After a 38-year career with the Justice Department, the FBI’s top lawyer Dana Boente was asked to resign on Friday. Two sources familiar with the decision to dismiss Boente said it came from high levels of the Justice Department rather than directly from FBI Director Christopher Wray.
His departure comes on the heels of recent criticism by Fox News for his role in the investigation of former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. […]
Boente also said in a recently leaked memo that material put into the public record about Flynn was not exculpatory for the former national security advisor. The memo undermines the Justice Department’s latest position that material about Flynn was mishandled by prosecutors.
May 30, 2020
The Department of Justice is dropping its insider trading investigation into the coronavirus-related stock trades of Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK), according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The department is still investigating trades made by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), however — as part of that investigation, a cell phone was seized after he was served a search warrant by the FBI on May 13 at his Washington, DC, residence.
The FBI, in conjunction with the Securities and Exchange Commission, began an investigation in late March into lawmakers who may have tried to profit from information received over the course of their Senate duties regarding the coronavirus. […]
Lawmakers are required by law to report stock trades in regular disclosures. Congressional financial disclosures don’t list specific transaction amounts, instead breaking reporting into dollar value bands like $1,001 to $15,000, $15,001 to $50,000, etc., up to transactions over $50 million.
On February 13, Burr, who Roll Call estimates is the 154th wealthiest federal lawmaker, sold up to $1.7 million in stock transactions. In making those trades, Burr sold up to $150,000 worth of shares of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. Wyndham’s stock dropped from $59.10 per share at the close on the day Burr sold it to a low of $21.59 on March 19, before rebounding. He also sold up to $100,000 in stock in Extended Stay America, an economy hospitality company.
May 27, 2020
Mike Pompeo put together an undisclosed board of outside advisers while he was director of CIA that some at the agency viewed as inappropriately weighted toward wealthy individuals and well-connected political figures, according to four current and former officials.
The advisers were often treated to elaborate multiday experiences that included “lavish” dinners, classified briefings, and at least one trip to the CIA’s secret training facilities, the sources said.
The events planned for Pompeo’s external advisory board, billed as “senior leadership conferences,” didn’t run afoul of any laws — previous CIA director advisory board members, provided with interim clearances, were also given classified briefings, and directors can visit the Farm, as the CIA’s training site is known, at their discretion.
But several former senior CIA officials who were at the agency under Pompeo’s leadership, from January 2017 to April 2018, said they thought the then-director “crossed a line” in his use of the external advisory board to charm business leaders and influential political figures. And those who served on similar advisory boards under other directors said Pompeo’s panel differed from theirs in key respects, from the makeup of the advisers themselves to the nature of their interactions with the agency.
May 27, 2020
A former White House aide won a $3 million federal contract to supply respirator masks to Navajo Nation hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona 11 days after he created a company to sell personal protective equipment in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Zach Fuentes, President Donald Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, secured the deal with the Indian Health Service with limited competitive bidding and no prior federal contracting experience.
The IHS told ProPublica it has found that 247,000 of the masks delivered by Fuentes’ company — at a cost of roughly $800,000 — may be unsuitable for medical use. An additional 130,400, worth about $422,000, are not the type specified in the procurement data, the agency said.
What’s more, the masks Fuentes agreed to provide — Chinese-made KN95s — have come under intense scrutiny from U.S. regulators amid concerns that they offered inadequate protection.
“The IHS Navajo Area Office will determine if these masks will be returned,” the agency said in a statement. The agency said it is verifying Fuentes’ company’s April 8 statement to IHS that all the masks were certified by the Food and Drug Administration, and an FDA spokesperson said the agency cannot verify if the products were certified without the name of the manufacturer.
Hospitals in the Navajo Nation, which spans Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, have been desperate for protective supplies as the numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths have grown quickly. As of Friday, the Navajo Nation reported 4,434 COVID-19 cases and 147 deaths, a crisis that has prompted outcries from members of Congress and demands for increased funding.
May 22, 2020