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Found 66 results

  1. US President Donald Trump said Saturday the FBI was so caught up in the Russia probe that it failed to heed signs which could have prevented the Parkland school shooting. Photo: AFP file FORT LAUDERDALE: US President Donald Trump said Saturday the FBI was so caught up in the Russia probe that it failed to heed signs which could have prevented the Parkland school shooting. His comments came as he faces criticism from survivors of the attack over his ties to the powerful National Rifle Association, and after several thousand rallied in Florida to demand urgent action on gun control. "Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable," he wrote on Twitter. "They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!" US authorities have come under mounting scrutiny for failing to act on a series of warning signs ahead of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 17 people were killed. The FBI admitted Friday it received a chilling warning in January from a tipster who said the gunman Nikolas Cruz could be planning a mass shooting, but that agents failed to follow up. But the attack, the 18th school shooting this year alone, has also renewed calls for greater gun control with several survivors leading the charge. One of them, 18-year-old Emma Gonzalez delivered a fiery address to a crowd of students, parents and residents in Ft. Lauderdale. "To every politician taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!" she thundered, assailing Trump over the multi-million-dollar support his campaign received from the gun lobby. The crowd chanted in turn: "Shame on you!" "We are going to be the last mass shooting... We are going to change the law," she vowed -- slamming the fact 19-year-old Cruz was able to legally buy a semi-automatic firearm despite a history of troubling and violent behavior. "The question on whether or not people should be allowed to own an automatic weapon is not a political one. It is question of life or death and it needs to stop being a question of politics," Gonzalez told AFP following her speech. In Washington, the political response has made clear that the powerful NRA pro-gun lobby remains formidable, while Trump himself suggested the root cause of mass shootings was a crisis of mental health -- making no mention of gun control. "If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and... how nothing is going to be done about it, I´m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association," Gonzalez said in her impassioned address. "It doesn´t matter because I already know. Thirty million," she said, citing the sum spent by the NRA to support Trump´s election bid and defeat Hillary Clinton. She then ran through a list of the pro-gun lobby´s talking points -- for example, that "a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun," that no law could ever stop a madman intent on killing -- answering each argument with "We call BS." The young woman´s powerful address immediately went viral, with her name a top trending topic on Twitter. Missed warnings In addition to the FBI´s missteps, Cruz was also known to local police after his mother repeatedly reported him for violent outbursts, while records obtained by the South Florida Sun Sentinel show authorities investigated Cruz in 2016 after he cut his arms on messaging app Snapchat and threatened to buy a gun. The newspaper, citing Department of Children and Family Services documents, said the investigation came four days after Cruz turned 18 -- legally an adult, and thus able to buy a firearm. Investigators said there were "some implications" for the teen´s safety, but concluded that his "final level of risk is low as (he) resides with his mother, attends school and receives counselling" as an outpatient at a mental health centre, the Sun Sentinel said. Cruz later passed a background check, allowing him in February 2017 to buy the AR-15 rifle used in the massacre. Russia probe Trump spoke by phone Saturday with the Parkland mayor, the county commissioner and the principal of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to express his condolences and offer his support. He then pivoted to politics late Saturday with his allegations against the FBI -- though the federal government´s investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race and collusion with the Trump campaign has been led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller since last May. There was no immediate response from the FBI to Trump´s latest allegation. Mueller´s investigation has so far swept up four members of Trump´s campaign, with two agreeing to work for the probe under a plea deal. On Thursday Mueller indicted 13 Russians for allegedly running a secret campaign to tilt the vote, but did not accuse any Americans of knowingly participating in that effort.
  2. Participants hold placards with the names of victims of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, during a candlelight vigil at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, US, February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper PARKLAND: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said Friday it had failed to act on a tip warning that the man now accused of killing 17 people at a Florida high school possessed a gun, the desire to kill and the potential to commit a school shooting. The disclosure sparked angry disbelief from residents of the Miami suburb of Parkland still reeling from Wednesday?s massacre ? the deadliest shooting ever at a US high school ? and led Florida?s governor to call for the FBI chief to resign. A person described as someone close to accused gunman Nikolas Cruz, 19, called an FBI tip line on January 5 ? weeks before the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School ? to report concerns about him, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement. ?The caller provided information about Cruz?s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,? it said. That information should have been forwarded to the FBI?s Miami field office for further investigation, but ?we have determined that these protocols were not followed?, the agency said. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he has ordered a review of FBI procedures following the shooting, carried out by a gunman armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and numerous ammunition cartridges. ?We have spoken with victims and families, and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy,? FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. The mishandled information followed a tip to the FBI in September about a YouTube comment, in which a person named Nikolas Cruz said, ?I?m going to be a professional school shooter.? The FBI said it investigated that comment but was unable to trace its origins, closing the inquiry until Cruz surfaced in connection with Wednesday?s mass shooting. The FBI?s lapse regarding the January 5 tip was met with anger in Florida after US President Donald Trump made remarks seeming to chastise local residents for failing to alert authorities to Cruz?s sometimes erratic and violent behaviour prior to Wednesday?s shooting rampage. Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Florida Governor Rick Scott said Wray ? appointed to head the FBI by Trump last year after the president fired James Comey ? should step down over the agency?s blunder. ?The FBI?s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable,? Scott, a Republican, said in a statement. ?We constantly promote ?See something, say something,? and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act.? The FBI separately has been criticized by some Republicans over its investigation of issues relating to Russia and the 2016 presidential election. At the funeral on Friday for massacre victim Meadow Pollack, an 18-year-old senior, family friend Jeff Richman expressed dismay at the FBI?s failure. ?The FBI apologized? Tell that to families,? said Richman, 53, an advertising executive who lives in Parkland. Broward County?s chief public defender, Howard Finkelstein, was quoted by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper as saying that Cruz?s legal team planned to meet with prosecutors to offer a guilty plea in exchange for a life prison term. ?There is only one question: ?Should this young man live or die by execution?'? Finkelstein told the Sun Sentinel. ?We believe it?s in nobody?s best interest to go through a circus of a trial.? The public defender?s office could not immediately be reached by Reuters for comment. 'Kids don't need guns' The massacre has raised concerns about potential lapses in school security and stirred the ongoing US debate pitting proponents of tougher restrictions on firearms against advocates for gun rights, which are protected by the US Constitution?s Second Amendment. Authorities acknowledged that the tips to the FBI were not the only indications that Cruz was troubled. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told a news conference his office had received about 20 ?calls for service? in the last few years regarding Cruz and would scrutinize all of them to see if they were handled properly. Israel indicated law enforcement should not be held responsible for Wednesday?s tragedy. ?The only one to blame for this killing is the killer himself,? he said. Some political leaders including Trump have said mental illness prompted the shooting. Cruz had been expelled for undisclosed disciplinary reasons from the school where the attack occurred. Former classmates have described him as a social outcast trouble-maker with a fascination for weaponry. Some relatives and friends of shooting victims blamed Florida?s lenient gun laws, which allow an 18-year-old to buy an assault rifle. Outside a vigil on Friday, a sign read: ?Kids don?t need guns. No guns under 21.? The outpouring of grief was reflected in a multitude of prayer services and vigils on Friday - a total of six at various places of worship in and around Parkland. Funerals for at least two victims were also held. Late in the day, the Republican president and first lady Melania Trump visited a hospital where survivors from the shooting were treated, meeting privately with victims and medical staff. ?The job they?ve done is incredible and I want to congratulate you,? the president said as he shook one doctor?s hand in front of reporters afterwards. Trump did not respond when asked if the nation?s gun laws needed to be changed, then walked into another room. He later appeared at the Broward County Sheriff?s Office, along with the governor and other politicians, offering praise to first responders for the ?great job you?ve done.? The vice mayor of Broward County, a strongly Democratic area, earlier blasted any visit by Trump, saying Republicans had failed to back common-sense gun laws and rolled back measures restricting severely mentally ill people from buying weapons.
  3. Nikolas Cruz (C) appears via video monitor with his public defender Melisa McNeill (R) at a bond court hearing ? after being charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder ? in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US, February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Susan Stocker/Pool PARKLAND: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was warned in September about an ominous online comment by the 19-year-old man accused of killing 17 people at his former high school but was unable to locate him, an agent said on Thursday. Authorities said the ex-student, identified as Nikolas Cruz, walked into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, near Miami, on Wednesday and opened fire with an AR-15-style assault rifle in the second-deadliest shooting at a public school in US history. Cruz may have left warning signs on social media in the form of a comment on a YouTube video that read ?I?m going to be a professional school shooter.? That comment troubled the person whose video Cruz commented on, Mississippi bail bondsman Ben Bennight, who passed it on to the FBI, according to a video he posted online late Wednesday. ?No other information was included with that comment which would indicate a time, location or the true identity of the person who made the comment,? FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Lasky told reporters. Investigators were unable to find the commenter, he added. The FBI is conducting an extensive review of how it handled that tip to see if mistakes were made, a federal law enforcement official told Reuters. Wednesday?s shooting was the 18th in a US school this year, according to gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety. It stirred the long-simmering US debate on the right to bear arms, which is protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. President Donald Trump addressed the shooting in a White House speech that emphasized school safety and mental health while avoiding any mention of gun policy. ?It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,? Trump said at the White House. ?We must actually make that difference.? Broward County schools superintendent Robert Runcie called for action on gun laws. ?Now is the time for this country to have a real conversation on sensible gun control laws,? Runcie told a news conference. Democrats in the US House of Representatives criticized the Republican leadership for refusing to take up legislation on tightening background checks for prospective gun buyers. ?It?s appalling,? Representative Mike Thompson told reporters. ?Thirty people every day are killed by someone using a gun, and the best we can do is say we need more information?? The Republican-controlled Congress last year revoked Obama-era regulations meant to make it harder for those with severe mental illness to pass FBI background checks for guns, saying the rule deprived the mentally ill of their gun rights. At least one member of Trump?s cabinet called for action. ?Personally I think the gun violence, it?s a tragedy what we?ve seen yesterday, and I urge Congress to look at these issues,? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers. Fifteen people were injured in Wednesday?s shooting, according to local hospital officials. ?Broken human being? Cruz?s court-appointed lawyer said he had expressed remorse for his crimes. ?He?s a broken human being,? public defender Melisa McNeill told reporters. ?He?s sad, he?s mournful he?s remorseful.? Cruz had done paramilitary training with a white nationalist militia called the Republic of Florida, a leader of the group said. ?He had some involvement with the Clearwater Republic of Florida cell at some point,? Jordan Jereb said in a telephone interview. Reuters could not immediately verify the claim. Cruz loved guns and had been expelled from high school for disciplinary reasons, police and former classmates said. Authorities said he marched into the school wearing a gas mask and tossed smoke grenades, as well as pulling a fire alarm that sent students and staff pouring from classrooms as he began his rampage, according to Florida?s two US senators, who were briefed by federal authorities. In a brief court appearance, Cruz spoke only two words, ?Yes ma?am,? when a judge asked him to confirm his name. He was ordered held without bond. Cruz had recently moved in with another family after his mother?s death in November, according to Jim Lewis, a lawyer representing the family and local media, bringing his AR-15 along with his other belongings. The family believed Cruz was depressed but attributed that to his mother?s death, not the mental illness. Victims included an assistant football coach who sheltered students, a social science teacher and multiple students. People who live on the same street as Cruz said he alarmed them by shooting squirrels and rabbits in the neighbourhood as well as chickens being raised in a nearby backyard. Several times a year, they observed law enforcement officials at his house. ?Killing animals was no problem for this young man,? said Rhoda Roxburgh, 45, who lived on the block for several years and whose parents continue to live there.
  4. Police tape blocks a visitor´s entrance to the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA) after a shooting incident at the entrance in Fort Meade. -AFP WASHINGTON: The shooting incident on Wednesday at the headquarters of the US National Security Agency outside Washington does not appear to be a terror attack, an FBI official said. "There is no indication that this has a nexus to terrorism," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Gordon Johnson. Three people were arrested after their vehicle crashed at the entrance to the ultra-secret US spy agency in Fort Meade, Maryland, Johnson said. One of the three was injured and sent to a hospital, and the other two are in custody. Two other people ? an NSA police official and a bystander ? were also injured and sent to hospital, he said. Shots were fired early Wednesday at the ultra-secret National Security Agency, the US electronic spying agency outside Washington, leaving one person injured, officials said. Aerial footage of the scene from NBC News showed a black SUV with numerous bullet holes in its windshield crashed into concrete barriers at the main entrance to the NSA's headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. The images showed what appeared to be police surrounding a man on the ground in handcuffs. "The situation is under control and there is no ongoing security or safety threat," the NSA said. "We can confirm there has been one person injured and we don't know how the injuries occurred," an NSA spokesman told AFP. The local ABC television affiliate put the number of injured at three and said a suspect was arrested. The Baltimore office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is handling the investigation, said the incident "has been contained." A law enforcement source told AFP that it was too soon to know whether the incident was an attack on the facility or otherwise. They are "still trying to ascertain the facts," the source said. "The president has been briefed on the shooting at Ft Meade," the White House said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been affected." 'Puzzle Palace' The NSA is the premier US signals intelligence agency, eavesdropping on electronic communications and hacking computers of US adversaries and suspects worldwide, and also protects US communications and information systems from cyber attack. The agency was thrust into the spotlight in 2013 when former contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of its global surveillance programs, including its collection of data on Americans. Its compound, known as the "Puzzle Palace" - located about 32 kilometers northeast of Washington - is highly secure. In March 2015, guards at the NSA gate opened fire on an SUV which did not heed orders to stop, killing the driver and wounding a passenger. The two involved, it turned out, were men dressed as women who made a wrong turn into a restricted lane and may have refused to stop because, it later turned out, there were drugs in their vehicle. The leading US spy agencies installed heavy security at their facilities after an assault rifle-wielding man opened fire on cars waiting to enter the Central Intelligence Agency's headquarters compound in McLean, Virginia in January 1993. Two CIA employees were killed and three wounded. The man, Aimal Kasi, was eventually arrested and convicted of murder and executed in 2002. In 2016, a man drove his car into a fence gate at the CIA headquarters, claiming he was an agency recruit. He was arrested but was found to be mentally unstable, and only received 30 days in jail and a fine.
  5. US President Donald Trump waves as he and first lady Melania Trump (not pictured) walk on South Lawn of the White House, Washington, US, February 5, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas NEW YORK: Nearly three out of four Republicans believe the FBI and Justice Department are trying to undermine US President Donald Trump, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday, a sharp turn for a party that has historically been a strong backer of law enforcement agencies. Overall, most of the public still believes that Trump or someone from his campaign worked with Russia to influence the 2016 US presidential election, allegations that Moscow and Trump have repeatedly denied. The February 3-5 poll found that Americans were sharply divided along party lines over a federal investigation into potential ties between Trump?s 2016 campaign and Russia, a controversy that has hung over his year-old presidency. Trump has called the probe a witch hunt and accused the top leadership of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department of being biased against him. The dispute has caused an extraordinary breach between the White House and law enforcement and deepened partisan rancour. Some 73 percent of Republicans agreed that ?members of the FBI and Department of Justice are working to delegitimize Trump through politically motivated investigations?. But three in four Democrats said they believed a competing narrative that ?members of the Republican Party and the White House are working to delegitimize the FBI and DOJ in the investigation of Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election?. The poll findings appear to reflect the influence that Trump wields among Republicans, who have long reserved some of their highest levels of trust for the country?s law enforcement agencies. Nearly 84 percent of Republicans said in a January 2015 Reuters/Ipsos poll that they had a ?favourable? view of the FBI. Last month, 91 percent of Republicans said they had a ?great deal? or ?some? confidence in the country?s law enforcement agencies, compared with the 75 percent who expressed a similar level of confidence in the Trump administration and 47 percent who said the same about Congress. ?Win-win? Erroll Southers ? a national security expert and former FBI agent ? said Trump had shown an uncanny ability to shape his supporters? views of the world in a way that benefits him. By hammering at federal investigators, Southers said, Trump was inoculating himself from any political fallout that may follow. ?It?s a win-win for him,? Southers said. ?If he?s exonerated, he wins. If he?s not, he explains that the FBI is corrupt and it?s all a witch hunt, and he wins. ?And his base will be even more energized.? Lloyd Billiter Jr. ? a retired Texas oilfield services worker who participated in the poll ? said he thought the FBI had become too political and ?their people have gone astray?. Billiter, 64, said he was shocked to hear reports that investigators said critical things of Trump, and he would not believe anything that comes out of the Russia investigation unless it comes with a trove of evidence. ?Show me the proof,? he said. ?I?ve put them on probation. You have to earn my trust back.? Ron Krebs ? a foreign policy expert at the University of Minnesota ? said people usually looked to political leaders and the media for guidance on how to view issues and organizations they do not know much about. He said public trust in the FBI could further erode unless there was a bipartisan effort in Congress to support the investigation. ?The real question is how long this will last,? Krebs said. ?How long will Republicans in Congress move in lockstep with the president?? But among Americans overall, the latest poll showed that people did not appear to have changed their minds about the Russia investigation. Fifty-two percent of all adults said they believed Trump or someone from his campaign worked with Russia to influence the election and that it was likely ?authorities will find evidence of an illegal relationship between the Trump administration and Russia.? Those percentages have not changed since the last time the poll asked those questions in 2017. The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English across the United States. It gathered responses from 2,251 adults, including 941 Democrats and 827 Republicans, and had a credibility interval ? a measure of accuracy ? of 2 percentage points for the entire sample and 4 percentage points for both the Republicans and Democrats.
  6. A copy of the formerly top-secret classified memo ? written by House Intelligence Committee Republican staff and declassified for release by US President Donald Trump ? is seen shortly after it was released by the committee in Washington, US, February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg WASHINGTON: The US Congress released a Republican memo Friday alleging abuse of power in investigations of Donald Trump?s election campaign after the president accused his own Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of bias against him. In authorizing the explosive move ? denounced by his opponents as a bid to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller?s probe of his team?s ties with Russia ? Trump set up an extraordinary confrontation with America?s top law enforcement authorities. Ignoring the advice of the FBI itself, which warned that the four-page document painted an inaccurate picture, the president gave his green light to declassify the memo drafted by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, former Trump transition team official Devin Nunes. "What?s happening in our country is a disgrace," Trump said as he announced the move. "A lot of people should be ashamed." "So I sent it over to Congress. They will do what they?re going to do. Whatever they do is fine. It was declassified, and let?s see what happens." Based on classified materials, the memo claims that the FBI used an unsubstantiated, Democratic-funded research report to obtain a warrant in 2016 to surveil Trump advisor Carter Page, who had extensive Russian contacts. White House counsel Don McGahn wrote in a letter attached to the memo that Trump had authorized its declassification "in light of the significant public interest in the memorandum." "The committee has discovered serious violations of the public trust, and the American people have a right to know when officials in crucial institutions are abusing their authority for political purposes," Nunes said in a statement. In the memo, the committee said its investigation had found "a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses" of surveillance laws. ?Constitutional crisis? The FBI had issued an extraordinary public warning against the memo?s release, saying it contained "material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo?s accuracy." Trump?s decision triggered speculation that FBI Director Christopher Wray would step down after just six months in the job ? and that Mueller?s job could also be at risk. Democrats allege that the ultimate target is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the sole person able to fire Mueller since his boss Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. Both Rosenstein and Wray have battled Nunes and the White House over the memo since the beginning of the year. Furious Democrats warned Trump of a "constitutional crisis" if the Russia probe chief, a former FBI director, is sacked. "We write to inform you that we would consider such an unwarranted action as an attempt to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Nancy Pelosi, and eight other key Democrats said in a statement. "Firing Rod Rosenstein, DOJ Leadership, or Bob Mueller could result in a constitutional crisis of the kind not seen since the Saturday Night Massacre," they said, referring to disgraced president Richard Nixon?s orders to fire justice officials during the Watergate scandal. Former FBI head James Comey, who was fired by Trump last year after refusing to pledge loyalty to the president, tweeted after the memo?s release: "That?s it?" "Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen," he wrote. "For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs." ?Rank & File are great people!? As he prepared to declassify the document, Trump took a swipe at the FBI and Justice Department. "The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans," he tweeted. The president called the alleged bias "something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago," adding, "Rank & File are great people!" The federation representing FBI agents rejected any notion that their work was governed by political bias. "The men and women of the FBI put their lives on the line every day in the fight against terrorists and criminals because of their dedication to our country and the Constitution," Thomas O?Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), said in a statement. The explosive Republican memo was based on the highly classified, much larger record of the application to obtain a so-called FISA national security warrant in 2016 to surveil Page. Democrats have sought approval for the release of their own counter-memo that argues Nunes simplified and "cherry-picks" facts to distort what happened. Paul Ryan, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, supported the memo?s release as an act of transparency while also calling Friday for the Democrat memo to be approved for release. But not all Republicans were on board with the memo?s release. Four senior Republican senators ? John Thune, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, and Jeff Flake ? expressed their unease about Nunes? use of intelligence in a political battle. "The president?s apparent willingness to release this memo risks undermining US intelligence-gathering efforts, politicizing Congress? oversight role, and eroding confidence in our institutions of government," Flake said, in a joint statement with Democratic Senator Chris Coons.
  7. WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump publicly attacked the FBI;s leadership Friday, accusing them of politicising their investigations in favor of Democrats as he gets set to approve the release of an explosive memo alleging the agency;s abuse of power. The extraordinary accusation is the latest salvo in the president's open conflict with the top US law enforcement agency amid an investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with a Russian effort to sway the 2016 presidential elections. Trump is expected to give a green light for the publication of a Republican-drafted memo accusing the agency of abuses in obtaining a warrant to surveil a member of Trump's campaign team over his contacts with Russian officials. "The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans," Trump tweeted. He called the alleged bias "something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!" Trump nominated both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray as leaders of their respective departments. The Republican president hand-picked the latter to replace James Comey, whom he abruptly sacked last May. Now just six months into his tenure, the 50-year-old Wray - who has made clear he does not support releasing the memo - finds himself on a collision course with the president. The four-page memo was written by Republican lawmaker Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and purports to show the Justice Department and the FBI as deeply politicised, anti-Trump agencies. Its release would amount to an outright rejection of the FBI's extraordinary warning Tuesday that it had "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy." Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, reacted swiftly to the president's tweet: "The country's top elected leader has agreed to selectively and misleadlingly release classified info to attack the FBI - that's what would´ve been unthinkable a short time ago." Focus on 'Russia dossier' Democrats and critics in the intelligence community say the release is a stunt aimed at casting doubt on the independence of the FBI and Justice Department, using very selective information that cannot be countered publicly without revealing more secrets about government counterintelligence operations. They hold that the ultimate goal of the memo, with Trump's support, is to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia and possible obstruction of justice. Speaking to CBS Friday morning, Schiff said the president´s early morning missive made plain that the memo´s release was "designed to impugn the credibility of the FBI - to undermine the investigation; to give the president additional fodder to attack the investigation." "It's a tremendous disservice to the American people, who are going to be misled by this - by the selective use of classified information." Based on highly classified documents dealing with Russian espionage, Nunes' memo is his summary of what lay behind the FBI obtaining a so-called FISA national security warrant in 2016 to surveil Trump campaign official Carter Page, who had many Russian contacts. Nunes alleges that the basis of the warrant application was the "Russia dossier," information on contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. The dossier remains contentious and unproven and was financed in part by Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign - a fact that Nunes says shows the FBI and Justice Department's anti-Trump bias and abuse of power. Ryan: issue is civil liberties Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, defended the memo Thursday as an attempt to protect American civil liberties. "This memo is not an indictment of the FBI or the Department of Justice," Ryan said. "What it is, is the Congress's legitimate function of oversight to make sure that the FISA process is being used correctly," he said, adding: "This does not implicate the Mueller investigation." Other Republicans, including Representative Jeff Duncan, seemed less reticent to cast it all in a political light. "Having read 'The Memo,' the FBI is right to have 'grave concerns' - as it will shake the organisation down to its core - showing Americans just how the agency was weaponised by the Obama officials/DNC/HRC to target political adversaries," Duncan tweeted.
  8. The release of the memo could sour relations between the president and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which Trump has repeatedly attacked as biased against him WASHINGTON: The FBI warned Wednesday it has "grave concerns" over the accuracy of a secret Congressional memo that could depict the agency as deeply politicised, as President Donald Trump's top aide signalled the White House would allow the document's release. Based on highly classified information, the four-page memo -- written by Republican lawmaker Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee -- suggests that the Justice Department and the FBI abused their power in running surveillance on a member of President Donald Trump's election campaign in 2016. The Justice Department and the FBI have actively lobbied against its release, which has the potential to taint special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians, an investigation that is edging closer to the president himself. But White House chief of staff John Kelly said Wednesday that the document could be made public soon, once White House lawyers have vetted it. "It'll be released here pretty quick, I think, and the whole world can see it," Kelly told Fox Radio. "This president .... wants everything out so the American people can make up their own minds. And if there are people to be held accountable, then so be it." The FBI stressed its concerns in an extraordinary, unsigned public statement that demonstrated its growing rift with Trump and Nunes, a staunch defender in Congress of the president. "With regard to the House Intelligence Committee's memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it," it said. "As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy." In a statement, Nunes countered that it was "no surprise" that the Justice Department and FBI would oppose the release of "information related to surveillance abuses at these agencies." "It's clear that top officials used unverified information in a court document to fuel a counter-intelligence investigation during an American political campaign," he said. Espionage probe during 2016 election Nunes' committee voted on Monday to release the memo, distilled from a much larger volume of documents used by the FBI to get a so-called FISA national security warrant to spy on Trump campaign official Carter Page, who was suspected of espionage. Media reports, citing lawmakers who have seen the document, say it alleges that to obtain the warrant, they submitted as evidence the contentious and unproven "Russia dossier." The dossier includes information on contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele and financed in part by Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Republicans say it provides evidence that the Justice Department, allegedly full of pro-Clinton officials, actively sought to undermine Trump. Because of its sensitive nature, to release the memo, Nunes needs the president's approval. If Trump does not act either way, Nunes can release it as early as Saturday. Trump relations with FBI sink But Democrats say the memo is based on selective information that does not reflect the entire classified file on the FISA warrant application on Page. Instead, they say, Nunes is running a politically-motivated stunt to smear the Mueller collusion investigation, which is also examining whether Trump tried to obstruct the probe. Indeed, Democrats raised questions Wednesday over whether Trump worked with Nunes to produce the memo. "Today's announcement that the FBI has 'grave concerns' about the Nunes memo is the latest reason not to release it," said Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. "It's clear the goal is to undermine the special counsel's investigation." The release of the memo could sour relations between the president and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which Trump has repeatedly attacked as biased against him. In May 2017, Trump fired FBI director James Comey, who refused to swear personal loyalty to the president as he pressed forward on the Russia investigation. Trump has also alleged that the FBI deliberately went easy on Clinton in its 2016 criminal investigation into her misuse of a private email server when she was secretary of state. That investigation was led by Comey and his deputy Andrew McCabe. Amid an internal FBI investigation into the handling of the Clinton case, McCabe agreed Monday to step down as FBI deputy director -- two months before his planned retirement. Leaked text messages of two FBI investigators involved in both the Clinton and Russia probes show them expressing strong anti-Trump feelings.
  9. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions waits to speak at the Federalist Society's 2017 National Lawyers Convention in Washington, US, November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Files WASHINGTON: US attorney general Jeff Sessions was named Tuesday as the first member of Donald Trump?s cabinet to be questioned in the probe into allegations of Russian election meddling, as a report said the president himself could face an interview request within weeks. The Justice Department confirmed that Sessions ? who has downplayed the notion that Russia interfered in Trump?s favour in 2016 ? was heard for several hours last week, suggesting that special counsel Robert Mueller?s probe was moving ever close to the president. But Mueller?s probe also came under fierce attack Tuesday after the Justice Department admitted the loss of five months of text messages between two FBI investigators, agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page, who are known to have expressed hostility towards Trump. The loss of the private messages has sparked accusations of a Watergate-like coverup from Republicans, who claim that Mueller?s probe is biased against the president. Trump himself weighed in Tuesday about the issue. "In one of the biggest stories in a long time, the FBI now says it is missing five months worth of lovers Strzok-Page texts, perhaps 50,000, and all in prime time. Wow!" Sessions questioned Mueller, a former FBI director, has already issued indictments for several former Trump aides, and his interview of Sessions could signal he is getting closer to the president. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Mueller wants to question Trump in the "coming weeks" over the 2017 firings of his national security advisor Michael Flynn and FBI director James Comey, as part of the probe which also looking into the possibility that Trump obstructed justice. What Sessions told Mueller could be crucial in the investigation. As a senior campaign official he had several interactions with Russia?s former ambassador in Washington. He also oversaw the campaign?s team of foreign policy advisors, including George Papadopoulos, who had extensive Russian contacts and was the first person indicted in Mueller?s probe. Moreover, Sessions played a key role in the May 9, 2017 firing of FBI director James Comey, whose pursuit of the Russia meddling case angered Trump. Asked Tuesday about Sessions being questioned, Trump said he wasn?t worried. "I?m not at all concerned. Not at all," he said. Agent texts ?extremely troubling? Faced with the pressure on Trump, the Strzok-Page texts have given Republicans a wedge to try and undermine Mueller?s overall credibility. The catalogue of some 50,000 texts show the two, who were having an affair while taking part in the FBI?s 2016 investigation of Trump?s Democratic election rival Hillary Clinton, repeatedly expressing political preference for Clinton and disdain for Trump. That investigation, into Clinton?s misuse of a private email server while she was secretary of state, ended when Comey decided there was not enough evidence to charge her, raising howls from Republicans of bias. Then in June 2017, Strzok was named a top investigator in Mueller?s probe of possible Trump campaign collusion with Russians. Mueller dismissed him two months later, after the affair and text messages came to his attention. But Republicans have continued to seize on the text messages as evidence of bias in the Justice Department and FBI. "We know that Strzok and Page had an intense anti-Trump bias," Congressman John Ratcliffe told Fox News Monday, citing indications that in the "aftermath of his election, there may have been a ?secret society? of folks within the Department of Justice and the FBI, to include Page and Strzok, that would be working against him." Some alleged a cover-up when the department admitted Monday that the FBI had lost Strzok-Page text messages between December 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017 ? a crucial period for the Russia collusion probe ? due to technical issues. In a statement, senior House Republicans called the thousands of text messages they did receive "extremely troubling." "Rather than clearing up prior FBI and DOJ actions, these recently produced documents cause us to further question the credibility and objectivity of certain officials at the FBI." But House Democrats lashed back. "Republicans are now attacking the FBI in order to undermine Special Counsel Mueller and protect President Trump," Jerrold Nadler and two other senior Democrats said. "These Republican attacks show their desperation at the fact that Mueller already has obtained two guilty pleas, two indictments, and at least two cooperating witnesses," they said in a statement.
  10. Four of the five attackers aboard Pan Am Flight 73 who hijacked the plane during an airport stopover in Karachi, which resulted in the deaths of 20 passengers and crew-FBI website The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released age-processed photos of four alleged suspects in the 1986 Pan Am Flight 73 hijacking in Karachi, in which 20 people died. ?The FBI is hoping to generate new leads with the release of new age-progressed images of four alleged hijackers involved in a 1986 attack in Pakistan that killed two Americans,? a statement by the agency said. Five attackers aboard Pan Am Flight 73 hijacked the plane during an airport stopover in Karachi, which resulted in the deaths of 20 passengers and crew. The four suspects?Wadoud Muhammad Hafiz al-Turki, Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim, Muhammad Abdullah Khalil Hussain ar-Rahayyal, and Muhammad Ahmed al-Munawar?are believed to have been members of the Abu Nidal Organization, which was designated a terrorist organisation by the US Department of State. Each of the men is on the FBI?s Most Wanted Terrorists List. The case is being investigated by the FBI?s Washington Field Office, the statement added. According to the FBI, Wadoud Muhammad Hafiz al-Turki was born in Baghdad, while Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim and Muhammad Abdullah Khalil Hussain ar-Rahayyal were born in Lebanon. Muhammad Ahmed al-Munawar was born in Kuwait. ?It?s always been an active case of ours,? said the lead FBI agent on the case. He said images of the suspects obtained by the FBI in the year 2000 were age-progressed by the FBI Laboratory. ?We?re hoping that with the age-progression photos next to the original photos maybe that will jar some memories or maybe someone has seen these guys walking around.? The aircraft, with 360 passengers onboard, had just arrived from Sahar International Airport in Mumbai, and was preparing to depart Jinnah International Airport in Karachi for Frankfurt Airport in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany, ultimately continuing on to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, United States. A June 2001 grand jury charged that the militants were planning to use the hijacked plane to pick up Palestinian prisoners in both Cyprus and Israel. The 17-hour long hijacking came to an end when the hijackers opened fire on the passengers at 9:30pm, prompting action from the SSG commando unit, headed by Brigadier Tariq Mehmood, and the Shaheen Company of the SSG's 1st Commando Battalion carried out the operation. Passengers aboard the plane included nationals of Algeria, Canada, France, India , Pakistan and United States. All four hijackers were convicted in Pakistan and sentenced to death in 1988, before having their sentences reduced to life imprisonment. They were released in 2008 and deported to Palestinian territories. Authorities subsequently released the leader of the hijackers, Zayd Hassan Abd al-Latif Masud al-Safarini, in 2001, who was shortly arrested by the US in Bangkok on his way to Jordan. He was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to 160 years in prison.
  11. LEFT: US President Donald Trump. REUTERS/File; RIGHT: A special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigates a scene in Queens, New York, US, March 25, 2010. REUTERS/Chip East/Files; SUPERIMPOSED: Former US President Bill Clinton and former US State Secretary Hillary Clinton in Manhattan, New York, US, January 6, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Files WASHINGTON: The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing the foundation of former president Bill Clinton amid pressure from President Donald Trump and allegations of corruption by Republican lawmakers, US media reported Friday. The Hill, a news website covering Congress, CNN, and the New York Times all confirmed that Justice Department investigators are looking into issues involving donations to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for political favors while the ex-president´s wife, Hillary Clinton, was secretary of state from 2009-2013. The Justice Department would not confirm the probe, but in November it informed House Judiciary Committee chairman Robert Goodlatte that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was evaluating the need for a probe into a controversial uranium deal that involved a major donor to the foundation. The Clinton Foundation said it had already repeatedly proven such allegations wrong. "Time after time, the Clinton Foundation has been subjected to politically motivated allegations, and time after time these allegations have been proven false. None of this has made us waver in our mission to help people," Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian said in a statement. Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton, told The Hill that the probe was "a sham" and said Sessions was "doing Trump´s bidding" by pursuing the case. "This is a philanthropy that does life-changing work, which Republicans have tried to turn into a political football," Merrill said of the foundation. Trump has, via Twitter and in speeches, repeatedly called for the Justice Department to reopen a probe into the private email server of Hillary Clinton, whom he defeated in the 2016 presidential election. He also late last year raised the uranium deal several times. That involved the 2013 sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to Russian state-owned company Rosatom, which was approved by former president Barack Obama. The move gave Rosatom control of 20 percent of US uranium stockpiles, and was decided after Uranium One made sizable donations to the Clinton Foundation. News of the investigation comes amid a stepped-up Republican campaign to undermine the investigation by independent special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller is also probing whether Trump sought to obstruct the Russia investigation.
  12. US President Donald Trump. Image Courtesy: Reuters Video/Screenshot WASHINGTON: Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat in May 2016 that Russia had political dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the New York Times reported on Saturday. The conversation between Papadopoulos and Alexander Downer ? the diplomat ? in London was a driving factor behind the FBI?s decision to open a counter-intelligence investigation of Moscow?s contacts with the Trump campaign, the Times reported. Two months after the meeting, Australian officials passed the information that came from Papadopoulos to their American counterparts when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, according to the newspaper, which cited four current and former US and foreign officials. Besides the information from the Australians, the probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation was also propelled by intelligence from other friendly governments, including the British and Dutch, the Times said. Papadopoulos ? a Chicago-based international energy lawyer ? pleaded guilty on October 30 to lying to FBI agents about contacts with people who claimed to have ties to top Russian officials. It was the first criminal charge alleging links between the Trump campaign and Russia. The White House has played down the former aide?s campaign role, saying it was ?extremely limited? and that any actions he took would have been on his own. The New York Times, however, reported that Papadopoulos helped set up a meeting between the then-candidate Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and edited the outline of Trump?s first major foreign policy speech in April 2016. The federal investigation, which is now being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, has hung over Trump?s White House since he took office almost a year ago. Some Trump allies have recently accused Mueller?s team of being biased against the Republican president. Lawyers for Papadopoulos did not immediately respond to requests by Reuters for comment. Mueller?s office declined to comment. Ty Cobb ? Trump?s White House attorney ? declined to comment on the New York Times report. ?Out of respect for the special counsel and his process, we are not commenting on matters such as this,? he said in a statement. Mueller has charged four Trump associates, including Papadopoulos, in his investigation. Russia has denied interfering in the US election and Trump has said there was no collusion between his campaign and Moscow.
  13. Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US, June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/Files WASHINGTON: The FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe plans to retire next year, after months of criticism from Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump, the Washington Post reported on Saturday. The newspaper said McCabe plans to retire in a few months after he becomes eligible for his full pension, citing ?people familiar with the matter.? The Post reported that McCabe will not become eligible for his full benefits until early March and that he plans to retire as soon as he does. A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to comment. Republicans in Congress have criticized McCabe and accused him of harbouring bias against Trump. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican, told reporters this week that he would like McCabe out of the FBI. McCabe was interviewed behind closed doors on Tuesday by the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting one of the main congressional investigations into Russia, the 2016 U.S. election and whether Trump?s election campaign colluded with Moscow. He also appeared for a closed-door interview on Thursday with the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees after Republicans asked him to discuss the bureau?s handling of a probe into Hillary Clinton?s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. McCabe served as acting director of the FBI after Trump fired former FBI director James Comey in May. In a tweet in July, Trump asked why his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, did not replace McCabe, who Trump described as Comey?s friend. The FBI is part of the Justice Department. Trump tweeted this month that the FBI?s reputation ?is in Tatters.? ?FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!? Trump tweeted on Saturday. The Republican-led House Judiciary and Oversight committees announced in October they were launching new investigations into a number of long-standing political grievances, including concerns over the FBI?s handling of the Clinton email investigation. Republicans have said they want to get to the bottom of why Comey publicly discussed the Clinton investigation and announced that the bureau would not seek to bring charges. Critics say the Republicans? focus on Clinton is merely a tactic to distract from Special Counsel Robert Mueller?s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Moscow has denied any such activity, and Trump has dismissed talk of possible collusion as a ?witch hunt? led by Democrats disappointed about his election victory.
  14. The Coit Tower & Transamerica Pyramid as seen from Pier 39 at San Francisco Fisherman Wharf, San Francisco, US, October 18, 2017. AFP/Daniel Slim/Files LOS ANGELES: Federal agents arrested a former US Marine on Friday for allegedly plotting a Christmas attack in San Francisco inspired by Daesh, according to court documents. Tow truck driver Everitt Aaron Jameson, 26, was planning to target the city's busy Pier 39 tourist spot, according to an affidavit submitted by FBI Special Agent Christopher McKinney. The suspect is said to have outlined to undercover agents how he wanted to use explosives to target crowds at the pier between December 18 and 25 because "Christmas was the perfect day to commit the attack." Jameson professed not to need an escape plan as he was "ready to die," according to the document. The suspect's home in Modesto, California, was raided by FBI agents on Wednesday, where they allegedly found his last will and testament along with weapons and ammunition. Jameson attended basic training with the Marine Corps in 2009 and graduated with a "sharpshooter" rifle qualification, according to the FBI, but was discharged after failing to disclose a history of asthma. According to McKinney, Jameson selected Pier 39 ? which gets around 10 million visitors a year ? because "he had been there before and knew it was a heavily crowded area." 'Radical' beliefs "Jameson explained that he also desired to use explosives and described a plan in which explosives could 'tunnel' or 'funnel' people into a location where Jameson could inflict casualties," McKinney stated. The suspect inadvertently revealed his plans to an undercover FBI agent he believed to be a senior leader of Daesh, according to the court document. Jameson said the US needed "another attack like New York or San Bernardino," adding that he wanted to use vehicles and firearms to carry out an attack. "Today, our incredible law enforcement officers have once again helped thwart an alleged plot to kill Americans," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "The threat from [terrorism] is real ? and it is serious ? but the American people can be assured that the Department of Justice remains vigilant in protecting our homeland," he added. According to the criminal complaint, Jameson "has espoused radical [?] beliefs, including authoring social media posts that are supportive of terrorism." He had voiced support for the October 31 attack in New York in which an extremist drove a pick-up truck into a crowded bike path, killing eight people, said the FBI, and was active on Facebook, "liking" pro-IS posts. He "loved" a post on November 29 of a propaganda image of Santa Claus standing in New York with a box of dynamite. 'Gentle, kind' He was charged in the Eastern District Court of California with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. "He was under surveillance by law enforcement, and the public was never in imminent danger," the FBI said in a statement. Local newspaper the Merced Sun Star published a video interview with a man it identified as the suspect's father, Gordon Jameson, who described his son as a "the gentle, kind type of Muslim person" and said the FBI had got its facts wrong. "I don't know too much about the case because the FBI isn't saying much to me but I know my son wouldn't harm nobody. He wouldn't do that to innocent people," he said. "I love him to death and I can't wait to see him again and hold him in my arms." The Sacramento Bee quoted the grandfather of Jameson's ex-wife Ashley Monett Jameson, who told the paper the couple have two young children. Ashley Jameson is in prison, according to the paper, which added that the children were in foster care, citing a restraining order that it said had been filed by the suspect. Hours after his arrest it emerged that Jameson had written to his local newspaper, the Modesto Bee, when he was 16, offering his backing for US troops remaining in Iraq following the conflict that began in 2003. "I don't know what you were taught, but I was raised to finish something you start, and guess what? It's not finished yet," he wrote.
  15. Andrew McCabe ? the then-acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ? speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, US, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/Files WASHINGTON: Andrew McCabe ? the deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ? will appear for a closed-door interview on Thursday with two key US congressional committees after Republicans asked him to discuss the bureau?s handling of its Hillary Clinton email probe. The Justice Department confirmed in a letter on Wednesday to the chairmen of the House of Representatives Judiciary and Oversight committees that McCabe will sit for a transcribed interview, but said McCabe will not be permitted to discuss anything related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller?s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. It said the interview must be conducted in a classified setting and that the transcript should not be publicly released. The FBI is part of the Justice Department. The Republican-led House Judiciary and Oversight committees announced in October they were launching fresh probes into a number of long-standing political grievances, including concerns over the FBI?s handling of the investigation of Clinton?s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. Republicans have said they want to get to the bottom of why former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump, publicly discussed the Clinton investigation and announced that the bureau would not seek to bring charges. Comey also publicly revealed, just 11 days before the 2016 presidential election, that he was reopening the matter after the FBI discovered a new batch of Clinton emails. The case was closed shortly after the emails were reviewed, and no new information was uncovered. Critics say the Republicans? focus on Clinton is merely a tactic to distract from Mueller?s investigation and whether members of Trump?s campaign colluded with Russia. Since the new Clinton probe was announced, Republicans have also turned up the pressure on Mueller and attacked the FBI?s integrity, after anti-Trump text messages surfaced between two FBI employees who worked on Mueller?s team. One of the employees, agent Peter Strzok, was reassigned after the texts were discovered. The other, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, completed her temporary 45-day detail assignment with Mueller in mid-July. Republican have also asked the Justice Department to make Page, who works in the FBI?s general counsel?s office, available for interviews. Trump has openly attacked the FBI, saying its reputation is in ?tatters.? Russia has denied meddling in the election, and Trump has said there was no collusion.
  16. WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Friday lashed out at the FBI inquiry into possible collusion between Moscow and his campaign, and refused to rule out pardoning former aide Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Russia. Trump said it was too early to discuss any pardon for his ex-national security advisor - which would prompt a political firestorm. So far, the FBI's sprawling probe into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election has ensnared at least four members of his campaign inner circle. "I don't want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet," Trump said before leaving the White House to give remarks at a graduation ceremony at the Federal Bureau of Investigation´s academy in Quantico, Virginia. "I can say this - when you look at what's gone on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry," he said. "When everybody - not me, when everybody - the level of anger at what they´ve been witnessing with respect to the FBI is certainly very sad." US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his intelligence and cyber services to help turn the election in Trump´s favor. Amid mounting evidence of campaign contacts with Russian operatives, Trump repeated his denial Friday. "There is absolutely no collusion. I didn´t make a phone call to Russia. I have nothing to do with Russia. Everybody knows it. That was a Democrat hoax. It was an excuse for losing the election," he said. Trump also blasted as "disgraceful" recently released text messages exchanged by an FBI agent and a lawyer involved in the probe who were critical of the president. The agent, Peter Strzok, has been removed from the investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director.
  17. FBI Director Christopher Wray sits during a meeting with Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley on Capitol Hill, Washington, US, June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Files WASHINGTON: Christopher Wray ? the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ? defended his agency Thursday against US President Donald Trump's criticism aimed at discrediting the probe into alleged collusion between his campaign and Russia in last year's election. Trump laid into the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Twitter last weekend, accusing its agents of political bias and Wray's predecessor James Comey, who Trump fired in May, of lying. "Its reputation is in Tatters ? worst in History," Trump wrote of the FBI, at the end of series of tweets about a senior agent who allegedly supported Hillary Clinton ? Trump's Democratic rival. "My experience has been that our reputation is quite good," Wray told the House Judiciary Committee. "The agents, analysts and staff of the FBI are big boys and girls. We understand that we will take criticism from all corners. We're accustomed to that," he said. Wray fielded tough questions over whether both last year's probe into Clinton's use of classified material on a private email server and special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion by the Trump campaign with Russian interference, were run by anti-Trump investigators. Wray acknowledged the controversy over the allegedly pro-Clinton FBI agent who was dismissed as a lead investigator on Mueller's team ? the news which sparked Trump's weekend anti-FBI tweetstorm. Agent Peter Strzok also allegedly had a key role in Comey's July 2016 decision ? in the middle of a tense election campaign ? to clear Clinton of any crime. Mueller dismissed Strzok around mid-year from the Russia probe after it surfaced that he had sent pro-Clinton text messages to a colleague, which Republicans say prove his bias in both probes. But Republicans have hiked up the pressure, saying that Mueller's team, which has already charged four former Trump aides with crimes, was overwhelmingly pro-Clinton. They noted public records which show that nine out of 16 lawyers under Mueller having donated money to Democratic presidential candidates and none to Trump. "There are all kinds of people on Mueller's team who are pro-Clinton," said Republican Congressman Jim Jordan. "If you kicked everybody off Mueller's team who are anti-Trump, I don't think there would be anybody left." Jordan alleged that Strzok, whom he described as the head of counter-intelligence operations at the FBI, had used a "fake news" dossier as evidence last year to obtain a secret national security warrant to spy on senior figures of the Trump campaign. Wray refused to discuss Strzok, saying his behaviour was currently under "outside, independent" investigation by a government inspector general.
  18. Incoming FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks to Federal Bureau of Investigation employees during his installation ceremony at FBI headquarters in Washington, U.S., September 28, 2017. REUTERS WASHINGTON: The Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee lambasted the FBI on Thursday over how it handled an investigation into Hillary Clinton?s use of a private email server, and questioned whether Justice Department officials gave her preferential treatment over President Donald Trump. During a routine oversight hearing before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Republicans questioned FBI Director Christopher Wray, who took over at the helm of the Federal Bureau of Investigation after Trump abruptly fired the previous head, James Comey, earlier this year. Republicans, including Trump, have in recent weeks ramped up their attacks on the FBI and openly questioned its integrity. ?The FBI?s reputation as an impartial, non-political agency has been called into question recently. We cannot afford for the FBI - which has traditionally been dubbed the premier law enforcement agency in the world - to become tainted by politicization or the perception of a lack of even-handedness,? Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said. Their criticism comes as Special Counsel Robert Mueller has charged four people from Trump?s inner circle since October as part of an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. Republicans had been frustrated with Comey?s decision not to charge Hillary Clinton for sending classified emails through her private email server. With potential challenges looming for the party as it heads into the 2018 congressional elections, House and Senate Republican leaders have ramped up attacks on Comey, Mueller and the FBI in recent weeks with a fresh round of congressional inquiries. Most recently, Republicans have questioned whether Mueller?s team has a political bias against Trump, after media reports said FBI agent Peter Strzok was removed from working on the Russia probe because he had exchanged text messages that disparaged Trump and supported Clinton. Strzok was involved in both the Clinton email and Russia investigations. Representative Jerrold Nadler told Wray he expected the attacks on the FBI to grow louder as the special counsel?s investigation continues and the ?walls close in around the president.? ?Your job requires you to have the courage to stand up to the president, Mr. Director,? Nadler said. ?There are real consequences for allowing the President to continue unchecked in this manner.? Republicans have also separately accused the FBI of improperly basing wiretap requests on a dossier written by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence investigator who was hired by the firm Fusion GPS to do opposition research for the Democrats. Steele?s dossier alleges collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in the 2016 presidential election, and claims the Russians possess compromising information that could be used to blackmail Trump. To date, however, there has been no evidence to suggest the FBI wiretaps were improperly obtained.
  19. Community members take part in a protest ? to demand to stop hate crime ? in the Queens borough of New York City, US, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/Files WASHINGTON: The number of hate crimes committed in the United States rose in 2016 for the second consecutive year, with African-Americans, Jews and Muslims targeted in many of the incidents, the FBI said on Monday in an annual report. There were 6,121 hate crime incidents recorded last year, an almost 5 percent rise from 2015 and a 10 percent increase from 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation?s Hate Crimes Statistics report said. It did not give a reason for the rise. Black Americans were targeted in about half the 3,489 incidents based on race, ethnicity or ancestry, the report said, followed by whites who were targeted in 720. About half the 1,273 incidents that involved religion were against Jews. Muslims were targeted in 307 religion-based crimes, up 19 percent from 2015 and double the number in 2014. There were 1,076 incidents involving lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people, with almost two-thirds of those targeting gay men. The hate crimes recorded last year included nine murders and 24 rapes, the report said. Of the 5,770 known offenders, 46 percent were white, and 26 percent were African-American. The report was based on data voluntarily submitted by about 15,000 law enforcement agencies.
  20. Mukhammadzoir Kadirov ? who the FBI is seeking in relation to the Tuesday's deadly attack in the Tribeca neighbourhood of New York City, New York, US ? is shown in this image released on November 1, 2017. Courtesy FBI New York/Handout via REUTERS WASHINGTON: A second Uzbek man wanted for questioning in the investigation of Tuesday?s fatal truck attack in New York City has been located, an official of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said on Wednesday, though no details were provided on where the man was found or why he was wanted. The FBI on Wednesday issued a wanted poster on Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, a 32-year-old native of Uzbekistan. Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbekistan immigrant who has been living in New Jersey, was charged Wednesday with committing the attack in the name of Daesh. U.S. law enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, separately on Wednesday said Saipov had been in contact with Kadirov and one other person. The officials, who asked not to be identified because the investigation is ongoing, did not provide further details. Kadirov was located after the wanted poster went out, William Sweeney, assistant director-in-charge of the New York FBI office, told a news conference. He declined to disclose any details. ?Earlier as we came in this evening, we were seeking information about an individual,? Sweeney said. ?Many of you in this room received that alert. ?We are no longer seeking that individual,? he said. The New York FBI office on Twitter said it was still seeking any information the public might have on Kadirov. Tuesday?s attack on a bike path in Manhattan killed eight people.
  21. Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Photo: Times of Malta WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday condemned the slaying of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and said the FBI had responded to Malta?s request for assistance in investigating the car bomb attack that killed her. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the United States condemned the ?appalling violence that took place against her in the strongest terms,? calling it a ?cowardly attack? against a reporter who was dedicated to fighting corruption. ?We responded quickly to the prime minister?s request for assistance. The government of Malta and Malta police force have been in contact with the FBI about the investigation and the FBI is providing specific assistance,? said Nauert, who called for a ?thorough, transparent and independent? probe. Scene of the incident. Photo: Getty Earlier, the son of Malta?s best-known investigative journalist said his mother was killed by a car bomb because of her work exposing political corruption. Daphne Caruana Galizia, who wrote about graft across Malta?s political divides on her blog, was murdered on Monday soon after she left her home in the north of the island. ?My mother was assassinated because she stood between the rule of law and those who sought to violate it, like many strong journalists,? Matthew Caruana Galizia said on Facebook. ?She was also targeted because she was the only person doing so,? he added. He described rushing to the scene after hearing the news, only to find the burning car and her remains. The explosion, which blasted the car off the road into a field near the village of Bidnija, stunned the small Mediterranean island. Authorities said it was the first murder of a journalist there. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and opposition leader Adrian Delia ? who had both been criticised on her blog ? both condemned the killing. Around 3,000 people held a silent, candle-lit vigil on Monday night in Sliema, just outside the capital Valletta. Maltese authorities were awaiting the arrival of Dutch forensic experts and American FBI agents on Tuesday to help the investigations. EU 'horrified', urges justice for murdered Malta journalist A tent was erected over her burnt-out car and sheets placed over her remains. ?Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way,? said Prime Minister Muscat, who had been suing her over some of her allegations. Opposition leader Delia called her killing an attack on democracy and freedom of expression and demanded an independent inquiry. Half an hour before the explosion tore into her car, Galizia wrote on her blog: ?There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.?
  22. LAS VEGAS: Police and FBI agents, chasing down more than 1,000 dead-end leads since a gunman killed 58 people in Las Vegas, are seeking more help from the public in solving the central mystery of their investigation - the shooter?s motive. Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said investigators remain largely in the dark about what drove retired real estate investor and high-stakes gambler Stephen Paddock to carry out the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. ?We have looked at everything, literally, to include the suspect?s personal life, any political affiliation, his social behaviors, economic situation, any potential radicalization,? McMahill told reporters late on Friday. ?We have been down each and every single one of these paths, trying to determine why, to determine who else may have known of these plans.? McMahill acknowledged that Daesh had repeatedly claimed responsibility for the attack, but said investigators had uncovered ?no nexus? between the Mideast-based militant group and Paddock. In an unusual bid to cast a wider net for tips, the FBI and police have arranged with communications company Clear Channel to post billboards around Las Vegas urging citizens to come forward with any information they believe might help investigators. The billboards will bear the slogan, ?If you know something, say something,? and carry a toll-free number to an FBI hotline, said Aaron Rouse, special agent in charge of the Las Vegas FBI office. The public appeal came a day before US Vice President Mike Pence was slated to join Mayor Carolyn Goodman and other local leaders at a City Hall commemoration for victims of the shooting, following a prayer walk through the city. President Donald Trump paid a visit to Las Vegas earlier in the week. Paddock, 64, unleashed a torrent of gunfire onto an outdoor music festival from the windows of his 32nd-floor hotel suite overlooking the concert on Sunday night, then shot himself to death before police stormed his room. In addition to the 58 people who died, nearly 500 were injured, some by gunfire, some trampled or otherwise hurt while running for cover. Unlike so many other perpetrators of deadly mass shootings before him, Paddock left behind no suicide note, no manifesto, no recordings and no messages on social media pointing to his intent, according to police. McMahill said investigators remained certain Paddock acted alone in the shooting. But police have said they suspect he had help before the killings, based on the large number of guns, ammunition and explosives found in the hotel suite, his home, his car and a second home searched in Reno. Authorities have said that 12 of the weapons recovered from Paddock?s hotel suite were equipped with so-called bump-stock devices that enable semi-automatic rifles to be operated as if they were fully automatic machine-guns. Paddock?s ability to fire hundreds of rounds per minute over the course of his 10-minute shooting spree was a major factor in the high casualty count, police said. The bloodshed might have lasted longer, with greater loss of life, but for a hotel security officer who was sent to check an open-door alarm on the 32nd floor, and discovered the gunman?s whereabouts after the shooting started, McMahill said. The security officer, Jesus Campos, was struck in the leg as the gunman strafed the hallway with gunfire from behind his door, apparently having detected Campos via surveillance cameras Paddock set up outside his hotel suite. Campos, though wounded, alerted the hotel?s dispatch, ?which was absolutely critical to us knowing the location as well as advising the responding officers as they arrived on that 32nd floor,? McMahill said. ?He?s an absolute hero.? In a new disclosure, authorities said two bullets Paddock fired struck a large jet fuel storage tank at the edge of the city?s main airport, about a block from the concert grounds, indicating an apparent attempt by the gunman to create even greater havoc. There was no explosion or fire from the two rounds, one of which penetrated the tank, as jet fuel in storage is almost impossible to ignite with gunshots, airport officials said on Friday. Paddock?s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, 62, was questioned by the FBI on Wednesday and said in a statement she never had any inkling of Paddock?s plans. Danley, who returned late on Tuesday from a family visit to the Philippines, is regarded by investigators as a ?person of interest.? The Australian citizen of Filipino heritage is cooperating fully with authorities, her lawyer said.
  23. WASHINGTON: Special Counsel Robert Mueller?s office has interviewed US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about President Donald Trump?s firing of former FBI Director James Comey, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. Citing unnamed people familiar with the investigation, the Journal said the interview occurred in June or July. Mueller is looking into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and whether Trump may have obstructed justice by firing Comey in May. Mueller, himself a former FBI director, ultimately reports to Rosenstein because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the probe. The Journal said the handling of the interview ?could be a sign that Mr Mueller?s team doesn?t view Mr Rosenstein as a central witness in its probe, as the deputy attorney general hasn?t withdrawn himself from overseeing it since that interview.? The paper quoted Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman, as saying: ?As the deputy attorney general has said numerous times, if there comes a time when he needs to recuse, he will. However, nothing has changed.? A Justice Department spokeswoman and a representative for the special counsel both declined to comment to Reuters. The Russian government denies any attempt to influence the election, and the Republican president has repeatedly denied any collusion, calling the investigations a ?witch hunt.?
  24. Uber acknowledged Friday it was the subject of a federal investigation into a software tool it used in the past aimed at interfering with competing ride-sharing operators. An Uber spokesman told AFP that "we are cooperating with the investigation" after a Wall Street Journal report on the probe, while noting that the tool is no longer being used by Uber. The report said the FBI and New York law enforcement officials were investigating use of the "Hell" software program which could track drivers for the rival ride-sharing group Lyft. The US daily said "Hell" allowed Uber to create fake Lyft accounts and to trick the rival system into believing prospective customers were seeking rides in various locations around a city It added that it also gleaned data on drivers who worked for both companies, to enable Uber to offer incentives to leave Lyft. The report is the latest in a series of woes for Uber, which replaced its top executive last month as part of an effort to clean up a workplace culture marked by cut-throat competition, sexism and unfair competition with rivals. Uber noted that a civil lawsuit filed by a Lyft driver over the "Hell" program had been dismissed by a federal court.
  25. The Uber app logo is seen on a mobile phone, October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Illustration/Files The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing to see if Uber Technologies Inc had used software to illegally interfere with its competitors, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. The investigation is focusing on an Uber program ? internally known as ?Hell? ? that could track drivers working for rival service Lyft Inc, the WSJ said, citing people familiar with the investigation. Under the program, which was discontinued last year, Uber created fake Lyft customer accounts to seek rides, allowing it to track nearby Lyft drivers and ride prices, the Journal said. This also allowed Uber to obtain data on drivers who worked with both the car-ride providers and could have allowed it to lure drivers to leave Lyft with cash incentives, WSJ added. Uber was not immediately available for comment. The key question for investigators was whether the program comprised unauthorised access to a computer, the newspaper reported. The investigation is being led by the FBI?s New York office and the Manhattan US attorney?s office, the Journal said. Uber is already grappling with a range of legal troubles and the report of the FBI investigation comes days after the company named Expedia Inc?s Dara Khosrowshahi as its chief executive.