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Analysts: Robert Mueller’s Team Could Become Targets of Cyberattacks

cyberattack-hackers-fbiBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s high-powered team assembled to investigate the extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election may become targets of cyberattacks by the very people they are investigating, analysts told the Washington Times.

That may help explain why some of the 13 attorneys on the team have yet to be identified. 

Intelligence agencies have said Russian operatives penetrated the system of the Democratic National Committee and the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and targeted state election systems. So it’s no stretch to fear the hackers may try the same thing with Mueller’s team.

“There is no question that anyone involved in a matter this high profile is going to be a target for some sort of attempted cybersurveillance,” said R. David Edelman, director of the Project on Technology, Economy and National Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former director of international cyberpolicy at the White House National Security Council.

Mueller is expected to add “several more” attorneys to his team. So far, officials have confirmed the identities of eight members of the team.

Special counsel spokesman Peter Carr declined to say what precautions that team is taking to head off a cyberattack.

“Naming these individuals publicly makes them targets,” Edelman said. “Every day you can delay, that helps protect them from adversaries — foreign and domestic.”

Weekend Series on Crime: Anthony Pellicano, Crooked Detective to the Stars

Flint Airport Attacker Tried to Buy Gun in Suburban Detroit

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Amor M. Ftouhi, 49, the Montreal man charged with stabbing an airport police officer in the neck at the Flint airport on Wednesday, was unsuccessful in an attempt to purchase a gun in the U.S., but did buy a knife here, the FBI says.


FBI’s David P. Gelios

David P. Gelios, head of the Detroit FBI, spoke Thursday about the weapons, but declined to give specifics at a downtown Detroit press conference. Fox 2’s M.L. Elrick reports the attacker tried to buy a gun at the Gilbraltar Trade Center in Mt. Clemens. WXYZ reports that he was turned away because of his citizenship.

Gelios said Ftouhi entered the U.S. legally by car at Lake Champlain, N.Y., on June 16 and was in Michigan last Sunday — two days later.

“I can’t say definitely he wasn’t here sooner, but we show activity in Michigan on June 18,” said Gelios, who conducted the press conference with acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch to talk about the attack on airport officer Lt. Jeff Neville, who is in stable condition.

He said that Ftouhi had not been flagged or monitored at any time by the FBI or Canadian authorities.

“We continue to have no information that suggests Ftouhi’s attack on Lt. Neville was part of a wider plot, nor do we have any indication he was aided in this incident or had any associates associated to this  incident.

Why Flint’s airport?

Gelios said the FBI is investigating that,and said he was looking for an international airport and he apparently picked the Bishop International Airport.


Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch

Ftouhi had no ticket to travel and had left his car parked at the Flint airport, where the FBI examined its contents.

Additional charges are likely, says Acting U.S. Attorney Lemisch. He gave no details, but suggested terrorism charges could come if the evidence points that way.

Ftouhi had yelled “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) as he carried out the attack, federal authorities say.

How Trump’s Threatening Tweet about Secret Recordings Hurt Him

President Trump, via White House

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s tweet that suggestion he recorded conversations with then-FBI Director James Comey appeared to be a desperate act of intimidation.

Trump’s tweet more than a month ago prompted speculation that the president secretly recorded Comey.

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” he tweeted.

Then on Thursday, Trump acknowledged he has no recordings of their conversations.

According to a timeline provided by Politifact, Comey’s decision to speak out about the conversations with Trump were inspired by the mention of recordings.

“I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night, because it didn’t dawn on me originally that there might be corroboration for our conversation. There might be a tape,” Comey said. “And my judgment was, I needed to get that out into the public square. And so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter … because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”

Then on June 8, Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee and said the existence of recordings would be a relief.

I’ve seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” he said.

“I hope there are, and I’ll consent to the release of them.”

The next day, congressional investigators ordered the disclosure of any recordings of conversations between Trump and Comey.

Trump responded that he would discuss the existence of tapes “over a ver short period of time. You are going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer.”

A day before Trump was ordered to turn over the recordings, Trump denied having recordings.

“With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are “tapes” or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings,” he tweeted.

But the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, D-Calif., isn’t satisfied.

“Did he seek to mislead the public?” Schiff said in a statement. “Was he trying to intimidate or silence James Comey? And if so, did he take other steps to discourage potential witnesses from speaking out?”

Trump’s Newest Strategy to Undermine Investigation: Mueller Can’t Be Trusted

donald trump rallyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Fake news. Bitter Democrats. Witch hunt.

Those are President Trump’s go-to ways of trying to undermine accusations that he obstructed justice when he allegedly told then-FBI Director James to stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Now Trump is zeroing in on special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed by the Justice Department to investigate Russia’s meddling in the presidential election.

Suggesting that Mueller is “very, very good friends” with fired FBI Director James Comey, Trump told Fox News that it’s “bothersome” for Mueller to be involved.

Without a shred of evidence, Trump also suggested that Mueller’s team of lawyers are “all Hillary Clinton supporters.”

Mueller, by the way, is a register Republican and is known for his fierce independence when it comes to investigating politicians. 

FBI Probes Business Deals Involving Paul Manafort, Son-in-Law

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Financial transactions by Paul Manafort and his son-in-law are the subjects of a federal inquiry following allegations that investors were defrauded.

The New York Times reported this morning that Manafort’s son-in-law Jeffrey Yohai made a series of real estate deals with millions of dollars from Manafort, President Trump’s disgraced campaign chairman who resigned last August following reports that’s consulting work with the Ukraine netted him millions of dollars in off-the-book payments. 

The Times reported:

The transactions involve the financing of apartments and luxury homes in New York and California using money from Mr. Manafort, as well as from other investors solicited by the son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai, including the actor Dustin Hoffman and his son. F.B.I. agents have reviewed financial records related to Mr. Yohai, who has been accused in a lawsuit of defrauding investors, the sources said.

It was not clear if the F.B.I.’s interest was part of the broader investigation that has ensnared Mr. Manafort, who was President Trump’s campaign chairman until he resigned last August amid reports that he had received millions of dollars in off-the-book payments for his consulting work in Ukraine. Mr. Manafort has been the focus of several inquiries looking into his business activities, failure to file foreign lobbying disclosures and possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

Mr. Manafort has emerged as a key figure in the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation, which has focused on interactions between Trump associates and Russians during and after last November’s presidential election. In addition to his work for Ukraine’s former president, an ally of the Russian leader Vladimir V. Putin, Mr. Manafort’s long lobbying and consulting career has included numerous financial dealings with Russian oligarchs. One of his former employees has been investigated in Ukraine on suspicion of having ties to Russian intelligence.

The revelation about investigators’ interest in Mr. Yohai’s activities comes amid indications that the scrutiny of Mr. Manafort has intensified. Besides the F.B.I. and congressional inquiries, the New York State attorney general’s office has opened a preliminary inquiry “focused on certain real estate dealings” involving Mr. Manafort, according to a third person with direct knowledge of the matter.

Ex-Homeland Security Director Says Politics Prevented Disclosure of Russian Meddling

Former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson testifies before the House Intelligence Committee.

Former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson testifies before the House Intelligence Committee.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In what has become typical fashion, President Trump blamed the Obama administration for failing to “stop”  Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

“By the way, if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during Obama Admin. Why didn’t they stop them?” Trump tweeted at 9:22 a.m. Thursday.

Truth is, the FBI and other intelligence agencies were trying to stop Russia and had found evidence in August that Kremlin-backed hackers targeted electoral systems in 21 states, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson said the Obama administration didn’t immediately reveal Russia’s interference to avoid an appearance of partisanship.

“We were very concerned that we would not be perceived as taking sides in the election, injecting ourselves into a very heated campaign,” Johnson told the committee.

When asked what took the Obama administration so long to disclose the allegations of Russian interference, Johnson cited the need to protect intelligence sources and methods.

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson said the Obama administration didn’t immediately reveal Russia’s interference to avoid an appearance of partisanship. The public disclosure finally came Oct. 7, when Johnson and James R. Clapper the then-director of national intelligence, said in a joint statement that Russia was involved in cyber “threats and disclosures … intended to interfere with the U.S. Election process.” They also said a Russian company attempted to break in to state voter registration databases, The L.A. Times reported. 

Johnson said the Oct. 7 statement “did not get the attention it deserved” because it was morphed in media coverage later that day by the leak of Trump making crude comments about women on a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape.

Assaults on Border Patrol Agents Rise Even As Immigration Declines

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol agents have come under increasing attack this year, even though illegal immigration is down.

Reported assaults on agents rose to more than 550 from January to June 1 of this year, from 300 during the same period last year, Carla Provost, the acting chief of the Border Patrol, told Congress on Wednesday, the Washington Times reports. 

Provost declined to speculate on why assaults are surging, but the timing coincides with fierce immigration debates in the U.S.

The attacks underscore the dangers facing Border Patrol agents, she said.