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Manafort Alerted Lawmakers to Trump Jr.’s Meeting with Russian Lawyer

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort tipped off authorities to a meeting between between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer during the presidential campaign.

Manafort, whose home was raided by the FBI late last month, divulged the meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya about three months ago, Bloomberg News reported Thursday. 

The controversial meeting involved Trump’s son, other campaign representatives and a Russian lawyer who pledged to have compromising information about Hilary Clinton.

Manafort divulged the meeting to lawmakers following a congressional request for Russia-related information during the campaign.

Manafort also handed over more than 300 documents to Congress.

Other Stories of Interest

Stejskal: Discovery Channel TV Series on Unabomber Disrespects The Investigation’s Achievements

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office. Stejskal was the case agent on the UNABOM  bombing that targeted Michigan Prof. James McConnell in 1985, and investigated Kaczynski’s time at Michigan as a grad student.

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

The Discovery Channel TV series, “Manhunt Unabomber,” disrespects achievements of  the “Unabom” investigation by creating a predominantly fictionalized story.

Theodore Kaczynski (FBI photo)

Theodore Kaczynski (FBI photo)

One of the shows I watched in my youth was “The Untouchables.” I was about ten when it premiered in 1959 on TV, and it was one the things that inspired me to want to be a G-man. The first episodes of “The Untouchables” were based on Eliot Ness’ book by the same name that he wrote with Oscar Fraley a sportswriter. (The book was published in 1957 less than a year after Ness’ death.) Those early episodes closely followed the book and were presented as a true story. It is very good story – a crusading lawman puts together a team, a group of incorruptible agents who take on Chicago’s biggest crime lord, the ruthless Al Capone, and topple his empire that was built on the manufacture and sale of beer and liquor during prohibition.

The problem is some of the key parts of the story aren’t true.

The Untouchables didn’t topple Capone. They did raid and destroy some of Capone’s distilleries and breweries. This diminished Capone’s bootleg income and inconvenienced him financially, but it was the IRS agents working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office that toppled Capone. The IRS agents and U.S. attorneys built a strong tax evasion case against Capone independent of Ness and the Untouchables. Capone was convicted of five counts of tax evasion and no violations of the Volstead Act (the illegal manufacture and/or sale of alcohol for consumption). Capone was sentenced to 11 years, most of which he served at Alcatraz off the coast of San Francisco.

Ness Never Met Capone

Unlike the TV series or the subsequent movie, which was even more fictionalized, Ness and Capone never met. There was no dramatic confrontation.

Ness and Fraley in writing the book embellished the truth regarding Ness’ role in the demise of the Capone empire, and the TV series that followed solidified that fiction. Those IRS agents and US attorneys who successfully prosecuted Capone are forgotten. (For the record, the Chicago U.S. attorney who prosecuted Capone was George E.Q. Johnson, and the lead IRS agent was Frank Wilson – lest we forget.)

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That brings me to a series currently running on the Discovery Channel about the “Unabom” investigation. The show makes the usual claim/disclaimer that it’s based on a true story. Unfortunately, it’s more fiction than truth. The series makes a large departure from the truth – it portrays a minor player on the Unabom Task Force (UTF), Jim Fitzgerald, an FBI profiler and forensic linguist,  as the investigator who broke the case and was involved in key aspects of the case. It then builds on that fiction by depicting a relationship between the Unabomber/Ted Kaczynski and Fitzgerald that never happened.

The Unabom (FBI shorthand for University and Airline Bomber) investigation began in 1978 with the first bomb and continued until the Unabomber was identified, arrested and prosecuted in 1998. (The last bombing was in 1995.) The investigation was the longest and most expensive in FBI history. Many people were involved in the investigation from different agencies. Some spent a substantial portion of their careers on the investigation. All kinds of investigative techniques were utilized, huge data bases were built and countless leads were followed only to what seemed to be dead ends.

In the later years, a Unabom Task Force was formed in San Francisco. The lead agency was the FBI, but there were representatives from the U.S. Postal Inspectors and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). San Francisco had been the mailing origin for some of the later bombs, and the San Francisco Chronicle was one of the newspapers that Unabomber had chosen to communicate through with law enforcement.

Finally, the big break came when the Unabomber claimed that he would discontinue his use of bombings to kill if his 35,000-word manifesto were printed in a major newspaper. (He did reserve the right to commit acts of sabotage without targeting people.) It was decided that the publication could lead to identifying the Unabomber, but a major newspaper had to be persuaded to publish it.

Greg Stejskal

Greg Stejskal

The Attorney General, Janet Reno, the then Director of the FBI, Louie Freeh, the San Francisco Special Agent in Charge, Jim Freeman, the Assistant SAC, Terry Turchie and Kathy Puckett, an FBI agent and a member of the UTF with a psychology background (PhD), met with and persuaded the very reluctant editors of the NY Times and the Washington Post to publish the manifesto. It was decided that the Post would publish the manifesto in its entirety, and the newspapers agreed to share the immense cost of the publication. (Jim Fitzgerald had no part in this process.)

Publication Triggers Suspicions

The publication led to David Kaczynski and his wife’s realization that David’s brother, Ted, was probably the Unabomber. (David’s wife had suspected that Ted was the Unabomber for a while.) They reached this conclusion by comparing some of Ted’s early writings with the manifesto.

Read more »

What FBI Raid of Manafort’s Home Shows about Probe of Russia And Trump’s Campaign

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s raid of the home of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort shows that the investigation of Russia meddling in the presidential election is ramping up.

The longtime Republican operative and lobbyist is under investigation by both special counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Judiciary Committee for his alleged role in colluding with Russia to help get Trump elected.

“It is a big deal,” former Justice Department prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg told Politico. “Prosecutors do not take aggressive steps like this with subjects who the government feels are being open and cooperative. And they also do not do this to ‘send a message.’ They do it because they think there is evidence to be found and that if they do not act aggressively, it could be destroyed.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the raid is “clear evidence” connecting him to “some criminal wrongdoing.”

“This highly significant step reaffirms the reasons that I first urged the appointment of a Special Counsel with the power to execute such investigative measures and bring criminal charges and redoubles my determination to protect this investigation from political interference,” Blumenthal said in a statement.

Duke Law School professor and former federal prosecutor Samuel Buell said the search warrant “confirms, beyond doubt, serious, criminal investigative focus on Manafort.”

Ex-FBI Agent, Daughter Convicted of Killing Daughter’s Husband

Thomas Martens and his daughter Jason Corbett.

Thomas Martens and his daughter Jason Corbett.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former FBI agent and his daughter were found guilty by a jury Wednesday of murdering the daughter’s husband by crushing his skull with a baseball bat and brick at his house in Lexington, N.C.

Thomas Martens, who spent 31 years as an FBI agent, and his 33-year-old daughter, Molly Corbett, were sentenced to 20-25 years in prison on charges of second-degree murder in the death of Jason Corbett, the Washington Post reports

Martens admitted he attacked Corbett in August 2015, but he maintained he did so to save his daughter’s life after walking into the home to find the husband choking Molly Corbett.

But that story unraveled, and the jury didn’t buy it.

AG Sessions’ Extreme Position on Marijuana Worries States That Legalized It

Photo by Steve Neavling.

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said earlier this year that marijuana “is only slightly less awful” than heroin, has prompted concerns among states that have legalized marijuana use.

Despite a federal law banning marijuana use, eight states have approved marijuana for recreational use. Nearly 30 states have legalized medical marijuana.

In letters released last week, Sessions warned four governors that he had “serious concerns” about legalizing marijuana, the Los Angeles Times reports

The letters were vague enough that states aren’t sure whether Sessions plans to crack down on legalization. Sessions said he wanted to talk with governors about his concerns.

“The letters did appear to be a bit off base, and in several instances referred to the way things were but are no longer. But more importantly, the letters did not tell the states they lack the authority to sell marijuana,” Mason Tvert, a co-director of Colorado’s 2012 legal marijuana initiative, said.

Watch John Oliver Criticize Trump’s Plan to Hire 5,000 More Border Patrol Agents

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Comedian John Oliver slammed President Trump’s plans to add more protection at the border, saying corruption and misconduct could easily follow.

The host of “Last Week Tonight” questioned the decision to hire an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents.

Watch the full clip above. 

Israeli Teen Accused of Running U.S. Bomb Threat Service on Dark Web

israeli flagBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Israeli teen arrested on allegations of phoning in bomb threats to at least 245 American schools and Jewish community centers made some of the threats for money on the dark web.

Michael Kadar, 19, who was arrested in Israel in March, is accused of running a bomb threat business using the dark web marketplace AlphaBay, which was shut down in July, Vice reports

According to the FBI, Kadar charged $30 for each bomb threat and $45 if one of his customers wanted to frame someone for the message. He received $240,000 for his services.

The scheme began in July, stoking fears of rising anti-Semitism and prompting scores of evacuations, the FBI alleges.

Kadar was arrested after he gave away his IP address by failing to use a proxy server.

Kadar has been charged in the U.S. and Israel, but so far he’s not expected to be extradited to America. But he faces up to 10 years in prison on the charges in Israel.

Trump Publicly Slams Special Counsel Mueller, Privately Expresses ‘Appreciation’

President Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

While President Trump slams the federal investigation into alleged collusion between his campaign and Russia, his lawyer is sending entirely different messages to special counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump’s chief counsel John Dowd sent a message of appreciation to the special counsel, suggesting the president was happy about the investigation.

“He appreciates what Bob Mueller is doing,” Dowd told USA TODAY in an interview Tuesday. “He asked me to share that with him and that’s what I’ve done.” 

Down said Trump’s legal team has been in touch with Mueller’s office, and he admits he sent a message expressing “appreciation and greetings” to Mueller, who Trump has criticized numerous times publicly.

“The president has sent messages back and forth,’’ Dowd said, declining to elaborate further.