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Judge Refuses to Toss Special Counsel Case Against Paul Manafort

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A D.C. federal judge has given special counsel Robert Mueller the green light to continue the case against Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Business Insider reports.

U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson declined on Tuesday to toss the charges against  Manafort, who faces two indictments from the special counsel. Manafort is charged in Virginia and Washington with tax and bank fraud connected to his lobbying work for the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia interests in Ukraine.

The judge ruled the indictment “falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel,” the publication reports.

“Given the combination of his prominence within the campaign and his ties to Ukrainian officials supported by and operating out of Russia, as well as to Russian oligarchs, Manafort was an obvious person of interest,” the ruling reads.

Opinion Piece: DEA Has No Clue What It’s Talking About When it Comes to Pot and Opioids

Paul Armentano is the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He is the co-author of the book, Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? and the author of the book, The Citizen’s Guide to State-By-State Marijuana Laws. This piece appears in The Hill.

By Paul Armentano
For The Hill

Is state-level medical cannabis access mitigating or fueling America’s opioid crisis? Testifying before Congress last week, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) acting administrator Robert Patterson claimed the latter. But when he prompted to provide evidence in support of the agency’s position, he acknowledged that he could not.

His failure to substantiate this claim is unsurprising. That is because numerous peer-reviewed studies show that increased cannabis access is associated with declining rates of opioid useabusehospitalizations, and mortality. Among patients enrolled in state-sanctioned medical marijuana access programs, participants’ use of not only opioids, but also their use of numerous other prescription medications — such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs — declines significantly.

To read the full piece click here.

Ex-CIA Employee Suspected of Leaking Documents to WikiLeaks Faces Sexual-Related Charges

Joshua Adam Schulte (Linkedin photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

There may be a lot questions surrounding 30-year-old former CIA employee Joshua Adam Schulte, but one thing is certain: This man needs lawyers.

First, the federal government suspects he gave a massive trove of agency documents to WikiLeaks about the CIA’s hacking operations, though he has yet to be charged with that, reports Huffington Post.

In the meantime, he faces child pornography charges and charges in Virginia, where he’s accused of snapping photos as he sexually assaulted a passed-out friend as she lay on the floor of his bathroom.

Schulte was arrested back in August on federal child pornography charges, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that The Washington Post and New York Times reported the government was interested in Schulte because it suspected WikiLeaks leaks.

NBC News reports that he’s currently in a Manhattan federal jail on the child porn charges.

 

Ex-Border Patrol Agent Gets 7 1/2 Years For Taking Bribe

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An ex-Border Patrol agent was sentenced Monday in Tucson to 7.5 years in federal prison for accepting bribes and acting as a scout for drug smugglers near Marana.

Alberto M. Michel pleaded guilty earlier this year to taking $12,000 in exchange for providing counter-surveillance for marijuana smugglers while on duty in November, The Arizona Daily Star reports. 

Michel, 41, joined the Border Patrol in 2009 and was promoted to the Tucson Sector Border Patrol Intelligence Unit in 2016, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Does Robert Mueller Have A Conflict of Interest With The Russian Probe and an Oligarch?

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Life is complicated.

In 2009, when Robert S. Mueller III ran the FBI, the bureau asked Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to spend millions of his own dollars funding an FBI-supervised operation to rescue a retired FBI agent, Robert Levinson, captured in Iran while working for the CIA in 2007.

John Solomon writes in The Hill that’s  the same Deripaska who has surfaced in Mueller’s current investigation and who was recently sanctioned by the Trump administration.

The Levinson mission is confirmed by more than a dozen participants inside and outside the FBI, including Deripaska, his lawyer, the Levinson family and a retired agent who supervised the case, Solomon writes.

 

Electronic Frontier Foundation Wants to Know About the 7,800 Phones the FBI Says It Can’t Hack

mobile phone in hand vector silhouette on white background

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is curious about the FBI’s claim that it had nearly 7,800 phones it couldn’t hack into while investigating crimes in 2017.

So, the foundation has submitted a FOIA request to the FBI, as well as the Offices of the Inspector General and Information Policy at DOJ, asking the FBI to tell the public how they arrived at that 7,775 devices figure, when and how the FBI discovered that some outside entity was capable of hacking the San Bernardino iPhone, and what the FBI was telling Congress about its capabilities to hack into cellphones.

The Foundation writes:

When law enforcement argues for legally mandating encryption backdoors into our devices, and justifies that argument by claiming they can’t get in any other way, it’s important for legislators and the public to know whether that justification is actually true.

Mexican Police Commander Pleads No Contest to Leaking Sensitive DEA Information to Drug Cartel Members

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Here’s a scenario that has been played out countless times over the years.

Jason McGahan of the Daily Beast reports:

A top-ranking Mexican police commander who was the point person for intelligence sharing between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement has pleaded “no contest” in Chicago federal court to charges he leaked sensitive information, including the identity of an informant, to drug cartel members who were targets of a U.S.-led investigation.

Ivan Reyes Arzate, 46, is accused of funneling sensitive information about surveillance operations from U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents to the cartel members, who were the objects of those very same operations in Mexico, over a Blackberry Messenger app.

The unusual pleading of “nolo contendere,” which required a judge’s approval, means Reyes Arzate is acknowledging that the particular facts, if presented at trial, would result in a verdict of guilty, but stops short of admitting guilt.

Reyes Arzate flew to Chicago and self-surrendered to law enforcement in April 2017, according to Chris Hotaling, assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.

Theft Trial for ATF Senior Agent in Alabama is Delayed

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Trial in Birmingham, Ala., for senior ATF agent Jay Bagwell, who is charged with theft, has been delayed as a result of back surgery, AL.com reports.

The “prescribed pain medication renders the defendant unable to effectively participate in the defense of his case,” U.S. Chief Judge Karon O Bowdre wrote. The trial will resume when he recovers.

An indictment alleges that in November 2014 Bagwell “embezzled, stole, purloined, and knowingly converted to his use and the use of another, a thing of value of the United States and of any department or agency thereof.” The indictment only says that the amount of money exceeds $1,000.

“It is our privilege to represent Jay Bagwell, a twenty-five year veteran ATF agent. If a thorough investigation had been conducted by the government, and Mr. Bagwell allowed to provide documentation, this charge would have never existed,” defense attorney Lance Bell said. “We have provided documentation to the government to exonerate this charge and restore Mr. Bagwell’s good name. I wish that I could say more at this time, but I think that the end result will speak for itself.