How the Secret Service Foiled an ISIS Plot to Assassinate Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Secret Service agents foiled an ISIS plot by ISIS to assassinate President Trump while he was in the Philippines last year.

The botched assassination attempt was in November 2017, when Trump was in Manila for a summit and met with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

The National Geographic disclosed the assassination attempt for the first time during its television special Sunday about the Secret Service, United States Secret Service: On the Front Line.

According to the report, threats had been made on Twitter, and a series of ISIS videos threatened the president with an ambush.

While in Manila, Secret Service agents discovered and apprehended a jihadi hiding out and waiting for an “associate” just blocks from the hotel where the president was staying.

Ex-Senate Aide James Wolfe Pleads Guilty to Lying to FBI about Contacts with Reporters

Jim Wolfe (Linkedin photo)

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A former Senate Intelligence Committee aide pleaded guilty on Monday to lying to the FBI about contacts with reporters covering the panel’s investigation into Russian election meddling.

James A. Wolfe, 57, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to FBI agents in a December interview in which he denied providing unclassified but protected information about a witness who had been subpoenaed to testify before the committee.

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop two similar charges and recommend what amounts to zero to six months in jail, The New York Times reports

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 20.

Wolfe had been in charge of handling classified information provided to the committee for 28 years.

During the investigation, information was brought to light that investigators had violated Justice Department guidelines by secretly seizing years of records from a reporter’s phone and email without giving the required advance notices to the news organizations where she had worked.

Wolfe’s lawyers emphasized in a statement that their client had not been charged with leaking classified information.

“We have seen numerous distortions on social and other media of the facts of this matter,” they said. “So we emphasize again today that Jim was never charged with having compromised classified information, nor is such a charge part of today’s plea. Jim has accepted responsibility for his actions and has chosen to resolve this matter now so that he and his family can move forward with their lives.”