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Kushner Retains Access to Top-Secret Information Despite FBI Investigation

Jared Kushner. Photo by Lori Berkowitz Photography, via Wikipedia

Jared Kushner. Photo by Lori Berkowitz Photography, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Although President’s Trump’s son-in-law appears to be the target of the ongoing Russia investigation, he continues to have access to the nation’s most top-secret information.

“The bottom line is that if Kushner were not a family member, he would be dismissed to preserve the political legitimacy of the White House decision-making process and to separate his legal situation from that of the president,” William Yeomans, a former deputy assistant attorney general who spent 26 years at the Justice Department, told Vice News.

But even though Kushner, 36, has been reported to be a “person of interest,” there are no legal grounds to remove his access to classified information.

Someone who has been labeled a person of interest is not limited in what they can and can’t do, and it is business as usual,” said Denise Minor, a former FBI agent who specialized in white-collar crime and counterintelligence during her 28 years at the bureau.

But Kushner’s move are more likely to be scrutinized.

“If someone who knows they are under investigation destroyed notes and material that they should realize may be sought for an investigation, that person could worsen their own  position by giving rise to inferences against themselves, or in an extreme case, could raise the possibility of obstruction of justice,” said Paul Rothstein, a professor at Georgetown Law School.

Sen. Mark Warner: ‘Unthinkable’ If Trump Pressured Comey to End Russia Investigation

Sen. Mark Warner

Sen. Mark Warner

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

If President Trump pressured then-FBI Director to stop investigating his former national security adviser, “It would be unthinkable,” Sen. Mark Warner said Sunday in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation.

Warner is the t0p Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee that will hear testimony Thursday from Comey, whom Trump fired last month.

“We’ve known since Watergate that rules of the road were, you know, a president shouldn’t intervene in an ongoing investigation, particularly the case if it involves individuals that are close to that president,” Warner said.

While it may seem “unthinkable” to pressure an FBI director to stop an investigation, it’s exactly what Comey said happened in a memo in February. Comey also said Trump asked the then-FBI director to pledge his loyalty tot he president.

“I want him (Comey) to reinforce, one, the fact that the Russians directly intervened in our elections, which everybody accepts except for the president and maybe Vladimir Putin,” said Warner.

Jim Comey deserves to have his, in effect, day in court since the president’s disparaged him so much,” he said.

Trump Blasts His Own Justice Department Over ‘Watered Down’ Travel Ban

President Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump blasted his own Justice Department in a series of tweets Monday morning, saying his travel ban has been “watered down” in order pass legal muster.

Trump urged the Justice Department to seek a “much tougher version” of the executive order that he signed to block individuals from six-majority Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

Courts have blocked two versions of his travel ban, largely because it targets a religion.

“People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” Trump tweeted early Monday morning. “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.”

Trump also lashed out at the courts, calling them “slow and political.”

The JusticeDepartment formally asked the Supreme Court last week to declare his executive order is constitutional.

The order before the Supreme Court is a narrower version of Trump’s controversial directive, which he signed during his first week in office.

Brexit Campaigner Nigel Farage Disputes He’s an FBI ‘Person of Interest’

Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, by Michael Vardon, via Wikipedia.

Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, by Michael Vardon, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage dismissed reports that he was a “person of interest” in an FBI investigation over possible collusion between Russian and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Farage also said the FBI has not contacted him.

“No, of course they haven’t,” Farage, the former leader of Britain’s UK Independence Party, told BBC radio on Saturday when he was asked if the FBI had been in touch with him. “I mean this is just hysteria.”

The initial report, published by the Guardian on Thursday, indicated Farage was not a suspect, but he was “right in the middle of the relationship being looked at.” The newspaper reported that Farage had “raised the interest” of the FBI because of his ties to Trump and Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks.

Farage said he only met Assange once and questioned the accuracy of the FBI source in the story.

Homeland Security on High Alert After London Attacks But No Credible Threats

Homeland Security helicopter, via Homeland Security.

Homeland Security helicopter, via Homeland Security.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks in London, Homeland Security said Sunday there’s no evidence of “a specific, credible terror threat in the United States.”

Still, the federal agency is remaining vigilant and monitoring the situation, the USA Today reports. 

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was on high alert, and critical response units have been placed in “particularly prominent” locations throughout the city.

“That means New Yorkers today will see a heavier presence at key locations around the city,” he said Sunday while speaking to reporters. “You will see a stronger police presence, including our counter-terror forces, which are heavily armed and heavily geared.”

Still, he said, this “is not a cause for alarm – that is a cause for comfort, to see the NYPD out in strength to protect u against any situation,” the mayor said.

So far this year, there have been 500 terror attacks that lead to 3,500 deaths “and many more physically and mentally wounded” said Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Homeland Security has cautioned U.S. citizens in London to “maintain security awareness.”

Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Breaking into Secret Service Vehicle Near Trump Visit

Cleveland Cooley Jr.

Cleveland Cooley Jr.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Florida man who broke into a Secret Service vehicle in Palm Beach County has pleaded guilty to theft of government property.

Cleveland Cooley Jr., 36, broke into a Secret Service car that was parked at a Courtyard by Marriott while President Trump was visiting in March.

The Riviera Beach man faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 30 in U.S. District Court, according to CBS 47. 

Authorities said Cooley stole a wireless modern, a First Aid trauma kit, two Toughbook tablets and a tripod kit. He then tried to sell one of the tablets.

Cooley told authorities that he was assisted by two people he identified as “Arties” and “Trey.”

No additional arrests have been made. 

Weekend Series on Crime History: Bob Woodward Comments on Comey Firing and Watergate

Former FBI Analyst Says Trump’s Firing of Comey Shocked, Saddened Bureau

James Comey testifies about President Trump before a Senate committee.

James Comey testifies about President Trump before a Senate committee.

By Nora Ellingsen
Lawfare

On May 9, immediately after the firing of FBI Director James Comey, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CBS that the administration fired Comey, at least in part, because “rank-and-file” FBI employees had lost confidence in the Director—a claim that Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe later disputed when he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee a few days later.

I know a little something about rank and file FBI employees, having been one myself. I worked at the FBI for five years as an analyst in counterterrorism investigations before going to law school, and I still have a lot of friends and former colleagues there.

So Benjamin Wittes asked if I would write a short piece on morale at the Bureau following the firing. For the record, given what follows, let me stress that he didn’t ask for a puff piece about Comey. He asked what I could glean about the disparity between the White House’s account of the matter and McCabe’s. What is the mood like, he asked? And is there anything to be said for Huckabee Sanders’ claim?

I was hesitant to post on the subject. I am no longer an employee of the FBI, and even if I were, I would have concerns about presuming to speak on behalf of the more than 35,000 employees. I wasn’t sure I could write a fact-based post that would be able to capture or do justice to the mood of a massive and diverse organization. I’m not a pollster, after all.

But here’s the thing: opinion on the subject within the Bureau is not, as far as I can glean anyway, diverse at all. I spoke about my concerns with a friend and former coworker, explaining that I was worried that if I were to write on the subject, the post would devolve into a weepy love letter to Director Comey. My friend’s response went a long way towards summing up what, I believe, is actually the overwhelmingly consistent reaction of FBI employees to the firing of the director: “But how could the post be anything except a weepy love letter?”

Because the basic truth is that while Comey was a controversial figure in the larger political system and among Justice Department officials, he was not a controversial figure at the FBI at all. Nearly everyone loved him. In any other piece, I would caveat this statement as obvious hyperbole and oversimplification of the situation, but the degree of consensus on this point as I have talked to people has been incredible. In the most literal sense of the word, it’s almost hard to believe.