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Mueller Hides from Spotlight to Avoid Leaks in Russia-Trump Probe

Robert Mueller, via FBI

Robert Mueller, via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller has slinked into the shadows to avoid the media and others as he embarks on one of the most high-profile investigations in decades.

Politico reports that Mueller has stayed out of the public spotlight, often interviewing people in a conference room in his Washington D.C. office, a location that is a closely guarded secret. 

Mueller was appointed to investigate suspected collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives.

Politico wrote:

Militant about leaks, the former FBI director swears participants to a secrecy that they have honored to a remarkable degree. Reporters have long considered him among Washington’s toughest nuts to crack: “You’d be embarrassed to ask Bob Mueller for a leak,” said the veteran journalist Steven Brill, who has written extensively about media coverage of special counsels. “It’d be like asking him to watch a porn movie with you.”

Occasionally a savvy Washingtonian scores a chance sighting. When public relations professional Eddie Gonzalez saw the Russia investigator walking alone near Capitol Hill on a mid-September weekday afternoon, he suppressed an instinct to chase Mueller down for a selfie, he said. But a hotel restaurant worker did score a picture with him this spring, which her son posted on Twitter. Mueller grinned for that photo, slightly. But when a CNN crew chased him down a Senate hallway in June — “The president thinks it’s a ‘witch hunt.’ Is there any way you can respond to that?” — the poker-faced G-man just stared ahead and kept walking.

The moment illustrated the strange dynamic of Mueller’s mission. He is leading a highly secretive investigation into a president who publicly criticizes the probe on a regular basis. It also underscored what former colleagues, fellow prosecutors and people close to the investigation call Mueller’s calculated effort, in the face of a president who has contemplated his firing, to make himself as small a part of the story as possible.

Weekend Series on Crime History: Nixon Vs. Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox

DEA Agents Wearing Protective Gear to Avoid Fentanyl Exposure

About 30,000 pills laced with fentanyl were discovered by the DEA. Photo via DEA.

About 30,000 pills laced with fentanyl were discovered by the DEA. Photo via DEA.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ever-growing opioid crisis that claims thousands of lives a year also is becoming increasingly dangerous for law enforcement agencies, including the DEA.

More police and DEA agents are becoming hospitalized because of exposure to fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid that is many times stronger than heroin.

NBC New York reports that law enforcement is relying more protective gear than ever to avoid exposure.

“Whereas heroin can kill you in milligrams, fentanyl can kill you in micrograms,” said Gary Tuggle, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s agent-in-charge for Philadelphia.

The DEA has responded by increasing safety protocols that require agents to wear bulletproof vests, a breathing apparatus and fully enclosed suits.

“What you’re seeing here is the Level A suit, which is the highest level,” DEA Special Agent Pat Trainor said.

Other Stories of Interest

Special Counsel Mueller Loses Another FBI Official in Russia Probe

Robert Mueller

Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of lawyers and investigators who are investing Russia’s meddling in the presidential election has lost a second FBI official.

ABC News reports that FBI veteran Lisa Page has returned to the office of the FBI’s general counsel. 

One source said Page had been expected to work for Mueller only temporarily and  return to the general counsel.

Several weeks ago, “the investigator dream team,” as Wired magazine called it, lost one of the top FBI officials on the team, Peter Strzok. It was unclear why he stepped down. He has joined the FBI’s human resources division.    

Trump Conspicuously Absent from Ceremony to Install New FBI Director

Christopher Wray is sworn in as the new FBI director. Photo via FBI.

Christopher Wray is sworn in as the new FBI director. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump was a no-show while Chris Wray was officially installed as the new FBI director during a ceremony in a courtyard at FBI headquarters Thursday.

Wray, a former federal prosecutor, was appointed by Trump after firing then-FBI Director James Comey, who also did not attend. Neither did special counsel Robert Mueller.

White House officials said Trump wanted to stay away from the ceremony because of the ongoing Russia investigation.

“Our mission is simple but profound — to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution. That mission hasn’t changed, and it won’t change — not as long as I have anything to say about it,” Wray said at the ceremony.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions praised Wray as “brilliant, hardworking and an American patriot.

FBI: Number of Domestic and Islamic Terrorism Cases Roughly the Same

police-lineBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating about the same number of domestic terrorism cases as the bureau is investigating Islamic terrorism cases, according to FBI Director Chris Wray said.

The Hills reports that the number of open cases for domestic and Islamic terrorism are each about 1,000, Wray told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.  

In the past year, Wray said the bureau made 176 arrests of domestic terrorism suspects.

While government data is incomplete to compare white supremacist violence and Islamic attacks, independent research suggests white supremacists commit twice the number of attacks as Islamic terrorists.

“Our focus is on violence and threats of violence against the people of this country,” Wray said. “That’s our concern — it’s not ideology.”

VP Pence’s Lawyer Meets with Special Counsel over Russia Probe

Vice President Mike Pence.

Vice President Mike Pence.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The lawyer representing Vice President Mike Pence in the Russia probe met with special counsel Robert Mueller this summer.

Pence sent his attorney, Richard Cullen, to meet with Mueller to explain that Pence is willing to cooperate with the investigation, Politico reports

So far, it doesn’t appear Pence is a target of the investigation, which has largely focused on former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner.

New ATF SAC in Phoenix Wants to Focus on Infiltrating Criminal Groups

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

John Durastanti, the new head of ATF in Phoenix, is taking aim at groups involved in violence, people he refers to as “trigger pullers.”

“Those gangs, those groups that are contributing to the most violence in any community, that’s one of our priorities. Our primary goals? Go in, infiltrate those gangs and take them off the streets,” he tells 3TV/CBS5.

He came from ATF headquarters in D.C.

3TV | CBS 5