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Ex-Sen. Joe Lieberman Emerges As Leading Candidate for FBI Director

Ex-Sen. Lieberman/senate photo

Ex-Sen. Lieberman/senate photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Joe Lieberman, who was the long-time senator from Connecticut, has found himself in some interesting political situations over the years.

When Sen. John McCain ran for president in 2008, he seriously considered picking his buddy, Lieberman, as a running mate. In the end, some party loyalists thought that would be a bad idea considering Lieberman had been a Democrat most of his political career before becoming an Independent.

Now, Trump has indicated that Lieberman, 75, is a finalist for FBI director, which is a 10 year appointment. That means he’d be 85 by the time he was done.

Trump has indicated he’d like to make his pick by Friday, but his staff has urged him to take more time, reports the New York Times.

The only law enforcement background Lieberman has is his service as state attorney general for Connecticut from 1983 to 1989. He served as senator from 1989 until 2013.

 

 

Parker: Trump’s Early Influence on the Criminal Justice System and Law Enforcement

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

President Trump is a media magnet, for better or worse. Debates on public policy and personal peccadilloes whirl so fast that it seems fair to step back and try to ignore the daily sensations and make a preliminary assessment of his successes and failures in the law enforcement and criminal justice arenas.

Relations with Law Enforcement Agencies

Candidate and now President Trump often voices an intention of becoming a supporter and partner with police and federal agents. He vocally repeats the warnings from the War on Drugs contingent and openly chose their tenets over Black Lives Matter. He promises more support, financial, executive, and legislative, and he declares new policies and priorities.

The jury seems to still be out on whether these promises are going to be implemented but law enforcement seemed at least open-minded after their general ambivalence for Obama. But Trump’s “buddy” plan took a serious hit in the last few days when he abruptly fired the well respected head of the largest and most influential law agency in the nation, if not the world.

Last week Trump fired James Comey, the Director of the FBI. In the Bureau’s almost 100 year history this had occurred only twice previously:  President Richard Nixon fired the director while the nation was in the throes of Watergate, and President Bill Clinton fired William Sessions in 1993, shortly after Clinton took office.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

Although Comey had drawn some criticism by his disclosures a few days before the election that the Bureau was re-opening and then re-closing the investigation on candidate Hillary Clinton, most thought that, however misguided, the comments were not intended to affect the election or have any other ill intent. Whether they did or did not doom her election hopes is another subject.

Contrary to Trump’s protestations, Comey was and continues to be highly regarded by other law enforcement agents, Congress, and the public at large. With the men and women of the FBI, the issue is personal.

It was also the way it was done, its peremptory quality, the prevarication and confusion among Trump, his staff and spokespersons. The Director found out he’d been terminated on a TV news program. It was the kind of Amateur Hour we have come to expect from this Administration.

Ironically ,Trump’s firing resulted in the disclosure of his meddling/obstruction of the investigation of fired National Security Coordinator Michel Flynn. Trump’s remarks to Comey about closing the Flynn investigation would probably never have seen the light of day absent the firing. Not the first time Trump stepped on an important part of his anatomy.

The flare-up of violent crime statistics, concern about increasing assaults on police, general ambivalence toward Obama policies—all of these factors provided an atmosphere in which President Trump could have cemented relations with law enforcement. But the Comey affair and Trump’s meddling in several other DOJ cases and policies seem to have made this a lost opportunity for him to build an alliance with law enforcement.

Supreme Court and the Judiciary

Another potentially positive area was in his judicial appointments. From a law enforcement perspective, if the measure of the value of Justices and judges is their tendency to rule for the government in criminal cases, then the selection of Justice Gorsuch to fill Justice’s Scalia’s seat was a big win for Trump.

But the win came at a price. The absence of a Justice for a year meant that the Court was stuck in third gear and could not resolve some important questions which have split the lower courts.

Then, too, the politicization of the selection process and the abandonment of the 60 vote rule in the Senate will impact the process negatively for decades. The emphasis on broad-based excellence has been de-emphasized a notch for a candidate’s predicted loyalty on a few hot-button issues. The fact that we appeared to have gotten a Justice of excellence and integrity in Justice Gorsuch does not entirely absolve the methods and intentions of the selection process.

Read more »

Justice Department Vows to Crackdown on Leakers

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the Trump campaign.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the Trump campaign.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Some critics have said President Donald Trump has often been more obsessed with leaks than the substance involving possible improprieties.

Now, the  the Justice Department is responding, vowing to aggressively prosecute government officials who leak classified information, the Daily Beast reports.

 

“As the Attorney General has said, the Department of Justice takes unlawful leaks very seriously and those that engage in such activity should be held accountable,” an official told The Daily Beast.

 

Trump Transition Team Knew Flynn Was Under Investigation Before Trump Appointed Him National Security Advisor

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Here’s a pretty good reason why President Donald Trump should have known better than to appoint Michael T. Flynn national security adviser under the circumstances.

The New York Times reports that Flynn told President Trump’s transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign. The paper cites “two people familiar with the case.”

Despite that Trump proceeded to appoint him to the important position.

Flynn first made the disclosure about the investigation on Jan. 4 to the transition team’s chief lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, the Times reports.

Let The Seriousness Begin: The Stoic Ex-FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III Appointed Special Counsel in Russian Mess

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, the stoic leader of the bureau from 2001 to 2013, has been appointed special counsel to investigate whether the Russians influenced the 2016 campaign and the administration of President Donald Trump.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the appointment on Wednesday, saying in a statement:

“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter. My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

“Each year, the career professionals of the U.S. Department of Justice conduct tens of thousands of criminal investigations and handle countless other matters without regard to partisan political considerations. I have great confidence in the independence and integrity of our people and our processes. Considering the unique circumstances of this matter, however, I determined that a Special Counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome. Our nation is grounded on the rule of law, and the public must be assured that government officials administer the law fairly. Special Counsel Mueller will have all appropriate resources to conduct a thorough and complete investigation, and I am confident that he will follow the facts, apply the law and reach a just result.”

Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller isn’t likely to make Trump very happy. In fact, sources tell ticklethewire.com that Trump was very unhappy when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself of the investigation, giving Trump less control of the matter.

Appointments of special counsels have usually not ended very well for different presidential administrations.

Mueller, a former federal prosecutor, is known as a no-nonsense guy. He became director days before Sept. 11, 2001, and was subsequently tasked with shifting resources to deal address terrorism. After a while, some complained too many resources were being taken away from some of the basic duties like addressing white collar crimes and violence.

He was replaced in 2013 by James Comey, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.

He played to mixed reviews within the bureau. He had his loyal folks within, but he also had agents who were glad to see him go.

That being said, no one expects him to pull punches in the probe.

Mueller has resigned from his private law firm to avoid any conflicts of interest.

 

Judicial Watch Suing to Get Info on Relationship Between FBI and Ex-British Spy Who Compiled Trump Dossier

spy graphic

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Judicial Watch, a government watchdog group, wants information about the relationship between the FBI and former British spy Christopher Steele, who helped compiled a dossier alleging that Trump advisers colluded with the Russian government and that Trump met up with Russian prostitutes, according to the Daily Caller.

A lawsuit seeks all records of communications between FBI officials and Steele, who runs the London-based consulting firm, Orbis Business Intelligence.

The organization also wants records of any discussions of payments from the FBI to Steele for his work compiling the dossier, which consists of 17 memos.

Two High-Profile Prospects for FBI Director Express Disinterest

Judge Merrick Garland (White House photo)

Judge Merrick Garland (White House photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Two high-profile prospects for the FBI director job have signaled they don’t want it, reports Reuters.

Advisers to Judge Merrick Garland and Sen. John Cornyn said they discouraged them from seeking the post, cautioning that they would be leaving important, secure jobs for one fraught with politics and controversy, reports Reuters.

Nominating Garland, who failed to get confirmed as a justice for the U.S. Supreme Court under the Obama administration, may have been a way for the White House and the GOP to extend an olive branch to the Democrats. Cornyn, because of his clear partisanship, might have had a difficult time getting confirmed by his fellow senators.

In any event, it’s perceived that any new director will come into a politically charged and potentially unstable environment. Not the most ideal of circumstances considering the job is already inherently stressful.

The White House has indicated that it would like to have a nominee by Friday.

 

Trump Should Be Very Afraid of James Comey’s Notes, Post Writes

President Trump

President Trump

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In a tweet the other day, President Donald Trump suggested fired FBI Director James Comey be careful about leaking information to the press because  he just might have tape recordings.

Well, Comey has appeared to do one better: He apparently has notes of conversations with the president, and Aaron Blake of the Washington Post writes  “that should make Trump very worried.”

The Post that Comey has notes indicating that Trump had asked him to close the investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.  The White House is denying the account.

Blake writes:

But the possible existence of a trove of Comey memos may be the real story here. Comey is known to be a pretty meticulous keeper of notes, and CNN’s Jake Tapper just reported that Comey kept extensive notes of his conversations with Trump for the precise reason that they made him uneasy — presumably because of Trump making requests such as the Flynn one that crossed a line for Comey.

And the reason Trump tweeted what he did about Comey four days ago is because the New York Times had just reported Trump sought a loyalty pledge from Comey at a dinner shortly after Trump’s inauguration. It’s difficult not to presume that Comey has notes about this meeting, too.