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Tag: Congress

House Committee Launches Investigation into Homeland Security’s Actions in Portland

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee is investigating Homeland Security’s involvement in protests in Portland and other cities.

The investigation, launched Monday, also will review the dissemination of intelligence reporters on journalists and protesters.

“Let me be clear: the reporting regarding the monitoring of peaceful protesters, creating and disseminating intelligence reports about journalists and protesters, and potential exploitation of electronic devices is deeply troubling, Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to top DHS officials.

“The revelations thus far require a full accounting, and, if substantiated, must never be allowed to occur again,” Schiff added. “The Committee is therefore initiating, pursuant to its unique oversight and legislative authority, an investigation of I&A’s activities in Portland and in support of the Department’s response to protests nationwide.”

Homeland Security has drawn intense criticism for clashing with protesters and compiling intelligence reports on journalists covering protests in Portland.

The panel is calling at least nine DHS officials to testify in August.

Schiff ended his letter, saying the committee will consider “all options necessary to obtain compliance—including compulsory process.”

On Monday, Janet Napolitano, the former head of Homeland Security, criticized the department’s role in policing protests in Oregon, calling it “an abuse of authority” in a Washington Post op-ed.

FBI Director Wray Pledges to Fix Flaws Found in FISA Court Applications

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray pledged Wednesday to fix the flaws found in the bureau’s applications for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA).

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Wray addressed findings by Justice Department’s inspector general Michael Horowitz that the bureau bungled its surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Horowitz said that the FBI’s applications to FISA Court to monitor Page contained “significant inaccuracies and omissions” and that agents “failed to meet the basic obligation” to ensure the applications were “scrupulously accurate.”

Horowitz, however, dismissed some conservatives’ longstanding allegations about the investigation into the Trump campaign, including that top FBI officials were motivated by political bias and illegally spied on Trump advisers.

“The failures highlighted in that report are unacceptable. Period,” Wray said. “They don’t reflect who the FBI is as an institution.”

Wray told lawmakers that the bureau had changed policies and procedures to clean up the process. That includes more training for FBI officials who apply for the warrants.

Saying the warrants are important to the FBI’s mission, Wray asked lawmakers to renew the FISA authorities, which are set to expire in March.

“I can assure members of this committee we need those FISA authorities,” Wray said. “We need the agility to stay ahead of the threat or we’re all going to regret it.”

FBI Director Wray to Testify before Congressional Committee about Bureau ‘Oversight’

FBI Director Christopher Wray.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray will take the hot seat Wednesday as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee about flaws found in the bureau’s investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The hearing, which is set for 10 a.m., will examine oversight issues, including findings by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz that the bureau bungled its surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Horowitz said that the FBI’s applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Page contained “significant inaccuracies and omissions” and that agents “failed to meet the basic obligation” to ensure the applications were “scrupulously accurate.”

Horowitz also dismissed some conservatives’ longstanding allegations about the investigation into the Trump campaign, including that top FBI officials were motivated by political bias and illegally spied on Trump advisers.

FBI Investigating Whether ‘Criminal Enterprise’ Played Role in Epstein’s Death

Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer testifying before Congress.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating whether Jeffrey Epstein’s prison cell death was the result of a “criminal enterprise.”

In testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer admitted investigators are looking into whether anyone other than Epstein was involved in the death, CNBC reports.

But Sawyer also testified that there’s “no indication” that the Aug. 10 death “was anything other than a suicide.”

The testimony came on the same day that two jail guards assigned to watch Epstein were criminal charged with falsifying records to hide the fact that they failed to conduct mandatory safety checks on Epstein on the night of his death.

The FBI has not commented on the investigation.

“I have received no information from the FBI investigation yet,” Sawyer said.

DOJ Drafts Proposal to Expedite Death Penalty for Convicted Mass Shooters

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

People convicted of carrying out mass shootings would face an expedited path to the death penalty under legislated drafted by the Justice Department.

The bill follows the DOJ’s announcement in July that it would begin capital punishment again for the first time in two decades.

The proposal was drafted Attorney General William Barr with the help of Vice President Mike Pence’s policy team, CBS News reports, citing VP Chief of Staff Mark Short.

The proposal is likely part of a White House package of gun safety proposals.

Last month, President Trump advocated an expedited death penalty for convicted mass shooters. But Trump’s position on gun control measures has been in constant flux and impossible to pin down.

Mueller Defends Special Counsel Investigation, Saying It Wasn’t ‘a Witch hunt’

Former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday rejected repeated claims by President Trump that the investigation into Russia’s election interference was a witch hunt.

The defense of his investigation came during several hours of testimony before two congressional committees.

“Your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., asked.

“It is not a witch hunt,” Mueller responded.

During most of the hearings, Mueller stuck to his pledge to narrow his responses to his widely reported final report. But that didn’t mean the hearings were without new information.

Earlier in the day, Mueller suggested he did not pursue charges against Trump because of the Justice Department’s position that a sitting president can’t be indicted.

“And I’d like to ask you the reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC (DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel) opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct,” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., asked.

“That is correct,” Mueller said at 10:50 a.m.

But three hours later, Mueller corrected his earlier statement.

“Now, before we go to questions, I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu who said, and I quote, ‘You didn’t charge the president because of the OLC opinion’,” Mueller said. “That is not the correct way to say it. As we say in the report, and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.”

During the hearing, Mueller emphasized that one of the most alarming discoveries was the breadth of Russia’s interference during the presidential election. In his opening statement, Mueller said the investigation found “sweeping and systematic” Russian interference during the 2016 election.

He repeated the report’s conclusion that there was not ample evidence that Trump’s election team colluded with Russia.

But, Mueller stressed, the report did not exonerate Trump on obstruction, contradicting the president’s insistence that the special counsel team concluded he did nothing wrong.

“Based on Justice Department policy and principles of fairness, we decided we would not make a determination as to whether the president committed a crime,” Mueller said. “That was our decision then and it remains our decision today.”

How to Watch Mueller’s Long-Awaited Testimony Before Congress

Robert S. Mueller III testifies before Congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited testimony before Congress begins Wednesday morning and includes two separate hearings.

Mueller’s first appearance begins at 8:30 a.m. in front of the House Judiciary Committee. That will be followed by another two hours before the House Intelligence Committee.

Mueller will be accompanied by Aaron Zebley, a longtime aide granted permission to assist Mueller with questions.

Most major broadcast networks will carry the hearings live. Even Fox News, despite earlier reports, will be airing the testimony. Also covering the hearings are C-SPAN, CNN, and MSNBC, both on television and online.

Mueller will be given a 30-minute break after the three-hour House Judiciary Committee meeting that begins at 8:30 a.m.

As predicted, President Trump called the hearings “a rigged Witch Hunt.”

What to Expect from Mueller’s Testimony Before Congress This Week

Special counsel Robert Mueller Mueller.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Robert Mueller, the special counsel who investigated Russian election interference, will testify before two U.S. House committees on Wednesday.

Mueller reluctantly agreed to testify after Democrats issued a subpoena.

So what should Americans expect?

Democrats are hoping Mueller’s testimony will provide new and compelling evidence against Trump. Republicans plan to excoriate Mueller over what they consider FBI bias against the president.

If history is any indication, Mueller will be factual, dispassionate and nonpartisan.

Mueller has already said that everything he knows about the investigation is inside his 448-page report. So it’s unlikely Democrats will get dramatic, new testimony.

Mueller has repeatedly said he found no evidence that Trump colluded with Russia. But Mueller’s report makes clear that Trump may have obstructed justice and that the special counsel did not pursue charges against the president because of the Justice Department’s position that sitting presidents cannot be indicted.

On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said on Face the Nation that he plans make clear to Americans that there’s “a pretty damning set of facts that involve a presidential campaign in a close race welcoming help from a hostile foreign power.”

“Who better to bring them to life than the man who did the investigation himself?” Schiff asked.