FBI chief Christopher Wray opens internal probe of Michael Flynn case

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Friday ordered an internal investigation of the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The move follows the Justice Department’s decision this month to drop its prosecution of Flynn, who pleaded guilty in late 2017 to lying to the FBI. President Trump alleges the Flynn case was part of a conspiracy by “dirty cops” to “take down” his presidency.

“FBI Director Christopher Wray today ordered the Bureau’s Inspection Division to conduct an after-action review of the Michael Flynn investigation,” the FBI said in a statement first reported by Fox News.

The FBI’s internal-affairs Inspection Division reportedly will handle the review.

Justice Department leaders moved to drop the case against Flynn after they determined FBI agents had no legitimate reason to interview Flynn in late January 2017. During that interview, Flynn allegedly lied about two December 2016 contacts with Russia’s then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Flynn says he did not intentionally lie and was seeking to withdraw his plea.

Before the interview, the FBI nearly closed an investigation into Flynn on Jan. 4, 2017, after finding no evidence that Flynn was a Russian agent, according to newly released documents.

But FBI official Peter Strzok and his mistress, then-FBI attorney Lisa Page, with whom he traded anti-Trump text messages, intervened to keep the case open citing the never-used Logan Act of 1799, which bans ordinary citizens from conducting foreign diplomacy. The law is widely considered unconstitutional.

President Barack Obama learned of Flynn’s calls with Kislyak before then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who ran day-to-day operations at the Justice Department. Yates, who became a Democratic superstar when fired by Trump for refusing to defend a travel ban on a group of predominately Muslim countries, was stunned to learn about the Flynn-Kislyak calls directly from Obama at a Jan, 5, 2017, meeting, rather than from her subordinates, according to recently released documents.

The FBI’s interview of Flynn in late January 2017 occurred outside of standard protocol. Former FBI Director James Comey publicly acknowledged he sent agents including Strzok to interview Flynn days into Trump’s administration without informing the White House counsel’s office. Senior Justice Department leaders also were cut out of the decision, which Yates said frustrated her.

A handwritten note released this month from former FBI counterintelligence director Bill Priestap — following a meeting with Comey and then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — said regarding Flynn: “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”

Flynn’s defenders point out that his calls with Kislyak were made with the knowledge of other Trump transition officials, and that the FBI had transcripts.

In pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, Flynn avoided charges for working as an unregistered agent of Turkey and agreed to cooperate with investigators in the Russia probe. A subsequent investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.

Trump fired Flynn less than one month into his administration, initially saying he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Kislyak. Pence recently said he’s inclined to believe Flynn did not intentionally lie.

Democrats allege that the Justice Department wrongfully dropped its prosecution of Flynn in a politically motivated decision. A federal judge still must approve the Justice Department’s request.

Trump said this month that “human scum” atop the FBI persecuted Flynn as part of a broader “hoax” accusing him of colluding with Russia.

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FBI found al Qaeda’s link to Pensacola shooter through iPhones

The FBI found an al Qaeda link to last year’s shooting spree at a Florida military base by hacking into the killer’s iPhones — without any help from Apple, officials said Monday.

Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a Saudi Air Force officer, had ties to an unidentified operative of the terror network founded by the late Osama bin Laden, Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed during a news conference.

The contacts were discovered when federal investigators cracked the encryption on two iPhones that belonged to Alshamrani, including one that he intentionally damaged by shooting it during the bloodbath, The Associated Press reported.

The Justice Department was able to access the data on its own without Apple’s help, Wray said.

In January, President Trump accused Apple of refusing to “unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers, and other violent criminal elements” after Barr said the tech giant had provided no “substantive assistance” in the investigation of Alshamrani.

Apple said it gave the feds iCloud backups, account information and “transactional data,” but acknowledged it wouldn’t help hack into Alshamrani’s iPhones.

Alshamrani was undergoing flight training at the Pensacola Naval Air Station when he killed three US sailors and injured eight other people during a Dec. 6 rampage in a classroom building.

He was fatally gunned down by a sheriff’s deputy who responded to the scene.

Alshamrani was radicalized overseas and had been committed to jihadist ideology for at least five years, officials said Monday.

He prepared for the attack by traveling to Lower Manhattan over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and visiting the Ground Zero site of the Sept. 11 destruction of the World Trade Center by al Qaeda terrorists, officials said.

He also posted anti-America and anti-Israel messages on social media just two hours before launching his assault.

In February, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — a branch of the terror network based in Yemen — released a video claiming responsibility for the Sunshine State incident.

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FBI mistakenly reveals Saudi diplomat suspected of aiding 9/11 terrorists

FBI lawyers accidentally revealed the identity of a Saudi diplomat who agents have suspected helped deliver crucial support to the Al-Qaeda terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to a report.

The disclosure came in court documents filed in April, but were unsealed late last week in a lawsuit brought by families of 9/11 victims accusing the Saudi government of aiding the attacks, Yahoo News reported.

The Saudi official, Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah, had his name blocked out in all but one appearance in the document, with the FBI admitting to Yahoo it was a mistake.

Jarrah was a Saudi Foreign Ministry official assigned to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., in 1999 and 2000.

The strength of the evidence against al-Jarrah is not known, though some investigators believe he instructed others to help the terrorists settle down in the United States after they flew into Los Angeles in 2000, Yahoo reported.

The federal government’s official stance is based on the 2004 report on findings from the 9/11 Commission, which stated it “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.”

The report found Saudi Arabia to be a primary funding source for al Qaeda, with the extremist organization raking in funds from “wealthy individuals and corrupt charities” but it couldn’t draw a connection to the Saudi government.

Saudi officials have also steadfastly denied aiding in the attacks. But a spokesman for the plaintiffs in the suit believes the screw-up is a major revelation.

“This shows there is a complete government cover-up of the Saudi involvement,” said Brett Eagleson, a spokesman for the 9/11 families told Yahoo. “It demonstrates there was a hierarchy of command that’s coming from the Saudi Embassy to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs [in Los Angeles] to the hijackers.”

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John Gotti Jnr under FBI spotlight after forging ties with Latin Kings

Mobster John Gotti Jnr is under the FBI spotlight after forging close ties with the Latin Kings, holding meetings with the gangbangers in a mafia social club and posing for photographs with the organization’s bigwigs ‘Fat Chicky’ and ‘King Merlin’

  • Mobster, 56, allegedly met with Michael Cecchetelli and latter’s uncle David
  • Said to have met at Mount Carmel Social Club in Springfield, Massachusetts
  • It is best known as location of gangland murder of Adolfo ‘Big Al’ Bruno in 2003
  • Gotti is also reportedly pictured in various Instagram shots with Cecchetelli pair
  • Gotti Jr was acting the head of Gambino crime family in 1992 until 1999

John Gotti Jr is reportedly under the FBI’s spotlight after forging close ties with the Latin Kings. 

John Gotti Jr is reportedly under the FBI’s spotlight after forging close ties with the Latin Kings.

The mobster allegedly met with bigwigs Michael ‘King Merlin’ Cecchetelli and the latter man’s uncle David ‘Fat Chicky’ Cecchetelli’ at a social club long used by the Genovese crime family. 

He is also reportedly pictured in various Instagram shots with the pair, as well former MMA fighter named Damien ‘The Omen’ Trites. 

Gotti Jr, who was acting boss of the Gambino crime family in the 1990s, is said to have met with the Cecchetelli pair at the Mount Carmel Social Club, in Springfield, Massachusetts, according to the New York Daily News.  

It has long been used as a social club by members of the Genovese crime family.  

It is best known as the location for the gangland murder of Adolfo ‘Big Al’ Bruno, who was shot dead in the parking lot while leaving a card game in 2003. 

David Cecchetelli is reportedly an associate of of the Genovese crime family. 

King Merlin was one of more than 60 members of the Latin Kings who were arrested on federal racketeering, drug and firearms charges last December.     

‘We believe, under Cecchetelli’s leadership, the eastern region of the Latin Kings is currently structured, organized and run like La Cosa Nostra,’ FBI Special Agent Joseph Bonavolonta said at the time of the arrest.  

He and other leaders ran the Kings with a Mafia-style hierarchy, including a council of leaders and as many as 11 chapters across Massachusetts alone, authorities said. 

The Latin Kings have also grown to become the largest gang in Massachusetts prisons, with an estimated 400 members, including leaders who face charges for continuing to coordinate criminal activity outside the prison, authorities said.

The mobster allegedly met with bigwigs Michael ‘King Merlin’ Cecchetelli and the latter man’s uncle David ‘Fat Chicky’ Cecchetelli at a social club long used by the Genovese crime family

Asked to confirm that Gotti was on the FBI’s radar, an FBI spokeswoman told the New York Daily News that investigators would not comment ‘because of the ongoing investigation and prosecution of the case.’ 

Gotti Jr became acting head of the Gambino crime family in 1992 until 1999 after his father John Gotti was sent to prison. 

Gotti Jr himself was then sent to prison for racketeering in 1999.

In a recording played at the third of four racketeering prosecutions he faced between 2004 and 2009, Gotti Jr, claimed he had been ‘pushed’ into a life of crime against his better judgement. 

He said: ‘I’d rather be a Latin King than what I am. I mean it on my father’s grave. I’m so ashamed. I’m so ashamed.’

All four trials in the 2000s ended in mistrials. 

The Mount Carmel Social Club is best known as the location for the gangland murder of Adolfo ‘Big Al’ Bruno, who was shot dead in the parking lot while leaving a card game in 2003

Last year, Gotti Jr demanded an apology from police after mobster Francesco ‘Frankie Boy’ Cali’s suspected killer was finally arrested and contrary to rumors, his mobster uncle Gene Gotti was not behind the murder.  

US Marshals apprehended Anthony Comello, 24, and he continues to face murder charges for killing Cali.

Cali, the 53-year-old reputed boss of the notorious Gambino crime family, was murdered outside of his Staten Island home last March when he was hit by a hail of six bullets.

Police were thought to be considering heroin dealer Gene Gotti, 72, as the man behind the murder, suspecting he committed the crime in a power move to take over the mob as he was released from prison six months ago after 29 long years. 

‘Today, an arrest was made. A 24-year-old individual who did it for personal reasons, not street reasons. Is somebody going to apologize to Gene and his family?’  55-year-old Gotti Jr said to the New York Post.   

‘I wonder if these tremendously insightful law enforcement individuals are going to issue an apology to Gene Gotti,’ he added.  

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TV Ratings: ‘This Is Us’ Finale Matches Season High 7.9 Million Viewers

The dramatic season 4 finale of “This Is Us” delivered plenty of surprises as well as strong ratings numbers for NBC.

Tuesday night’s episode scored a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49, its highest mark since Oct. 2019, and 7.9 million total viewers, matching the premiere for a season high. That represents a 21% ratings bump from the penultimate episode, and only a 4% drop from the season 3 finale. Earlier in the night, “Ellen’s Game of Games” shot up to a season high 1.4 rating and 6.3 million viewers, beating the previous watermark by an impressive 700,000 total viewers. NBC premiered its new series “Council of Dads” after “This Is Us” to a 0.7 rating and around 4 million total viewers.

Meanwhile on CBS, an “FBI” crossover with its “Most Wanted” spinoff yielded a 1.1 average rating and around 10 million total viewers, an excellent season high return as far as both series are concerned. The crossover was undoubtedly helped by a strong “NCIS” lead-in, which scored a 1.3 rating and a massive 13.1 million viewers, easily a season high in terms of audience.

Over on ABC, “The Conners” struggled a little bit to keep up with the stiff competition, ticking down to a 1.1 rating and 6.4 million viewers. The rest of the Disney-owned network’s lineup was even week-to-week, with “Bless This Mess” coming in at a 0.7 and 4.1 million viewers, followed by “Mixed-ish” and “Black-ish” both at a 0.6. “For Life” rounded off the night also at a 0.6.

“Empire” drew its largest audience since October of last year on Fox, scoring 2.8 million pairs of eyeballs and a 0.7 rating. “The Resident” was even at a 0.8 and 4.4 million viewers.

CW aired an episode of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” to a 0.1 rating and 413,000 viewers, as well as a “Flash” replay to the same rating.

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