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The New York Times. Written by MICHAEL D. SHEAR and MATT APUZZO
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, abruptly terminating the leader of a wide-ranging criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
The stunning development in Mr. Trump’s nascent presidency drew comparisons to President Richard M. Nixon’s infamous “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which Nixon purged the Justice Department in the middle of the Watergate investigation. Mr. Trump’s move immediately ignited Democratic calls for an independent prosecutor to lead the Russia probe.
Mr. Trump explained the firing by citing Mr. Comey’s controversial handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, even though the president was widely seen to have benefited from that inquiry. Mr. Trump had also once praised Mr. Comey for being “gutsy” in pursuit of Mrs. Clinton during the campaign.
“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” Mr. Trump said in a letter to Mr. Comey dated Tuesday.
Mr. Comey, who is three years into a 10-year term at the helm of the F.B.I., learned from news reports that he had been fired while addressing bureau employees in Los Angeles. While Mr. Comey spoke, television screens in the background began flashing the news. Shortly after, a letter was delivered to F.B.I. Headquarters in Washington.
The abrupt firing raised questions over whether Mr. Trump was trying to influence the Russia investigation. But the president said he was following recommendations from the Justice Department, which criticized how Mr. Comey concluded the investigation into Mrs. Clinton. Read the rest of this entry
Former Augusta, George State Medical Prison correctional officers John Williams, Antonio Binns, and Justin Washington, have been charged with a civil rights violation. The indictment alleges that on February 13, 2014, the three assaulted an inmate, known in the case as “C.V.” while he was handcuffed behind his back. Binns and Washington were also indicted for one count of obstruction of justice for allegedly writing false reports to cover-up the assault.
According to the Augusta Chronicle, bonds of $20,000 were set for Williams and Washington, and a $30,000 bond was set for Binns. Binns’ bond will be lowered to $20,000 if he loses his job, according to court documents.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver of the Southern District of Georgia and Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson of the FBI’s Atlanta Division made the announcement.
If convicted of the civil rights charge, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The obstruction of justice counts carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Read the rest of this entry
From 2011 to 2013, 45-year old Robert Vaughan robbed 8 drug dealers of cocaine, marijuana and contraband cigarettes. He earned a profit of $300,000. Vaughan conducted the robberies in Chicago, Cicero, Plainfield, Lyons, Melrose Park, and Forest Park, Illinois. Maybe this would not be news if not but for the fact that Vaughan was a police officer with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department when he committed the robberies along with two other law enforcement officers. Vaughan admitted to the crime in a plea agreement. On April 13, 2016, Vaughan was sentenced to 7 and a half years in federal prison.
In his argument for sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani wrote;
“This is the type of crime one would expect to only see on a television show. The crimes were brazen, arrogant and detrimental to the citizens of this district. While the victims of the offense in this case garner no sympathy – they are drug dealers and contraband traffickers – it cannot excuse the outrageous conduct by Vaughan, who committed robberies using his badge and gun.”
The FBI released a public service announcement regarding an internet scam directed towards employees of universities.
It involves fraudulent e-mails that claim to be from the human resource department, and contains a link. The context of the email generally says that the employee needs to see their status changes.
The link goes to a website that is similar to the legitimate site. It requires the employee to sign-in with their credentials. Once the employee signs-in, the perpetrator takes that information and uses it to sign into the real human resource site. The perpetrator then changes direct deposit information to redirect the employee’s paycheck to another person involved in the scam.
There have also been fraudulent tax returns filed in the names of university professors. Read the rest of this entry
After watching nationwide protests unfold against police brutality, members of Congress did what they have seemed incapable of doing for years: something.
A bill passed by both chambers of Congress and headed to President Barack Obama’s desk will requirelocal law enforcement agencies to report every police shooting and other death at their hands. That data will include each victim’s age, gender and race as well as details about what happened.
“You can’t begin to improve the situation unless you know what the situation is,” bill sponsor Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) told the Washington Post. “We will now have the data.”
It’s not the first time Congress has tried: The same law was actually passed back in 2000, but was allowed to lapse in 2006 and was never reauthorized (despite repeated attempts by Scott). Because it takes years for enough local departments to start submitting all that data, the original law…
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It happened today around noon EST. Before entering the courthouse, Frank Taaffe spoke with reporters.
Frank Taaffe is a former vocal supporter of George Zimmerman, who felt no shame using racial slurs and denigrating the Black race. Today, he appeared before the federal grand jury.
The FBI began investigating George Zimmerman in or about April 2012. To the State of Florida, they released interviews of individuals, some of whom testified of Zimmerman’s racial animus and others who did not. Because of that George Zimmerman’s supporters assumed that the FBI closed its investigation. However, pre-trial, Zimmerman’s defense attorney, Mark O’Mara, attempted to get the FBI’s file on Zimmerman and was told in open court that the investigation was ongoing.
In September 2013, I posted an article on how the Department of Justice prosecutes hate crimes, supported by the statements and experience of Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California. Read the rest of this entry
Washington, D.C. The Justice Department’s Inspector General’s Office is leading an investigation of an FBI agent for misconduct. The investigation has led to authorities quietly releasing at least a dozen convicts serving prison sentences in addition to several others awaiting trial, and still yet, several others awaiting sentencing. Allegations of the agent’s misconduct first surfaced the week of September 29th. On Friday, the FBI agent was suspended indefinitely. The agent’s name has not been released.
“During the week of September 29, 2014, the Washington Field Office became aware of possible misconduct by a Special Agent. The Field Office took immediate steps address the incident, to include notification to the appropriate U.S. Attorney’s Offices,” read a statement from Lindsay Ram with the FBI.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. released a statement saying it “is conducting a case-by-case review of matters in which the FBI agent at issue played some role. We have already begun taking steps to address this issue and are committed to doing everything that is necessary to preserve the integrity of the criminal justice process. Because our review is ongoing, the office has no further comment at this time.” Read the rest of this entry
The other day, a photo of a subpoena made its way around Twitter from Frank Taaffe to Nancy Grace. I decided to wait for confirmation before reporting it. Today, Orlando Sentinel reports that the federal grand jury is scheduled to hear witnesses, and that Frank Taaffe has indeed, been subpoenaed to testify.
For those not familiar;
On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman killed 17-year old Trayvon Martin, shooting him in the heart. It started with Zimmerman making a “suspicious person” call to the non-emergency number (NEN) of the police department. While Zimmerman was on the phone, Trayvon ran. Zimmerman got out of his truck and followed Trayvon. Minutes later, Trayvon was dead with Zimmerman claiming self-defense.
Frank Taaffe became the main advocate for Zimmerman, alleging that Zimmerman had rights to racially profile Trayvon because there was a group of Black teens in the community committing crimes.
A jury of 5 White women and 1 Latina acquitted Zimmerman. The initial aggressor part of self-defense law was omitted from the jury instructions. During deliberations, Taaffe told Nancy Grace where the jury stood on voting, and it turned out to be true. Taaffe did not say how he obtained the information. Read the rest of this entry
Twitter is buzzed with news allegedly from Frank Taaffe that he is scheduled to meet with the FBI and DOJ. When going into Taaffe’s history of his advocating for George Zimmerman, we should keep in mind that such an interview with federal investigators might not be limited to Zimmerman’s state of mind when he stalked, followed, and killed 17-year old, unarmed Trayvon Martin.
During jury deliberations, Taaffe did not keep it secret that he knew what was happening in the jury room. That might be something in which the FBI wants more information.
The nation awaits and while waiting, if Frank Taaffe is sincere about his change of heart, the least he could do is post retractions for his racist ideologies on his Facebook page and website. Otherwise, Frank’s “come to God” moment appears to be something personal between himself and George Zimmerman, rather than repentance for his disparaging of minorities. How about it, Frank?
Nothing would give me more pleasure than to share some personal things with you about myself. I’m restrained from doing so because of people who take anything I say, twist it, and then go on doxxing expeditions. Be aware – any attempts of defamation that can only point to “evidence” written by the person or one of their minions. Their evidence cannot be trusted.
Ask them how they know the name they purport is the person’s real name, and they won’t be able to point to any “evidence” other than what another one of them has written.
Well, I’m going into this because since one cyber-extortionist was unsuccessful in his copyright infringement claims, and unsuccessful in getting a court ordered restraining order against a person he harassed, numerous people are being attacked for associating together. Read the rest of this entry
WARNING: This article contains images and words that some might find offensive.
Reading NBC’s motion to dismiss was fairly easy. Trying to make sense out of Zimmerman’s reply was not so easy.
NBC Universal has petitioned the court to dismiss Zimmerman’s lawsuit for four reasons;
(1) he has failed to comply with Florida’s retraction statute, which precludes his claims with respect to one of the five broadcasts he challenges;
(2) he is a public figure who cannot carry his burden of demonstrating, by the clear and convincing evidence required by the First Amendment, that any of NBC’s reports were broadcast with a high degree of awareness of their probable falsity, or, indeed, that they are false in any material respect;
(3) he cannot demonstrate that the NBC broadcasts caused the debilitating damages to his reputation and well-being that he claims are attributable to NBC; and
(4) he has, for these and other reasons, failed to state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Just a few thoughts …
If the person claiming defamation names a party as defendant who was not notified to retract, that party cannot be sued. In their motion to dismiss, NBC raises a good argument on that issue. Zimmerman’s attorneys will need to petition the court for leave to file an amended complaint if they want to cure that deficiency.
It is Florida, and I am unfamiliar with most of Florida’s Rules of Civil Procedure. However, when it concerns motions to dismiss or motions for summary judgment that are filed before discovery, there is a general understanding that I’ve learned. That is, if the party who did not file to dismiss the case wants to conduct discovery, it has to request the court to stay the motion to dismiss before filing a reply to the motion to dismiss.
There is also a general understanding that when responding to a motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment, that the party cannot rely on allegations in their complaint as evidence that a genuine issue of material fact exists. When a genuine issue of material fact is disputed, courts deny motions to dismiss and for summary judgment so a jury can decide the issue. Beginning around page 68, Zimmerman’s lawyers rely on his complaint as evidence that a genuine issue of material fact exists. That’s a no-no that can have that entire portion of their pleading stricken or that issue denied by the court. Yes – the court can grant in part, and deny in part.
Based on the reply filed by Zimmerman’s attorneys, they argued that they needed to conduct discovery and amend his complaint, but did not ask the court for that relief. Read the rest of this entry
The only Republican who represents any part of New York City is not serving as a good role model, is he? (snark remark)
Mr. Tough Guy turns himself in…
Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-N.Y.) surrendered Monday morning to federal authorities in New York as he faces multiple charges connected to a restaurant business he operated before entering Congress in 2011, according to sources familiar with the long-running probe into the lawmaker’s finances.
Grimm spent much of the weekend hunkered down, bracing for the unveiling of the federal charges, which were due to be disclosed after his surrender. He turned himself in to the FBI at an undisclosed location Monday morning and was taken to Lower Manhattan for processing. The charges stem from his ownership of a Manhattan health-food restaurant that has ties to an Israeli fundraiser who served as a liaison between Grimm and a mystic, celebrity rabbi whose…
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The U.S. Department of Justice reports that 17 defendants are facing federal fraud or related charges for their alleged roles in an international ATM skimming and money laundering scheme involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. The charges were brought in a 29-count indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury on March 12, 2014.
Two defendants were arrested in Sofia, Bulgaria, and 13 defendants were arrested in Chicago and several suburbs by FBI agents following a lengthy international investigation. One is a fugitive and another is in state custody waiting to be arraigned on the federal charges.
The alleged perpetrators fraudulently obtained ATM and debit card numbers with personal identification numbers associated with them, in Europe. They withdrew money from victims’ accounts using automated teller machines at various locations in the Chicago area.
“These charges are the result of the hard work of dedicated law enforcement personnel both here and abroad to address a transnational crime problem that can affect virtually anyone with a bank account and carries significant financial consequences. Cooperation with international law enforcement agencies was crucial to the investigation, and we are grateful for the assistance that led to these arrests,” said Robert J. Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
The indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $200,000 from 15 defendants as alleged proceeds of the fraud, and it also seeks approximately $50,000 from three of those charged as alleged proceeds of the money laundering.
Read the rest of this entry
(This article quotes George Zimmerman’s profanity that he stated in his call to police on the evening of February 26, 2012.)
“Crimes motivated by hatred, whether directed at the victim because of that person’s actual or perceived race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, can have a disproportionate impact on communities and pose unique challenges for investigators and prosecutors. Understanding those challenges is critical to effectively preventing and prosecuting hate crimes.” From: Unique Approaches for a Unique Type of Crime: Prosecuting Hate Crimes, Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California
One night in June of this year, I was up late and decided to see if there were any good movies on television. There weren’t, so I went to On Demand for premium channels and found a movie titled “Blind Faith” on Showtime. Turns out that there are several movies with that title, but the one I watched stars Charles S. Dutton, Courtney B. Vance, and Lonette McKee. The plot advertised for the movie does not give it due justice. Some might mistake the word “faith” for “religion.” This movie is not about religion. It’s a film about prejudices – prejudices between Irish and Italians, Blacks and Whites, straights and homosexuals, artists and traditional careers. And, it all plays out in circumstances surrounding a death penalty murder trial.
Courtney B. Vance plays the character of an attorney, and the movie begins with him waiting on the verdict in a murder trial, in present day. He then takes us back to 1957 and forward again. The message that biased juries convict innocent Black defendants, and acquit guilty White defendants, caught my attention. The movie ended with people marching while chanting “No justice. No peace.” I could have sworn that it was released in 2012. I did not know it was released in 1998. Here we are in 2013, and the struggles for equality brought out in “Blind Faith” are still with us.
I saw this movie right around the time when jury selection began in the George Zimmerman case. It was prophetic. Two days after the verdict, Juror B37 confirmed that the George Zimmerman jury was biased and conniving. Read the rest of this entry