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FBI under siege: Top brass, agents slammed as bureau fights to overcome scandals and blunders

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From the storied hallways of the J. Edgar Hoover building to field offices around the country, the Federal Bureau of Investigation faces a crisis of confidence as rank-and-file agents are blamed for not preventing recent attacks and top brass finds itself in the middle of an unfolding political fight.

The blitz of bad news is taking a toll on the intensely proud bureau’s members, both past and present.

“In my experience, I can’t say I know of any parallel to what is going on now,” former FBI Assistant Director Ron Hosko told Fox News.

The two-pronged attack on the bureau’s credibility reached a crescendo last week, when the bureau admitted it had not acted on a tip that might have stopped Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz. President Trump, in turn, seized on the grave error to effectively accuse the bureau of making mistakes because agents have been consumed with the Russia probe.

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on worldwide threats, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Washington. Wray said the agency provided the White House with information twice last year about Rob Porter, the top Trump aide who resigned as staff secretary last week after domestic violence allegations from two ex-wives became public. Wray said the bureau closed its background investigation on Porter in January, weeks before the allegations were published. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Feb. 13, 2018: FBI Director Christopher Wray, in Washington, D.C., speaks during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on worldwide threats. Wray is facing a call to resign in the wake of the Florida high school shooting.

 (AP)

While the DOJ triumphantly announced Friday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation had indicted 13 Russian nationals, Trump stressed that the case did not show collusion with his campaign.

The ignored warning about Cruz was especially painful, because it was the second such admission in the case. Cruz gunned down 17 students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14. It quickly emerged that a YouTuber had warned the FBI someone sharing the same name had said he wanted to be a “professional school shooter” back in September.

Then came word on Friday that another tipster had given the bureau an even more specific warning Jan. 5, and that had also been ignored.

“This kid was flashing red and the system failed,” Hosko said. “The FBI has had its piece in that and it’s a significant piece.”

Trump was quick to tie the two issues together, tweeting that the bureau missed signals because it was “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign,” then urging it to “Get back to the basics and make us all proud!’

FBI Director Christopher Wray, selected by Trump to bring stability to the bureau after he fired James Comey, has vowed to get “to the bottom of what happened in this particular matter.”

But Florida Gov. Rick Scott has had enough. In his view, Wray – who was just installed as the bureau’s new leader on Sept. 28 — already has to go.

“An apology will never bring these 17 Floridians back to life or comfort the families who are in pain,” Scott said last week. “The families will spend a lifetime wondering how this could happen, and an apology will never give them the answers they desperately need.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, right, accompanied by President Donald Trump, left, speaks as they meet with law enforcement officers at Broward County Sheriff's Office in Pompano Beach, Fla., Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, following Wednesday's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Feb. 16, 2018: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, right, accompanied by President Donald Trump, left, speaks as they meet with law enforcement officers at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Pompano Beach, Fla. Both Trump and Scott have blasted the FBI in the wake of the Florida high school shooting.

 (AP)

And the Florida shooting isn’t the only case currently generating questions about what the FBI knew, and when.

The father of Ahmad Khan Rahimi, a convicted terrorist sentenced to multiple life terms in prison Tuesday for planting pressure-cooker bombs in New York and New Jersey in 2016, says he raised concerns about his son to the FBI two years before the detonations, which injured 30, but nothing ever came of it.

“After two months, they call me [and say] “Oh, your son is not doing any act like a terrorist,'” Mohammad Rahami told WNBC on Thursday. “I said, ‘You sure he not doing anything?’ He say, ‘Yeah, that’s good news.'”

“It allows the president – gives him the ammunition – to say what the hell is going on with the FBI?”

– Former FBI Assistant Director Ron Hosko

Back in Washington, a shakeup of bureau leadership in recent weeks has led to the departure of Andrew McCabe — following months of conflict-of-interest complaints from Trump and Republicans — and James Rybicki, Wray’s chief of staff.

Fox News was told McCabe — who has been questioned for his ties to the Democratic Party — was “removed” from his post and will no longer be reporting to work at the FBI. His wife, as a Democrat, ran for a Virginia Senate seat in 2015 and had her campaign financially boosted by a group linked to Clinton family pal Terry McAuliffe.

“How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?” Trump tweeted in December, about a month before news of McCabe’s ouster broke.

Hosko says Trump’s weekend criticism of the FBI is an obvious response to the pressure he’s facing from the Robert Mueller-led probe and his comments “are made to delegitimize the FBI’s effort and support for the Russia investigation.

“He has the Twitter box in his hand,” Hosko told Fox News, noting that the president gets his thoughts out faster and more often than any of his predecessors. “I think that amplifies his commentary about the FBI.”

But Hosko says as long as the FBI keeps making mistakes — such as the “catastrophic” Florida one or the “embarrassing” text message exchanges between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two former members of Mueller’s team who blasted the president – the hits against the agency will keep coming.

“It’s a part of this conversation,” Hosko told Fox News. “It allows the president – gives him the ammunition – to say what the hell is going on with the FBI?”

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Italy furious: Italian president rebuts Johnson's 'freedom' remarks over restrictions

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ITALY’S president has shot back at Boris Johnson after the Prime Minister claimed the UK had a higher coronavirus infection rate because Britons love their freedom more than Italians.

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GOP senators seek to ban transgender girls from female sports

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A group of Republican senators have introduced a bill that would make it a violation of federal civil rights law for schools to allow transgender females to compete in girls sports.

Under the proposed “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act,” schools that allow “biological males” to compete in girls athletics could lose federal funding, according to a statement Tuesday by Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., the bill’s lead sponsor.

“Title IX established a fair and equal chance for women and girls to compete, and sports should be no exception,” Loeffler stated, referring to the section of the Education Amendments of 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs.

“As someone who learned invaluable life lessons and built confidence playing sports throughout my life, I’m proud to lead this legislation to ensure girls of all ages can enjoy those same opportunities,” Loeffler continued. “This commonsense bill protects women and girls by safeguarding fairness and leveling the athletic field that Title IX guarantees.”

The measure is co-sponsored by four other Republican senators: Mike Lee of Utah, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

“Men and women are biologically different, that’s just a scientific fact,” Lee said in a statement. “For the safety of female athletes and for the integrity of women’s sports, we must honor those differences on a fair field of competition.”

Cotton, whose name appeared on a Supreme Court shortlist released by President Donald Trump before the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last eweek, said the bill would “defend the commonsense principle that women’s sports are for women.” He called it “tragic but unsurprising” that such legislation was needed.

If passed, the act would force schools to recognizes sex based “solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.” Loeffler did not indicate how the legislation would impact intersex students.

Dawn Ennis, a transgender woman and managing editor of OutSports, said Loeffler and her colleagues are simply pandering in an election year.

“They think there are so few, or no trans athletes in their states, and this is just shoring up support,” Ennis said. “They’ll get re-elected, no doubt. But this is just chum being thrown at the sharks.”

Of the bill’s five co-sponsors, Cotton is the only one up for re-election in November; Loeffler was appointed to the Senate in January and is on the ballot for a full term.

After waning interest in so-called bathroom bills, conservatives have embraced issues surrounding transgender athletes as a new flashpoint.

“These groups don’t care about sports or women’s rights,” ACLU transgender rights advocate Chase Strangio said in a statement. “They’re opportunistically looking for ways to attack trans people, and in the process, hurting all women and girls.”

In February, the families of three female high-school runners in Connecticut filed suit to block two trans sprinters from competing in track and field. They argued athletes assigned male at birth have an unfair physical advantage.

“That biological unfairness doesn’t go away because of what someone believes about gender identity,” said Alanna Smith, a junior at Danbury High School who is the daughter of Hall of Fame pitcher Lee Smith and one of the three runners suing. “All girls deserve the chance to compete on a level playing field.”

Christiana Holcomb, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, which is representing the families, said the districts’ inclusive policy is “forcing girls to be spectators in their own sports” and runs counter to the intent of Title IX, the federal civil rights law guaranteeing equal educational opportunities for women, including in athletics.

“Connecticut’s policy violates that law and reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women,” Holcomb said.

Ennis said she asked the ADF why they hadn’t filed suit against transgender boys competing in men’s sports.

“They told me they didn’t have a problem with ‘girls who identify as male,’” Ennis told NBC News, “They saw this specifically as a danger of endangering [cisgender] girls.”

Last week, the Department of Education told Connecticut schools they’d lose desegregation funding if they continued allowing transgender girls to compete in women’s sports.

The department’s Office for Civil Rights told school districts in New Haven, Hartford and southeast Connecticut that it would withhold some $18 million due to be disbursed Oct. 1 if they didn’t sever ties with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which allows students to participate in sex-segregated sports that align with their gender identity.

According to a letter from the office obtained by The Associated Press, the conference’s policy has “denied female student-athletes athletic benefits and opportunities” including medals, recognition and access to college scholarships.

The grants at stake are predominately used to help Black and Latino students attend better-performing schools outside their neighborhoods, and have nothing to do with athletics programs.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker called the threat “extortion.”

“The federal government is trying to force us to take a side against transgender individuals,” Elicker told The New York Times.

In July, more than 300 women involved in professional sports signed an open letter by members of “Save Women’s Sports” to the NCAA’s Board of Governors, opposing transgender inclusion in college sports.

The signatories included lesbian tennis legend Martina Navratilova, Outsports reported.

And earlier this month, a video decrying trans participation in school sports was launched by the American Principles Project, of APP.

The spot depicted a male runner easily beating female competitors in a race. It also attacked support by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich. for the Equality Act, LGBTQ rights legislation the clip claimed would “destroy girls sports.”

It was rejected as paid advertising on Facebook, which indicated if the APP ran the video organically a fact-check label would be added.

“Women’s sports are under severe threat in 2020. Despite the radical Left’s attempts at gaslighting, this is indisputable,” APP Director Terry Schilling said Tuesday in praise of Loeffler’s bill.

“While President Trump and his administration have taken important steps to defend women’s sports, female athletes have also been searching for a leader in Congress to stand up for them,” Schiller continued. “Today, Sen. Kelly Loeffler has courageously stepped forward to be that leader.”

Should the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act pass, it would undoubtedly face legal challenges.

A preliminary injunction was issued last month stopping Idaho schools from enforcing a state law that banned transgender girls from participating in women’s sports.

The Idaho measure contains a provision allowing anyone to challenge a person’s gender identity and requires an athlete to verify their sex through an invasive physical exam or genetic testing.

A District Court judge ruled the injunction was warranted because the plaintiffs were likely to win a lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality.

In December, Tennessee state Rep. Bruce Griffey, a Republican, sponsored a bill that would fine school officials up to $10,000 for allowing transgender students to participate in sports as their lived gender. That measure has not gone up for a vote yet.

In June, the Supreme Court determined that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bars employment discrimination on the basis of sex, applied to gender identity and sexual orientation, as well. Whether that ruling applies to Title IX and school athletics is open to interpretation.

Connecticut is one of 17 states that allow transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions, according to Transathlete.com, although regulations regarding gender identity and sports participation vary greatly in other states.

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Keir Starmer humiliation: Labour leader NOT expected to be next Prime Minister

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LABOUR leader Keir Starmer has been knocked out of first place in the list of contenders who punters believe will be the UK’s next Prime Minister, as Chancellor Rishi Sunak soared in popularity.

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