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Chicago Police Accused of Ripping Off Drug Dealers Are Stripped of Their Power

Chicago Police Department squad car.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A nearly yearlong investigation led by the FBI has revealed that several members of a Chicago police gang team ripped off drug dealers of their money and narcotics, law enforcement officials told the Chicago Tribune

A sergeant and at least three officers who are part of the cty’s Area Central gang team have been stripped over their powers as the federal probe continues.

No arrests have been made yet in the case, but authorities expect to bring charges against the police officials.

The investigation, which was triggered by an informant who told federal authorities that he had been robbed by the team, involved an undercover video sting to capture the police in action.

Other Stories of Interest

Attorneys in Trump-Russia Probe Believe Mueller Could Indict Trump

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

At least two lawyers representing key Donald Trump associates believe special counsel Robert Mueller may be leading the probe to a historic first – indicting a sitting president.

Legal experts have debated whether Robert Mueller has the authority to bring criminal charges against Trump, who has repeatedly been accused of obstructing justice by interfering with the investigation and those overseeing it.

But two attorneys whose clients were targeted by the widening investigation told Politico they believe Mueller may indict the president of obstruction of Justice. 

The lawyers emphasized they’re unaware of specific plans to charge Trump, but based on their legal experience, they think an obstruction of justice case wend its way through criminal court.

“If I were a betting man, I’d bet against the president,” one of the lawyers told the publication.

Even though the legal standards for indicting a president are limited, a second lawyer representing a senior Trump official said Mueller could show how seriously he’s taking the case with an indictment against the sitting president, which has ever happened in the U.S.

“It’s entirely possible that Mueller may go that route on the theory that, as an open question, it should be for the courts to decide,” the lawyer told Politico.

“Even if the indictment is dismissed, it puts maximum pressure on Congress to treat this with the independence and intellectual honesty that it will never, ever get,” the lawyer continued.

Other lawyers are skeptical that Mueller can bring charges to Trump because it likely would create major constitutional questions.

A boastful and confident Trump said last week he wanted to sit down for a face-to-face interview with Mueller’s team, but his attorneys quickly tried to prevent that encounter from happening.

Trump aides have privately expressed fears that Trump, who is often loose with the facts to fit his narratives, will perjure himself under pressure.

The special counsel investigation has so far produced indictments against four former Trump associates, two of whom have agreed to plead guilty in exchange for helping prosecutors with the case.

Trump Blasts Leadership of FBI, DOJ Today As He Plans to Release Ahead Politically Divisive Memo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump blasted “the top leadership and investigators” of the FBI and Justice Department this morning, just hours before he is expected to publicly release a secret, much-disputed memo that alleges the two agencies abused their power to spy on one of the president former aides during the 2016 presidential election.

”The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans – something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!” Trump tweeted early Friday. 

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Monday to approve the release of the memo written by GOP staff over the objections of the Justice Department, which warned the document’s disclosure would be “extraordinarily reckless.” In a rare move Wednesday, the president’s FBI expressed “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”   

Democrats argue the unprecedented release of confidential material by Republicans is a part of a misleading and desperate effort to undermine the special counsel investigation of Trump, his former and current aides and Russian officials who interfered with the U.S. election.

Even Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan warned GOP members to resist exaggerating the memo’s findings and not to use it to undermine the Robert Mueller investigation, which so far has indicted four former Trump aides.

But it appears, especially from Trump’s tweet this morning, that the president and his allies plan to weaponize the politically divisive memo as part of a larger campaign to erode trust in the intelligence agencies overseeing the Mueller probe, which now is focusing on whether the president obstructed justice by trying to fire or silence top members of the FBI and Justice Department.

NYT: Release of Controversial Memo Resembles ‘A Partisan Witch Hunt’

By Editorial Board
New York Times

So this is what a partisan witch hunt really looks like.

In a demonstration of unbridled self-interest and bottomless bad faith, the Trump White House and its Republican minions in Congress are on the cusp of releasing a “memo” that purports to document the biggest political scandal since Watergate. To pull it off, they are undermining the credibility of the law enforcement community that Republicans once defended so ardently, on the noble-sounding claim that the American public must know the truth.

Don’t fall for it.

Reports suggest that the three-and-a-half-page document — produced by the staff of Representative Devin Nunes (R-White House), who somehow still leads the House Intelligence Committee despite his own record of shilling for President Trump, and who is supposed to be recused from these matters — has nothing to do with truth or accountability. Rather, it appears to be misleading propaganda from people who are terrified by the Russia investigation and determined to derail it by any means necessary.

Mr. Nunes’s cut-and-paste job ostensibly shows that anti-Trump F.B.I. investigators conspired to trick a federal intelligence court into granting them a warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, because of his Russian connections — in that way corrupting the entire Russia investigation from the start. How did the investigators manage this feat? By relying on a dossier prepared by a former British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele, but hiding from the court that Mr. Steele’s work was being funded by Democrats, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and thus was hopelessly biased.

There’s so much deception and obfuscation going on here that it’s hard to know where to start.

To read more click here. 

FBI Agents Association Issues Statement in Support of Director Christopher Wray

Christopher Wray (File photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI Agents Association issued a statement Thursday showing support for FBI Director Christopher Wray who has expressed concerns about Congress releasing a classified memo written by Republican staffers for Rep. Devin Nunes.

“The FBI Agents Association appreciates FBI Director Chris Wray standing shoulder to shoulder with the men and women of the FBI as we work together to protect our country from criminal and national security threats,” said the associations president, FBI agent Thomas O’Connor. “As Director Wray noted, FBI Special Agents have remained steadfast in their dedication to professionalism, and we remain focused on our important work to protect the country from terrorists and criminals—both domestic and international. Special Agents take a solemn oath to our country and to the Constitution, and the American public continues to be well-served by the world’s preeminent law enforcement agency.”

Senior White House officials and advisers say that President Trump wants the document published because he sees it as key to making changes at the Justice Department, particularly pushing out Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, the Washington Post reports.

 

Former Trump Spokesman to Testify about Suspected Obstruction of Justice in Trump Administration

Donald Trump Jr. and his dad, President Trump, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The special counsel investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia is zeroing in on a meeting at Trump Tower between top campaign aides, including family members, and Russian officials who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, has agreed to an interview with the special counsel team and plans to reveal a previously undisclosed conference call with Trump and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, three people familiar with the situation told the New York Times. The call left Corallo with the impression that Hicks was planning to obstruct justice.

During the call, Hicks insisted that potentially incriminating emails written by Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., “will never get out,” according to sources close to Corallo.

The emails are significant because they show the president’s son and his top campaign officials communicated with a Russian lawyer who wanted to help Trump win the election by providing dirt on Clinton.

When the New York Times broke a story in July 2017 about the previously undisclosed meeting at Trump Tower, the Trump administration released a statement suggesting the gathering was about an obscure Russian adoption policy.

Robert Mueller’s special counsel team is now focusing on the statement, how it was drafted and whether the president was involved in writing it. In recent months, Mueller’s team has questioned numerous White House officials about the statement and recently notified Trump’s attorneys that prosecutors want to address the issue during a face-to-face interview that his lawyers have begun to resist.

Turns out, the president helped write the misleading response, which was attributed to Trump Jr. – to the Times while aboard the Air Force One with Hicks, according to sources familiar with the discussion.

“It was a short introductory meeting,” the response read. “I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow up.”

Corallo insisted the response would backfire because investigators would obtain emails that show the real reason behind the meeting with Russians – to obtain dirt on Clinton. That’s when he said Hicks responded that the emails “will never get out.”

Corallo, who declined to comment for the Times story, did not dispute the contents of the article.

So far the Mueller investigation has produced indictments against four former Trump campaign associates. The probe also is focusing on whether the president obstructed justice by interfering with the investigation, including when he fired then-FBI Director James Comey, who testified at a congressional hearing that Trump demanded loyalist and pressured the bureau boss to end the Russia investigation.

The firing prompted Trump’s Justice Department to appoint Mueller in May to investigate ties between the campaign and Russia.

Democrats Claim Republicans Secretly Doctored Trump-Russia Memo

Rep. Adam Schiff.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee has accused Republicans of sharing with the White House a “secretly altered” version of a controversial, much-disputed memo alleging the Justice Department and FBI improperly surveilled a former Trump campaign aide during the 2016 election campaign.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the memo, written by Republicans, was altered after the committee voted along party lines to release the document despite warnings from the Justice Department and FBI to keep in the information classified. 

Schiff said the committee members were “never apprised of, never had the opportunity to review, and never approved” revisions made by Republicans before handing off the memo to the president, who is expected to approve the corrosive document’s release.

Schiff is demanding that the memo be withdrawn until a new vote can be held on the revised document, which some Republicans want to use to suggest an anti-Trump bias in the special counsel investigation of the president and Russia.

A spokesman the committee’s chairman, Republican Devin Nunes, claims Schiff is exaggerating the altercations, saying only minor change, including grammatical fixes, were made to the document.

Schiff countered that the changes were “material and substantive” and not approved by the committee, which Democrats say is a violation of congressional practices.

Schiff made the claims in a letter to Nunes.

The White House is expected to approve the memo’s release Friday morning, but claims that the document was doctored may delay the public disclosure.

FBI Agent Accused of Trump Bias Played Role in Reopening Clinton Email Probe

Former FBI Director James Comey issued the controversial Clinton letter to Congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI agent who has come under fire by Republicans for harboring an alleged anti-Trump bias played a key role in supporting the bureau’s decision to notify Congress just days before the 2016 election about a renewed investigation into newly discovered Clinton emails, according to emails obtained by CNN

Many political observers believe the controversial decision to notify Congress upended Clinton’s chances of beating Trump in the election.

FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who became the target of Republican ridicule, helped draft the letter notifying Congress of the new emails.

Republicans point to text messages exchanged between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page as evidence of a bias in favor of Clinton. Some of the messages were critical of Trump.

But revelations that Strzok helped draft the letter, which was released to Congress by then-FBI Director James Comey, paints a more nuanced picture of an agent whom Republicans, including Trump, has broadly portrayed as a Clinton supporter with a vendetta against the president. Turns out, Strzok also supported reopening the Clinton investigation following the discovery of emails on former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop. The investigation turned up no evidence of wrongdoing, but the damage had already been done.