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Trump’s Shadowy Ties to Russian-Connected Firm Accused of Money Laundering

Felix Sater, via Twitter

Felix Sater, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The special investigation into alleged ties between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia may now include serious criminal allegations about a dormant real-estate development firm accused of running a criminal operation while it was partnering with the future president and the Kremlin.

The Russian-connected Bayrock Group, which operated two floors below Trump’s office in the Trump Tower in New York, is accused in a lawsuit of serving as a front for money laundering while the company was partnering with Trump on a number of real estate projects. 

One of the influential partners was Felix Sater, a Russia-born career criminal with ties to the Kremlin and American organized crime groups, Bloomberg reports. 

The president has repeatedly claimed he barely knows Sater, but former Bayrock employees said Sater met frequently with Trump at his organization’s headquarters in New York and escorted Trump’s children around Moscow.

Sater also teamed up with Trump’s personal attorney to in a failed attempt to lobby National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on a Ukrainian peace proposal.

While testifying about Russian interference before the House Intelligence Committee in March, FBI Director James Comey declined to answer a question about Trump’s relationship with Sater, who was born in the Soviet Union in 1966 before emigrating with his parents to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, a heavily Russian enclave.

Sater had worked as a mob informant for the FBI before he fled to Russia to escape criminal charges.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Paints Troubling Portrait of Man Who Opened Fire at Republicans on Baseball Field

James T. Hodgkinson was killed by police after he shot four people at a congressional baseball game.

James T. Hodgkinson was killed by police after he shot four people at a congressional baseball game.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Before firing 60 rounds from a rifle and handgun at an unwitting group of Republican lawmakers and staffers who were practice baseball in Alexandria, Va., James T. Hodgkinson had been living in his van in the parking lot of the YMCA on the outskirts of Washington D.C.

Struggling with his marriage, anger management problems and a beef against Republicans, the unemployed home inspector from Illinois approached the baseball players and asked, “Is this the Republican or Democrat baseball team?”

Soon after the encounter, the 66-year-old retrieved a 7.62-caliber SKS rifle and 9mm handgun from his van before returning and calmly and deliberately opening fire at the lawmakers and their staff.

U.S. Capitol Police special agents and officers from Alexandria returned fire, killing the gunman.

Five people were wounded, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who is in fair condition at the hospital after multiple emergency surgeries.

On Wednesday, the FBI revealed details of a troubled Hodgkinson who had long-simmering hatred for Republicans.

“While the shooter was known to have a history of diagnosed mental illness, he is known, or it was known, to have an anger management problem,” Timothy R. Slater, FBI special agent in charge, said at a press conference Wednesday. “He was struggling in all kinds of different ways.” 

The FBI still doesn’t know why Hodgkinson was in the area, and agents believe he acted alone and that the shooting was spontaneous. 

Trump’s Deputy Assistant Gorka Fired by FBI for Seething Islamophobia

Sebastian Gorka, right, via Facebook.

Sebastian Gorka, right, via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just months before Sebastian Gorka joined the White House as a special adviser to President Trump, he was fired by the FBI for his seething Islamophobic rhetoric, the Daily Beast reveals.

The inflammatory pundit was working for the FBI to lecture agents on counterterrorism issues while serving as a paid consultant for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

While instructing the Joint Terrorism Operations Course on the fundamentals of counterterrorism in August 2016, the FBI was disturbed that he was using anti-Muslim rhetoric and suggesting that all Muslims adhered to Sharia law and were prone to radicalization.

A month later, the FBI fired Gorka, who now serves as deputy assistant to the president after working as national security editor for Breitbart under Steve Bannon, the controversial White House strategist.

In a February 2012 speech to the Westminster Institute think tank, Gorka compared Osama bin Laden to “the Martin Luther of Islam.”

As the FBI distanced itself from Gorka, whom the bureau paid $103,000 for training materials between 2012-16, Trump made him a leading supporter of the presidential campaign and continued to embrace him after the real estate mogul was elected.

McCabe: FBI Providing Mueller with ‘a Great Number of Folks’ from Bureau

Acting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

Acting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The acting head of the FBI told Congressional members that the bureau is providing special counsel Robert Mueller with a substantial number of personnel to investigate alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who replaced James Comey when President Trump fired him under suspicious circumstances on May 9, told the House Appropriations Subcommittee that Mueller will have plenty of resources to conduct the investigation, which includes possible ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign, Politico reports

“We have a great number of folks that have already been detailed to that team and I have assured Director Mueller that we will do everything necessary to deliver the resources and meet the needs that he has to do that work,” McCabe said.

Last week, Mueller’s office announced that it had added 13 lawyers to the team investigating Russian influence.

McCabe also said he never felt comfortable talking to Trump

FBI Says Attacker of Officer at Flint, Mich., Airport is From Quebec

Featured_screen_shot_2017-06-21_at_1.23.26_pm_26642

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI said it is investigating the stabbing of a Flint airport police officer at Bishop International Airport in Flint as an act of terrorism, and identified the attacker as Amor M. Ftouhi, 49, of Quebec, Canada.

Authorities said Ftouhi referenced killings in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan and yelled “Allahu Akbar,” while stabbing airport officer, Lt. Jeff Neville, in the neck and back. He is listed in stable condition.

One local law enforcement officer said there was no immediate indication that the suspect had ties to Flint.

An affidavit by FBI agent Thomas Sondgeroth said that the suspect yelled “Allahu Akbar,” pulled out a knife and stabbed the officer in the neck.

The affidavit went on to say:

After stabbing the police officer, Ftouhi continued to yell “Allah” several times. He further exclaimed something similar to, “you have killed people in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die.” The law enforcement officer was able to subdue Ftouhi, who asked the officer why he did not kill him.

Amor M. Ftouhi (Facebook photo)

Amor M. Ftouhi (Facebook photo)

“I have also spoken with another FBI agent who reviewed surveillance video of the airport premises, including the location of the stabbing,” the FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. “The agent informed me that at approximately 8:52 a.m., Ftouhi entered the first level of Bishop International Airport carrying a red duffle and a dark satchel bag. At approximately 9:10, Ftouhi went up an escalator to the second level of the airport. At the top of the escalator, Ftouhi turned left to go to a restaurant. At approximately 9:37:56, Ftouhi left the restaurant carrying both bags.

“Ftouhi entered a second-floor restroom at 9:38:15 and left at approximately 9:38:43 without either bag. At 9:38:48, Ftouhi attacked the officer and was subdued by other law enforcement shortly after.”

Ex-Sen. Lowell Weicker: No Comparison Between Trump and Nixon — ‘Yet’

Lowell P. Weicker Jr. is a former Republican senator from Connecticut and a former governor of that state.

Ex-Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr.

Ex-Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr.

By Lowell P. Weicker Jr.
Op-Ed-New York Times

Forty-five years ago this month, a security guard named Frank Wills noticed some tape over a door lock at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate Complex in Washington. What Mr. Wills set in motion when he raised the alarm that led to the arrest of the Watergate burglars had huge consequences for our nation.

In President Richard Nixon’s efforts to hide the truth of the Watergate burglary, it was paramount to stop the F.B.I. investigation. So the president enlisted the C.I.A. director and his deputy to intercede. When the F.B.I. director pushed back and the intelligence officers refused to continue the White House scheme, the cover-up began its slow unraveling.

It took time. It was 16 months before Mr. Nixon topped that initial obstruction by firing the special prosecutor and the two senior Justice Department officers. And then, a few months later, it was disclosed that Mr. Nixon had underpaid his taxes for years, and he was forced to pay hundreds of thousands in restitution. All the while, Mr. Nixon’s defenders claimed the investigations were a partisan payback for his 1972 election victory.

As the last living member of the Senate committee that investigated the Watergate affair, I am often asked about what similarities I see between the criminality of the Nixon operation and this hash of a presidency that is the Trump White House. My answer is that there is no comparison. Yet.

Read the Full Column

Sean Ragan to Head FBI Sacramento Office

fbi logo large

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Sean Ragan, special agent in charge of the Criminal Division in the Los Angeles Field Office, has been named head of the Sacramento Field Office, the FBI announced Tuesday.

Ragan joined the FBI in 1996 in the San Francisco Division, where he focused primarily on gang, organized crime and violent crime. He also served on the San Francisco Division’s SWAT team and as a front line supervisor.

Over the years, Ragan has held leadership roles in the Criminal Investigative Division, Atlanta Division, and the Criminal Justice Information Services Division, a press release said.

He assumes his new role in late July.

FBI to Reveal Details Today of Congressional Baseball Shooting in Virginia

Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI plans to release details today of the shooting that critically injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four other people last week on a northern Virginia baseball field.

The bureau’s Washington Field Office will reveal the investigative findings by agents and other law enforcement officials.

Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, was critically wounded when he was shot near the hip, but after several surgeries, his condition has upgraded to serious.

James T. Hodgkinson was killed by police after he shot four people at a congressional baseball game. Photo via Facebook.

James T. Hodgkinson was killed by police after he shot four people at a congressional baseball game. Photo via Facebook.

The shooting happened while Scalise and other congressional Republicans were practicing in advance of ann annual charity baseball game against Democrats.

James T. Hodgkinson, a harsh critic of President Trump and an employed home inspector, opened fire at the field and became involved in shootout with police before he was mortally wounded.