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News Story

Trump Says AG Sessions’ Job Is Safe Until Midterm Elections in November. Then What?

President Trump at Indiana rally Thursday.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump said he will keep his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, on the job until at least the mid-term elections in November, despite blasting the former senator for failing to stop an “illegal investigation” by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“I just would love to have him do a great job,” Trump told Bloomberg, declining to say whether Sessions’ job was safe after November. 

Trump has clashed with Sessions since he recused himself from the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The recusal allowed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Mueller to investigate Russia in May 2017, just days after the president fired FBI Director James Comey.

Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and routinely questions why the Justice Department isn’t investigating Hillary Clinton.

“I’d love to have him look at the other side,” Trump said.

At a rally in Indiana on Thursday night, Trump turned up the rhetoric, threatening to “get involved” in the work of the Justice Department and FBI unless the agencies “start doing their job.”

He also blasted both agencies by suggesting they are letting Clinton get away with crimes.

“What’s happening is a disgrace, and at some point … if it doesn’t straighten out properly … I will get involved,” Trump said.

Papadopoulos Ends Weeks of Uncertainty by Accepting Plea Deal with Mueller

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who was considering withdrawing his plea deal after special counsel prosecutors recommended a six-month jail sentence, has decided to stick with the agreement after all, his wife told ABC News

“George will take responsibility for some inaccuracies during the interview with the FBI,” Mangiante Papadopoulos said in a statement to ABC News on Wednesday, adding that she hopes the judge will not send her husband to jail.

Mueller’s prosecutors recommended jail time because they said Papadopoulos “caused damage” to the investigation by misleading investigators.

In October, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with a professor, identified in news reports as Joseph Mifsud, who said he had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

FBI Rejects Claims Peddled by Trump That China Hacked Clinton’s Email Server

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI is publicly rejecting a right-wing report that was amplified by President Trump, essentially calling it fake news.

The right-leaning news site The Daily Caller reported on Monday that China hacked Hillary Clinton’s private email server and obtained thousands of emails while she was secretary of state.

Trump retweeted the story, saying “Report just out: ‘China hacked Hillary Clinton’s private Email Server.’ Are they sure it wasn’t Russia (just kidding!)? What are the odds that the FBI and DOJ are right on top of this? Actually, a very big story. Much classified information!” the president tweeted.

An FBI spokesman told NBC News, “The FBI has not found any evidence the servers were compromised.” 

The spokesman pointed to an inspector general’s report that quoted a forensic analyst telling the Justice Department that he was “fairly confident” Clinton’s server had not been comprised. 

Other Stories of Interest

White House Lawyer Who May have Incriminated Trump May Soon Resign

White House counsel Don McGahn

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A White House lawyer who cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia and President Trump may leave the administration this fall, according to the news site Axios.

Trump supporters fear White House counsel Don McGahn may have incriminated the president during 3o hours of interviews with Mueller’s team. 

McGahn is said to have expressed interest in leaving the White House after the Senate confirms the president’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Several news outlets reported that McGahn clashed with the president over plans to potentially pardon Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman who was convicted last week on numerous counts of tax and bank fraud.

When the New York Times broke the story about McGahn meeting extensively with Mueller team, Trump lashed out in several tweets, suggesting the special counsel is “asking for trouble.”

FBI Targets Ex-Ohio House Speaker in Bribery, Kickback Probe

Former Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger is the target of an FBI investigation into potential bribes and kickbacks.

Agents, armed with subpoenas and a search warrant Monday, seized records as part of an investigation that led to the Republican’s sudden resignation in April, the Associated Press reports

The FBI is searching for evidence of extortion, bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery and extortion.

Agents seized hundreds of pages of documents and other records.

Rosenberger’s attorney, David Axelrod, said his client “has nothing to hide” and is cooperating with investigators.

Watchdog Group Confirms Trump’s Involvement in FBI Headquarters Project

Current FBI headquarters

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The GSA administrator who is overseeing the construction of a new FBI headquarters may have misled Congress about President Trump’s involvement in the debate over where to build a new campus, according to a government watchdog report released Monday.

The GSA inspector general report also claims officials understated the costs of building a new headquarters in downtown Washington D.C. by suggesting it would cost less than the original plan of erecting a new campus in the suburbs. 

The current headquarters sits near Trump’s Washington D.C. hotel.

The GSA last year scrapped a plan to build a new FBI headquarters in the suburbs in favor of building a smaller headquarters in downtown D.C., which would require some staff to relocate to Alabama, Idaho and West Virginia.

The inspector general’s report concluded that testimony by GSA Administrator Emily Murphy “was incomplete and may have left the misleading impression that she had no discussions with the President or senior White House officials about the project.”

During the hearing, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., asked Murphy, “To your knowledge, was the president or anyone else at the White House involved in those discussions, either with your predecessors, people you’re working with now, or yourself?”

Murphy responded, “The direction that we got came from the FBI. It was the FBI that directed to GSA as to what its requirements would be. We obviously did coordinate, given that it is a substantial budget request, we coordinated that request with OMB to provide for funding but the requirements were generated by the FBI.”

The Post reports that Murphy had discussed the project with Trump, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and other White House officials

Some Congressional members accused Trump of intervening because his hotel is a stone’s throw from the FBI headquarters, and the president doesn’t want a competing hotel to replace the brutalist building.

Mueller Ended Plea Deal Talks with Manafort Before Second Trial in September

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special Counsel Robert Mueller put an end to negotiations for a last-minute plea deal between his prosecutors and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Manafort’s legal team began plea discussions while jurors were deliberating after closing arguments in their client’s fraud case in which he ultimately was convicted of eight of 18 counts tax and bank fraud, the Wall Street Journal reports

The plea talks involved Manafort’s upcoming Washington D.C. trial, but they fell apart after Mueller expressed unknown concerns and objected to a potential deal.

The specifics of the potential deal were unclear.

Manafort’s convictions last week came about a month before his second trial is set to begin Sept. 17 on charges of lying to federal investigators and failing to register as a foreign agent.

How Unrelated, Decades-Old Cold Case May Prevent Mueller from Disclosing Russia-Trump Report

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The unsolved disappearance and apparent murder of a Columbia University professor more than 60 years ago may prevent special counsel Robert Mueller from disclosing revealing information about the Trump campaign and Russia.

The cold case has nothing to do with Mueller’s investigation into potential ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia, but the six-decade-old mystery has given rise to a legal question that is entirely relevant to the special counsel probe, Politico reports

At issue is whether judges have the right to release grand jury information that typically is kept secret. An appeals court is expected next month to deliver a decision on whether grand jury information can be disclosed in the case of the Columbia University professor Jesus Galindez.

Author and attorney Stuart McKeever, who has been closely following the cold case, is suing the Justice Department for the release of grand jury testimony involving the 1956 disappearance.

If the court sides with the Justice Department’s argument that grand jury information must be kept secret, it could set a precedent that would prevent Mueller from releasing a report on his findings to Congress or the public.

“If the D.C. Circuit were to accept the Department of Justice’s arguments…that would have potentially enormous implications for the future of the information from the Mueller investigation. That could close out a path by which that information becomes public,”  Harvard Law professor Alex Whiting said.