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Wray Taps Former Law Partner to Serve as Top FBI Attorney

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray has named a former law partner to serve as the bureau’s next general counsel.

Jason A. Jones, a partner at law firm King & Spalding LLP, will replaces Dana Boente, who was criticized by Republicans for the FBI’s handling of the investigation into President Trump’s administration. He resigned under pressure in June.

Wray and Jones used to work together at King & Spalding.

Jones previously served as a federal prosecutor for nearly a decade, prosecuting suspects for a range of crimes, including murder, racketeering, terrorism, and money laundering. At the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York, Jones served on the Guantanamo Bay Review Task Force.

In 2014, Jones served as senior counsel to the assistant attorney general. In addition, he served on the attorney general’s Capital Case Review Committee.

Jones later became assistant chief of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit in the Justice Department’s Fraud Section, where he investigated and helped prosecute companies and people accused of bribing foreign officials.

After leaving the Justice Department, Jones became a partner at King & Spalding’s Special Matters and Government Investigations team.

A graduate of Dartmouth College with a law degree from Cornell University, Jones received the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of U.S. National Security, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Award for Excellence in Criminal Litigation, and the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation’s Federal Prosecutor Award.

Trump Pressured Intelligence Agencies to Quash Report about Russia’s Election Interference

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump pressured intelligence agencies to quash part of classified report that revealed Russia was trying to help him win the 2020 election, according to The New York Times Magazine.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) compiled the report, known as a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which concluded that Russia sought to interfere in the election.

As the ODNI was finishing the report, Trump staffers attempted to remove the section about Russia interfering in the election.

“I can affirm that one of my staffers who was aware of the controversy requested that I modify that assessment,” former director of national intelligence Dan Coats tell The Times. “But I said, ‘No, we need to stick to what the analysts have said.'”

Soon after, Trump forced Coats to retire early.

Without Coates at the helm, the NIE soft-peddled the conclusion, stating, “Russian leaders probably assess that chances to improve relations with the US will diminish under a different US president.”

Numerous federal agencies concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, but Trump downplayed the reports.

Virtual Surveillance Towers Show Promise As Alternative to Steel, Concrete Border Walls

Construction of a border wall, via CBP.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Steel and concrete border walls get all the media hype, but a new mobile technology may prove to be a far more effective and inexpensive way to combat illegal immigration.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is trying out telescoping surveillance towers on the Arizona border that can track illegal crossers with infrared and daytime cameras, along with laser range-finders, NPR reports. Capable of tracking a target miles away, the autonomous surveillance towers can be mounted on a pickup truck and operated remotely.

“The camera sees something, it’s going to alert and send that information to an agent in the field. So my iPhone will have an app on it and that information will come directly to me,” Kelly Good, deputy executive director of CBP’s Program Management Office Directorate, says.

Steel and concrete walls, however, appear to be the Trump administration’s priority.

“We now are in a time where we can build this virtual border wall technology. We have that already. I mean, you got the autonomous surveillance towers,” Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat from a border district, says. “But there’s political pressure from the White House. They’re saying, ‘Build me the wall. Get me miles.’ “

Weekend Series on Crime: The Hells Angels

Feds Find ‘Most Sophisticated Tunnel in U.S. History’ at Border with Mexico

Inside the unfinished tunnel, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The discovery shocked federal agents: An unfinished tunnel that ran from San Louis, Ariz., to a Mexican neighborhood featured a ventilation system, electrical wiring, water lines, a rail system and extensive reinforcement.

“This appears to be the most sophisticated tunnel in U.S. history, and certainly the most sophisticated I’ve seen in my career,” Carl E. Landrum, acting chief patrol agent with the Border Patrol’s Yuma sector, said, The Associated Press reports.

Discovered by Homeland Security Investigations in late July, officials believe it was intended for smuggling.

The tunnel was 3 feet wide and 4 feet high.

Excavation work on the tunnel, via ICE.

Federal Agents Deployed to St. Louis And Memphis As Part of Expanded ‘Operation Legend’

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

“Operation Legend,” a violent crime-busting initiative involving federal agents, has expanded to St.Louis and Memphis, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Those cities will join Kansas City, Chicago, Albuquerque, Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee, where ATF, DEA and FBI agents and analysts have been  deployed over the past month. The U.S. Marshals Service also is lending a hand.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said federal agents will work with state and local law enforcement “to take the shooters and chronic violent criminals off the street.”

The agents are not expected to monitor protests like federal officers have in Portland. The Trump administration has been criticized for using federal officers to clash with protesters, which local and state officials, along with Democrats in Congress, have said resulted in escalated tensions.

Violent crime is on the rise in many big cities across the U.S.

The initiative is named after LeGend Taliferro, a 4-year-old boy who was shot and killed in his sleep in Kansas City in June.

FBI Raids California Home of YouTube Celebrity Following a Mall Riot in Arizona

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI raided the California home of YouTube celebrity Jake Paul on Thursday in connection with a riot at an Arizona shopping mall, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Agents were seen removing firearms from the home.

The FBI also served search warrants in Nevada and Arizona.

“The FBI is executing a federal search warrant at a residence in Calabasas in connection with an ongoing investigation,” an FBI representative said in a statement. “The affidavit in support of the search warrant has been sealed by a judge and I am, therefore, prohibited from commenting as to the nature of the investigation. No arrests are planned.”

Paul was charged with misdemeanors in connection with the riot, but police are dismissing the
case and cooperating with the FBI.

Sally Yates Defends Flynn Investigation, Denies It Was Motivated by Anti-Trump Politics

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Wednesday defended the federal investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, adamantly denying allegations that the probe was politically motivated.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Yates said the impetus for the investigation was concerns about national security after the discovery that Flynn held secretive talks with the Russian ambassador, The New York Times reports.

“General Flynn had essentially neutered the U.S. government’s message of deterrence,” Yates testified. “Far from rebuking the Russians for their attack on our country, General Flynn was conciliatory.”

Yates also said it was “highly irregular” for the Justice Department to call for the dismissal of charges against Flynn.

The Republican-led committee is investigating the probe of Russia’s alleged ties to the incoming Trump administration.

During the hearing, Trump claimed Yates was “part of the greatest political crime of the Century” and that she was “either lying or grossly incompetent.”