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Tag: house

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.

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.

House Democrats Call for Severe Funding Cuts to ICE, Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

House Democrats announced a plan Monday to severely cut the budgets of Border Patrol and ICE to reduce Homeland Security’s deportation operations.

The House Appropriations Committee introduced the fiscal 2021 spending bill, which would halt the hiring of new Border Patrol agents, prevent additional construction on President Trump’s border wall, and stop the detention of families, The Washington Times reports.

Under the plan, watchdog groups would receive a boost in funding to oversee ICE operations.

ICE’s deportation and detention division would be reduced to $3.3 billion, a $1.1 billion cut.

“Our bill fights for a more humane immigration approach, including the more restricted use of civil detention, expanded alternatives to detention, and the phase-out of family detention this year,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, chairwoman of the subcommittee that oversees Homeland Security funding, said.

Democratic-Controlled House to Probe Trump’s New AG Matt Whitaker

Rep. Jerry Nadler

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

With Democrats now controlling the House of Representatives, President Trump’s pick for interim attorney general, Matt Whitaker, is likely to face tough scrutiny in the form of hearings.

Rep.  Jerry Nadler, the presumed chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Whitaker will be summoned early next year as part of the ongoing Russia investigation.

“Our very first witness after January 3, we will summon, if necessary subpoena, Mr. Whitaker,” Nadler told CNN.  

“The very first thing, obviously, is to protect the Mueller investigation,” Nadler said. “The president’s dismissal of Attorney General Sessions and his appointment of Whitaker, who’s a complete political lackey, is a real threat to the integrity of that investigation.” 

The president last week forced the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him Whitaker, a loyalist and critic of the special counsel investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

“He’s totally unqualified, and his only qualification seems to be that the President wants him to be the hatchet man to destroy the Mueller investigation,” Nadler said.

Democrat Questions FBI Director’s Willingness to Investigate Trump’s Ties to Russia

Russian leader Vladimir Putin

Russian leader Vladimir Putin

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey has shown virtually no willingness to cooperate with a Congressional investigation into potential ties between Russia and President Trump’s campaign, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Monday.

“I have yet to be convinced … by the director of the FBI that we will have the fulsome kind of cooperation that we will need,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters in the Capitol, The Hill reports.

Without the full cooperation of the FBI and Comey, Schiff said there’s little the Intelligence Committee can do.

“We can’t become the FBI, we can’t send out our own investigators spanning all over the globe,” Schiff said. “We will need their cooperation, and whether we will get that in as fulsome a manner as we need has yet to be determined, in my view.” 

Schiff’s comments came just hours after Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said he’s seen “no evidence” of ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign.

“What I’ve been told, by many folks, is that there’s nothing there — but we’re absolutely looking into it,” Nunes said.

Senator: FBI Is Down 6,000 Agents Despite Increasing Threats of Terrorism

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Budget cuts have left the FBI with too few agents to properly address the terrorism threat, Sen. Lindsey Graham said.

“The FBI has lost 6,000 agents due to budget cuts. The Army is going to be at 1940 levels – the Navy at 1950 levels. I want to restore our defense cuts and our intelligence cuts so we can fight a war we can afford to win,” he told the FOX Business Network’s Stuart Varney

On Monday, House Democrats supported legislation that would give the FBI authority to reject gun purchases to people on the terror watch list. The GOP rejected the measure in December.

Hillary Clinton called on a national ban on assault-style weapons, while Donald Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the country.

Secret Service Permitted to Track Cell Phones without Warrant from a Judge

cellphone-tower-photo2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In the event of a nonspecific threat to a president or someone else under protection, the Secret Service won’t be required to get a warrant to use cellphone-tracking technology, the Associated Press reports. 

A House subcommittee learned about the new policy from Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Seth M. Stodder.

The devices, known as Stingrays, have been criticized by civil libertarians and privacy advocates as too intrusive.

The Justice Department introduced a similar policy in September. That policy includes the FBI.

Federal law requires authorities to get a signed warrant from a judge before using Stringrays, but exceptions have been made for “exigent circumstances.”

FBI Investigating Columbus Mayor Over Questionable Real Estate Deal

Mayor Michael Coleman

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has launched an investigation into the Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman in the midst of a bribery scandal, WBNS-10 reports. 

The investigation involves a 2010 real estate deal.

The questions by the FBI centered around the sale of the mayor’s home, where she lived with his wife and their three children until they filed for dissolution in 2009.

The home sold to a woman abroad for $520,000 in 2010.

Coleman issued the following statement:

The sale of our home to Mrs. Li was an arms-length and fair transaction with everything aboveboard. Our original asking price for the home was $750,000. This asking price was recommended to us by our independent real estate broker who was very familiar with comparable home sales in the neighborhood. Also, before we sold our home, we put $570,000 of improvements into it to repair and replace fire damage. But we sold the home to Mrs. Li for substantially less, for $520,000. We also know that several other homes in the neighborhood sold for more than ours on a per square foot basis, according to an independent professional appraisal report.
In view of these documented facts, there is no basis for anyone to suggest that we sold our home for more than it was worth or that there was anything inappropriate about the transaction.