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Trump’s Lawyers Told Mueller the President Didn’t Commit Obstruction of Justice

President Trump, via White House

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s legal team met with special counsel Robert Mueller and argued the president didn’t obstruct justice by firing then-FBI Director James Comey.   

Trump’s lawyers insisted the president has the constitutional right to fire the FBI director for any reason and that Mueller was an admitted leaker, the Wall Street Journal reports

Comey said he was fired after he refused to back off an investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to interfere with the presidential election.

Mueller Taps IRS for Help with Trump-Russia Investigation

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who is now special counsel for the Russia investigation.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who is now special counsel for the Russia investigation.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller has enlisted the IRS to help investigate whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to meddle in the presidential election.

The IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit, known as CI, is an investigative group that specializes in financial crime, from tax evasion to money laundering.

One of Mueller’s top deputies, Andy Weissmann, headed the Justice Department’s investigation of Enron.

Mueller likes working with CI.

“From the agents, I know everyone has the utmost respect for both Mueller and Weissmann,” Martin Sheil, a retired IRS Criminal Investigations agent, told the Daily Beast. 

“The FBI’s expertise is spread out over so many statutes—and particularly since 9/11, where they really focused on counterintelligence and counterterror—that they simply don’t have the financial investigative expertise that the CI agents have,” Sheil continued. “When CI brings a case to a U.S. Attorney, it is done. It’s wrapped up with a ribbon and a bow. It’s just comprehensive.”

News that Mueller is working with CI came one day after it was discovered that Mueller enlisted the help of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Border Patrol Rescued 450 People Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas

Border Patrol boat, via CBP

Border Patrol boat, via CBP

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol has rescued about 450 people in the Houston area in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

John Morris, chief of staff in South Texas, told the Associated Press that agents “absolutely 100% here for rescue and safety” and are not enforcing immigration laws. 

Morris said Border Patrol deployed 35 boats to navigate the flooded streets. The boats came from stations along the Rio Grande.

The agency drew criticism for failing to suspend highway checkpoints in Texas as the storm was moving across the state.

Trump Administration Picks Companies to Build Border Wall Prototypes

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

The agency announced Thursday that it had selected four companies to build concrete prototypes of the 2,000-mile wall, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Today we mark a significant milestone,” said Ronald Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “This is the first tangible result of the action planning that has gone on. This is the use of the resources we had available for this year.”
But Trump is a long way to making his wall a reality. Congress has only appropriated $20 million, which will pay for the prototypes.

The Post wrote:

Construction on the concrete prototypes is expected to begin in two weeks, and should be completed this fall within 30 days after breaking ground. The prototypes will be 30 feet long and up to 30 feet high and will be located near one another, he said. They will act as a secondary barrier in a border enforcement zone that already has a fence.

Department of Homeland Security officials will spend 30 to 60 days using small hand tools to test the prototypes’ resistance to tampering and penetration, Vitiello said.

Officials will consider aesthetics as well as anti-climb features and how to complement the physical barrier with technology.

GOP Senators: Comey Drafted Letter Exonerating Clinton Long Before Probe Was Over

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

About two months before Hillary Clinton was even interviewed by the FBI over her private email account, the bureau’s former director James Comey already began drafting a statement exonerating her, according to Republican senators who released partial transcripts of interviews.

The draft exoneration even came before the FBI interviewed top Clinton aides who were offered immunity in exchange for their cooperation, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday in a joint statement, Politico reports.

The senators sent a letter to new FBI Director Christopher Wray, saying the Comey’s draft statement in April or early May was premature. 

“Conclusion first, fact-gathering second—that’s no way to run an investigation. The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy,” Grassley and Graham wrote.

The senators demanded all drafts prepared by Comey.

Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee said the senators’ claims, if true, underscore Trumps concerns about Comey.

“If it is as accurate as they say it is, that would certainly give cause and reason that Jim Comey was not the right person to lead the FBI,” Sanders said.

Other Stories of Interest

Mueller, New York AG Team up to Investigate Paul Manafort

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller is teaming up with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on the investigation into President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Politico reports

The news means the investigation is intensifying and that Trump won’t have the authority to pardon Manafort on any future state charges. As a result, Mueller will have more leverage to convince Manafort to cooperate with authorities on the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign.

In the past few weeks, the state and federal teams have shared information and discussed the case frequently.

Much of the focus is on potential financial crimes, including money laundering.

It’s too early to say whether charges will be filed.

 “Nothing is imminent,” said one of the people familiar with the case.

Chicago Special Education Teacher Charged with Supplying Guns, Ammo to Felon

gunsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Chicago Public Schools special education teacher is accused of supplying a handgun magazine, laser sighting device and ammunition to a convicted felon working undercover for the FBI.

Brent Turpin, a 53-year-old teacher at Kershaw Elementary in violence-torn Englewood, was charged Wednesday with federal weapons offenses, including providing a firearm and ammunition to a known felon, the Chicago Tribune reports

The Tribune wrote:

The informant is a close friend of a juvenile with gang ties who is under Turpin’s guardianship, according to the charges.

The juvenile is in custody awaiting trial on reckless homicide charges. The complaint alleged the juvenile is also “believed to have been involved” in the burglary of the South Post Guns store in Streator, which led to federal charges against three men in May.

While the charges do not allege Turpin gave the undercover informant any guns, a federal prosecutor revealed at a detention hearing Wednesday that Turpin is believed to have dealt “firearms and ammunition to felons, youths and gang members” on multiple occasions.

The investigation also showed that a 15-year-old boy was shot and wounded in the basement of Turpin’s Far South Side home last Thanksgiving weekend, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ankur Srivastava said in court.

Drug Smugglers Face Stiff Penalties for Trying to Smuggle Meth in Penis-Shaped Candles

Penis-shaped candles were stuffed with crystal meth.

Penis-shaped candles were stuffed with crystal meth.

A group of drug smugglers was arrested Wednesday and face stiff sentences after trying to hide crystal meth in penis-shaped candles.

Five suspects, including three Mexicans who were in the country illegally, were arrested after authorities found 1,300 pounds of candles stuffed with drugs in a New Jersey warehouse, the New York Daily News reports

“It’s kind of a cross between ‘Breaking Bad’ and a ‘Sex in the City’ case,” mused one law enforcement source.

They face up to five years in prison.

The sting was a joint operation by the DEA, Homeland Security and NYPD.

“DEA has seen drugs smuggled in numerous ways: concealed in puppies, lollipops, furniture and produce. But secreting a million dollars’ worth of methamphetamine in wax candles of various shapes is shocking,” said DEA Special Agent in charge James Hunt. “This seizure signifies that drug trafficking organizations are determined to create a stronghold of meth users in the Northeast.”