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Senate Judiciary Committee to Probe Political Influence of FBI Investigations

Sen. Chuck Grassley

Sen. Chuck Grassley

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to investigate attempts to influence FBI investigations under the Trump and Obama administrations.

Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called for the congressional probe to explore why President Trump really fired former FBI Director James Comey’s firing and whether anyone in Obama’s administration tried to influence the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server.

Grassley’s call for a wide-ranging investigation comes in response to Democrats requesting to investigate whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey, Politico reports. 

“The Judiciary Committee has an obligation to fully investigate any alleged improper partisan interference in law enforcement investigations,” Grassley wrote to his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. “It is my view that fully investigating the facts, circumstances, and rationale for Mr. Comey’s removal will provide us the opportunity to do that on a cooperative, bipartisan basis.”

Grassley believes an investigation into the handling of Clinton’s use of a private email service is called for after Comey testified last week that he was concerned the Justice Department “could not credibly complete the investigation and decline prosecution without grievous damage to the American people’s confidence in the justice system.”

ICE Recently Arrested Nearly 200 Iraqi Immigrants Who Face Grave Dangers Returning Home

ICE agents, via ICE.

ICE agents, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ICE arrested 114 Iraqi immigrants with criminal records in metro Detroit over the weekend, stoking concerns that the detainees will face hostility and even death by returning to their former country.

The mass detainment that targeted the U.S.’ largest population of Chaldeans, who are Iraqi Christians, contradicts President Trump’s previous pledge to protect Christians from hostility in the Middle East.

In March 2016, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that ISIS was committing “genocide” against Christians in Iraq.

But ICE defended the arrests of Iraqi immigrants, claiming they have criminal pasts and pose security threats.

“The operation in this region was specifically conducted to address the very real public safety threat represented by the criminal aliens arrested,” Rebecca Adducci, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Detroit, said in a statement. “The vast majority of those arrested in the Detroit metropolitan area have very serious felony convictions, multiple felony convictions in many cases. I applaud the efforts of the law enforcement personnel who, day in and day out, put their lives on the line to protect this community.”

ICE also arrested 85 other Iraqi nationals outside of Michigan, according to the immigration enforcement agency.

In all, 1,444 Iraqi nationals have received final orders for removal.

The “overwhelming majority” of the 1999 Iraqi immigrants recently detained nationwide “had criminal convictions for crimes including homicide, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, robbery, sex assault, weapons violations and other offenses,” ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls told the Detroit Free Press

Attorneys are scrambling to fight for the immigrants to prevent their removal.

ICE insisted the detainees “pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.”

“These arrests are consistent with the routine, targeted enforcement action carried out by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations on a daily basis. All enforcement activities are conducted with the same level of professionalism and respect that ICE officers exhibit every day.”

Sessions’ Explanation for Dodging Some Questions Raises Red Flags

AG Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

AG Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions often refused to answer questions from lawmakers on Tuesday, claiming that he does not have to disclose private deliberations involving the president.

But analysts are questioning whether Sessions’ use of executive privilege was appropriate and just an excuse to avoid answering tough questions.

For example, Sessions declined to say whether he was aware of the White House discussing future pardons if anyone in the Trump circle is charged with colluding with Russia to undermine the presidential election.

“You’re impeding this investigation by refusing to answer questions,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, told Sessions during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday. “I think your silence speaks volumes.”

Sessions acknowledged that Trump has not asserted executive privilege and that the attorney general has no authority to claim it.

“It’s my judgment that it would be inappropriate for me to answer and reveal private conversations with the president when he has not had a full opportunity to review the questions and to make a decision on whether or not to approve such an answer,” Sessions said.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Cornell Law School professor Jens David Ohlin said Sessions did not provide an adequate reason to refuse to answer questions. 

“His justification for refusing to answer the questions was completely incoherent. He claimed executive privilege but then denied that he had done so,” Ohlin said. “It made no sense whatsoever. He’s basically trying to have his cake and eat it, too: claim executive privilege but then pretend that he didn’t. His position has no basis in law, common sense, or logic.”

Congressional Democrats to Sue Trump over Foreign Payments to His Businesses

US CapitolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Nearly 200 Democratic members of Congress are planning to file a federal lawsuit today accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by accepting money from foreign governments for his business empire.

The suit alleges Trump violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause, who prohibits the president from accepting payments from foreign governments without congressional consent, the New York Times reports. 

At least 184 members of Congress have already signed the draft complaint, as of Tuesday evening.

Among the allegations is that Trump is profiting from foreign diplomats who stay in his hotels.

“The founders ensured that federal officeholders would not decide for themselves whether particular emoluments were likely to compromise their own independence or lead them to put personal interest over national interest,” the lawsuit states. “An officeholder, in short, should not be the sole judge of his own integrity.”

It is the third such lawsuit alleging that Trump is using his leadership position to profit from foreign governments.

Comey’s Friend Turns Over Ex-FBI Director’s Memos to Bureau

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies about President Trump before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies about President Trump before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey’s potentially explosive memos about his encounters with President Trump are now in the hands of the bureau.

Politico reports that Comey’s friend, Daniel Richman, a Columbia University law professor, turned over the records to the FBI, which is investigating alleged collusion between Trump’s inner circle and Russian officials to meddle in the presidential election. 

The FBI also is trying to determine whether Trump tried to obstruct justice by firing Comey after he refused to stop the Russia investigation.

Comey said he kept detailed memos of his murky conversations with Trump.

Those memos could become key evidence in the case against Trump. 

Trump Interviewed Mueller for FBI Director Job Before Special Counsel Appointment

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump met with former FBI Director Robert Mueller to ask if he’d want to become the bureau’s top boss again, just a day or two before Mueller was appointed special counsel over the investigation into Russia meddling with the presidential election.

The discussion between Trump and Mueller was revealed by Trump friend and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy in an interview on PBS’ “NewsHour” Monday evening. 

Ruddy said the president “was looking at (Mueller) potentially to become the next FBI director. That hasn’t been published but it’s true.”

Mueller haws served 12 years as FBI director.

Now Ruddy and other Trump allies are saying Mueller shouldn’t have accepted the special counsel job because of his recent discussion with Trump.

Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Tuesday that Trump interviewed Mueller for the top FBI job.

In Ruddy’s interview with PBS, he suggested the president should fire Mueller as special counsel.

Deputy AG: No Plans to Fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The deputy U.S. attorney general assured Congress on Tuesday that special counsel Robert Mueller would have “the full degree of independence” to investigate allegations of Russia interfering in the presidential election.

“Director Mueller is going to have the full degree of independence that he needs to conduct that investigation appropriately,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, the Business Insider reports

Rosenstein’s assurance comes after Donald Trump’s friend suggested the president may fire Mueller.

But that power belongs to Rosenstein, who said he sees no good reason to fire Mueller.

AG Sessions Dismisses Collusion Allegations with Russia as a ‘Detestable Lie’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions dismissed allegations that he colluded with the Russian government as “an appalling and detestable lie” during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“These false attacks, the innuendo, and the leaks, you can be sure, will not intimidate me,” Sessions said in his opening remarks.

Sessions, however, had trouble recalling whether he had a third discussion with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, saying it’s “possible, but I don’t recall it.”

“If any brief interaction occurred in passing with the Russian ambassador during that reception, I do not remember it,” Sessions said.

Sessions admitted he met twice with Kislyak twice after failing to disclose the conversations during his confirmation hearing.

While Sessions was quick to defend himself against allegations of collusion, he declined to answer numerous questions, including whether he knew of any discussions in the White House about future pardons in connection with the Russia investigation.

Sessions also said it was “inappropriate” to disclose whether President Trump expressed disapproval of Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

The failure to answer questions drew criticism from Democrats.

“You’re impeding this investigation by refusing to answer questions,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, said. “I think your silence speaks volumes.”