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Facebook Provides Robert Mueller with Facebook Ad Data Involving Russia

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Information about Facebook’s discovery that an operation likely based in Russia spent $100,000 on ads on the social media site was turned over to Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel in charge of investigating alleged Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election.

Facebook said the operation promoted thousands of ads in the U.S. on divisive social and political messages, Reuters reports.

The postings ranged from polarizing positions on immigration, gay rights and race.

Reuters wrote:

U.S. election law bars foreign nationals and foreign entities from spending money to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate. Non-U.S. citizens may generally advertise on issues. Other ads, such as those that mention a candidate but do not call for the candidate’s election or defeat, fall into what lawyers have called a legal gray area.

Facebook announced the findings in a blog post by its chief security officer, Alex Stamos, and said that it was cooperating with federal inquiries into influence operations during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Facebook briefed members of both the Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees on Wednesday about the suspected Russia advertising, according to a congressional source familiar with the matter. Both committees are conducting probes into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, including potential collusion between the campaign of President Donald Trump and Moscow.

ATF Investigates Theft of 100+ Guns in Houston During Hurricane Harvey

gunsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ATF is investigating the theft of dozens of guns as Hurricane Harvey swept across Houston.

Authorities told Click 2 Houston that six gun stores were burglarized. 

“It’s just unacceptable for people to take advantage of a natural disaster like this,” said Fred Milanowski, special agent-in-charge of the ATF‘s Houston division.

In less than 48 hours, Milanowski said 109 guns were stolen.

“We will do everything we can to have these individuals prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said Milanowski.

Other Stories of Interest

House Intelligence Committee Subpoenas FBI, DOJ for Dossier Documents

Donald TrumpBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed the Justice Department and FBI for records related to the salacious, unverified dossier on President Trump.

Neither agency turned over the records by the Sept. 1 deadline, prompting the committee to issue two more subpoenas to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to explain why the records weren’t disclosed, the Washington Examiner reports

“We got nothing,” said committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who is taking a leading role in the Russia investigation. “The witnesses have not been produced and the documents have not been produced.”

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., said during an appearance on MSNBC that Republicans are trying to “discredit” the author of the dossier “rather than looking into how many of the allegations he wrote were true.”

“What we should be most concerned about is whether those sources of the information in the report are true, not in discrediting the author of that report,” Schiff said.

The FBI said it needs more time to determine whether disclosing the documents will interfere with the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump Lawyer Asks Reporter If She’s on Drugs for Asking about Trump’s Termination Letter to Comey

James Comey testifies about President Trump before a Senate committee.

James Comey testifies about President Trump before a Senate committee.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

White House special counsel Ty Cobb questioned whether a reporter was on drugs for asking why the president didn’t send his letter notifying James Comey that he was being fired as FBI director.

The unprofessional question came in an email exchange between Cobb and Business Insider’s Natasha Bertrand, who wrote a story about how the letter may be used as evidence in the obstruction of justice case against President Trump. 

Cobb declined to say why the letter was never sent to Comey and asked Bertrand, “Are you on drugs?”

Bertrand shared the exchange on Twitter.

“Cobb supposedly has a great reputation and is a very respected lawyer,” Bertrand told HuffPost. “He was brought in to bring some discipline to the whole operation. So I wasn’t expecting that response to what I thought was a pretty basic question.” 

Homeland Security to Phase Out Parts of DACA

homeland2department-of-homeland-security-logo-300x300By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security has rolled out a plan to deal with the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The agency won’t accept new DACA applications for deferments or two-year work permits unless they are already in the pipeline, the New York Post reports. For those that have been submitted already, Homeland Security will consider them on a case-by-case basis.

DACA recipients may apply for renewal if they submit the application by Oct. 5.

By March 6, 2020, the federal government will phase out the program.

The Post wrote:

Once a permit expires, a person will not be “considered lawfully present in the US” and will be subject to deportation, the DHS said.

Their “removal will no longer be deferred and they will no longer be eligible for lawful employment,” the agency said.

The law as it stands now does not grant DACA recipients, also known as “Dreamers,” any legal status — unless Congress amends the existing immigration laws.

But the DHS said persons whose permits have expired will not be targeted, and federal immigration enforcement agencies will continue to focus on people who are known criminals or national security threats.

“Our enforcement posture has not changed. We still are prioritizing criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants — in other words persons who have been previously removed — and those persons with standing orders for removal,” a senior DHS official told reporters. “There is no plan at this time to target persons outside those parameters. Persons who are currently in (DACA), their DACA remains in effect if encountered during law enforcement operations.”

Manafort Blocks FBI from Obtaining Transcript of Interview with Senate Committee

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

    Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorneys for Paul Manafort, who served as President Trump’s campaign chairman, is trying to prevent special counsel Robert Mueller from acquiring a transcript of his interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee in July.

CNN reports that the FBI said it obtained permission from Manafort’s attorney to view the transcript, but the committee says it was instructed to not disclose the document. 

Although Mueller’s team apparently received permission to view documents that Manafort submitted to the committee, those records have not yet been turned over.

The documents are related to a meeting that Manafort attended with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and two Russian lobbyists at Trump Tower last July.

CNN reports:

The previously undisclosed fight, described to CNN by multiple sources, underscores the new challenges as congressional committees and Mueller’s operation head into a more intense phase of their parallel — and sometimes, conflicting — investigations into Russian election meddling and any collusion with Trump associates.

There are three committees on Capitol Hill competing for information and witnesses — and there is little, if any, communication among them, even as congressional officials say they all are preparing to intensify the pace of their inquiries this fall. While the Hill investigations into Russia’s meddling have been underway since the beginning of the year, the next few months could be the most consequential in terms of hearing from witnesses and gathering documents, sources say.

That could mean early signs of tension between the special counsel and the Hill become more pronounced as the competing congressional inquiries try to determine whether there was any collusion and as Mueller potentially pursues criminal charges.

Other Stories of Interest

Retired FBI Agent Jerry Webb: The True Teamwork Involved in the Unabomber Case

The author is a former police officer with the Omaha Police Department, who served 22 years in the FBI and was assigned to the Unabom Task Force for two years. The Unabomb case recently garnered national attention with the airing of the Discovery Channel series, “Manhunt Unabomber. ”  Some former agents who worked on the case  claim there are factual errors in the series. Here’s another story that sheds light on the facts of the case.

By Jerry Webb

There is a quote by Vala Afshar I absolutely love:

“We are not a team because we work together.  We are a team because we respect, trust, and care for each other.”

And there you have the FBI in a nutshell.

I had the good fortune to spend two of my 22 years in the FBI on a case where teamwork was absolutely essential to the success of the case.  That would be the 18-yearlong investigation involving 16 bombing incidents which took the lives of three people.  And without the teamwork involving the FBI, ATF, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service in the form of the UNABOM Task Force (UTF), bomb number 17 would have been placed in a U.S. mailbox and sent to another innocent victim.

Ted Kaczynski

Ted Kaczynski

The fact it did not make it to a mailbox was because on April 3, 1996, the campaign of terror conducted by Theodore John Kaczynski was brought to an end by a team of dedicated professionals who descended on a lonely cabin in an isolated corner of Montana.

How they got there is quite a story.  The truth of it deserves to be told.  The truth is a fascinating story of teamwork in action.  Anything less than the truth is an insult to all who were touched by the case, investigators and victims alike.

I would like to say a little about that teamwork which led to the case being brought to a logical conclusion.  I have no intention of reinventing the wheel and talking about the whole case.  That would take a book to explain.  And, in fact, several books have been written about everything which went into the case.  An excellent one would be the one written by SAC Jim Freeman, ASAC Terry Turchie, and SSA Max Noel.

But I would like to just talk a little about what I saw from my single cog on a huge machine, hump-street-Agent perspective.  And I want to mention as many people and events as my 21-year-old memory of the case will allow me to conjure up.

Federal agents at the cabin.

Federal agents at the cabin.

We were encouraged to work with a partner as a team on all of our steps.  Much of the time I worked with Joyce Seymour of ATF who was great.  I covered a bunch of leads with Pat Turtle of our office and I also formed close bonds with Mike Grady of ATF and Paul Wilhelmus of the Postal Inspection service, both just fantastic guys.

Case Would Be Solved

We were lucky on our squad to have John Conway on board with us.  John was the original San Francisco UNABOM case agent and saw the case through to the finish line.  John’s time working UNABOM is measured in decades, not in a few months.  He never lost sight of the fact the case would one day be solved.  Even when he was being encouraged by FBIHQ supervisors to close the case during the six year lull which started when the subject was seen while placing one of the devices in 1987, and the widely circulated composite drawing of an individual in a gray hooded sweatshirt was etched into the collective memory of the nation.  John would have none of that.

The case was going to remain open and the case was going to be solved.

At the height of the task force operation in San Francisco there were around 50 federal investigators assigned to three separate squads.  Some from ATF and some Postal Inspectors.  ATF ASAC Mark Logan and Chief Postal Inspector Don Davis played a large part and sat in on the strategy sessions with both the general UTF meetings held on a regular basis, as well as the upper level management level meetings.

Read more »

Post-Dispatch: Mueller May Find Smoking Gun in Cast of Bad Characters

Robert Mueller, via FBI

Robert Mueller, via FBI

By Editorial Board
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and agents of the Russian government has been remarkably discreet, as it should be. But other sources have leaked three names — Michael D. CohenFelix Sater and Eric Schneiderman — that indicate that Mueller’s team is probing very deeply. If there’s a smoking gun to be found, Mueller is getting closer to it.

Cohen is Trump’s longtime lawyer and executive vice president of the Trump Organization. Sater is a childhood friend of Cohen, a former business associate of Trump, and a onetime government informant with ties to all manner of unsavory people, including Russian oligarchs. Schneiderman, at the opposite end of the probity scale, is New York state’s attorney general.

Cohen and Sater are making big blips on Mueller’s radar screen, as well as those of congressional committees looking into possible election collusion. Last week, The New York Times reported that Cohen had written an eight-page letter to the House Intelligence Committee vehemently denying allegations that he was a central figure in contacts between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian government.

The allegations were made in a controversial dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. That dossier identified Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the man in charge of a Kremlin operation to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and promote Trump’s.

To read more click here.