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Tag: Congress

Steve Bannon, Lewandowski to Meet with House Panel on Russia This Week

Former top aide to President Trump, Steve Bannon.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two of Donald Trump’s most high-ranking campaign officials during the presidential campaign are expected to soon appear before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon plans to meet behind closed doors with the committee on Tuesday, just two weeks after the release of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” In the book, Bannon raises serious questions about the legality of a June 2016 meeting between the president’s  Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer, calling the gathering “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”

Corey Lewandowski

On Wednesday or Thursday, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski plans to meet with the committee.

“The House Intelligence Committee sent me a letter asking me to voluntarily come in and have a conversation about what I know, and what I’ve responded to them is, ‘I’ll be happy to come in and sit down,'” the former Trump campaign manager told host Rita Cosby on WABC Radio

“I have nothing to hide. I didn’t collude or cooperate or coordinate with any Russian, Russian agency, Russian government or anybody else, to try and impact this election. So they asked me to come in, I said I would,” Lewandowski continued, adding that he would be able to “set the record straight.”

Retired FBI Agent Running As Republican for Congress in New Jersey

Retired FBI Agent Robert Turkavage

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A retired FBI agent who lives in New Jersey is throwing his hat in the ring for Congress.

Robert Turkavage, a 32-year FBI veteran, is running as a Republican  for the 2nd District congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, who is not seeking re-election, the Press of Atlantic City reports

“For over 23 years, Congressman LoBiondo has served all of the residents of southern New Jersey with honor and distinction,” Robert Turkavage said in a press release. “LoBiondo was a true believer in the notion that the private sector, not the government, creates jobs and fosters economic growth.”

Turkavage said he wants to continue the work of LoBiondo, a fellow Republican, and forge ties with Democrats for sensible legislation.

“Every vote I cast will be weighed against three benchmarks: Is it good for my constituents? Is it good for my country? And most importantly, is it good for our children?” Turkavage said.

Turkavage served as a supervisory special agent of pubic corruption and government fraud in New York City. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Turkavage supervised the Office of Intelligence analytical squads.

In 2005, Turkavage retired from the bureau and became vice president with JPMorgan Chase Bank in New York City, overseeing the fraud prevention unit.

Retired DEA Official Joe Rannazzisi Named ticklethewire.com Fed of the Year For 2017

Joe Rannazzisi (Photo grab from 60 Minutes)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

For the first time since the awards were given in 2008, a former, rather than current federal law enforcement official has been named ticklethewire.com Fed of the Year.

Joe Rannazzisi, a retired DEA deputy assistant administrator with a law degree and a pharmacy degree, has been named Fed of the Year for 2017, the result of his persistent and ongoing crusade against dangerous opioids and his criticism of Congress for protecting manufacturers.

As head of the Office of Diversion Control for the Drug Enforcement Administration, he led the crusade to clamp down on doctors, pharmacies, drug manufacturers and distributors.

He was aggressive, resulting in some of the biggest companies paying huge fines for failing to report suspicious orders. Not everyone was pleased.

He clashed with Congress, which he felt wasn’t being tough enough on drug companies. Some Congress members came after him, and in 2015, under pressure, he retired.

But that didn’t stop him from speaking out.

In October, he appeared in the Washington Post and on “60 Minutes” to tell his story how the DEA’s war on opioids got derailed by pressure from Congress and the drug industry.

He’s also a consultant for a team of lawyers suing the opioid industry.

His efforts in the battle against the opioid epidemic, particularly in light of the powerful opposition on Capitol Hill and from the drug industry, makes him worthy of the award, which is based on outstanding public service.

Previous recipients of the ticklethewire.com Fed of the Year award include: Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (2008):   Warren Bamford, who headed the Boston FBI (2009), Joseph Evans, regional director for the DEA’s North and Central Americas Region in Mexico City (2010);  Thomas Brandon, deputy Director of ATF (2011); John G. Perren, who was assistant director of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Directorate (2012); David Bowdich, special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Los Angeles (2013);  Loretta Lynch, who was U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn at the time (2014); John “Jack” Riley,  the DEA’s acting deputy administrator (2015) and D.C.  U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips (2016).

 

Deputy FBI Director Testifies Comey Told him about Trump’s Loyalty Pledge

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testifies before Congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified before a congressional committee that his then-boss James Comey told him about President Trump’s loyalty pledge.

McCabe’s told the House Intelligence Committee that Comey said he was pressured by President Trump to stop investigating the Russia scandal, CNN reports

Comey refused, and Trump fired the FBI director, prompting allegations that the president obstructed justice. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is investigating the firing as part of a broader probe into the relationship between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

McCabe testified for nearly eight hours this week.

Republicans Scrambled to Discredit Intensifying Trump-Russia Probe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Many Republicans are scrambling to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller as the investigation into the cozy relationship between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia intensifies.

The smear campaign is taking on a new urgency after several of Trump’s campaign aides have been charged and are said to be cooperating with the special counsel team.

Republicans are seizing the opportunity following revelations that a top FBI official, Peter Strzok, was removed from the special counsel team for sending text messages critical of President Trump.

“The question really is, if Mueller was doing such a great job on investigating the Russian collusion, why could he have not found the conflict of interest within their own agency?’” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., asked at a news conference, according to the Washington Post

Sen. Chuck Grassley

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, suggested the special counsel investigation is a partisan-driven campaign designed to smear Trump.

“Strzok’s behavior and involvement in these two politically-sensitive cases raises new concerns of inappropriate political influence in the work of the FBI,” Grassley wrote in a letter to the Justice Department and FBI.

Congressional Black Caucus Grills FBI Director over ‘Black Identity Extremists’ Report

Christopher Wray testifies during his confirmation hearing to become the next FBI director.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Black members of Congress confronted FBI Director Christopher Wray over a report that says the bureau is targeting so-called “Black Identity Extremists”over fears of violence against law enforcement.

The Congressional Black Caucus met with Wray for nearly two hours  to discuss concerns about the ambiguous report, which echoed the rhetoric used by the FBI to spy on black activists in the 1960s and 70s.

Rep. Hakeen Jeffries, D-N.Y., told the New York Times that Wray had trouble defending the report and could not identify a black identity extremist group. 

“He was asked to publicly clarify that there is no scintilla of evidence, as far as we can tell, to provide an example of the black identity extremist movement or any groups that fall in that category,” Jeffries said. “That clarification should be made publicly, it seems to many of us, and not privately behind closed doors.”

Elected leaders and civil rights activists have voiced concerns about the intent of the report and whether it was meant to chill free speech.

“The F.B.I. is linking disparate conduct and unconnected groups to come up with a manufactured black race-based ideology for suspicion and investigation,” said Hina Shamsi, the director of the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. “We’ve seen this kind of shoddy analysis and bias-based conclusions all too often, applied to African-Americans, Muslim-Americans, environmental activists and others.”

Shamsi added, “The F.B.I. has a critical role in protecting civil liberties, but it routinely undermines them by unjustifiably and unfairly targeting minorities and those who dissent.”

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitted he never read the report and couldn’t name a single black identity extremist group.

African Americans were subjected to illegal FBI surveillance in the 1960s and 70s because of similar rhetoric under a subversive program called COINTELPRO.

Trump’s Nominee for Homeland Security Has Conflict of Interest

Kirstjen Nielsen, via Twitter

Kirstjen Nielsen, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, has found herself in a tough position following the discovery that she was guided through the confirmation process by a private consultant with a conflict of interest.

The consultant and cofounder of Command Group, Thad Bingel, represents companies seeking millions in DHS contracts, the Washington Post reports, citing government-ethics watchdog groups and current and former national security experts. 

Bingel’s firm offers “full spectrum solutions related to safety, security, and intelligence” to clients “on six continents.”

Nielsen was jointed by Bingel as she made rounds on Capitol Hill ahead of the Senate Homeland Security committee’s nomination vote.

“He was introduced to our staff as Nielsen’s aide,” said one Senate staffer, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door meeting.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley denied the relationship amounted to a conflict of interest.

“There’s nothing inappropriate or new about an individual volunteering their time to help prepare a nominee for the Senate confirmation process,” said Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, in a statement.

The Post wrote:

In copies of recent emails viewed by The Washington Post, Bingel was included in internal communications between DHS officials and White House staffers working to advance Nielsen’s nomination. The messages involved nearly a dozen officials, and Bingel was the only person who wasn’t a government staffer.

The exchanges show Bingel, a private contractor, leading briefings to DHS officials. Bingel, whose role in Nielsen’s nomination was first reported by Cyberscoop, did not respond to interview requests.

NYT: Republicans’ Handling of Sessions Testimony Was Irresponsible

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before Congress about contacts between Trump's campaign and Russia.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before Congress about contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

By Editorial Board
The New York Times

The House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, at which Attorney General Jeff Sessions faced more than five hours of questions, was supposed to be about oversight of the Justice Department.

The committee’s Republicans appeared to have missed that memo. Instead, they toggled between sweet-talking Mr. Sessions — “This is so great to have you here today,” “I sure appreciate your service” — and demanding that he appoint a special prosecutor to investigate a raft of allegations, most half-baked if not entirely raw, against Hillary Clinton, her campaign for president and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

From the supposedly crooked deal that Mrs. Clinton engineered to sell off America’s uranium to the Russians, to the Clinton-Democratic National Committee-F.B.I. conspiracy behind the dossier on Donald Trump, to the tarmac meeting in 2016 between Mr. Clinton and President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch — no Republican talking point was left unspoken.

It’s not surprising that, after 10 months of the chaotic, scandal-strewn Trump presidency and a steady flow of revelations about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, Republicans in Congress are desperate to talk about something, anything, else. What better way to distract from the investigation of the current special counsel, Robert Mueller, than to call for a criminal investigation of the president’s defeated opponent?

Committee Republicans asked the Justice Department to appoint another special counsel back in July, and appeared frustrated that it hasn’t happened yet. “It sure looks like a major political party was working with the federal government” to gin up a dossier and get the F.B.I. to “spy on Americans associated with President Trump’s campaign,” Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio said. “Doesn’t that warrant naming a second special counsel?”

To read more click here.