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Tag: Justice Department

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.”

DOJ Creates Online Tool to Make It Easier to Report Civil Rights Violations

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has created a new online tool for the public to report a civil rights violation.

The Civil Rights Reporting Portal is designed to make it easier for victims of civil rights violation to launch a complaint.

“The department is committed to upholding the civil and constitutional rights of all people in the United States,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division says in a news release. “The Civil Rights Reporting Portal will make it easier for the public to connect with us, which in turn makes us more effective at upholding these important rights. I encourage the public to use this portal to report civil rights violations.”

The Civil Rights Division enforces federal laws that forbid discrimination based on race, national origin, disability, gender, religion, familial status, or loss of other constitutional rights.

People who suspect they are the victim of a criminal civil rights violation, such as a hate crime or police misconduct, are encouraged to contact their local FBI office.

FBI Arrests El Paso Man Accused of Threatening to Kill Black Lives Matters Protesters

Black Lives Matter protesters in Detroit.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI arrested a 42-year-old El Paso man who posted a racist video in which he threatened to kill Black Lives Matter protesters, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Manuel Flores faces up to five years in prison on a federal charge of making a threat over the internet.

The FBI arrested Flores on Monday in the Dallas area after authorities say he admitted recording and uploading a video to YouTube entitled “N***** Lives Matter” in which he said “my dream is (to) at least … take out at 200 N*****.”

In the video, which shows what appears to be an AR-15 resting on his feet, Flores said he planned to travel to Dallas and dare protesters to “stop him.”

Flores was arrested in the Dallas area.

As of Wednesday, Flores was in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service awaiting to be transferred to El Paso for a preliminary hearing that has not yet been scheduled.

Appeals Court to Consider DOJ’s Order to Dismiss Criminal Case Against Michael Flynn

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A federal appeals court in Washington D.C. will consider the Justice Department’s order to dismiss the criminal case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser who previously pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Flynn and the Justice Department are calling on the appeals court to compel U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to dismiss the case and force the judge to cease examining the DOJ’s decision to drop charges against Flynn, The Washington Post reports.

Last month, Sullivan gave outside parties an opportunity to weigh in on the Justice Department’s unusual request.

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian diplomat and even cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.

The Justice Department’s unusual decision to request the dismissal of the case has drawn fierce criticism of Attorney General William Barr. In May, nearly 2,000 former Justice Department employees on Monday urged Attorney General William Barr to resign in an open letter that says he “once against assaulted the rule of law” when he intervened in Flynn’s case.

Brian Benczkowski, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, to Step Down

Brian Benczkowski, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Brian Benczkowski, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, plans to step down next month, he announced in an email to staff Wednesday.

Brian Rabbitt, a former White House lawyer and chief of staff to Attorney General William P. Barr, will replace him, The Washington Post reports.

“It truly has been the honor of my professional career to serve at the department once again, and to lead the men and women of the Criminal Division,” Benczkowski wrote in the statement announcing his departure. “Their work ethic and steadfast commitment to the cause of justice, the rule of law, and vindicating the rights of victims, have inspired me every day.”

Benczkowski has not said what he plans to do next after his July 3 departure.

“The decision to leave is my own and has been in the works for some time,” Benczkowski wrote. “It is part of a long-planned transition that began late last year, when the Attorney General asked each Assistant Attorney General to begin preparing for the coming year. At that time, I told Attorney General Barr that I intended to remain in my position until the summer of this year, and he graciously agreed to that timetable.”

Barr said Benczkowski had “served the Department with distinction.”

“This was his sixth senior leadership role at Justice, and the entire Department benefited from his managerial expertise, institutional knowledge, and sound judgment,” Barr said.

Rosenstein Defends Appointment of Mueller But Said FBI Misled Him on Carter Page Surveillance

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee in December 2017.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday defended his decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate Russia’s election meddling, but blamed top-level FBI officials for “significant errors.”

“I still believe it was the right decision under the circumstances,” Mr. Rosenstein told the Senate Judiciary Committee about appointing Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel, The New York Times reports. “I recognize that people can criticize me for them. That’s the consequence of being in these jobs — you make decisions and people criticize you for them — but I believed it was the right decision at the time.”

Rosenstein, however, said he signed applications to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page based on erroneous information and omissions.

The Republican-led committee is ramping up its investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.

Ex-Deputy AG Rosenstein to Testify Before Senate Committee about FBI’s Probe of Trump’s Campaign

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee in December 2017.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is set to testify next week at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about the FBI’s investigation of President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“Mr. Rosenstein will testify about the new revelations contained in the Horowitz report concerning the FISA warrant applications and other matters,” Chairman Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said in a statement, KTLA5 reports. “This will be the first in a series of oversight hearings regarding all things Crossfire Hurricane and the Mueller investigation.”

Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russia’s meddling in the campaign in 2017.

Rosenstein is expected to be the only witness during the hearing on Wednesday.