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Former Roger Stone Prosecutor to Testify about ‘Significant Pressure’ to go easy on Roger Stone

GOP trickster and Trump ally Roger Stone.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A federal prosecutor is expected to tell lawmakers on Wednesday that he “faced political influence” to go easy on Roger Stone, a GOP trickster and longtime Trump ally who was convicted of lying to Congress during its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“I have never seen political influence play a role in prosecutorial decision making, with one exception: United States v. Roger Stone,” federal prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky said in testimony prepared for Wednesday’s hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, NPR reports.

Zelinsky is one of two whistleblowers who are expected to testify at the hearing and one of four prosecutors who withdraw from the Stone case after the Justice Department intervened and urged the judge to impose a lighter sentence.

According to his written statement, Zelinsky said the person in charge of the U.S. attorney’s office at the time told him “that the acting U.S. Attorney was giving Stone such unprecedentedly favorable treatment because he was ‘afraid of the President.'”

Zelinsky said he felt “significant pressure … to water down and in some cases outright distort the events that transpired in (Stone’s) trial and the criminal conduct that gave rise to his conviction.”

FBI, DOJ Investigate Noose Found in Garage of NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace

Talladega Superspeedway, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The discovery of a noose in the garage stall of NASCAR racer Bubba Wallace has triggered a federal investigation.

Wallace, the only black full-time NASCAR driver, was the driving force behind the stock car series banning the Confederate flag.

The noose was found just hours after Sunday’s race was postponed.

U.S. Attorney Jay Town told the AP that his office, the FBI and Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division were investigating.

“Regardless of whether federal charges can be brought, this type of action has no place in our society,” Town said.

A limited number of people had access to the garage stall because of strict new health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Those with access include crew members, NASCAR and Talladega employees, contracted security guards and safety crews.

NASCAR pledged to take action.

“We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” the series said in a statement. “As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.”

Paul Keenan Named Special Agent in Charge of Indianapolis Field Office

Paul Keenan, special agent in charge of the Indianapolis Field Office.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Paul Keenan, who was serving as a section chief for the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG), has been named special agent in charge of the Indianapolis Field Office.

Keenan’s career with the FBI began in 2003, investigating violent gangs out of the Los Angeles Field Office. In 2009, Keenan took charge of the Violent Gang Squad and later the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Squad investigating Mexican drug cartels.

In 2012, Keenan became the assistant legal attaché in Panama City, representing the bureau in Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. He helped capture two of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted fugitives.

In 2014, Keenan began serving in the Knoxville Field Office in Tennessee as the supervisory senior special agent of the Chattanooga Resident Agency. While there, he led the investigation into a homegrown violent extremist attack on two military installations.

In 2016, Keenan became the assistant special agent in charge of the Operational Support Branch of the Miami Field Office, which included all specialty teams, the Computer Analysis Response Team, media operations, and several other programs.

In 2017, Keenan became ASAC of one of Miami’s criminal branches, where he led investigations of the mass shootings at the Fort Lauderdale airport and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

In 2018, Keenan was named chief of the Investigative and Operations Support Section in CIRG, where he led the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime. In addition, he served as an acting deputy assistant director at CIRG.

Before coming to the FBI, Mr. Keenan was a special agent with the DEA. He holds a B.A. in political science from Indiana University.

James Comey on Firing of U.S. Attorney Berman: ‘Something Stinks’

James Comey (Twitter photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-FBI Director James Comey weighs in on the weekend firing of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in an Op-ed piece in the Washington Post titled “Geoffrey Berman upheld the finest tradition of the SDNY office.”

Berman on Friday refused to step down, so President Trump fired him.

Comey writes:

Geoffrey Berman’s office has apparently been handling cases very close to the president. In 136 days, there is an election that the incumbent appears likely to lose. The attorney general, surely not proceeding on his own, acts to bump the well-regarded head of the Office on a Friday night, in the middle of a pandemic. Something stinks.

The country is well-served by the independent spirit and reputation of the Southern District of New York. It has long been the place where hard cases could be done in a way Americans trusted. It was where Bill Clinton’s 11th-hour pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich could be credibly investigated. It is also the place with jurisdiction over so much of this president’s complicated life.

And it is a place that follows the facts alone to reach conclusions, without regard to politics, just as Stimson wanted. Maybe that’s why William P. Barr moved to knock off Berman on a Friday night and announced President Trump’s intention to replace him with someone who has never worked there. And maybe that’s why Berman, in the finest traditions of the office, stood up.

TSA Official Blows Whistle on Agency’s Failures to Protect Employees, Travelers

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A senior TSA official in Kansas filed a complaint against the agency, saying it failed to provide adequate training and protective gear to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus to airport employees and travelers.

The TSA reports that 706 of its employees tested positive for COVID-19, and five have died.

Jay Brainard, the top TSA official in Kansas, said supervisors were prevented from providing screeners with stockpiled N95 masks in March, when it was difficult to buy the respirators.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that our people became Typhoid Marys and contributed to the spread of that virus because TSA senior leadership did not make sure (screeners) were adequately protected,” Brainard told The Associated Press.

Brainard’s complaint prompted the Office of Special Counsel to order Homeland Security to investigate.

In a statement, the TSA insisted if followed CDC guidelines in protecting employees.

Brainard countered that the TSA failed to notify screeners that they should change gloves after every pat-down.

Stacey Moy Named Special Agent in Charge of Counterintelligence Division of the FBI Washington Field Office

FBI Special Agent Stacey Moy.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Stacey Moy has been named special agent in charge of the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI Washington Field Office.

Moy, who most recently served as a deputy assistant director in the Counterintelligence Division at FBI headquarters, joined the bureau as a special agent in 2004 in the Washington Field Office, where he investigated foreign counterintelligence and espionage cases.

Moy investigated penetrations of the U.S. intelligence community, media leaks, and economic espionage, and also served on the SWAT team.

In 2009, he was promoted to supervisory special agent in the Counterintelligence Division at headquarters, dealing with cases involving the targeting and acquisition of U.S. trade secrets by foreign adversaries.

In 2011, Moy became field supervisor of a counterproliferation squad in the Oakland Resident Agency of the San Francisco Field Office.

In 2014, he served as unit chief of the Counterproliferation Center in the Counterintelligence Division at headquarters. The center is tasked with leading the bureau’s efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other technologies that endanger national security. In 2015, Moy was promoted to assistant section chief of the center.

In 2016, he moved to the San Francisco Field Office to serve as the assistant special agent in charge of the criminal branch in charge of investigating financial crimes, public corruption, civil rights, and violent crimes against children. In 2017, Moy was named a Counterintelligence Division section chief, and in 2019, was promoted to deputy assistant director.

Moy graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy. He earned a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College and was a senior executive fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government for Executive Education.

Trump Fires Manhattan U.S. Attorney, Then Says He Wasn’t Involved in the Matter

Geoffrey Berman

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In this case, there can’t be two truths.

Attorney General William P. Barr said Saturday that President Donald Trump had fired Manhattan U.S.  Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who had gone after some of Trump’s allies and had refused on Friday to step down.

“Because you have declared you have no intention of resigning, I have asked the President to remove you as of today, and he has done so,” Barr wrote in a sharply worded letter to Berman, according to the Washington Post.

Outside the White House on Saturday, before his Tulsa political rally, Trump told reporters that the ouster was “all up to the attorney general” and that, despite Barr’s contention otherwise, he hadn’t become involved in the matter.

 

Showdown in the Big Apple: Trump Wants NY U.S. Attorney Out, but He Won’t Go

Geoffrey Berman

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump guaranteed lots of drama during his reign as president, and he hasn’t disappointed.

The latest: The Trump administration announced Friday night that Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman was leaving his post, but Berman fired back that he hadn’t resigned and would stay to ensure the integrity of his office’s cases, the Washington Post reports.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York has always prided itself for being independent. That image is even portrayed in the fictional show, “Billions,” on Showtime, starring Paul Giamatti, who plays the U.S. Attorney.

The controversy arises as  Berman’s office has been conducting a criminal investigation of President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani in a campaign finance case that has already led to charges against two of Giuliani’s associates, the Post notes.

“I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was ‘stepping down’ as United States Attorney,” Berman said in a statement. “I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.”

Attorney General William Barr offered Berman the job of heading the Justice Department’s Civil Division, but he declined.

Prior to becoming United States Attorney on January 5, 2018,  Berman was a partner at a major New York law firm.

Her served as an Assistant United States Attorney from 1990 to 1994. Before joining the U. S.  Attorney’s Office,  Berman was an associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel for the Iran/Contra matter.