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Tag: trump

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 »

Trump Dishes Out Clemencies to Rod Blagojevich, Bernie Kerik, Michael Milken and More

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

President Donald Trump, apparently emboldened by his acquittal in the Senate, is dishing out clemencies to some big-time names.

On Tuesday, a White House press release said:

Today, President Donald J. Trump signed Executive Grants of Clemency granting Full Pardons to the following individuals: Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Michael Milken, Ariel Friedler, Bernard Kerik, Paul Pogue, David Safavian, and Angela Stanton.  In addition, President Trump signed Executive Grants of Clemency granting commutations to Rod Blagojevich, Tynice Nichole Hall, Crystal Munoz, and Judith Negron.

Trump granted a pardon to Michael Milken, who was charged with insider trading in the 1980s and to Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers football team, who pleaded guilty two decades ago for failing to report a felony.

Blagojevich, a Democrat, began serving a 14-year sentence in 2012 for corruption that included selling Barack Obama’s senate seat.

“He served eight years in jail – a long time,” Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews, according to USA Today. “Many people disagree with the sentence.”

Kerik and Milkin are no longer in prison. DeBartolo paid and fine and was put on probation.

DeBartolo Jr. pleaded guilty to failing to report a bribe, testifying in a gambling fraud and corruption case against former Louisiana governor Edwin W. Edwards (D) in 1998 that the governor extorted him for $400,000 in exchange for approval of a riverboat casino license. DeBartolo paid the money and the state licensing board unanimously approved his project, according to the Washington Post. 

DeBartolo, a billionaire, had to pay $1 million in fines, was placed on two year’s probation and handed the NFL team over to his sister.

Read full White House press release below:

Today, President Donald J. Trump signed Executive Grants of Clemency granting Full Pardons to the following individuals: Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Michael Milken, Ariel Friedler, Bernard Kerik, Paul Pogue, David Safavian, and Angela Stanton.  In addition, President Trump signed Executive Grants of Clemency granting commutations to Rod Blagojevich, Tynice Nichole Hall, Crystal Munoz, and Judith Negron.

Edward DeBartolo, Jr., is a successful businessman, real estate developer, and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  During the 23 years that he owned the San Francisco 49ers, the team won an unprecedented 13 division titles and 5 Super Bowl Championships.  In 1998, he was convicted for failing to report a felony regarding payment demanded for a riverboat casino license, and he was sentenced to 2 years’ probation.  Mr. DeBartolo did not allow his conviction to define his life.  He remained a generous philanthropist and passionate supporter of numerous charitable causes, including charter schools like the Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School, and anti-gang violence initiatives.  His exceptional compassion and warmth define his character to this day.  Mr. DeBartolo treated players and coaches as part of his family.  Many prominent individuals from the National Football League have strongly advocated for this pardon, including Joe Montana, Jim Brown, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley, Derrick Brooks, Fred Dean, Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones, and Roger Goodell.  They have been joined in their support by other notable figures and organizations, including Pastor Darrell Scott, Kareem Lanier, Paul Anka, and the Urban Revitalization Coalition.

Read more »

NBC Exclusive: Comey Wonders Why Mueller Didn’t Subpoena Trump

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-FBI Director James Comey, speaking out for the first time since the Robert Mueller report was completed, say he’s glad the investigation was undertaken, saying there was enough smoke to justify it.

Comey said he’s not clear why Robert Mueller didn’t come to a conclusion on the obstruction of justice question, or why he didn’t subpoena President Trump.

Below is part of the interview.

Trump Attacks Ex-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Who Just Authored a Book

President Trump

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

No surprise here.

President Donald Trump came out swinging Thursday, on Valentine’s Day, after ex-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired, talked about his new book in an interview with 60 Minutes.


McCabe says top officials were looking into invoking the 25th amendment to get rid of Trump after he fired FBI Director James Comey, Forbes magazine reports.

He also confirmed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire in meetings with Trump.

The Justice Department a statement disputing McCabe’s remarks and restated its position that it and Rosenstein find “no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

McCabe’s full interview will air Sunday on 60 Minutes.

 

Lengel: Rudy Giuliani’s Fear of a Perjury Trap With the President Is Pure B.S.

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former N.Y. Mayor and Rudy Giuliani, who served as U.S. Attorney from 1983-89, is going around telling everyone who will listen that he fears Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III is trying to set a perjury trap for President Donald Trump.

“The reality is we’re not going to sit him down if it’s a trap for perjury,” Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, tells Fox News.  “And until we’re convinced of that … we’re just going to have to say no.”

“Let me emphasize,” Giuliani added, “he wants to explain that he did nothing wrong.”

Let’s simply say this: You can’t be guilty of perjury if you tell the truth.

The truth is that Trump has had a problem at times distinguishing between truth and alternative facts.

All the president has to do is tell the truth.

Simple as that.

Perjury is charge for people who lie.

The truth is a great defense against perjury.

More Blurry Lines: John Kelly to Attend DOJ Briefings on Controversial Informant

President Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The lines continue to get blurred in the Trump era.

White House chief of staff John Kelly plans to attend two briefings at the Justice Department on Thursday about an FBI informant who interacted with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.

Kelly’s presence comes despite previous White House assurances that no member of the president’s team would attend the Justice Department gathering, Politico notes.

It’s unclear if the briefings will include documents or details about the informant’s work for the FBI or whether they’ll cover the intelligence community’s reluctance to share the highly classified information with members of Congress, the publication writes.

 

Justice Department Directs IG to Investigate Trump’s Claim of FBI Spying on HIs Campaign

President Trump, via White House

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Here’s the latest political storm in Washington.

The Justice Department on Monday directed, a the behest of President Donald Trump, the Inspector General to probe the president’s allegation that his campaign had been “infiltrated or surveilled” by the FBI, NBC News reports.

“The Department has asked the Inspector General to expand the ongoing review of the FISA application process to include determining whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election,” Department of Justice spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement.

As always, the Inspector General will consult with the appropriate U.S. Attorney if there is any evidence of potential criminal conduct,” she added.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein weighed in saying “if anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.”

While some see this as legitimate, others see it as a tactic by the Trump camp to try to discredit the Robert Mueller investigation.

 

Giuliani Says Mueller Agrees to Narrow Scope in Trump Investigation

Trump attorney and former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Rudy Giuliani says special counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to narrow the scope of a potential interview with President Donald Trump from five topics to two, CNN reports.

Giuliani, who has become Trump’s latest TV attorney,  tells CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day” that Mueller is not considering asking the President about his former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who’s under investigation in New York over his business dealings.
Giuliani said Friday said the “the main focus we want is Russia.”