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Robert S. Mueller III: Roger Stone Was Not A Victim of Our Office

The author is the former FBI director and served as special counsel for the Justice Department from 2017 to 2019.

By Robert S. Mueller III
For the Washington Post

Former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before congress.

The work of the special counsel’s office — its report, indictments, guilty pleas and convictions — should speak for itself. But I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office. The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.

Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy. It was critical that they be investigated and understood. By late 2016, the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate. And the FBI knew that the Russians had done just that: Beginning in July 2016, WikiLeaks released emails stolen by Russian military intelligence officers from the Clinton campaign. Other online personas using false names — fronts for Russian military intelligence — also released Clinton campaign emails.

Following FBI Director James B. Comey’s termination in May 2017, the acting attorney general named me as special counsel and directed the special counsel’s office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The order specified lines of investigation for us to pursue, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. One of our cases involved Stone, an official on the campaign until mid-2015 and a supporter of the campaign throughout 2016. Stone became a central figure in our investigation for two key reasons: He communicated in 2016 with individuals known to us to be Russian intelligence officers, and he claimed advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ release of emails stolen by those Russian intelligence officers.

To read the full column click here.

Weekend Series on Crime History: Ford Pardons Nixon

More Than 1,000 TSA Employees Infected with Coronavirus

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

More than 1,000 TSA employees have tested for the coronavirus, and six have died, the agency revealed Thursday.

No federal agency has been hit harder by COVID-19 than the TSA, whose employee have close contact with the public.

The TSA will now require its employees to wear face shields while screening passengers. TSA employees also mush change their gloves after every interaction with the public.

The TSA has come under fire for failing to adequately protect its employees.

“Right now they’re bringing people back to work and the social distance is not in total effect,” Hydrick Thomas, president of the union that represents the officers, told The Washington Post. “Employees are still complaining there’s too many of them in one area.”

TSA employees have been infected at more than 125 airports.

Fired U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman Testifies Barr Repeatedly Pressured Him to Resign

Former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Geoffrey Berman, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired by President Trump, told lawmakers that Attorney General William Barr repeatedly pressured him to resign last month.

Berman, in a written statement to the House Judiciary Committee, said Barr suggested he take another job so Trump could replace him with a political ally. Berman, whose office was investigating Trump allies, said the job offers included the chairmanship of the Securities and Exchange Commission or head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

“The Attorney General said that if I did not resign from my position I would be fired,” he said in his statement obtained by The Washington Post. “He added that getting fired from my job would not be good for my resume or future job prospects. I told him that while I did not want to get fired, I would not resign.”

Barr’s firing has drawn criticism from Democrats and legal experts who questioned why Barr was trying to remove an accomplished prosecutor from an office with a reputation for being independent and apolitical.

Barr is scheduled to testify before the committee in the end of July.

“We don’t know yet if the attorney general’s conduct is criminal, but that kind of quid pro quo is awfully close to bribery,” committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., told reporters after Berman testified.

5 Senior FBI Officials Violated Gift Policies by Attending Playoff Baseball Game, DOJ Watchdog Concludes

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Five senior FBI officials who attended a Los Angeles Dodgers playoff following a security briefing violated the bureau’s gift policies, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General concluded.

The officials took up an offer to watch the game after the meeting had ended on October 15, 2018, The Hill reports.

“The officials held an executive management meeting at the table, discussed sensitive law enforcement information during the executive management meeting, and ate food from a buffet in the club that had a market value of more than $60 per person,” the OIG said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We found that two of the five FBI senior officials were primarily responsible for these violations. The OIG additionally concluded that one of the FBI senior officials violated FBI policy by consuming alcohol while on duty at the sporting event,” the watchdog added.

A more senior official who was found to be “primarily responsible” for the violations has been reassigned.

At the time, the FBI was investigating whether the team had bribed foreign officials in an attempt to smuggle players from Cuba.

Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent Killed in Car Crash in Texas

Border Patrol Agent Fernando Morales.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

An off-duty Border Patrol agent assigned to the Del Rio Sector was killed in a car crash Monday night in Texas.

Fernando Morales, 51, was driving a 2017 Volkswagen Passat on U.S. 277 near Del Rio when a 2016 Freightliner truck veered into oncoming traffic in a no-passing zone, KRQE reports.

“I am deeply saddened to inform you of the off duty death of Border Patrol Agent Fernando Morales,” Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Austin Skero tweeted Wednesday. “He is survived by his wife and four children. On behalf of our sector family, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues as we mourn his passing.”

Morales is a native of El Paso and graduated from Irvin High School.

House Democrats Urge TSA to Require Masks at Security Checkpoints to Protect Employees, Travelers

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

House Democrats are urging the TSA to require face masks for travelers at airport security checkpoints to protect agency employees and others.

In a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, Reps. Bennie Thompson and Lou Correa pointed out that nearly 1,000 TSA employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and seven died, Government Executive reports.

“We were pleased to see you fulfill part of that request when you announced on May 7th a requirement for TSA employees to wear masks. However, it is difficult to understand your hesitation to issue a national requirement for passenger masks to ensure that all frontline workers and passengers are equally protected across the aviation system,” they wrote.

The Democrats said mask requirements are a common sense approach to protecting frontline workers and travelers.

“The only controversy surrounding masks is a dangerous political one manufactured by President Trump and his enablers. There is a clear consensus among public health officials that masks are effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19,” they wrote. “TSA employees routinely enforce a number of requirements that are unpopular with the public, such as conducting invasive pat-downs and confiscating liquids, which you and your predecessors have deemed necessary to protect passengers.”

The TSA last month suggested there were no mask requirements because the CDC only recommends – not mandates – face coverings.

Man Sentenced to Nearly 13 Years in Prison in Ambush Shooting of ATF Agent

Bernard Anthony Graham

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A 27-year-old Illinois man was sentenced Tuesday to nearly 13 years in prison for his role in an ambush of ATF agents in Gary, Ind.

U.S. District Court Senior Judge James T. Moody sentenced Bernard Anthony Graham to 153 months in prison after he opened fire on two undercover agents during a botched gun buy in Gary, NWI.com reports.

An ATF agent was wounded during a shootout after Graham and two others tried to rob undercover agents masquerading as gun sellers.

Graham and Raymond Truitt, who died in the shootout, fire his gun at the agents.

For his role in the ambush, Blake King was sentenced to 10 years in prison.