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Syracuse.com: Mr. President, Don’t Fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions

President Trump, via White House

President Trump, via White House

By Editorial Board
Syracuse.com

President Donald Trump’s public criticism of his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is not merely Trump being Trump. It is part of a campaign to undermine the independence of the Justice Department and lay the groundwork for the president to fire Independent Counsel Robert Mueller, the man in charge of investigating Russia’s meddling in the presidential election.

Don’t do it, Mr. President.

Mueller must finish his investigation. Any attempt to short-circuit it will lead the American people to conclude you have something to hide, and are willing to use the power of your office to hide it. They will not abide a president who puts himself above the law. Even a Congress led by the president’s own party would have no choice but to act.

Let Mueller be Mueller, Mr. President.

Who is he? A decorated Marine veteran of Vietnam; FBI director under two presidents, a Republican and a Democrat; architect of the agency’s terror-fighting mission; the man a former Justice Department colleague describes as “utterly incorruptible” and “ramrod straight in his integrity.” This was how he was described upon taking the job and nothing since has occurred to taint that sparkling reputation.

The president, with scant evidence, accuses Mueller of having conflicts of interest – one of the few reasons an independent counsel can be dismissed. In an interview with the New York Times, Trump warned Mueller not to stray into his family’s business affairs, saying it would be crossing a “red line.” On the contrary, Mueller should follow the evidence wherever it leads. That is the obligation Mueller accepted and has apparently embraced in taking on the independent counsel role.

To read more click here. 

Trump Continues Attack on AG Sessions for Third Consecutive Day

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump continued his public attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions for a third consecutive day on Wednesday, this time for failing to fire the FBI’s acting director over his wife’s political connections to Hillary Clinton.

The criticism of Sessions’ handling of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe has raised speculation that Trump is setting up the attorney general’s firing.

Trump has been fuming over Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, a decision that allowed the deputy AG to hire a special counsel to director the probe.

Some Republicans have come to Sessions’ defense, warning the president not to remove the attorney general.

Disgraced Ex-FBI Agent Connolly Gets New 2039 Prison Release Date in Mob Murder

Former FBI Agent John Connolly.

Former FBI Agent John Connolly.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

If he lives long enough, disgraced former FBI agent John Connolly will benefit from a new prison sentence. 

Connolly, who is behind bars for a 1982 murder tied to imprisoned New England mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, will be 98 by the time of his June 22, 2039 release date, the Associated Press reports.

The new release date was set by the Florida Commission on Offender Review.

Connolly, who was Bulger’s FBI handler in Boston, was convicted in 2008 of second-degree murder following the murder of World Jai-Alai President John Callahan. Connolly tipped off Bulger that Callahan was about to rat out Bulger’s gang in another murder.

The relationship between Bulger and Connolly inspired the 2006 Martin Scorsese film, “The Departed.”

FBI Warns of Scam in Which Parents Are Told Their Children Have Been Kidnapped

Smart PhoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is warning residents in several states about a terrifying scam in which mortified parents are told their child had been kidnapped and won’t be released until they pay ransom.

Calling it “virtual kidnapping for ransom,” law enforcement said a network of suspects in the U.S. and Mexico is extorting money from parents by convincing them their loved one was taken hostage, even though they weren’t, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

Valerie Sobel received one of the calls two years ago. The caller said. “We have your daughter Simone’s finger. Do you want the rest of her in a body bag?”

Following the alleged kidnapper’s demands, Sobel wired $4,000 to the caller to save her daughter. Turned out, her daughter was fine and never kidnapped.

Thousands of parents in several states have received similar calls.

The FBI said it can’t stop the scam with arrests alone, so the bureau is working with local police agencies to educate people on the scam.

Democratic Groups Urge Delay on FBI Director Vote Until Trump Comes Clean on Mueller

Christopher Wray at confirmation hearing.

Christopher Wray at confirmation hearing.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A group of Democratic groups is urging the Senate to oppose the confirmation of Christopher Wray as FBI director until President Trump can assure lawmakers that he won’t fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

A letter addressed to key members of the Senate suggests President Trump “seems intent on thwarting special counsel’s investigation” into Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Before moving to confirm a new Trump-selected FBI Director, the Senate should be assured that President Trump and his White House will respect the independence of the FBI’s law enforcement function from White House interference,” according to the letter, signed by nine groups, including Citizens of Responsibility and Ethics, Common Cause and MoveOn.org.

It’s unclear whether the letter will have any impact. Wray has bi-partisan support after pledging independence during his confirmation hearing, and lawmakers are expected to approve the confirmation within a month.

Vintage FBI Surveillance Van Packed with Spying Equipment Sells for $18,700

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It certainly was a classic.

The 1980s-era FBI surveillance van included features such as a toilet, extra 12-volt vehicle batteries, TV monitors, video recording equipment, DVD players and hidden microphones on the exterior.

A North Carolina resident sold the 1989 Dodge Ram 350 on eBay for $18,7000.

1980s-era FBI surveillance van is for sale on eBay.

1980s-era FBI surveillance van is for sale on eBay.

Ginger Senfeldas said he bought the 1989 Dodge Ram 350 on a government auction website.

“We found out that there’s microphones as we took the side markers out of the van, and there’s microphones hidden in headlights and taillights. That’s why there’s little holes everywhere,” he said.

Senfeldas said there also were handcuffs, binoculars and leftover video from an old stakeout.

The van, which only had 23,5000 miles on it, received 47 bids before the auction ended at 7 p.m. Monday.

LAT: Trump’s Attacks on Session Is about Skirting Justice

President Trump

President Trump

By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times

It has been obvious at least since President Trump fired former FBI Director James B. Comey — a shocking decision that he acknowledged was done with “this Russia thing” in mind — that Trump is being driven to bizarre and desperate lengths by the FBI investigation into possible ties between his presidential campaign and Russia.

Now Trump’s aversion to the investigation he has wrongly characterized as a “witch hunt” has led him to savage his attorney general, Jeff Sessions. On Tuesday, the president continued that attack, in what is either a prelude to firing Sessions or an attempt to humiliate him into resigning.

Either outcome would make it easier for Trump to engineer the dismissal of Robert S. Mueller III, the former FBI director who is leading the investigation into Russian meddling with last year’s election, connections between Russia and the Trump campaign and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” — including, quite possibly, financial transactions involving Trump and his family.

Trump’s ongoing efforts to impede the investigation through both public and private threats and irresponsible action are deeply inappropriate, to say the least. This is a test of character for Republican members of Congress. They must make it clear to the president that going after Sessions as a way of muscling Mueller will have consequences.

To read more click here.

Teacher, Children Detained by Border Patrol for Refusing to Confirm Citizenship

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol agents detained a California teacher and her children for refusing to answer questions about her citizenship.

Shane Parmely, who is a U.S. citizen, said she and her children were detained for more than an hour.

Parmely posted videos of the confrontation with Border Patrol agents on Facebook, leading many to question whether she was within her rights or had an obligation to comply.

Shane Parmely refused to give her citizenship status to Border Patrol agents.

Shane Parmely refused to give her citizenship status to Border Patrol agents.

When asked by agents if she’s a citizen, Parmely responded, “You can ask me. I don’t have to answer.”

But the Border Patrol agent disagreed, saying she would “be detained here until you state your citizenship.”

Parmely told ABC 10News she refused to reveal her citizenship status in protest of Border Patrol agents routinely targeting anyone who is non-white.

“When you see something that is clearly racist, you have a choice,” Parmely told 10News. “We would have no civil rights if people didn’t question authority or challenge the status quo.”

Other Stories of Interest