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FBI Director Wray Pledges to Run Bureau ‘By the Book’ After Latest Trump Administration Firing

Christopher Wray testifies during his confirmation hearing to become the next FBI director.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray, whose bureau has come under relentless attacks by President Trump, pledged to his staff that he’s committed to leading the agency “objectively and independently, and by the book.”

Wray’s email to staff, first reported by CNN, follows the controversial firing of former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a frequent Trump target accused of a “lack of candor” during a Justice Department inquiry.  

“And while I still cannot comment on specifics of that, or any, personnel matter, I wanted the public to know — and I want you to know — that I remain committed to doing things objectively and independently, and by the book,” Wray wrote to his roughly 35,000 employees.

“That commitment applies not just to our investigations and our intelligence analysis, but to personnel and disciplinary decisions as well,” he continued.

Wray insisted earlier this week that McCabe’s firing was not influenced by politics.

The FBI has been subjected to a brutal campaign by the president to discredit the bureau, which is overseeing the special counsel investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice and whether his campaign colluded with Russia to tip the scale on the election.

To help restore the bureau’s battered image, McCabe said he has “started to engage with the media” in an effort to “reintroduce  the American public to who and what we are.”

Other Stories of Interest

Austin Serial Bomber Described Self as ‘Psychopath’ with No Remorse

Serial bomber Mark Conditt was captured on surveillance mailing two bomb-laden packages.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The Austin serial bomber who terrorized the Texas capital in a spate of explosions that killed two people and wounded five others described himself in a cell phone recording as a “psychopath” who felt no remorse.

“I was I were sorry but I am not,” Mark Conditt said in a recording found on his cell phone after he blew himself up with a bomb early Wednesday morning, the Austin Statesman reports, citing sources familiar with the so-called “confession.”

The 23-year-old, who said he’s been disturbed since childhood, pledged to blow himself up if authorities closed in on him.

The 28-minute recording, which police have declined to release because they’re using it as evidence, offered no clues about Conditt’s motives or how he chose his victims.

Authorities suspect there were more recordings stored on his laptop, which was destroyed in the explosion.

In the recording, Conditt said he regretted going into a FedEx store in suburban Austin to mail two homemade bombs because he and his red pickup truck were captured on surveillance videos, which helped authorities identify him.

Police believe the recording was made at about 9 p.m. Tuesday, about five hours before police tracked him down behind a motel in suburban Austin.

Trump’s Defiance of Legal Team Prompts Departure of Top Lawyer in Special Counsel Probe

Trump’s former lead attorney John Dowd.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation resigned Thursday, just days after the president escalated his high-stakes campaign to discredit federal investigators and called for an end to the 10-month probe.

Dowd had become increasingly frustrated with the president for ignoring his legal advice and had considered leaving for several months, the New York Times and other media outlets reported.

Until this weekend, the president had heeded his legal team’s advice to refrain from criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller. But a day after the controversial firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on Friday, Trump unleashed a series of hyperbolic, misleading and inflammatory tweets, some of which for the first time took aim at Mueller and his investigation. 

In a written statement to the media, Dowd did not indicate why he left.

“I love the President and I wish him well,” Dowd said in a written statement.

Trump, who has discounted recent reports of turbulence in his legal team as “fake news,” added conspiracy theorist and longtime Washington D.C. lawyer Joseph diGenova to his legal team.

“John Dowd is a friend and has been a valuable member of our legal team,” Sekulow said in a statement to The Hill. “We will continue our ongoing representation of the president and our cooperation with the office of the special counsel.”

FBI Investigated AG Sessions for Perjury After Failing to Disclose Russia Ties

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was grilled by a congressional committee for failing to disclose his contacts with Russia.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe just two days before he was set to retire with full benefits last week, Sessions’ justification was for what he described as McCabe’s “lack of candor” in dealing with an internal Justice Department investigation.

But it turns out, McCabe authorized a criminal FBI investigation a year ago into Sessions’ own lack of candor when he told Congress he had no contacts with Russians – a claim he later acknowledged wasn’t true, ABC News reported Wednesday evening. And that’s what prompted Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, a move that has incensed President Trump because the decision to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller now fell to Sessions’ deputy attorney general.

The discovery that Sessions was under investigation for perjury – essentially the same allegations leveled against McCabe – raises serious questions about Sessions’ ability to lead fair and impartial probes as the nation’s top prosecutor. It also raises questions about whether Sessions’ firing of McCabe was an act of retaliation or even a way to remove a top FBI official who has become a key witness in Mueller’s obstruction of justice case against Trump following the president’s firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.

McCabe kept extensive notes of his interactions with Trump, was among a few FBI officials whom Comey briefed on the president’s alleged pressure to end the Russia investigation and met with Mueller about the obstruction of justice case against Trump.

Soon after Sessions fired him on Friday, McCabe bluntly asserted that his termination was an attempt to undermine the special counsel investigation of Trump.

Sessions’ lawyer, Chuck Cooper, told the New York Times on Wednesday that the attorney general is no longer under investigation.

“The special counsel’s office has informed me that after interviewing the attorney general and conducting additional investigation, the attorney general is not under investigation for false statements or perjury in his confirmation hearing testimony and related written submissions to Congress,” Cooper said in a statement. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/21/us/politics/sessions-fbi-investigation-perjury.html

Police: Serial Bombing Suspect Was Troubled But Not Motivated by Hate

Serial bombing suspect Mark Conditt.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The unemployed 23-year-old who blew himself up after authorities said he was behind a spate of violent explosions that terrorized the Texas capital for three weeks was not motivated by hate, according to interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley.

Rather, the serial bombing suspect, Mark Conditt, who was home-schooled and dropped out of community college, was acting out because he was struggling to adjust to adulthood, Manley said after investigators watched a 25-minute cell phone video “confession.”

“He does not at all mention anything about terrorism, nor does he mention anything about hate,” Manley told the Austin Statesman.“But instead it is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life.”

Police have not yet released the video or disclosed in detail what Conditt said in the confession.

Conditt’s alleged reign of terror, which included four package bombs that detonated in Austin and killed two people and injured several others, ended early Wednesday morning with a brief police chase that resulted in Conditt detonating a homemade bomb in his red pickup truck, killing himself and injuring a police officer.

Ex-CIA Boss Brennan: Russia May Have Compromising Information on Trump

Former CIA Director John Brennan on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former CIA Director John Brennan said Wednesday that he suspects Russian may have compromising information on Trump, a claim that set of a storm of speculation about whether Brennan was acting on a hunch or inside information.

Brennan, who led the CIA from 2013 to 2017, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Russians “may have something on him personally” when asked if he believed Trump was afraid of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The Russians, I think, have had long experience with Mr. Trump, and may have things that they could expose,” he said.

Brennan was still running the CIA when a salacious dossier suggested the president may be vulnerable to blackmail because of compromising information Russians had on Trump.

Brennan’s interview came a day after the president ignored his advisers and congratulated Putin on his election victory.

Trump also has refused to criticize Russia for meddling in the presidential election, even after the president finally acknowledged the Kremlin’s involvement in a smear campaign against Hillary Clinton.   

FBI’s Failure to Diversify Its Ranks Is a ‘Huge Occupational Risk’

Photo via FBI

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s failure to diversify its ranks is a “huge operational risk” that diminishes the bureau’s ability to protect and serve the public, a senior official told the Pacific Standard

Despite the growing rate of diversity in private and public sector workplaces, the FBI’s agents remain predominately white men.

About 1o months before Trump fired him, James Comey called the lack of diversity “a crisis.”

“Slowly but steadily over the last decade or more, the percentage of special agents in the FBI who are white has been growing,” Comey said in a speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black school in Daytona Beach, Florida. “I’ve got nothing against white people—especially tall, awkward, male white people—but that is a crisis for reasons that you get, and that I’ve worked very hard to make sure the entire FBI understands.”

When it comes to diversity, the FBI has a bitter past. 

Nearly three decades ago, a group of black agents filed suit against the FBI, claiming systemic discrimination that affected performance reviews, promotions and overall workplace culture. Only about 5% of the bureau’s agents were black at the time.

A federal judge sided with the black agents, saying there was “statistical evidence” of racial bias at the FBI, resulting in a settlement in 1993.

“Still, all these years later, the most recent statistics posted publicly by the FBI indicate the bureau remains far less diverse than the population it is drawn from,” the Pacific Standard wrote. “Black agents in 2014 made up a lower percentage of special agents than they did when the discrimination lawsuit was filed, dropping from around 5.3 percent in 1995 to 4.4 percent, according to the FBI website. About 13 percent of the United States population is black. And while nearly 18 percent of the U.S. population is Latino, Latinos made up just 6.5 percent of special agents.”

USA Today: ‘Shamefully Silent’ Republicans Must Protect Mueller with Veto-Proof Bill

President Trump, via the White House.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s “threatening” rhetoric and “brooding instincts” to fire special counsel Robert Mueller should be reason enough for law-and-order Republicans to join Democrats in passing legislation to prevent the president from pulling the plug on the investigation, USA Today argued in an editorial Wednesday. 

“Most Republicans have been shamefully silent about this prospect, made more plausible in recent days by Trump castigating Mueller by name for the first time,” the politically moderate editorial board wrote.

The USA Today argues that it’s not enough that some Republicans are suggesting they would impeach Trump if he fires Mueller. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for example, said it “would be the beginning of the end of his presidency.”

“But can we be sure about that?” the newspaper wrote. “Would a GOP-led Congress that can barely agree on short-term government funding coalesce around the monumental and inevitably partisan task of impeachment?”

The USA Today wrote that Trump would give “contrived” reasons for orchestrating Mueller’s firing and “concocted logic might be enough for die-hard Trump supporters in the House to sway squeamish colleagues into blocking impeachment.”

“Given the stakes, it’s not enough for GOP lawmakers to speak up in support of Mueller, a highly respected Republican, former FBI director and decorated Marine,” the editorial reads. “They also have a duty to safeguard his inquiry. Two bipartisan measures, pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee, would protect him. Both provide judicial review of any termination’s legitimacy. One would challenge the firing before it’s carried out, the other afterward.”

The editorial adds: Pass one of them now, by a veto-proof margin, before it’s too late.