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NYPD to reduce security around Trump Tower, says Mayor de Blasio

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NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio

After years of guarding Trump Tower like a fortress on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, the New York Police Department (NYPD) will begin to scale back its security presence around the skyscraper now that Donald Trump‘s time as president has come to an end, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday, according to The New York Post.

“It’s still obviously a sensitive site, but it’s going to be a much lower security profile,” the New York City mayor said during a press conference. “A lot more of the space around it is going to be opened up, which is a good thing for the people of that neighborhood and for the city.”

De Blasio’s announcement comes one day after President Joe Biden was sworn in. Trump opted not to attend his successor’s inauguration, instead trading Washington’s winter winds for Florida’s sunny skies at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. While Trump has a residence high up in the tower, the former president has moved to Florida for the time being, though the frustration of Palm Beach locals has thrown his living situation into the air.

Throughout Trump’s tenure as commander-in-chief, the NYPD and federal agents have operated a strict security zone around the skyscraper on Fifth Avenue between East 56th and 57th streets.

With New York City and many areas in its orbit having voted overwhelmingly against Trump, Trump Tower has become a major spot for protests in the nation’s largest city over the past few years, rivaling historical protest spaces like Washington Square Park and Union Square. On top of that, Fifth Avenue has become the most popular route for marches and protests, with the final stop along the northbound route often being Trump Tower.

Amid last summer’s racial justice protests following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody in May, de Blasio ordered that the section of Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower be renamed “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and that the phrase “Black Lives Matter” be painted across that stretch of road.

According to The Post, the NYPD had previously mentioned that it would “re-evaluate” security around Trump Tower following Inauguration Day, with sources telling the publication that the section of East 56th Street immediately south of the tower is expected to re-open to vehicular traffic.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Former FBI official investigating Trump indicted on charges of working for Russian Oligarch he was investigating

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The former FBI official involved in the investigation into the made up Trump-Russia collusion has been charged with…wait for it…Russia collusion. Former FBI official Charles McGonigal was charged with “violating sanctions and collaborating with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.”

The Department of Justice made the announcement Monday. “Charles McGonigal, a former high-level FBI official, and Sergey Shestakov, a Court interpreter, violated U.S. sanctions by agreeing to provide services to Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams wrote in the released statement.

“Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska perform global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin and are associated with acts of bribery, extortion, and violence,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael Driscoll noted in a statement.  “There are no exceptions for anyone, including a former FBI official like Mr. McGonigal.”

According to federal prosecutors, McGonigal received “concealed payments” from a Russian intelligence officer in exchange for his help in having sanctions targeting Deripaska lifted. “McGonigal is being charged by the Federal District in Manhattan with additional counts relating to money laundering and conspiracy” reports National Review.

Both McGonigal and Shestakov had “previously worked with Deripaska to attempt to have his sanctions removed, and, as public servants, they should have known better,” Williams’ statement added.

McGonigal’s legal team announced their plans to enter a plea of not guilty before a federal court appearance. Seth DuCharme, head of McGonigal’s legal team old the New York Times “Charlie served the United States capably, effectively, for decades.”

“We have closely reviewed the accusations made by the government and we look forward to receiving discovery so we can get a view on what the evidence is upon which the government intends to rely” DuCharme added.

McGonigal was arrested at JFK Airport in New York City on Saturday upon returning from recent travels to Sri Lanka.

 

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