Posts tagged with "FBI"

Andrew McCabe sues DOJ and FBI, alleging his ouster was retaliatory and demanded by Trump

August 12, 2019

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe filed suit [Civil Action No. 19-2399] in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on August 8 against Attorney General Bill Barr, the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for ending his career on March 16, 2018—just before he would have qualified for his retirement benefits following 21 years of public service, Politico reported.

“Defendants responded to Plaintiff’s two decades of unblemished and non-partisan public service with a politically motivated and retaliatory demotion in January 2018 and public firing in March 2018— on the very night of Plaintiff’s long-planned retirement from the FBI,” McCabe said in his complaint.

He added, “Defendants’ actions have harmed Plaintiff’s reputation, professional standing, and dramatically reduced his retirement benefits. Plaintiff asks this Court to find that his demotion was unlawful and his purported termination was either a legal nullity or, in the alternative, unlawful, and to award him any and all relief necessary for him to retire as he had originally planned: as the Deputy Director of the FBI and an agent in good standing, with sufficient time in service to enable him to receive his full earned law enforcement pension, healthcare insurance, and other retirement benefits.”

The ousted FBI official also specifically named President DonaldTrump—acting in an official capacity as President of the United States—as the individual who was “responsible and accountable for Defendants’ actions.”

He alleged that the president, in conspiracy with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, executed the scheme to deprive him of his job and retirement funding.

“It was Trump’s unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him,” McCabe said in his complaint, adding, “Plaintiff’s termination was a critical element of Trump’s plan and scheme. Defendants—as well as then-Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Defendant Barr’s predecessor—knowingly acted in furtherance of Trump’s plan and scheme, with knowledge that they were implementing Trump’s unconstitutional motivations for removing Plaintiff from the civil service. “

According to the Politico report, the lawsuit comes just two days after former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok filed a similar lawsuit, alleging that Trump’s vendetta against him led to his unceremonious firing, despite a formal disciplinary process that recommended a less severe punishment.

Strzok is seeking his old job back or compensation for his lost pay and benefits.

Although both men made plain their dislike of Trump, they say it never affected their official actions at the FBI. McCabe argues that Trump’s Twitter threats also coerced his subordinates at the Justice Department to do his bidding.

“Trump demanded [McCabe’s] personal allegiance, he sought retaliation when Plaintiff refused to give it, and [former Attorney General Jeff] Sessions, [FBI Director Christopher] Wray, and others served as Trump’s personal enforcers rather than the nation’s highest law enforcement officials, catering to Trump’s unlawful whims instead of honoring their oaths to uphold the Constitution,” McCabe’s suit charges. “Trump’s use of threats and accusations to cause his subordinates to act is memorialized in his tweets and other public documents, including the Special Counsel Report.”

Research contact: @politico

Mueller muddles through Judiciary Committee testimony

July 25, 2019

In more than three hours of testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning, July 24, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller refused to answer many questions, saying they were outside his purview; responded to others with only a “yes” or a “no;” refrained from reading relevant portions of his own report—and did not add any personal color to the story line on the president’s efforts to obstruct the investigation.

Overall, his performance did not deliver the dramatic narrative, or the television moment, that Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York) and his Democratic committee members had hoped would captivate the American audience.

However, the former special counsel did clarify a number of points—putting the kibosh on the president’s constant claims of “TOTAL EXONERATON. NO COLLUSION.”

Director Mueller,” Nadler asked, “the president has repeatedly claimed that your report found there was no obstruction and that it completely and totally exonerated him, but that is not what your report said, is it?”

“Correct,” Mueller replied. “That is not what the report said.”

“So the report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice, is that correct?” Nadler asked.

“That is correct,” Mueller replied.

“And what about total exoneration? Did you totally exonerate the president?” Nadler continued.

“No,” Mueller said.

“Does your report state there is sufficient factual and legal basis for further investigation of potential obstruction of justice by the president?” Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) later inquired.

“Yes,” Mueller replied.

What’s more, in a line of questioning by Representative Ted Lieu (D-California), the legislator got Mueller to agree that the reason he did not indict Trump for obstruction was that he deferred to the opinion of the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

When asked, Mueller also confirmed that Russia was working on Donald Trump’s behalf during the 2020 presidential campaign.

“Did your investigation find that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from one of the candidates winning?” Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-California) entreated him.

“It did,”Mueller replied.

Lofgren then asked for specificity: “Which one?”

“Well,” Mueller said, “it would be Trump.”

In fact, Mueller went on to say, “During the course of my career I have seen a number of challenges to our democracy”—and noted that the Russian interference into the 2020 elections was “the worst.”

Finally, as Republicans tried to make points, frequently shouting, Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) attempted to establish that Mueller had been “conflicted” in carrying out the investigation because he had interviewed with Trump the day before for the position of FBI director.

 “Not as a candidate,” Mueller replied. He noted that he met with Trump on May 16, 2017, to discuss the then-vacant FBI director position, a position that he once had held— but not because he was a candidate for the job. He said he merely outlined what it would take to do the job.

Indeed, as The Washington Post’s Devlin Barrett tweeted, Mueller is barred by law from holding the FBI director position again. Barrett’s sources did say that White House staffers raised the possibility of changing that law, but that doesn’t comport with Trump’s presentation of Mueller as having gotten “turned down” in seeking the position.

Mueller was due to appear before the House Intelligence Committee during the afternoon session—where hopes that he would tell a colorful narrative on Russian interference that would shift public opinion still were high.

Research contact: @HouseJudiciary

FBI carries out predawn raid, arresting Roger Stone and searching his home

January 28, 2019

In a predawn video by CNN, armed FBI agents and local police were shown arriving at the home of longtime Trump adviser and associate Roger Stone to arrest him—in a marked departure from how Special Counsel Robert Mueller is known to have handled other players tied to the Russia probe.

According to CNN reporters stationed outside of Stone’s residence in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the authorities announced their presence while knocking on the door. The FBI agents also reportedly said they had a warrant to search the home.

President Donald Trump commented on Twitter, “Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION! Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better. Who alerted CNN to be there?”

And White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNN, “This has nothing to do with the president and certainly has nothing to do with the White House. This is something that has to do solely with that individual.”

Meanwhile, CNN clapped back, tweeting, “CNN’s ability to capture the arrest of Roger Stone was the result of determined reporting and interpreting clues revealed in the course of events. That’s called journalism.”

Based on the same report, former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram commented,”There’s a reason” why the FBI arrested former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone “at the crack of dawn with agents fully armed,” even if the reason for that is unknown as of now. 

“This is a standard procedure to arrest someone when you don’t have a belief that they’ve come in voluntarily,” Milgram told CNN’s “New Day” on Friday morning. “… they clearly wanted the element of surprise.” 

A copy of the indictment by the Grand Jury for the District of Columbia was posted on The Hill. Stone is facing seven charges, including five counts of making false statements, one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, and one count of witness tampering.

“It’s clear that the Trump campaign was acting in a coordinated fashion to try to undermine this election and to try to get this information into public circulation,” Representative Dan Kildee (D-Michigan) told CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

“It’s pretty stunning to read these indictments … and compare them to the constant pronouncements the president has made. Clearly he has a distant relationship with the truth, but in this case he’s getting his wall: Unfortunately, it’s the wall that’s being built around him,” Kildee added.

Stone is the sixth associate of President Trump to be charged in connection with Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference and potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

A federal magistrate ruled that Stone could be released on a $250,000 signature bond. CNN reported that Stone told the judge that he does not have a current passport.

In a statement following the indictment, Stone said that would not plead guilty to the charges and believes that they are politically motivated. He also reinforced that he would not testify against the president.

Research contact: @davidgshortell

Is the POTUS ‘obstructing justice’ by demanding declassification of Mueller probe documents?

September 19, 2018

The POTUS is treading a thin line, between obstruction of justice and presidential privilege.

On September 17, President Donald Trump directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice to immediately declassify portions of the June 2017 FISA court application regarding former Trump campaign adviser Carter W.Page, according to a report by the Huffington Post.

The president also demanded the public release of text messages exchanged by former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Trump’s defenders on Capitol Hill and in the conservative media have routinely used the Strzok-Page text messages to undermine the Mueller probe and suggest that the FBI is biased against Trump, the news outlet said.

In immediate response to the order, Representative Adam Schiff (D-California-28th District), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, sent out a tweet at 8:08 p.m. on September 17, remarking: “President Trump has intervened again in a pending investigation by ordering the selective disclosure of classified materials he believes to be helpful to his defense. The DOJ and FBI have previously informed me that release of some of this information would cross a ‘red line.’”

In a statement picked up by MSN, Schiff characterized the president’s order as “a clear abuse of power,” suggesting that Trump  “has decided to intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative.”

Representative Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia-11th District) also came out against the release of documents, tweeting shortly after 8 p.m. on September 17, “More obstruction from the President.”

And Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) tweeted on September 18,”The President is trying to undermine an active investigation through reckless declassification. We need an independent DOJ to do everything possible to protect sources and methods.”

The FBI previously had released a heavily redacted version of the Page FISA application in July. Trump also ordered the public release of texts messages sent by former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, as well as Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. The president also ordered the release of notes on meetings with Ohr, who relayed information to the FBI collected by former British spy Christopher Steele about Trump’s relationship with Russia.

According to the Huffington Post, a Justice Department spokesperson said late on September 17 that the DOJ and FBI were “already working with the Director of National Intelligence to comply with the President’s order.”

The president’s order, the spokesperson said, triggered “a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House Counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America’s national security interests.”

Research contact: ryan.reilly@huffingtonpost.com

70% of power pros fear hacks could cause a ‘catastrophic failure’

April 20, 2018

Last month, a joint technical alert issued by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security put Americans on notice that Russia has hacked into critical U.S. energy infrastructure—and is capable of bring the grid down, at a time of its own choosing.

Just how concerned are energy security professionals? To find out, Dimensional Research conducted a poll on behalf of Tripwire among 151 IT and operational technology security professionals at energy and oil and gas companies.

The responses to the poll are scary enough to keep both energy professionals and the American public up at night: Close to all participants said they feared operational shutdowns and threats to their employees’ safety at 97% and 96%, respectively.

What’s more, fully 70% percent of these security professionals feared more dire consequences like an explosion and other “catastrophic failures.”

But they are on the case: 59% of those polled said their companies already have begun to increase security investments because of Incident Command System (ICS)-targeted attacks like Trisis/Triton, Industroyer/CrashOverride and Stuxnet. However, many feel they still don’t have the proper level of investment to meet ICS security goals.

Disturbingly enough, more than half (56%) of respondents to Tripwire’s survey felt it would take a significant attack to get their companies to invest in security properly

This may be the reason why just 35% of participants are taking a multilayered approach to ICS security – widely recognized as a best practice. Thirty-four percent said they were focusing primarily on network security; and 14%, on ICS device security.

Tim Erlin, vice president of Product Management and Strategy at Tripwire, is troubled by these findings. “It’s concerning,” he say, “that more than half would wait for an attack to happen before investing properly given what’s at stake with critical infrastructure. The energy industry should invest in establishing more robust cybersecurity strategies with a proper foundation of critical security controls and layers of defense.”

Research contact: rlapena@tripwire.com

America’s meanest streets

March 13, 2018

Monroe, Louisiana, is the most dangerous city in the United States, according to a report released by the website, NeighborhoodScout, on March 6.

Filling out the rest of the top ten (from most dicey to least) for this year are Bessemer, Alabama; East St. Louis, Illinois; Camden, New Jersey, Detroit, Michigan, St. Louis, Missouri; Wilmington, Delaware, Alexandria, Louisiana; Memphis, Tennessee; and West Memphis, Arkansas.

The list of the top 100 most dangerous American cities compares the safety of municipalities with populations of 25,000 or more, based on the number of violent crimes (murder, rape, armed robbery and aggravated assault) reported to the FBI to have occurred in each city, and the population of each city, divided by 1,000. This calculation provides a rate for violent crime per 1,000 residents—offering an accurate, normalized comparison of cities of different sizes.

Monroe is representative of a number of communities on the list: It is a medium-size city (population: 49,297) located about 100 miles away from two larger cities—Shreveport (population 194,920) to the west; and Jackson (population 169,148) to the east.

Compared to the rest of the nation, Monroe is lower-middle-income and has a high number of people living in poverty. The lack of a large business and economic center within decent commuting distance means that residents have difficulty finding well-paying jobs.

These factors contribute to the city’s above-average housing vacancy rate and low public school quality indices—which, in-turn, reduce economic activity and can make it challenging for a community to attract jobs that require high skills and pay good salaries. A similar scenario plays out in Chester, PennsylvaniaHomestead, Florida, and other medium-size communities nationwide.

“We continue to see a number of smaller, industrial-satellite communities struggle with crime,” said Dr.Andrew Schiller, CEO and Founder of Location, the parent company of  NeighborhoodScout. “Limited economic opportunity plays a role in such communities and highlights the divide between the safe bedroom communities within large metro areas near major urban centers like Boston, Chicago and New York, and the high-crime industrial-satellite communities.”

Research contact: 191356@email4pr.com

As White House scandals pile up, so does women’s disapproval

February 14, 2018

The most recent Washington Post-ABC poll, released February 10, has found that President Donald Trump’s approval from white women has fallen since his first 100 days. While most white women voted for Trump in 2016, his approval rating among that demographic has declined by 10 points—and strong disapproval of the president by this group has increased by 12 points, from 39% to 51%.

The women with whom Trump resonated most were white, without college degrees. Many of these women found his message championing traditional values and an economic message benefiting working-class families in Middle America more attractive than Hillary Clinton’s progressive promise to continue the Obama legacy, the researchers said.

However, as the number of scandals in the White House surges—with two resignations for spousal abuse just last week by Staff Secretary Rob Porter and Speechwriter David Sorenson—the women who supported Trump are fleeing in droves.

Yet, on February 9, a “tone-deaf” Trump defended Porter, saying, “He did a very good job while he was in the White House.”

He told reporters, “We found out about [the allegations from Porter’s ex-wives] recently, and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well, and it’s a tough time for him. He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that.”

The POTUS did not directly address the statements of the ex-wives, as reported to the FBI staff that had conducted their security clearance interviews.

And despite former Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway’s attempts to divert attention by lauding the increase in jobs for white women under the Trump administration, nearly half (47%) of white women without degrees view the nation’s economy as not so good or poor, the poll found.

Most (65%) of these women do not believe that Trump is the “very stable genius” that he says he is. And the overwhelming majority (79%) of these women think sexual harassment of women in the workplace is a problem in America, the Post reported.

The most recent reports follow the scandal that surface in January, when headlines worldwide announced that Trump had carried on an affair with an adult film actress shortly after his wife, Melania, gave birth to son Barron—and had paid the woman hush money to deny the allegations.

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel delivered senior White House staff a memo at the end of 2017 showing how poorly the GOP was doing with women, the Post reports. These latest events will not reverse that trend.

Research contact: eugene.scott@washpost.com

Whom do you trust? American voters are not so sure

February 8, 2018

Americans are languishing in a “Great Divide” and—following the release of the latest Quinnipiac University National Poll, on February 7—Tim Malloy, assistant director of the research organization, confirmed it.

“Special Counsel Robert Mueller is not out to get President Donald Trump, American voters say, but they do feel [that] the President is out to get Mueller,” he commented, adding, “And almost half of voters think Republicans in Congress are trying to obstruct the Russia investigation.”

Indeed, the recent poll found that 50% of U.S. voters think that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is legitimate, even as 42% say it is a “political witch hunt.”

While there is an obvious partisan divide on these questions, Independent voters say:

  • 56%-37% that Trump is attempting to derail the Russia investigation;
  • 49%-42% that Republicans in Congress are trying to derail the Russian probe; and
  • 54%-39% that the investigation is legitimate rather than a witch hunt.

What’s more, the FBI is not biased against Trump, voters say (55%-33%).

“Despite the beating they’ve taken from the White House, the judiciary and the intelligence communities are considered [to be] a lot more trustworthy than the Oval Office and the Fourth Estate,” said Malloy.

Finally, based on the research, voters trust the U.S. court system (67%- 28%) to do what is right, as well as the U.S. intelligence agencies (61%-31%).

Research contact: peter.brown@quinnipiac.edu