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Legal Pot in Limbo After Sessions Invites Federal Crackdown

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has compared marijuana to heroin, blamed pot for spikes in violence and declared that “good people don’t smoke it,” just threw the blossoming  cannabis industry into chaos.

The longtime, zealous opponent of pot is rolling back Obama-era directives that discouraged federal prosecutors from busting growers and sellers in states where laws permit medicinal or recreational marijuana use.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In a memo to U.S. attorneys Thursday, Sessions told U.S. attorneys they are once again permitted to pursue marijuana prosecutions in any state because federal law prohibits the possession and sale of pot.

“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission,” Sessions said in a statement. “Therefore, today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”

A total of 36 states have legalized marijuana for either medicinal or recreational use.

The impact of Sessions’ memo won’t be immediately clear because enforcement is up to the discretion of each federal prosecutor.

Trump Fires Back at Bannon with Cease-And-Desist Letter

Steve Bannon, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to former White House chief adviser Steve Bannon, claiming he violated a non-disclosure agreement signed as part of working on Trump’s campaign.

ABC reports the letter orders Bannon to refrain from making disparaging comments about Trump or his family. 

The notice was sent on the same day that excerpts of a new book about the Trump campaign and administration were revealed in the Guardian. Bannon, who was forced out of the White House after seven months on the job, mocked Trump, his family and the campaign’s inner circle, accusing some of them of breaking the law.

“You have breached the Agreement by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company [the Trump campaign], disclosing Confidential Information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members,” Trump attorney Charles Harder wrote.

In the excerpts, Bannon said it was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” for Trump’s son Donald Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort to meet with a Russian lawyer at the Trump Tower during the 2016 election. Bannon also suggested there was “zero” chance Trump was not aware of the meeting.

Allegations that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the presidential allegations prompted the appointment of a special counsel, Robert Mueller, in May. Since then, four members of Trump’s inner circle have been indicted – and two have already pleaded guilty and plan to cooperate with the special counsel’s team.

Feds Request Records for $285M Loan to a Kushner Family Company

President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A $285 million loan that Deutsche Bank issued to one of Jared Kushner’s family companies just a month before Election Day has raised the eyebrows of federal prosecutors.

Brooklyn-based prosecutors requested record related to the loan, which provided Kushner Cos., a real estate company, $74 million more than what was paid for the property, the Washington Post reports

Calling it a “routine” transaction, a spokesman for the firm said the company is cooperating with federal officials.

In October 2016, the company entered into a refinancing deal connected to the 2015 purchase of four primarily empty retail floors of the former New York Times.

Kushner, the son-in-law of Trump, was simultaneously running the company while helping lead the campaign. 

Trump Allies: Mueller’s Grand Jury Is Unfair Because It’s Predominately Black

File photo of President Trump protesters in Ypsilanti, Mi. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The sputtering campaign to discredit the Trump-Russia investigation opened up a new line of attack – the demographics of the grand jury charged with handing down indictments for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

An unnamed Trump associate and witness who “recently testified” grumbled to a New York Post columnist that the grand jury was mostly African American and looked like “a Black Lives Matter rally.” 

The only white man in the room was a prosecutor.

“The grand jury room looks like a Bernie Sanders rally,” the source said. “Maybe they found these jurors in central casting, or at a Black Lives Matter rally in Berkeley.”

Eleven of the 2o jurors are black and two were wearing “peace T-shirts,” making it impossible for Trump to get “a fair shake,” the witness complained.

Following the New York Post column, Fox & Friends c0-host Brian Kilmeade joined the attack.

The grand jury is “not even emblematic of something that might be, perhaps, demographically pursuing justice,” Kilmeade said.

The demographic makeup should be no surprise. The grand jury meets Fridays in Washington D.C., where nearly half of the residents are black.

Since Mueller impaneled the grand jury in August, it has handed down indictments against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Richard Gates on charges of money laundering and conspiracy and failing to register as foreign agents.

As the investigation intensifies, so too do the attacks. Trump has referred to the probe as a political “witch hunt.”

Manafort Sues DOJ, Claims Special Counsel Probe Exceeded Authority

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, filed suit against the Justice Department, arguing the special counsel investigation has exceeded its authority by indicated him on charges unrelated to the presidential campaign. 

Manafort, who also sued Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said his indictment on conspiracy and money laundering charges are unrelated to whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the presidential election.

Therefore, Manafort alleges in the suit. Mueller does not authorize the special counsel “carte blanche to investigate and pursue criminal charges in connection with anything he stumbles across while investigating, no matter how remote.” 

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May to investigate allegations that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

Manafort and his former campaign aide Rick Gates were charged in October and originally placed on house arrest.

Rosenstein’s lawsuit seeks to stop Mueller from investigating issues that are unrelated to Russian and alleged collusion.

“Mr. Mueller’s investigation of Mr. Manafort has extended far beyond links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” the lawsuit states. “The investigation has focused on Mr. Manafort’s offshore business dealings that date back to as early as 2005—about a decade before the Trump presidential campaign launched—and have been known to the United States government for many years.”

The Justice Department dismissed the lawsuit as “frivolous.”

“But the defendant is entitled to file whatever he wants,” the Justice statement said, USA Today reports

Bannon Slams Trump, Campaign for Relationship with Russia

Former top aide to President Trump, Steve Bannon.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s long-time ally and former White House chief adviser Steve Bannon slammed the president, his family and top campaign aides over their relationship with Russia and said the special counsel investigation may reveal some serious, sloppy crimes.

The snarky, candid and explosive remarks were revealed in excerpts of the forthcoming book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” a scathing account based on more than 200 interviews with the president and his administration.

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

Bannon, who also served as chief executive of Trump’s presidential election, said it was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” for Trump’s son Donald Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort to meet with a Russian lawyer at the Trump Tower during the 2016 election. 

Just hours after the Guardian posted the story about Bannon’s comments Wednesday, Trump blasted his former confidant, saying he “lost his mind” and had “very little to do with our historic victory.”

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency,” Trump said in a combative statement. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.”

Trump’s dismissive comments and suggestions that Bannon is lying contradict fawning statements the president made about his former top adviser when he was forced out of the White House after seven months and returned to the right-wing Breitbart News.

In an interview with the book’s author, Michael Wolff, Bannon described some of Trump’s top campaign aides as naive, unethical and clumsy, seemingly unaware of the repercussions of meeting with a Russian attorney who pledged to provide documents that would “incriminate” Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Bannon said he was dumbfounded.

“The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Bannon even suggested Trump was aware of the Trump Tower meeting.

“The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.”

Bannon, who previously criticized the firing of then-FBI Director James Comey, said he doesn’t expect a conclusion to the special counsel investigation anytime soon. He added that the probe into alleged collision with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering, saying, “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

Since Robert Mueller was appointed in May to lead the Russia-Trump investigation, four members of Trump’s inner circle have been indicted – and two have already pleaded guilty and plan to cooperate with the special counsel’s team.

Bannon’s surprising candor undermines claims by Trump and his conservative allies that the investigation is a “witch hunt” perpetuated by a biased FBI bent on destroying the president. 

Bannon used a hurricane metaphor to describe the mood in the White House: “They’re sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.”

Trump’s Choice for ICE Leader Suggests Criminal Charges against Sanctuary Cities

ICE official, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Leaders of so-called sanctuary cities should be criminally charged and held “personally accountable” for shielding illegal immigrants from deportation, said President Trump’s choice to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan suggested in an interview with Fox News that places like California are putting “politics ahead of safety.”

“We gotta take [sanctuary cities] to court, and we gotta start charging some of these politicians with crimes,” Homan said.

Claiming “more citizens are going to die because of these policies,” Homan said the Justice Department must hold some politicians “personally accountable.”

Human said he plans to send in federal agents to protect residents in cities and states that refuse to work with ICE on immigration issues.

Fusion GPS Fires Back at Trump Allies over Salacious Dossier

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Fusion GPS, the research firm that funded the salacious and unsubstantiated “Steele dossier,” fired back at President Trump and his conservative allies, saying they are spinning “mendacious conspiracy theories” to distract from the substance of a serious special counsel probe.

Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, two former Wall Street Journal reporters who co-founded Fusion GPS in 2011, wrote a New York Times op-ed headlined “The Republicans’ Fake Investigations” to respond to increasing criticism from Trump supporters.

Saying Republicans have distorted details of the firm’s congressional testimony, the Fusion co-founders urged lawmakers to release testimony transcripts “so that the American people can learn the truth about our work and most, important, what happened to our democracy.”

Trump supporters and some conservative lawmakers are trying to discredit the Russia-Trump investigation by claiming the probe was triggered by the controversial dossier.

“As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp.”

In a bombshell New York Times report over the weekend, the newspaper revealed that the impetus for the investigation was actually an Australian diplomat who revealed that a Trump aide admitted he knew Russia had political “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.