Tag Archives: Russia

Newsweek cover story: Here’s How Russia May Have Already Hacked the 2018 Midterm Elections

The cover story of Newsweek this week is a lengthy investigative report by David Freedman into Here’s How Russia May Have Already Hacked the 2018 Midterm Elections. Here are the opening graphs using Bucks County, Pennsylvania as an example:

It’s not easy to get in to see Diane Ellis-Marseglia, one of three commissioners who run Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Security is tight at the Government Administration Building on 55 East Court Street in Doylestown, a three-story brick structure with no windows, where she has an office. It also happens to be where officials retreat on election night to tally the votes recorded on the county’s 900 or so voting machines. Guards at the door X-ray bags and scan each visitor with a wand.

Unfortunately, Russian hackers won’t need to come calling on Election Day. Cyberexperts warn that they could use more sophisticated means of changing the outcomes of close races or sowing confusion in an effort to throw the U.S. elections into disrepute. The 2018 midterms offer a compelling target: a patchwork of 3,000 or so county governments that administer elections, often on a shoestring budget, many of them with outdated electronic voting machines vulnerable to manipulation. With Democrats on track to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives and perhaps even the Senate, the ­political stakes are high.

Russian hackers were notoriously active in the 2016 election. Although President Donald Trump disputes it, evidence suggests that they were responsible for breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s computers, according to U.S. intelligence reports. They ran a disinformation campaign on Facebook and Twitter. They also attacked voter registration databases in 21 states, election management systems in 39 states and at least one election software vendor—and that’s only what the government’s intelligence services know about.

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The constitutional crisis coming after Election Day

This is really information voters should have available before Election Day in order to make an informed decision, but due to long-standing Justice Department custom, prosecutors are generally advised to avoid public disclosure of investigative steps involving a candidate for office or related to election matters within 60 days of an election.

The Justice Department’s Inspector General recently noted in a report about the 2016 election: “The 60-Day Rule is not written or described in any Department policy or regulation. Nevertheless, high-ranking Department and FBI officials acknowledged the existence of a general practice that informs Department decisions.” So here we are.

Bloomberg News reports today, Mueller Ready to Deliver Key Findings in His Trump Probe, Sources Say:

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings on core aspects of his Russia probe soon after the November midterm elections as he faces intensifying pressure to produce more indictments or shut down his investigation, according to two U.S. officials.

Specifically, Mueller is close to rendering judgment on two of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry: whether there were clear incidents of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and whether the president took any actions that constitute obstruction of justice, according to one of the officials, who asked not to be identified speaking about the investigation.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Mueller’s findings would be made public if he doesn’t secure unsealed indictments. The regulations governing Mueller’s probe stipulate that he can present his findings only to his boss, who is currently Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The regulations give a special counsel’s supervisor some discretion in deciding what is relayed to Congress and what is publicly released.

The question of timing is critical. Mueller’s work won’t be concluded ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections, when Democrats hope to take control of the House and end Trump’s one-party hold on Washington.

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A desperate Martha McSally accuses Kyrsten Sinema of ‘treason’

The one and only senate debate between Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema did not fail to disappoint on substance.  McSally, in particular, was pre-programmed and stuck to canned responses to attack her opponent. If you have seen her false and misleading TV ads, you pretty much know what Martha McSally had to say. She stuck to the script.

But Militaristic Martha could not contain herself and towards the end of the debate sprung an obviously pre-planned new attack on Kyrsten Sinema, accusing her of “treason.” No, really. She went there. Arizona race gets ugly as Martha McSally accuses Kyrsten Sinema of ‘treason’ over 2003 Taliban comments:

In the closely watched Senate race in Arizona, “treason” was the accusation leveled Monday by Republican Rep. Martha McSally against her Democratic opponent, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.

In the sole debate of the campaign, McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and combat pilot, asked Sinema to apologize for a 15-year-old radio interview about American intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, suggesting that her comments were tantamount to levying war against the United States. Sinema responded by accusing the Republican of playing dirty.

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Lots of good reporting on the Russia investigation

While Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues working quietly behind the scenes, there have been several excellent pieces of investigative journalism in recent days following leads on the Russian collusion thread of the investigation. These are lengthy investigative reports that I will not attempt to parse out here.

Luckily, Andrew Prokop at Vox.com has already posted an excellent summary. The past 48 hours in Mueller investigation news, explained (paragraphs reordered for clarity):

New reports over the past two days have brought increased attention to three long-simmering subplots in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

First, the Wall Street Journal revealed new details about GOP operative Peter W. Smith’s quest to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers during the 2016 campaign — including that he raised at least $100,000 for the effort and then pitched in $50,000 of his own money. (Smith was found dead last year, and local authorities ruled his death a suicide.)

Peter W. Smith: what happened when he sought Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers?

What we already knew: During the 2016 campaign, 80-year-old GOP operative Peter W. Smith recruited a team to try to obtain Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails from “dark web” hackers — including hackers he thought were “probably around the Russian government.” It’s not clear if Smith had any success, but we know he tried because he freely admitted all this to reporter Shane Harris in May 2017.

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Putin’s puppet protects the Russian mafia, and his connections to it

Russian asset – and unindicted co-conspirator – mafia “Don” Trump has systematically been hollowing out America’s federal law enforcement officials who investigate international organized crime since becoming president.

Already he has removed acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord, FBI Assistant Director Mike Kortan, FBI Chief of the Counterespionage Section Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page, a lawyer in the Justice Department’s organized-crime section whose cases centered on international organized crime and money laundering.

Putin’s Russian mafia has infiltrated the U.S. government and has its puppet on the inside of American law enforcement to do its bidding.

Trump’s latest target is Department of Justice attorney Bruce Ohr, an expert in Russia and Russian organized crime.

Natasha Bertrand of The Atlantic reports, Trump’s Top Targets in the Russia Probe Are Experts in Organized Crime:

Bruce Ohr. Lisa Page. Andrew Weissmann. Andrew McCabe. President Donald Trump has relentlessly attacked these FBI and Justice Department officials as dishonest “Democrats” engaged in a partisan “witch hunt” led by the special counsel determined to tie his campaign to Russia. But Trump’s attacks have also served to highlight another thread among these officials and others who have investigated his campaign: their extensive experience in probing money laundering and organized crime, particularly as they pertain to Russia.

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