Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

November 2020
S M T W T F S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Tag: William Barr

Update: Trump Pardons Michael Flynn

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

Update: 5:12 p.m. Wednesday: As expected, President Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

On late Wednesday afternoon he tweeted:

It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!


From Wednesday Morning

President Trump plans to pardon his former national security adviser Michael Flynn before leaving office, according to Axios and The New York Times

Flynn, 61-year-old retired lieutenant general, is among a number of people that Trump plans to pardon before his team ends, sources told the news outlets. 

Flynn is Trump’s first national security advisor and also was the target of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. But he later fired his attorneys and asked to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he was entrapped by the FBI and Justice Department. 

Attorney General William Barr, who has intervened in cases involving the president’s allies, has asked Judge Emmet Sullivan to dismiss the case in May. Sullivan has not made a decision

In April, weeks before the Justice Department intervened, Trump tweeted, “What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again!”

When asked about a potential pardon of Flynn in July, Trump said “I don’t have a decision to make” about a potential pardon for Flynn “until I find out what’s going to happen” with Flynn’s attempt to get his conviction tossed.

“I think he’s doing very well with respect to his case,” Trump told reporters at the time. “I hope that he’s going to be able to win it.”

Mexico Threatens to Remove DEA from Country After Arrest of Ex-Mexican Defense Minister

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, former Mexican defense minister.

By Steve Neavling

Mexican officials are so incensed with the arrest of a former Mexican defense minister on drug trafficking charges that they’ve threatened to remove the DEA from the country, The New York Times and Bloomberg report. 

The unprecedented threat follows the arrest of Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda. 

U.S. officials appeared to be listening, and on Wednesday a federal judge agreed to dismiss the charges against the former army general. The move came at the request of Attorney General William Barr. 

The reversal was criticized by officials in the State Department and Congress. 

“There is no explanation for Attorney General Barr’s decision to abruptly drop drug trafficking charges against General Cienfuegos,” Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said in a statement. “Cooperation with the Mexican government is essential for upholding our national security, and those bilateral ties must be built on common respect for our own rule of law and due process.”

Judge Carol B. Amon, of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, appeared to have no qualms about the turnabout.  

“Although these are very serious charges against a very significant figure, and the old adage ‘a bird in the hand’ comes to mind,” Amon said, “still I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the government’s decision.”

Trump Calls on Barr to Investigate Bidens As Election Nears

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

Trailing in the polls, President Trump on Tuesday urged Attorney General William Barr to immediately investigate unfounded claims about his Democratic opponent Joe Biden and his son Hunter. 

By pressuring Barr to take action to discredit a political opponent, Trump is asking the attorney general to abandon the Justice Department’s long tradition of not getting involved in elections.

When asked on Fox News if he supports the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the Bidens’ actions in Ukraine and China, Trump said, “We’ve got to get the attorney general to act. He’s got to act, and he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption and this has to be known about before the election.”

Trump has not said what crimes he believes the Bidens have committed. 

In a letter to Barr, 11 Republicans are urging Barr to appoint an “independent, unbiased special counsel” to probe allegations made in a controversial New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s emails. 

https://biggs.house.gov/media/press-releases/congressman-biggs-calls-special-counsel-investigate-former-vice-president-joe

Trump Says He’s ‘Not Happy’ with Barr, Won’t Commit to Retaining AG

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

President Trump on Wednesday said he was “not happy”  with Attorney General William Barr and declined to say whether he’d keep Barr in a potential second term. 

In an interview with Newsmax, Trump said it was “too early” to decide whether Barr would stay on if the president wins re-election in November. 

“Can’t comment on that, it’s too early. I’m not happy, with all of the evidence I had, I can tell you that. I am not happy,” Trump said.

Trump has expressed frustration with Barr after the attorney general told Republicans that he didn’t expect the Justice Department to finish its investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation. 

Trump’s remarks also come after the The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the Justice Department’s investigation of the Obama era’s “unmasking” of Trump campaign officials didn’t uncover wrongdoing.

“Personally, I think it’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. It’s a disgrace,” Trump said. “I think it’s really a horrible thing that they’re allowed to get away — when they say no indictments, they actually said no indictments before the election.

“I had to go through elections with all those clouds over my head. But they don’t because the Republicans are so nice. Personally, I think it’s too bad. I think it’s too bad, they’re guilty as hell.”

Ethics Groups Urge House to Begin Impeachment Inquiry Against Barr

AG William Barr

By Steve Neavling

Two private ethics groups are calling for the impeachment of Attorney General William Barr, accusing him of misusing his position to help President Trump get re-elected. 

The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL) and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) made the case in a 267-page report released Monday that outlines how they say Barr has undermined public confidence in the Justice Department, Bloomberg reports.

They pointed to what they called the intentional distortion of Robert Mueller’s special counsel report, Barr’s repeated news interviews in support of the president, and his appointment of U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate the Trump-Russia investigation. Barr also has intervened in criminal cases involving Trump associates, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. 

They said these actions may also violate the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in most political activity while on duty. 

“The working group came to the reluctant conclusion that Attorney General Barr is using the powers of the Department as a vehicle for supporting the political objectives of President Donald Trump,” they wrote. “It appears that the Department has transitioned from one that is subject to law, to become one that instead views the application of law as politically discretionary; moving from rule of law to rule by law.”

DOJ Indicts 2 Notoriously Brutal Members of ISIS on Charges of Torturing, Murdering Hostages

FBI Director Christopher Wray announces charges against ISIS members.

By Steve Neavling

Two British members of ISIS are now in FBI custody after the Justice Department charged them Wednesday in the torture and murder of four Americans captured in Syria. 

El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, and Alexanda Kotey, 36, who were part of a notoriously brutal group of hostage-takers known as the Beatles, face up to life in prison, each charged with eight counts, including conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens, hostage taking, hostage taking, and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. 

The charges stem from the deaths of four Americans in Syria: James Foley, Peter Kassig, Kayla Mueller, and Steven Sotlof. They also are accused of kidnapping and torturing more than 20 other hostages, some of whom were beheaded in propaganda videos. 

“The families of the victims have suffered the painful loss of their loved ones at the hands of brutal killers. And while their pain may never fully subside, today, with the announcement of this indictment, we’re beginning to bring them the justice they deserve,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a news conference

Attorney General William Barr said charges stem from years of “hard work in pursuit of justice for our citizens slain by ISIS.

“Our message to other terrorists around the world is this: If you harm Americans, you will face American arms on the battlefield or American law in our courtrooms,” Barr said. “Either way, you will be pursued to the ends of the earth until justice is done.”

William Barr to Self-Quarantine After Possible Exposure to Coronavirus

Attorney General William Barr, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General William Barr will self-quarantine after refusing to do so on Friday following possible exposure to the coronavirus from members of President Trump’s inner circle. 

A Justice Department spokesperson told The Associated Press that Barr plans stay inside his home for several days after attending a meeting at Justice Department headquarters, hours after Trump announced he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Barr has tested negative four times for COVID-19 since Friday, the spokesperson Kerri Kupec said.  

Last week, Barr attended a ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in the White House Rose Garden, where more than 150 people assembled shoulder to shoulder without social distancing. Barr was seen speaking with former Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, who tested positive for COVID-19. Neither wore a mask.  

At least eight attendees tested positive for the virus, including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Notre Dame President John Jenkins, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has checked into a hospital. 

Comey Defends FBI’s Trump-Russia Investigation, Takes Aim at Barr

Former FBI James Comey in previous testimony, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

Former FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday defended the bureau’s investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia, saying it was “essential,” as Republicans dismissed the probe as politically motivated.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating the Trump-Russia probe, Comey also took aim at Attorney General William Barr’s assertion that the investigation was unwarranted. 

Asked about Barr’s criticism that the FBI had sufficient evidence to launch an investigation, Comey responded that he had “no idea what on earth” he meant, The Washington Post reports.

“This was an investigation that was appropriately predicated and that had to be opened, and it was in the main, conducted in the right way,” Comey said, pointing out the dozens of people who were charged as a result of the investigation. “The notion that the attorney general believes that was an illegitimate endeavor to investigate mystifies me.”

Comey also suggested Barr was “acting like the personal lawyer for the president.”

“It ought to be a concern for all of us, because we need that institution, and we need that institution to be seen as separate from our tribal warfare,” Comey said.

Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017, setting off the special counsel investigation. 

Comey acknowledged mistakes were made, particularly with the bureau’s controversial surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. 

“I’m not looking to shirk responsibility,” he said. “The director is responsible.”

At the beginning of the hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., criticized the handling of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“This is not just an abuse of power against Mr. Page and the Trump campaign,” Graham said. “This is a system failure, and you could be next.”

An inspector general’s review of the FISA process found missteps, but concluded there was no political bias.