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Tag: Michigan

Men Charged in Plot to Kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer Also Mulled Televised Executions, Prosecutors Say

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Photo via state of Michigan.

By Steve Neavling

A militia group charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had devised alternative plans that included televised executions and burning down the state Capitol building while it was in session, prosecutors said.

The disturbing details, disclosed in new court filings and first reported by ABC7, allege the 14 men, many of whom belonged to a militia group “Wolverine Watchmen,” developed a “Plan B” and “Plan C” if the kidnapping plot failed to work. 

According to prosecutors, Plan B involved recruiting 200 combatants to storm the statehouse and stage televised executions of public officials.

“They were to take hostages, execute tyrants and have it televised,” court documents show. “It would take about one week and (said) that no one is coming out alive.”

Under Plan C, the extremists would set fire to the Capitol building while lawmakers were still in session, “leaving no survivors,” prosecutors said.

The men were charged last month in a plot that the FBI said it thwarted to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat whose coronavirus restrictions had incensed some conservatives, even as COVID-19 skyrocketed. 

“The group talked about creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient,” the affidavit reportedly said. “They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions. At one point, several members talked about state governments they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution, including the government of Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer. As part of that recruitment effort, [Adam] Fox reached out to a Michigan-based militia group.”

Six of the men were charged in federal court, and eight were charged in state court. 

Feds Mull Terrorism Charges in Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Plot Investigtion

Alleged ringleader Adam Fox, 37.

By Steve Neavling

Federal prosecutors are considering terrorism charges against the six men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after investigators uncovered new evidence, including bomb components. 

In a court filing Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office requested a 40-day extension to seek indictments against the suspects to give investigators time to sift through the evidence. In addition to finding bomb parts, investigators must examine 13,000 pages of encrypted text messages, hundreds of hours of undercover audio recordings, and “voluminous” amounts of audio and video found on seized computers and cellphones.

“Firearms and explosive device components were recently recovered, and must be analyzed to determine whether charges under the National Firearms Act, explosives or anti-terrorism statutes are warranted,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler wrote. 

No more details of the bomb components were disclosed. 

“Because of the imminent nature of the threat, law enforcement was obliged to arrest the subjects before this evidence could be processed,” Kessler wrote. 

In all, 14 men have been charged in connection with the case in state and federal court. The six charged in federal court are also accused of conspiring to spark a civil war by planning to attack police and the state Capitol. They face up to life in prison. 

Barr Slams Career Prosecutors As ‘Headhunters,’ Compares Them to Preschoolers in Boisterous Speech

Attorney General William Barr, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr lashed out at his own prosecutors on Wednesday, calling them “headhunters” in search of big name targets and equating them to preschoolers.

During the wide-ranging, boisterous speech at conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan, Barr also said nationwide coronavirus lockdowns would be the “greatest intrusion on civil liberties” outside of slavery, according to CNN.

“Individual prosecutors can sometimes become headhunters, consumed with taking down their target,” Barr said, The Associated Press reports. “Subjecting their decisions to review by detached supervisors ensures the involvement of dispassionate decision-makers in the process.”

Barr, who has been criticized for interfering in cases involving allies of President Trump, insisted he has the authority to intervene in such cases and that career prosecutors don’t always get the final say.

“Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it is no way to run a federal agency,” he said.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder blasted Barr’s criticism of career prosecutors.

“Though dangerous, Barr is becoming increasingly absurd. When I was at DOJ – regardless of my ultimate authority – I saw the career staff as trusted colleagues, not pre-schoolers,” Holder tweeted Wednesday. To my friends at DOJ, know that this nation values and supports you. I do.

Barr also castigated governors who have imposed restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” Barr said to thunderous applause.

Stejskal: Why the FBI Was Right to Launch the Russia-Trump Probe and Investigate Flynn

The writer, an FBI agent for 31 years, retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office in 2006.

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com


Greg Stejskal: “When Flynn was interviewed, he did lie.”

I first met Bill Priestap (Edward William Priestap) in the mid-90s. I had been talking to University of Michigan football teams every Fall since 1982. I would bring along other agents and federal prosecutors, and we would talk about illegal sports gambling, drugs and other things that college players should avoid. Bill Priestap was head coach Lloyd Carr’s director of operations, responsible for arranging the FBI talks.

Bill and I became friends, and he expressed interest in becoming an FBI agent. He had a master’s degree in educational administration and business administration, and a law degree. He also had the experience of running a major college football program. I encouraged him to apply. 

He did and was accepted, entering duty in 1998. Bill opted to pursue administrative advancement and in 2015 became assistant director of counterintelligence at FBI HQ.

In July 2016, Bill Priestap faced probably the most consequential decision of his career. 

On July 22, Wikileaks released emails that had apparently been hacked from the Democratic National Committee, specifically from John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager. This resulted in the FBI initiating an investigation of the cyber intrusion of the DNC.

Five days later, the Australian government advised American intelligence services that in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a Trump presidential campaign advisor, had told the Australian High Commissioner to Britain that the Russian officials were in possession of politically damaging information relating to Hillary Clinton.


FBI Agent Bill Priestap

Presented with this information, Priestap authorized the opening of an investigation of possible Russian hacking and any connection to the Trump presidential campaign. The case was code-named Cross Fire Hurricane from the opening line in the Rolling Stones song, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” (The so-called Steele dossier played no role in the opening of the investigation. CFH investigators didn’t learn of the Steele dossier until September of that year.)

The FBI was careful not to make this investigation public, to avoid election influence. (Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal server for some emails involving Department of State business was already public information and was being investigated separately.)

Priestap continued to supervise the case. Following the election, the efforts of the Russian government to interfere and influence the election became public, and President Obama imposed significant sanctions on Russia.  

Michael Flynn and the Ambassador

Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, who had been a close campaign advisor to President Trump, was named to be national security advisor in the new administration. Flynn had several telephone conversations with Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, prior to the inauguration.

The substance of these calls was known to the FBI through established electronic surveillance of Kislyak. Among other things, Flynn asked Kislyak to advise the Russian government to not retaliate for the new sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. Flynn indicated that the sanctions would be mitigated by the Trump administration.


President Trump and Michael Flynn

When it became publicly known that Flynn had spoken with Kislyak prior to the inauguration, Vice President Pence made a public statement saying that Flynn had not discussed the Obama sanctions with Kislyak.  Apparently, Flynn had lied to Pence about his conversation with Kislyak. This was a big concern for the FBI and attorneys at the Department of Justice.

It was decided by Priestap and others in the FBI and DOJ that Flynn should be interviewed regarding his conversations with Kislyak. Any time an interview of this nature is contemplated, a pre-interview strategy is prepared. Priestap and others were involved in that strategy. 

Read more »

3 Dozen TSA Employees Tested Positive for Coronavirus in 12 States

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The number of TSA employees who have tested positive for coronavirus has soared to 36 since the outbreak began two weeks ago.

Of those, 28 are TSA screening officers who have close interactions with the public. Another eight non-screening employees with limited interactions with the public have tested positive.

The positive cases are spread across 12 states: Washington, Nevada, California, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, New York and New Jersey.

Hundreds of TSA screeners and other employees also are quarantined because they either had contact with coworkers who tested positive or because they are showing symptoms.

At some airports, multiple TSA screeners have tested positive. There are six cases involving workers at John F. Kennedy International Airpot in New York and four at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

Three TSA screeners at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in California were the first agency employees to test positive for coronavirus on March 10.

For details of each positive case, click here.

 

Via TSA

 

Detroit Police End Relationship with DEA Task Force over Controversial Informant

By Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Detroit police are pulling out of a DEA task force over the use of an informant who went on a killing spree.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig told The Detroit News that he pulled his officers from a DEA/Detroit police task force after meeting with Keith Martin, special agent in charge of the DEA’s operations in Michigan and Ohio.

“I said during the meeting I felt there was a breach of trust,” Craig said. “Because of this failure to acknowledge ownership that (Kenyel) Brown was signed as an informant working for the DEA/DPD task force, I’m pulling my officers from the task force.”

Detroit police had worked with the DEA for more than 20 years, the chief said.

Martin responded that the DEA is still “committed to working with the Detroit Police Department.”

The controversy involves the DEA’s use of Kenyel Brown, whom the task force paid $150 in October for information about a southwest Detroit gang dealing drugs.

Brown committed suicide by shooting himself in the head Monday as officers prepared to arrest him on allegations he was involved in six homicides, a shooting and two carjackings in Detroit and two suburbs.

Brown was kept out of prison while he was used as a federal informant, despite “multiple violations of his probation,” The Detroit News reported.

CBP Finds Human Brain in Shipment Coming from Canada

Human brain found at the Canadian-Michigan border.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers were in for a surprise when they inspected a Canadian mail truck that had crossed the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Mich.

They found a human brain specimen inside a glass jar. It was not accompanied by any of the mandated paperwork or documentation to bring the brain into the country, CBP says in a news release.

The shipment originated in Toronto and was headed for Kenosha, Wis.

“Individuals looking to import shipments such as this, need to remember that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a strict Import Permit Program that must be adhered to,” Area Port Director Michael Fox said. “This is just another great example of just one of the many things CBP officers do to protect our nation on a daily basis.”

CBP has notified the CDC of the discovery.

Steven M. D’Antuono Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Detroit Field Office

FBI Special Agent Steven M. D’Antuono.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Steven M. D’Antuono has been named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office.

D’Antuono spent much of his 23-year career at the FBI tracking down white-collar crime and public corruption. That experience will become handy in an office that handles a lot of public corruption.

D’Antuono, who recently served as section chief in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C., joined the bureau as a forensic accountant in 1996. His first assignment was the Providence Resident Agency in Rhode Island, where he handled criminal investigations into financial crimes, public corruption, organized crime, drugs, and counterintelligence.

In 1998, D’Antuono served as a special agent assigned to the Washington Field Office, where he investigated white-collar crime and public corruption.

In 2004, D’Antuono began teaching white-collar crime while serving as the supervisory special agent at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. In 2008, he was transferred to the Washington Field Office to supervise a public corruption and government fraud squad.

In 2014, D’Antuono became an assistant special agent in charge at the St. Louis Field Office, overseeing the Criminal and Administrative branches.

D’Antuono was promoted in 2017 to chief of the Financial Crimes Section of the Criminal Investigative Division, where he oversaw all of the bureau’s white-collar crime programs, including corporate securities and commodities fraud, economic crimes, financial institution fraud, money laundering, health care fraud, intellectual property, and forensic accountant programs.

D’Antuono earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Rhode Island. Before joining the FBI, he was a certified public accountant.