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Probe Into Clinton Email Investigation Could Be a Trap For Robert Mueller

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(Via USA Today)

WASHINGTON — In early January, news that the Justice Department’s inspector general launched an investigation into the government’s disputed handling of the Hillary Clinton email inquiry was quickly overtaken by the chaotic run-up to President Trump’s inauguration.

Nearly a year later, Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s wide-ranging review of the FBI and Justice’s work in the politically-charged Clinton case now looms as a potential landmine for Russia special counsel Robert Mueller.

For months, Horowitz’s investigation — which has amassed interviews with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI Director James Comey and other key officials — had been grinding on in near anonymity. That is, until earlier this month when the inspector general acknowledged that Mueller was alerted to a cache of text messages exchanged between two FBI officials on his staff that disparaged Trump.

The communications, involving senior counter-intelligence agent Peter Strzok and bureau lawyer Lisa Page, were gathered in the course of Horowitz’s internal review of the Clinton case, which Strzok also helped oversee. Horowitz’s investigation is not examining Mueller’s operation. But the disclosures already have provided a hammer to Trump loyalists who are escalating their criticisms of the legitimacy of the special counsel’s inquiry.

Earlier this month, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein only highlighted the potential gravity of the inspector general’s work when they repeatedly urged Republican House committee members during separate hearings to withhold judgment about allegations of bias within the FBI until the internal Justice probe is completed.

Justice officials have indicated that a report is likely in the next few months.

“The inspector general’s investigation is very important,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., told Rosenstein at a Dec. 13 hearing. The deputy attorney general cited the probe multiple times as the reason for declining to respond to lawmakers’ questions about how the texts might affect Mueller’s probe.

“It is very encouraging to us that (Horowitz) is doing what I think is good, unbiased work,” the chairman said.

Once it’s completed, the inspector general’s review also threatens to give opponents fodder to unleash fresh criticism of the FBI – which Trump has singled out in scathing rebukes since Mueller’s indictment of former national security adviser Michael Flynn earlier this month. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and pledged to cooperate with the special counsel, was the fourth Trump campaign official to be charged in the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Chris Swecker, a former FBI assistant director, said the text communications unearthed by Horowitz have handed leverage to attorneys representing current and possible future defendants in the Mueller investigation, either in possible plea negotiations or at trial.

“Two star witnesses have been created for the defense,” Swecker said, referring to Strzok and Page whose communications could be introduced as evidence of an investigation biased against Trump.

Strzok was removed from the Russia investigation this summer immediately after Mueller was informed of the communications in which the agent described Trump as an “idiot” while expressing a clear preference for Clinton. Page, meanwhile, had completed her temporary assignment to the Russia inquiry and had returned to bureau headquarters when the texts were discovered.

Swecker said Mueller acted appropriately in dismissing Strzok, but fears that the damage has already been done.

“I never heard anything related to politics come out of (Mueller’s) mouth,” Swecker said, referring to his experience working closely with the special counsel when he served as FBI director.

“But none of this is good for Mueller or his reputation for fairness,” Swecker said. “Who knows what else the IG (inspector general) has.”

Mounting questions about the FBI’s continuing credibility – including Trump’s jab that the bureau’s reputation was in “tatters” – have landed hard at the agency. The FBI was sent reeling in May when Trump abruptly dismissed Comey for his handling of the Russia inquiry.

Wray, who took over in September, has publicly defended the bureau’s reputation in the wake of Trump’s attacks. He was joined late Tuesday by the FBI Agents Association, whose members issued a rare, collective defense of their own.

“Attacks on our character and demeaning comments about the FBI will not deter agents from continuing to do what we have always done – dedicate our lives to protecting the American people,” the group said in a written statement.

Pat Cotter, a former federal prosecutor, said the specter of Horowitz’s inquiry should have “zero effect on how Mueller and his team do their jobs.”

“But this is a political event, too,” Cotter added. “To the extent that this (agents’ conduct) will be used to discredit, distract or obfuscate the Mueller investigation, maybe it will work.”

For Horowitz, the Clinton email inquiry may be the most consequential investigation he has launched since his installment as Justice’s watchdog in 2012. But the former public corruption unit chief in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office has not shied from controversy in the past five years.

Months after taking office, Horowitz issued a scathing account of a botched gun-trafficking operation that allowed an estimated 2,000 firearms to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartel enforcers.

The inspetor general’s review of the so-called “Fast and Furious” operation managed by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives recommended 14 federal law enforcement officials for discipline, resulting in a dramatic shakeup in leadership at the ATF. The operation was halted when two of the weapons were found at the scene of the 2010 slaying of border patrol agent Brian Terry.

A separate 2015 report authored by Horowitz’s staff found that U.S. Drug Enforcement Agents posted in Colombia had engaged in sex parties involving prostitutes who were supplied by local drug cartels. The review concluded that some of the 10 agents involved admitted attending the parties where a local Colombian police offer often stood guard, protecting the agents’ firearms and other property.

Less than a month after Horowitz’s report, then-DEA chief Michele Leonhart announced her retirement from the agency.

In the review of the Clinton email investigation, authorities are examining whether the Justice Department and FBI followed established “policies and procedures” when then-FBI Director Comey publicly announced that the bureau would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton related to her use of a private email server while she was secretary of State.

The inspector general is not evaluating the merits of the now-closed criminal inquiry or challenge the conclusions not to prosecute Clinton. Rather, it will focus on Justice and FBI policies that guided the probe.

Former Justice inspector general Michael Bromwich said that the office has a long established record as “a reliable and independent voice” that has held some of the most powerful institutions to account.

The disclosures of the agents’ text messages, he said, “has certainly re-focused the spotlight on investigation that many people may have forgotten about but remains an important piece of work that needs to be completed.”

More than once, Bromwich found himself at the center of a firestorm while inspector general. In 1997, Bromwich authored a damning review of the FBI’s crime laboratory on the eve of the federal trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. While McVeigh was ultimately convicted and executed, the lab had been heavily involved in examining evidence in that case.

“Michael (Horowitz) is a very solid guy with exactly the right background for the job. It’s a job that doesn’t make you many friends,” Bromwich said. “And I don’t think a lot of people will be happy when it’s over. But I think he is going to call it as he sees it.”

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Military

Lucas Gage Returns to X After Exposing Palestine Atrocities & Ban Over Alleged Harassment

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In today’s digital age, social media platforms serve as vital tools for raising awareness and advocating for causes. However, they also present challenges such as harassment and censorship. Recently, actor and activist Lucas Gage faced these challenges head-on when his X account was suspended for several months following harassment from certain groups unhappy with his efforts to expose war atrocities in Palestine. Now, after a prolonged absence, Gage has returned to X, ready to resume his important work of shedding light on crucial issues.

Lucas Gage, known for his roles in various television shows and films, has also been vocal about social justice issues, particularly regarding the Palestinian cause. His advocacy drew the ire of individuals and groups who disagreed with his stance. Gage utilized his platform on X to spotlight the human rights violations and war atrocities occurring in Palestine, which led to backlash from some pro-Israeli factions.

The backlash against Gage escalated into harassment, predominantly from individuals identifying themselves as Zionists. He faced a barrage of abusive messages, threats, and attempts to undermine his activism. Despite his efforts to report and block the harassers, the situation persisted, taking a toll on Gage’s mental well-being and sense of safety.

In a controversial decision, X suspended Gage’s account, citing violations of its community guidelines. Many criticized X for what they perceived as a failure to address harassment effectively, especially given the circumstances surrounding Gage’s case. The ban sparked debates about freedom of expression, censorship, and the responsibilities of social media platforms in safeguarding users from harassment and abuse.

After a hiatus spanning several months, Lucas Gage has made his comeback to X. His return has been met with an outpouring of support from fellow activists, fans, and individuals concerned about censorship and human rights. Gage expressed gratitude for the overwhelming solidarity he received during his absence and reiterated his dedication to advocating for justice and raising awareness about the plight of the Palestinian people.

The incident involving Lucas Gage underscores the significance of advocacy and the hurdles activists encounter, especially when addressing contentious issues. It also highlights the complexities of navigating social media platforms where differing viewpoints often clash, sometimes resulting in hostility and censorship.

As Gage resumes his activism on X, it is imperative to continue discussions about online harassment, censorship, and the necessity for improved mechanisms to shield users from abuse. Social media companies must reevaluate their policies and enforcement strategies to ensure that platforms remain spaces for constructive dialogue and activism, rather than avenues for harassment and stifling dissenting voices.

Lucas Gage’s return to X serves as a testament to the resilience of individuals committed to social justice causes despite facing obstacles and adversity. His experience sheds light on broader issues surrounding online harassment and censorship, prompting important conversations about the role of social media platforms in shaping public discourse. As Gage continues his advocacy, his story serves as inspiration for others to speak out against injustice and strive for positive change.

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Culture

Rabbi Shmuley Having ‘Nervous Breakdown’ says Alex Jones

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In the whirlwind of social media controversies, few can match the intensity and unpredictability of Alex Jones. Known for his provocative statements and unyielding conspiracy theories, Jones recently took to Twitter to express his disdain for Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Purim costume choice.

In a scathing tweet, Jones condemned Rabbi Shmuley’s attire and behavior, accusing him of having a “nervous breakdown.” The rabbi had donned a costume portraying what he termed a “Candace Owens Jew,” accompanied by a bizarre ensemble featuring references to money and a provocative assertion about Jewish identity.

“For Purim I’ve dressed up as a Candace Owens Jew,” Rabbi Shmuley wrote, adding a string of controversial remarks about Jewish stereotypes and dual loyalties. The costume, seemingly intended as a satirical commentary, sparked outrage and criticism from many quarters.

Jones, never one to shy away from confrontation, seized the opportunity to denounce Rabbi Shmuley’s actions. “You go around starting fights with people and then flip out when they respond,” Jones tweeted. He urged the rabbi to seek help for the sake of his family, implying that Rabbi Shmuley’s behavior was symptomatic of a deeper issue.

The exchange between Jones and Rabbi Shmuley highlights the complexities of social media and the power of provocative speech. Both figures are no strangers to controversy, with Jones notorious for his conspiracy-laden rants and Rabbi Shmuley often courting controversy with his outspoken views on various issues.

Purim, a Jewish holiday known for its revelry and merrymaking, is traditionally marked by costume parties and playful satire. However, Rabbi Shmuley’s choice of attire crossed a line for many, tapping into sensitive issues of anti-Semitism and racial stereotypes.

By dressing as a caricatured version of a “Candace Owens Jew,” Rabbi Shmuley waded into dangerous territory, perpetuating harmful stereotypes and reinforcing negative perceptions of Jewish people. His attempt at satire fell flat for many, instead sparking condemnation and outrage.

In response, Alex Jones delivered a blistering rebuke, calling out Rabbi Shmuley’s behavior and urging him to seek help. While Jones himself is no stranger to controversy, his criticism of Rabbi Shmuley’s costume choice underscores the seriousness of the issue at hand.

In an era where social media amplifies voices and magnifies controversies, individuals must exercise caution and responsibility in their online interactions. What may seem like harmless satire to some can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and fuel division.

As the dust settles on this latest social media skirmish, it serves as a reminder of the power of words and the importance of thoughtful discourse. In a world already fraught with tensions and divisions, it is incumbent upon all of us to strive for understanding and empathy, even in the midst of disagreement.

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Border

AG Ken Paxton: “SB 4, is Now In Effect”

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In the heart of Texas, amidst the sweltering heat and the vast expanse of rugged terrain, a battle was being waged—a battle not fought with guns and swords, but with words and legal maneuvers. It was a clash between the Lone Star State and the might of the federal government, with the fate of immigration law hanging in the balance.

Ken Paxton, the Attorney General of Texas, stood at the forefront of this struggle. With unwavering determination and a deep sense of duty, he had taken up the mantle to defend Texas and its sovereignty against what he saw as overreach from the Biden Administration.

Just a few minutes ago, he had sent a tweet echoing across the digital landscape, announcing a monumental victory: “🚨🚨 HUGE WIN: Texas has defeated the Biden Administration’s and ACLU’s emergency motions at the Supreme Court. Our immigration law, SB 4, is now in effect.”

The news reverberated through the state like a thunderclap, igniting a spark of hope in the hearts of many Texans who had felt their voices drowned out by the clamor of national politics.

Among those who felt the weight of this victory was Maria Sanchez, a young immigrant who had come to Texas in search of a better life. For years, she had lived in the shadows, fearing the consequences of being discovered by authorities. But now, with SB 4 in effect, she felt a glimmer of hope that perhaps she could finally step out into the light without fear.

On the other side of the divide stood federal agents, tasked with enforcing the laws of the land as decreed by the Biden Administration. They watched with frustration as their efforts were thwarted by legal challenges and political maneuvering.

But for Ken Paxton, this victory was not just about winning in court—it was about standing up for what he believed was right. It was about defending the values and principles that he held dear, even in the face of adversity.

“As always, it’s my honor to defend Texas and its sovereignty, and to lead us to victory in court,” he declared, his words resounding with conviction.

The battle may have been won for now, but the war was far from over. In the days and weeks to come, the struggle between state and federal authority would continue to unfold, shaping the destiny of not just Texas, but the entire nation.

But for now, amidst the heat of the Lone Star State, a moment of triumph had been achieved—a testament to the resilience and determination of those who dared to stand up and fight for what they believed in.

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