A year ago, Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas seemed pretty clear: An uptick in national crime rates was the Democrats’ fault. “Socialist Democrats created this crisis,” he wrote. “They defunded the police. They created the anti-police mobs. They turned their back on and, quite frankly, destroyed the integrity of the police.” So imagine our reaction this week as Marshall joined the anti-FBI mob when agents executed a search warrant at the home of former President Donald Trump. “These raids and seizures are a fishing expedition and a fascade” (sic) he tweeted. In an interview: “You know, friends te...
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Christopher Wray, the Trump-appointed Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is in hot water as former Dept. of Justice officials express concern, with some calling for his resignation.
"Christopher Wray has a problem and it’s coming from inside the house," says Asha Rangappa, a former FBI Special Agent, a senior lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, a legal and national security analyst, and a CNN commentator.
Rangappa was responding to a damning report on Thursday from NBC News Justice reporter Ryan J. Reilly.
"Another former Oath Keepers member testifies that he tried to tip off the FBI and other officials after he recorded an Oath Keepers call he was concerned about in Nov. 2020, before Jan. 6," Reilly tweeted.
“Did anyone call you back?” the Oath Keeper was asked.
“Yeah, after it all happened,” he responded.
"On Nov. 9, 2020," The Washington Post explains, "as Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes told members of his paramilitary group to get ready to fight for President Donald Trump in the streets of Washington, one listener was secretly recording, an FBI agent testified Tuesday."
"An 'increasingly alarmed follower' recorded the meeting and shared it with law enforcement, prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler said Monday in the federal trial of Rhodes and four others accused of a seditious conspiracy to keep Trump in office. But the tip, sent to the FBI on Nov. 25, 2020, was apparently ignored."
NBC News Justice and Intelligence Correspondent Ken Dilanian, responding to the Post's report, tweeted: "The FBI got [a] tip in November 2020 about the Oath Keepers’ plans for an armed fight in DC--but apparently ignored it. This is the latest evidence of a massive failure to act on available intelligence that all but predicted Jan. 6th. The FBI has no comment."
Attorney Andrew Weissmann spent 20 years at the U.S. Dept. of Justice, including serving as chief of the DOJ's Criminal Fraud Section. At the FBI, Weissmann was director of the Bureau's Enron Task Force, and served as FBI General Counsel. He also held a management role on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team.
Late Thursday night, also responding to Reilly's tweet, Weissmann declared: "Wray has to go. It’s just a disgrace. With not an ounce of expressed remorse."
Weissmann is not alone.
Former SDNY Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Signorelli says, "I am joining [Andrew Weissmann] in calling for the resignation of Christopher Wray @FBI director for, at the very least, gross incompetence, & at the very worst, turning a blind eye to the 1/6 insurrection that was to happen. He is partially responsible for the death & destruction."
Reilly's tweet about a major tip getting ignored by the FBI received a great deal of attention.
Journalist JJ MacNab, a Fellow at George Washington University's Program on Extremism, responded to it, saying, "I can tell you from personal experience, this rings true."
Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein also responded to Reilly's tweet, writing: "Another tip, sent before J6 to FBI. That's two early tips from Oath Keepers. Plus Jackson Reffitt, son of convicted J6 attacker guy Reffit. There were So. Many. Warnings."
Wray became the Director of the FBI in August of 2017. FBI Directors are appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate, for a 10-year term. Presidents can fire FBI Directors technically for any reason, but doing so can lead to calls of politicization.
Donald Trump, as president, infamously fired FBI Director Jim Comey, one day later telling top Russian officials inside the Oval Office doing so removed "great pressure" on him from the Russia investigation.
Vladimir Putin for his 70th birthday Friday was gifted a tractor by the Belarusian president and told by the head of Russia's Orthodox Church that "God" put him in power, while the Kremlin held back on celebrations as Moscow faces setbacks in Ukraine.
The same day, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three human rights organizations and activists: Ales Bialiatski of Belarus, Russia's Memorial group and Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties.
The committee said it wanted the prize to highlight the "way civil society and human rights advocates are being suppressed" in Russia.
In Russia, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill said that Putin's reign over Russia had been mandated by God.
"God put you in power so that you could perform a service of special importance and of great responsibility for the fate of the country and the people entrusted to your care," the patriarch said, joining a chorus of Russian officials congratulating Putin on his birthday.
The Patriarch praised Putin for "transforming the image of Russia, strengthening its sovereignty and its defence capability, protecting its national interests."
Kirill wished "health and a long life" to the Russian leader, who has been in power for more than 20 years.
He also called on worshippers across the country to pray for Putin's health.
"You gained the reputation of a national leader selflessly devoted to the Fatherland, sincerely loving the Motherland and giving all its strength to it," the Patriarch said.
The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church since 2009, Kirill has been a vocal supporter of the military operation in Ukraine.
Kirill has close ties with Putin's government, backing conservative values over Western liberalism.
'If there is Putin, there is Russia'
Close Putin ally, Belarus strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko, told journalists he gifted a Belarusian tractor "the best one out there" to the Russian president.
Lukashenko was in Putin's hometown, Saint Petersburg, for a meeting with the Kremlin chief and leaders of ex-Soviet countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
He said the tractor could be used to sow wheat so that Europeans "do not starve or steal bread from Ukraine".
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine, two of the world's biggest grain exporters, had disrupted exports, raising fears of a global food crisis.
Putin received a flurry of birthday messages, including from Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov who wished "good health, long life and successes" to the Russian president in a video statement mixed with archive footage and emotional music.
"Putin has changed the position of Russia in the world and made it a nation to be reckoned with!" Kadyrov said.
The speaker of the Russian parliament Vyacheslav Volodin said on Telegram: "if there is Putin, there is Russia."
Around 40 people from 20 different ethnic groups making up Russia took part in a flash mob near the Kremlin, according to state-run news agency TASS.
Putin was also praised by officials installed by Moscow in the Ukrainian regions it partially controls and claims to have annexed.
Kremlin-backed leader of Zaporizhzhia region Yevgeny Balitsky said on Telegram that "thanks to Vladimir Vladimirovich and the people of Russia, the Zaporizhzhia region became part of the great country, reunited with its family."
His counterpart in the Donetsk region Denis Pushilin said "for the residents of Donbas, the name of the leader of our country is forever associated with the most important event in recent history -- the return home."
Seven months into the Ukraine offensive, Putin is isolated from Western countries and has been looking east in the face of unprecedented sanctions.
The Kremlin has not reported any messages of congratulations received from Washington or Brussels.
Friday is also the anniversary of the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot dead on October 7, 2006.
Her murder, which sent shockwaves around the world, is still unresolved.
© 2022 AFP
'A slightly more human form than Jared Kushner': GOP candidate's performance dismantled after Arizona debate
In her column for the Bulwark, conservative commentator Amanda Carpenter noted what transpired at a debate in Arizona on Thursday night between GOP challenger Blake Masters and incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and came away less than impressed with the Republican whose demeanor -- and answers -- left her cold.
Quipping that Masters came across as an "alien" compared to Kelly --who she pointed out is "an honest-to-goodness astronaut" -- Carpenter, who used to write speeches for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called Masters' performance "weird."
Dubbing him a "Peter Thiel creation" based on Masters' candidacy having been championed with major financial support by the controversial tech billionaire, the conservative columnist cut right to the chase when describing Masters by first calling him "a bastard conglomeration of the internet and Trumpism.'
"Take one part Silicon Valley bro and add one part rad-trad Crossfit philosophy, shake on some Stanford pretentiousness, stretch it out into something that resembles a slightly more human form than Jared Kushner and you’ll get the idea," she wrote before adding, "Whenever Kelly tried to make a point about the upcoming elections and democracy, Masters steered the conversation to how the FBI supposedly suppressed information in some deep-state conspiracy to elect President Joe Biden. It was as if Masters were speaking another language."
According to Carpenter, no matter the question in the PBS debate, Masters managed to insert mentions of the FBI, Hunter Biden and "Big Media" in an attempt to cater to his base.
Admitting that Kelly also had some flat moments, she suggested that the needle probably didn't move for either candidate --with the Democrat already maintaining a lead.
"To call the event a 'debate' would imply some discussion, some exchange of ideas. No such luck," she wrote before concluding, "The candidates talked past each other. No memorable points were made. No fireworks. Nothing changed—which is probably a net good for Kelly, who is up four points in the RealClearPolitics poll average."
You can read more here.