Tracking interference into our elections
Before the Trump-Ukraine Affair there was the Trump-Russia Affair, Donald J. Trump, his son and an unknown number of people from the Trump campaign may have conspired (colluded) with the Russians to help elect Donald J. Trump. The Trump-Ukraine Affair should make you rethink the Trump-Russia Affair, the lie then was it was about adaptions the lie this time is it was about corruption.
Donald J. Trump used the powers of the presidency to bully Ukraine into digging up damaging information on a political rival, Democrat Joe Biden that is an abuse of power is against the law and the constitution of the United States. Donald J. Trump has asked other countries including China to interfere in our elections by helping him get dirt on his political opponents; that is an abuse of power is against the law and the constitution of the United States.
By KEN RITTERLAS VEGAS (AP) — The Trump campaign and Nevada Republicans asked a state judge on Friday to stop the count of Las Vegas-area mail-in ballots, alleging that “meaningful observation” of signature-checking is impossible in the state’s biggest and most Democratic-leaning county. A lawsuit filed in state court less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 election complains that observers haven’t been allowed close enough to workers and machines at the busy vote-counting center to see whether ballots that get second- and third-step validation should be rejected.Judge James Wilson in Carson City declined to issue an immediate order to stop the count, but scheduled a hearing next Wednesday on the request. The battle is the latest among court skirmishes across the U.S. amid President Donald Trump’s doubts about issues including voter registration, voter rolls and mail-in ballot deadlines prompted by the pandemic.“There has been great concern whether the rolls are clean and properly registered voters are the ones receiving ballots, signing them and mailing them back,” Trump for President Nevada co-chairman Adam Laxalt said. “All we want is to be part of the signature verification process and the ability to challenge a mail-in signature.”Laxalt invoked memories of the legal battle over the 2000 presidential election, which was ultimately decided in mid-December by the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore. But vote-by-mail “was not really an issue until someone started tweeting about it in a presidential year,” said Amber McReynolds, head of the nonprofit National Vote At Home Institute, which advocates expanded mail balloting. more...
Philip EwingActive Russian cyberattacks are targeting a wide swath of American government networks, including those involved with the ongoing election, federal authorities revealed Thursday. The focus of the effort include "U.S. state, local, territorial, and tribal government networks, as well as aviation networks," according to a new bulletin from the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.It continued: "As this recent malicious activity has been directed at ... government networks, there may be some risk to elections information ... However, the FBI and CISA have no evidence to date that integrity of elections data has been compromised." U.S. officials said separately on Thursday afternoon that systems in two local government jurisdictions had been accessed, granting attackers admission to some limited data about voters. more...
By Jeremy Herb, Brian Fung, Jennifer Hansler and Zachary Cohen, CNNWashington (CNN) Russian state-sponsored hackers have targeted state and local governments and in at least two instances have successfully stolen election data, US national security officials said Thursday. In addition, Iranian-based hackers appear intent on influencing and disrupting the 2020 election, US officials said. The Treasury Department responded on Thursday by issuing sanctions against five Iranian entities "for attempting to influence elections in the United States," including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.The warnings issued Thursday indicate the heightened security posture of the US government days ahead of the presidential election. They come a day after Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced at a hastily arranged news conference that Iran and Russia were interfering in the election and both countries had obtained some voter registration information, though Ratcliffe did not specify what information they had and whether it was publicly available.Ratcliffe said Iran was responsible for spoofed emails that appeared to come from a far-right group and threatened Democratic voters, adding that they were intended to damage President Donald Trump -- an assertion that drew criticisms from Democrats, who accused the Trump administration of trying to conflate the interference threat posed by Russia and Iran.CNN reported Wednesday that the government assessed that some of the data the Iranians obtained came from vendor and state systems, and was not just publicly available voter registration information, according to a source familiar with the matter. There is concern that Russia similarly accessed data but it is not clear what its intention is, the source said. Iran and Russia have denied interfering in the US election. The federal warnings about the stolen data were published in two separate alerts Thursday written jointly by the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and provided more detail on what Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher Wray had referred to on Wednesday. more...
By Jeremy Herb and Zachary Cohen, CNN(CNN) Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Wednesday both Iran and Russia have obtained US voter registration information in an effort to interfere in the election, including Iran posing as the far-right group Proud Boys to send intimidating emails to voters. Ratcliffe, appearing alongside FBI Director Chris Wray, said at a hastily arranged news conference Wednesday evening that Iran was responsible for the email campaign, made to look like it came from the Proud Boys, as well as spreading disinformation about voter fraud through a video linked in some of the emails."This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos and undermine your confidence in American democracy," Ratcliffe said. "We have already seen Iran sending spoof emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President (Donald) Trump," Ratcliffe added. "You may have seen some reporting on this in the last 24 hours, or you may have even been one of the recipients of those emails."Ratcliffe did not explain what he meant by his statement that the emails -- which were sent to registered voters from "email@example.com" and warned recipients to "Vote for Trump or else!" -- were intended to damage the President. Democrats and a group of former intelligence officials have accused Ratcliffe, a former Republican congressman tapped to lead the intelligence community this year, of selectively declassifying intelligence in the run-up to the election to help Trump's campaign, and Democrats on the Homeland Security Committee criticized him after the news conference. "DO NOT listen to Ratcliffe. Partisan hack," the committee's Twitter account said Wednesday evening. more...
Dan Mangan, Kevin Breuninger, Spencer KimballIran and Russia have both obtained information about American voter registrations and are trying to influence the public about the upcoming U.S. presidential election, national security officials said Wednesday night. “Iran and Russia have taken specific actions to influence public opinion related to our elections,” said Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe at a hastily scheduled press conference.“First we have confirmed that some voter registration information has been obtained by Iran and separately by Russia,” Ratcliffe said at the briefing, which comes less than two weeks before Election Day. “This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos and undermine your confidence in American democracy.” more...
It wants to cause chaos, again. But it’s also learned some lessons from 2016.By Jen KirbyThere’s an editor’s note at the top of a recent post on Larry Krakow’s blog.“Note to my readers: I had this piece published elsewhere and it is no longer online,” it says at the top of his article, titled “The Hidden Corruption of the CARES Act.” “Sadly, it was a victim of a form of censorship that we can discuss at a later date. For now, understand how important it is to protect the right to free speech and a free press.”The “elsewhere” it was originally published was a little-known website called PeaceData, an upstart progressive global news site, purportedly based primarily in Romania, with a mission “to shed light on the global issues and raise awareness about corruption, environmental crisis, abuse of power, armed conflicts, activism, and human rights.” Krakow, a 48-year-old butcher from Queens in New York, had recently started his own blog as he recovered from Covid-19. Spend five days in hell, with a fever bouncing between 103 and 104 degrees, and a minute passed out on the bathroom floor, and you find you have some things to say.As Krakow set out to promote his own writing, he came across PeaceData. This spring, he reached out to Jake Sullivan, who identified himself as the site’s editor-in-chief. “‘Great site — kudos, I’m a fellow blogger, here’s my blog,’ Krakow said he told him. “And they got back to me and they said, ‘Wow, this is the kind of content that we’re looking for.’” “Next thing you know,” he added, “we were doing email exchanges and I was started writing for them.” more...
By Ben WiederLast October, federal prosecutors brought campaign finance charges against two associates of Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who had worked with him to dig up dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine to benefit President Donald Trump. Those Ukraine efforts contributed to the impeachment charges brought against President Trump in January and put Parnas and Fruman’s messy business history on display.The two men were accused of using money provided by a then-unnamed Russian businessman for political donations to help their efforts to obtain marijuana licenses. They are scheduled to go to trial next year, along with two co-conspirators. On a pretrial call Thursday, the Russian businessman was identified as Andrei Muraviev by a lawyer for one of Parnas and Fruman’s two alleged co-conspirators, Andrey Kukushkin.McClatchy was the first to report Muraviev as the likely foreign national last October, days after the charges against Parnas, Fruman and their alleged co-conspirators were unveiled on Oct. 10, 2019. And the Sacramento Bee reported soon after that Kukushkin and Muraviev were partners in multiple Sacramento cannabis businesses with local pot king Garib Karapetyan. more...
*** Russia is once again actively interfering in our elections to elect Donald J. Trump. Trump is Russia’s man in the White House. ***By Zachary Cohen, Geneva Sands and Alex Marquardt, CNNWashington (CNN) FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that Russia has been "very active" in its efforts to influence US elections, with the primary goal being to "denigrate" Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, Wray told lawmakers that Russia is primarily interfering through "malign foreign influence in an effort to hurt Biden's campaign" -- echoing the intelligence community's public assessment on Moscow's meddling efforts issued last month. Wray's comments come as President Donald Trump and several other top administration officials have recently attempted to play up the theory that China is meddling to get Biden elected, while downplaying well-founded reports that Russia is trying to help Trump win again, like it did in 2016.Foreign election interference efforts differ from what was observed in 2016, when there was also an effort to target election infrastructure, Wray said. "We have not seen that second part yet this year or this cycle, but we certainly have seen very active, very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020," he added. According to Wray, Russia is using social media, proxies, state media and online journals to sow "divisiveness and discord" and "primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment." Intelligence officials have said they have uncovered evidence that Russia is currently interfering in the election to hurt Biden's campaign. Separately, some evidence has already emerged about Moscow's efforts, including Facebook's announcement earlier this month that a troll group that was part of Russia's attempt to interfere in the 2016 election is trying to target Americans again. More...
China is also growing more adept at targeting campaign workers. But contrary to Trump administration warnings, Beijing is mostly targeting Biden campaign officials.By David E. Sanger and Nicole PerlrothThe Russian military intelligence unit that attacked the Democratic National Committee four years ago is back with a series of new, more stealthy hacks aimed at campaign staff, consultants and think tanks associated with both Democrats and Republicans. That warning was issued on Thursday by the Microsoft Corporation, in an assessment that is far more detailed than any yet made public by American intelligence agencies.The findings come one day after a government whistle-blower claimed that officials at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security suppressed intelligence concerning Russia’s continuing interference because it “made the president look bad,” and instructed government analysts to instead focus on interference by China and Iran. Microsoft did find that Chinese and Iranian hackers have been active — but often not in the way that President Trump and his aides have suggested. More...
Bobby AllynFacebook and Twitter said Tuesday that they had removed accounts linked to Russian state actors who tried to spread false stories about racial justice, the Democratic presidential campaign of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and President Trump's policies. Researchers who have examined the operation say it attempted to steer left-leaning voters away from the Biden-Harris campaign in an way that echoes the Russian disinformation campaigns that sought to depress progressive and minority support for Hillary Clinton in 2016.Facebook said the the Russian agents set up a site posing as an independent news outlet and managed to recruit "unwitting freelance journalists" to write stories that were shared by dozens of social media accounts created through artificial intelligence. The Russian operatives, according to Facebook, primarily used a website called PeaceData. It billed itself as a news site that aimed to shed light on corruption, abuse of power and human rights. Both Facebook and Twitter detected and removed accounts associated with the the site before any of them had gathered a large following.
The fake news site Peace Data isn’t the first time Russian trolls struck unwitting victims. But for a disabled woman ensnared in the scheme, she almost lost access to vital care.Adam RawnsleyFor a time, it seemed like a great gig. Jacinda Chan’s job working for the website Peace Data was everything she’d been looking for. It was paid work writing about her favorite subject—human rights and Latin America—and her editors paid on time.Chan, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy and is a quadriplegic, hadn’t been able to get many good jobs in journalism. “I have difficulty finding employment in the USA because people look at me and wonder how I can work if I'm on a respirator,” she wrote to an editor at the site in July. “That is why I like this job. Nobody questioned my ability because I'm disabled. I just got the money.” But this week it all came crashing down when Facebook revealed that Peace Data was fake. After a tip-off from the FBI and an internal investigation, the company discovered that the site was linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the troll farm responsible for much of the meddling in the 2016 presidential election.Elaborate ruseThe site used a mixture of fake personas and real, unwitting journalists tricked into believing the site was a legitimate outlet for human rights journalism. A number of the contributors have since come forward to share their stories about being exploited. But of all the people who’ve written for the site, Chan appears to have suffered the most from the troll farm’s ruse. The site has since shut its doors, leaving a cartoon of social media executives on a guillotine and a few embarrassed contributors in its wake. But the IRA’s ruse almost cost Chan much more—a lifeline to home caregivers.
Facebook takes down Russian operation that recruited U.S. journalists, amid rising concerns about election misinformationThe social media giant acted against a small network of pages and accounts that directed users to a fake left-leaning news site called Peace DataBy Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig TimbergFacebook removed a network of fake accounts and pages created by Russian operatives who had recruited U.S. journalists to write articles critical of Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, an apparent bid to undermine their support among liberal voters. Facebook said it caught the network of 13 fake accounts and two pages early, before it had a chance to build a large audience — an action that the company said was evidence of its growing effectiveness at targeting foreign disinformation operations ahead of the 2020 election.The takedown emerged as a result of a tip from the FBI and was one of a dozen operations tied to the Russian Internet Research Agency or individuals affiliated with it that Facebook has disrupted since the last presidential election, when IRA-backed pages amassed millions of views on the platform. The pages had about 14,000 followers. “They’ve gotten better at hiding who they are, but their impact has gotten smaller and smaller,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said of the foreign operations.
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large(CNN) Sometimes -- OK, a lot of times -- Donald Trump says the quiet part out loud. Like during an interview on Fox Business with Maria Bartiromo on Thursday morning when Trump flatly admitted the real reason why he is blocking the inclusion of any money for the United States Postal Service in a coronavirus relief bill in Congress. Here's exactly what he said: "They want $3.5 billion for something that will turn out to be fraudulent, that's election money basically. They want $3.5 trillion -- billion dollars for the mail-in votes, OK, universal mail-in ballots, $3.5 trillion. They want $25 billion, billion, for the Post Office. Now they need that money in order to have the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots... " ... Now, if we don't make a deal, that means they don't get the money. That means they can't have universal mail-in voting, they just can't have it. So, you know, sort of a crazy thing. Very interesting." Let's be very, very clear about what Trump is saying here.1) Democrats want funding in a coronavirus relief bill for the Postal Service.2) They want that money so that the USPS can adequately deal with what is expected to be a major surge in mail-in and absentee balloting due to concerns about in-person voting spreading Covid-19.3) Trump refuses to give them that money -- or include it in any sort of deal -- because, without it, there won't be the ability for the people to cast more mail-in ballots, or -- and this is really important -- for election officials to effectively count them all.So, yeah. (And that's putting aside the fact that in blocking the coronavirus bill because of the money allotted for the Postal Service, the President is blocking a whole lot of other things, including increased education funding and rent/mortgage assistance, that many people in the country badly need.) This is the President of the United States purposely trying to make it harder for votes to be counted. Why? Because he believes that mail-in balloting is ripe for fraud. The problem with that view is that it is simply not supported by any real data. While Trump likes to focus on 500,000 absentee ballot applications being sent with the wrong return address in Virginia recently, the truth of the matter is that while mistakes like that one can get made, there's just no evidence of widespread purposeful voting fraud.
By Miles ParksAlmost exactly four years after Russian operatives hacked into the email accounts of prominent Democrats ahead of the 2016 election, Google confirmed on Thursday that foreign adversaries are still at it. Chinese-backed hackers were observed targeting former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign staff, and Iranian-backed hackers were seen targeting President Trump's campaign staff. Both were targeted with phishing attacks, according to Shane Huntley, the head of Google's Threat Analysis Group. He said there was no sign the attempts were successful. Huntley made the announcement on Twitter, and also said Google passed the information onto federal law enforcement. "Phishing" is when an attacker sends an email to a target often disguised as one meant to appear from a trusted source. The message can include a link designed to trick the target to click and download malicious software, or point the target to a website controlled by the attacker that might try to capture information. Google's announcement provided a reminder that Russia's interference game plan from the 2016 election is out in the open, and that other countries could attempt to replicate some or all of it this presidential election cycle. In a statement, the Biden campaign said Google had notified it of the attempted intrusions. "We have known from the beginning of our campaign that we would be subject to such attacks and we are prepared for them," the campaign said in a statement. "Biden for President takes cybersecurity seriously. We will remain vigilant against these threats and will ensure that the campaign's assets are secured."
Government reports indicate a Florida election technology company was hacked in 2016. There’s plenty the public doesn’t know about the incident—but should—going into 2020.By KIM ZETTEROn November 6, 2016, the Sunday before the presidential election that sent Donald Trump to the White House, a worker in the elections office in Durham County, North Carolina, encountered a problem. There appeared to be an issue with a crucial bit of software that handled the county’s list of eligible voters. To prepare for Election Day, staff members needed to load the voter data from a county computer onto 227 USB flash drives, which would then be inserted into laptops that precinct workers would use to check in voters. The laptops would serve as electronic poll books, cross-checking each voter as he or she arrived at the polls.The problem was, it was taking eight to 10 times longer than normal for the software to copy the data to the flash drives, an unusually long time that was jeopardizing efforts to get ready for the election. When the problem persisted into Monday, just one day before the election, the county worker contacted VR Systems, the Florida company that made the software used on the county’s computer and on the poll book laptops. Apparently unable to resolve the issue by phone or email, one of the company’s employees accessed the county’s computer remotely to troubleshoot. It’s not clear whether the glitch got resolved—Durham County would not answer questions from POLITICO about the issue—but the laptops were ready to use when voting started Tuesday morning. Almost immediately, though, a number of them exhibited problems. Some crashed or froze. Others indicated that voters had already voted when they hadn’t. Others displayed an alert saying voters had to show ID before they could vote, even though a recent court case in North Carolina had made that unnecessary.
By Rachel FrazinA new report by Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee alleges that the National Rifle Association (NRA) "became a foreign asset" for Russia ahead of the 2016 election. The document published Friday says that the NRA and its officers, board members and donors "engaged in a years-long effort to facilitate the U.S.-based activities of Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin," despite being aware of the two Russian nationals' ties to the Kremlin. "The scope of the NRA’s support for these Russian activities raises concerns about whether the activity in which the NRA, its officers and board members engaged were in furtherance of the organization’s exempt purpose," it said. Last year, Butina pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent on behalf of the Russian government. Torshin is a Russian banker and former politician. The report cited a series of emails between NRA officials and and interviews conducted during the 18-month investigation. One 2015 email seen by NRA executives said "Many powerful figures in the Kremlin are counting on Torshin to prove his American connections–a last minute important member cancellation could affect his political future." The Senate Democrats also found that over a years-long period, "NRA officers and board members directed organization resources toward facilitating the activities of Butina and Torshin in the United States." The report also raised questions about an NRA delegation's travel to Moscow in December 2015. "The NRA initially reimbursed some trip expenses," it said. "In 2018, after Senator Wyden first asked the NRA about its relationship to Torshin, the organization sought reimbursement ... to get trip expense payments 'off the NRA’s books.' " Democrats said that the report shows wrongdoing by the gun rights organization. more...
By Tim MakThe National Rifle Association acted as a "foreign asset" for Russia in the period leading up to the 2016 election, according to a new investigation unveiled Friday by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. Drawing on contemporaneous emails and private interviews, an 18-month probe by the Senate Finance Committee's Democratic staff found that the NRA underwrote political access for Russian nationals Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin more than previously known — even though the two had declared their ties to the Kremlin. The report, available here, also describes how closely the gun rights group was involved with organizing a 2015 visit by some of its leaders to Moscow. Then-NRA vice president Pete Brownell, who would later become NRA president, was enticed to visit Russia with the promise of personal business opportunities — and the NRA covered a portion of the trip's costs. The conclusions of the Senate investigation could have legal implications for the NRA, Wyden says. Tax-exempt organizations are barred from using funds for the personal benefit of its officials or for actions significantly outside their stated missions. The revelations in the Senate report raise questions about whether the NRA could face civil penalties or lose its tax-exempt status. Attorneys general in the state of New York and the District of Columbia are conducting separate probes into alleged wrongdoing at the gun rights organization. These probes have a broader scope than the Senate report, which focuses on Russia. more...
By ERIC GELLERLAS VEGAS — Democratic lawmakers emerged from the world’s largest hacker conference this weekend with a clear message: Congress must pass legislation to mandate better U.S. election security. In panels and interviews at DEF CON in Las Vegas, where a roomful of hackers demonstrated ways to breach insecure voting machines, those lawmakers focused their fury on the man proudly blocking their bills. “Why hasn’t Congress fixed the problem? Two words: Mitch McConnell,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said during a Friday keynote address to a packed and largely supportive room at DEF CON’s Voting Village. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), one of a handful of computer scientists in Congress, told POLITICO that when it came to his biggest election security concern, “I have two words: Mitch McConnell.” The Senate majority leader has repeatedly blocked votes in the upper chamber on two House Democratic bills that would require voting machines to produce paper records, mandate post-election audits and impose security requirements on election technology companies. Election security experts overwhelmingly say these provisions are vital for protecting the democratic process. But McConnell has argued repeatedly that states, not the federal government, should decide how to run their elections. It’s “stupid to have the view that states have the right to have poor election security,” Lieu told POLITICO.
Schumer suggests McConnell is blocking election security measures because he wants ‘the Russians to interfere’By Chris Sommerfeldt - New York Daily NewsChuck Schumer is bringing the “Moscow Mitch” moniker to a whole other level. The New York senator speculated Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been blocking election security bills from becoming law because he wants "the Russians to interfere” in 2020. Appearing on Joe Madison’s namesake radio show, Schumer said he could only think of two reasons for why McConnell derailed a couple of proposals last week that would have beefed up election security ahead of next’s year presidential contest — “neither of them good.” “One, they want the Russians to interfere because they think it’ll help them,” Schumer said. “The second, is another reason not so good. Donald Trump in his puerile, babyishness, if that’s even a word, is so upset at the fact that the Russians might have interfered, that it delegitimizes his election, and McConnell is so scared of Trump that he goes along.” Referring to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress last month, Schumer added, “Mueller made this clear: the Russians wanted Trump to win.”
By David E. Sanger and Catie EdmondsonWASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, an effort more far-reaching than previously acknowledged and one largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time. But while the bipartisan report’s warning that the United States remains vulnerable in the next election is clear, its findings were so heavily redacted at the insistence of American intelligence agencies that even some key recommendations for 2020 were blacked out. The report — the first volume of several to be released from the committee’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference — came 24 hours after the former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III warned that Russia was moving again to interfere “as we sit here.” While details of many of the hackings directed by Russian intelligence, particularly in Illinois and Arizona, are well known, the committee described “an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure” intended largely to search for vulnerabilities in the security of the election systems. A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know. It concluded that while there was no evidence that any votes were changed in actual voting machines, “Russian cyberactors were in a position to delete or change voter data” in the Illinois voter database. The committee found no evidence that they did so.
By Kathryn WatsonHours after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified Wednesday that Russians are still meddling in the U.S. political system, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the advancement of legislation to secure the nation's election system. Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith also blocked a set of bills on election security Wednesday. In blocking the legislation crafted by Senate Democrats to provide more funding for election security, McConnell declared the effort partisan and insisted the Trump administration has already done much to secure the nation's elections. One bill McConnell objected to would have both required the use of paper ballots and provided funding for the Election Assistance Commission. He also objected to legislation that would have required campaigns and candidates to report offers offers of election-related aid from foreign governments.
By Ted Barrett and Kevin Collier, CNN(CNN) - Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi on Wednesday blocked the advancement of a trio of bills aimed at strengthening election security just hours after former special counsel Robert Mueller warned of the continued threat that foreign powers interfering in US elections. Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ron Wyden of Oregon had advocated for the bills on the Senate floor, asking for unanimous consent to pass the package, but that ask can be halted with an objection from any senator. Two of those bills would require campaigns to report to federal authorities any attempts by foreign entities to interfere in US elections, and the third is aimed at protecting from hackers the personal accounts and devices of senators and some staffers. Hyde-Smith objected to each unanimous consent request in keeping with GOP arguments that Congress has already responded to election security needs for the upcoming election. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a tweet Wednesday evening.
By David Jackson, USA TODAYWASHINGTON – The Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is getting poor reviews from the Kremlin. The report "does not present any reasonable proof at all that Russia allegedly meddled in the electoral process in the U.S," said Dmitry Peskov, top spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, the report from special counsel Robert Mueller details how Russian interests hacked prominent Democrats and pushed fake news about President Donald Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton. "The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion," the report says. Mueller's team indicted more than two dozen Russian officials in connection with the effort. The report say the Russians wanted to sow dissension within the American public, and that the Kremlin saw advantages in having Trump as president. Even before the 2016 election in the United States, officials in numerous European nations accused the Russians of trying to sabotage their elections. Peskov noted that Putin has repeatedly denied claims of election interference "because there was none.” more...
By David E. Sanger and Catie EdmondsonWASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time, but at the demand of American intelligence agencies the committee was forced to redact its findings so heavily that key lessons for the 2020 election are blacked out. Even key findings at the beginning of the report were heavily redacted. The report — the first volume of several to be released from the committee’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference — came just 24 hours after the former special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, warned that Russia was moving again to interfere “as we sit here.” It also landed hours after Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, personally stepped forward to block consideration of a package of election security bills.
By Jordain CarneySenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked two election security measures on Thursday, arguing Democrats are trying to give themselves a "political benefit." The move comes a day after former special counsel Robert Mueller warned about election meddling in 2020, saying Russia was laying the groundwork to interfere in the 2020 election "as we sit here." Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) had tried to get consent Thursday to pass a House bill that requires the use of paper ballots and includes funding for the Election Assistance Commission. It passed the House 225-184 with one Republican voting for it. But McConnell objected, saying Schumer was trying to pass “partisan legislation.” “Clearly this request is not a serious effort to make a law. Clearly something so partisan that it only received one single solitary Republican vote in the House is not going to travel through the Senate by unanimous consent,” McConnell said. Under the Senate’s rules any one senator can request consent to pass a bill, but any one senator can object. Schumer argued that if McConnell didn’t like that bill “let’s put another bill on the floor and debate it.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also asked for consent to pass legislation that would require candidates, campaign officials and their family members to notify the FBI of assistance offers from foreign governments. McConnell also objected to that bill.
Former President Jimmy Carter said Friday he believes President Donald Trump actually lost the 2016 election and is president only because of Russian interference. Carter made the comments during a discussion on human rights at a resort in Leesburg, Virginia, without offering any evidence for his statements.
McConnell, with GOP Senate leaders, just "stands there and twiddles their thumbs and almost says, ‘Come on Putin, let it happen," the minority leader said.By Rebecca ShabadWASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Tuesday slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for blocking legislation that would protect U.S. elections from future interference, including by foreign governments. “It is irresponsible for the Republican leader to declare 'mission accomplished' about the 2018 elections,” Schumer told reporters on Capitol Hill, speaking about McConnell's remark in which he claimed an absence of problems in last year's midterms. “The Republican Senate, Leader McConnell just stands there and twiddles their thumbs and almost says, ‘Come on Putin, let it happen,'” said Schumer, who added that any leader in Congress who doesn’t work to protect the nation’s elections is “abdicating their responsibilities to our grand democracy.” In an effort to push election security measures, Democrats have a three-pronged strategy, Schumer said. First, lawmakers will press McConnell to allow debate on legislation that’s been introduced by holding standalone votes on those bills. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, for example, called for a unanimous consent vote on his legislation last week that would legally require a presidential campaign to notify the FBI about foreign interference, but Republicans blocked it. Second, Democrats plan to press McConnell to allow votes on amendments for the 2020 defense policy bill that the Senate will consider this week that deal with election interference, which Schumer called a “national security issue.” Finally, the Democratic leader said that he will also push for election security funding as part of negotiations for a two-year deal to lift spending ceilings. - If the Russians had helped the democrats during the elections, McConnell and the GOP would be up in arms and passing all kinds of laws to protect election security.
The GOP governor said the incidents took place in 2016 and no election results were compromised. TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After an FBI briefing, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says Russian hackers gained access to voter databases in two Florida counties ahead of the 2016 presidential election. DeSantis said Tuesday the hackers didn't manipulate any data and the election results weren't compromised. The governor said he signed an agreement with the FBI not to disclose the names of the counties, but elections officials in those counties are aware of the intrusions.
By Betsy Woodruff, Erin BancoOne former analyst at the Wikistrat consulting firm called it ‘disturbing.’Days after Donald Trump rode down an escalator at Trump Tower and announced he’d run for president, a little-known consulting firm with links to Israeli intelligence started gaming out how a foreign government could meddle in the U.S. political process. Internal communications, which The Daily Beast reviewed, show that the firm conducted an analysis of how illicit efforts might shape American politics. Months later, the Trump campaign reviewed a pitch from a company owned by that firm’s founder—a pitch to carry out similar efforts. The founder of the firm, called Wikistrat, has been questioned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team as they investigate efforts by foreign governments to shape American politics during the 2016 presidential campaign. Joel Zamel, a low-profile Israeli-Australian who started the firm, has deep contacts in Middle Eastern intelligence circles. There are no known publicly available pictures of him. But he met people in the upper echelons of the Trump campaign. In April 2016, senior Trump campaign official Rick Gates reviewed a pitch produced by a company called Psy Group, which Zamel reportedly owns. The pitch laid out a three-pronged election influence campaign that included creating thousands of fake social media accounts to support then-candidate Trump and disparage his opponents, according to The New York Times. After Trump became the party’s official nominee, Zamel met with Donald Trump Jr. and discussed the plan, which echoed both the real election interference already underway by the Kremlin and the scenario Wikistrat gamed out the year before. Zamel took part in at least two meetings in Washington in 2016 and 2017. And his staff at Psy Group made several connections about their social media manipulation plan with individuals who represented themselves as close to the Trump team.
Russian operations meant to polarize American voters continued during the midterm elections, but did not compromise the voting systems used, according to a study by the intelligence community. The assessment by Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, was the result of a request by the White House before the November vote that he examine election meddling by Russia and other powers. The agency did not release that report, but Mr. Coats released a statement on the document. “Russia, and other foreign countries, including China and Iran, conducted influence activities and messaging campaigns targeted at the United States to promote their strategic interests,” Mr. Coats said in the statement.
Russia used every major social media platform to influence the 2016 US election, a report claims. New research says YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram and PayPal - as well as Facebook and Twitter - were leveraged to spread propaganda. The report, released today by the US Senate, exposes the scale of Russian disinformation efforts. Its authors criticise the "belated and uncoordinated response" by tech firms. The report was put together by University of Oxford's Computational Propaganda Project and the social network analysis firm Graphika. It is the first analysis of millions of social media posts provided by Twitter, Google and Facebook to the Senate Intelligence Committee. While Facebook and Twitter have previously disclosed Russian interference, little has been known about the use of other platforms. The report suggests YouTube, Tumblr, PayPal and Google+ were all affected, with Russia adapting techniques from digital marketing to target audiences across multiple channels. "It's a whole family of social media sites," says Dr Philip N. Howard, director of the Oxford Internet Institute. "We think the goal was to make the campaigns seem more legitimate."
If it had stuck with its original mission — digging up dirt on the rich and famous, without a care for the rules of traditional journalism — The Enquirer would have had the tabloid story of a lifetime. The most powerful print publication in America might just be The National Enquirer. It functioned as a dirty-tricks shop for Donald J. Trump in 2016, which would have been the stuff of farce — the ultimate tabloid backs the ultimate tabloid candidate — if it hadn’t accomplished its goal. The Enquirer’s power was fueled by its covers. For the better part of the campaign season, Enquirer front pages blared sensational headlines about Mr. Trump’s rivals from eye-level racks at supermarket checkout lanes across America. This stroke-of-genius distribution apparatus was dreamed up by the man who made The Enquirer the nation’s biggest gossip rag: its previous owner, Generoso Pope Jr. The Enquirer’s racks, under the current chief, David J. Pecker, were given over to the Trump campaign. This was a political gift even more valuable than the $150,000 that The Enquirer paid in a “catch-and-kill” deal with the former Playboy model Karen McDougal for her story of an affair with Mr. Trump. Wondering what The Enquirer’s covers were worth to the Trump campaign, I called Regis Maher, a co-founder of Do It Outdoors, the national mobile and digital billboard company. He said a campaign with that level of national prominence would cost $2.5 million to $3 million a month. - The National Enquirer interfered with the election by prompting false stories about Trumps opponents, while hiding bad stories about Trump at the same time promoting good stories about Trump and not telling the America people they had made a deal to protect Trump from bad stories.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is set to release two reports on Monday detailing the breadth of the Russian social media campaign to sow discord in the United States. The reports, both of which were commissioned by the committee, are based on troves of data that Facebook, Twitter, and Google handed over to the committee about the Russian campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election and American politics generally. Much of the data has not previously been disclosed publicly. Researchers analyzed more than 10 million tweets, 116,000 Instagram posts, 61,000 Facebook posts and 1,000 videos posted by the Russian government-linked Internet Research Agency (IRA), the troll group indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year.
Facebook Inc.’s Instagram played a much bigger role in Russia’s manipulation of U.S. voters than the company has previously discussed, and will be a key Russian tool in the 2020 elections, according to a report commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Russian Internet Research Agency, the troll farm that has sought to divide Americans with misinformation and meme content around the 2016 election, received more engagement on Instagram than it did on any other social media platform, including Facebook, according to a joint report by three groups of researchers. “Instagram was a significant front in the IRA’s influence operation, something that Facebook executives appear to have avoided mentioning in Congressional testimony,” the report says. IRA activity shifted there after the media began to write about Russian activity on Twitter and Facebook. “Our assessment is that Instagram is likely to be a key battleground on an ongoing basis.”
The Russian influence campaign on social media in the 2016 election made an extraordinary effort to target African-Americans, used an array of tactics to try to suppress turnout among Democratic voters and unleashed a blizzard of activity on Instagram that rivaled or exceeded its posts on Facebook, according to a report produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee. The report adds new details to the portrait that has emerged over the last two years of the energy and imagination of the Russian effort to sway American opinion and divide the country, which the authors said continues to this day. “Active and ongoing interference operations remain on several platforms,” says the report, produced by New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company based in Austin, Texas, along with researchers at Columbia University and Canfield Research LLC. One continuing Russian campaign, for instance, seeks to influence opinion on Syria by promoting Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president and a Russian ally in the brutal conflict there.
New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows the operation’s scale and sweepThe report, a draft of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is the first to analyze the millions of posts provided by major technology firms to the Senate Intelligence Committee. A report prepared for the Senate that provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the operation used every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump — and worked even harder to support him while in office. The report, obtained by The Washington Post before its official release Monday, is the first to study the millions of posts provided by major technology firms to the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), its chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), its ranking Democrat. The bipartisan panel also released a second independent report studying the 2016 election Monday. Lawmakers said the findings “do not necessarily represent the views” of the panel or its members.
Shane Huntley has seen every form of state-sponsored cyberattack, first as an Australian intelligence officer and now as director of Google’s most advanced team of threat detectors. So when he was asked what surprised him the most about the 2018 midterm elections, his response was a bit counterintuitive. “The answer is surprisingly little on the hacking front, at least compared to two years ago.” He paused, and added: “And that reassures some people, and it scares some people.”
A new book makes a not very skeptical case for Russia’s impact on the 2016 race. In her new book, Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President, Kathleen Hall Jamieson argues that the Russian-government directed interference campaign likely provided Donald Trump with his winning margin in the crucial states that allowed for his 2016 Electoral College victory. But in an election with so many moving parts, how can we really know, or even be confident, that the Russian operation made the difference?
the Justice Department announced that Russia and the world’s most interesting catering company continue to attack the United States online—and that Russian Twitter trolls had even defended the efforts of special counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year. Prosecutors unsealed a September criminal complaint against Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, a 44-year-old Russian woman from St. Petersburg. According to the charges, Khusyaynova is employed by the Internet Research Agency, the “troll farm” directed by a Russian oligarch known as “Putin’s Cook,” Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering. Those companies, in addition to handling school lunches for Russian children and overseeing the Internet Research Agency, also reportedly supply mercenaries to support Russia’s interests in the Syrian civil war.
The U.S. government warned about the continued threat of foreign interference on Friday as it unsealed a new criminal complaint against a Russian woman described as the paymistress for Moscow's program of information war — a scheme targeting next month's midterm elections in the U.S.
The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman for her role in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case prosecutors have brought against a foreign national for interfering in the upcoming Midterms. Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of “Project Lakhta,” a foreign influence operation they said was designed “to sow discord in the U.S. political system” by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a whole host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control, and the NFL national anthem protests.The charges against Khusyaynova came just as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence warned that it was concerned about “ongoing campaigns” by Russia, China and Iran to interfere with the upcoming Midterm elections and even the 2020 race — an ominous warning that comes just weeks before voters head to the polls.
Complete coverage of Russia’s campaign to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.
Crystal's tweet praising the former first lady's Ivy League education was shared more than 120,000 times and liked by 325,000 users, according to a CNN analysis of data released by Twitter. In fact the post, the day after the awards show, went viral more than any tweet she and her colleagues ever posted. Her colleagues at Russian intelligence, that is. Crystal1Johnson," since suspended form the social media platform, was a fake Russian account run by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), according to Twitter. It's one of thousands released this week by Twitter as part of a huge 9-million-tweet collection of the Russian group's activities -- the most comprehensive accounting to date of the so-called IRA's efforts to use fake social media posts to inflame American society and influence its elections.
Here's a look at hacking incidents during the 2016 presidential campaign and Russian meddling in the election. For details about investigations into hacking and efforts to interfere with the election, see 2016 Presidential Election Investigation Fast Facts.
The Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in order to increase political instability in the United States and to damage Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign by bolstering the candidacies of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein. A January 2017 assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) stated that Russian leadership favored presidential candidate Trump over Clinton, and that Russian president Vladimir Putin personally ordered an "influence campaign" to harm Clinton's chances and "undermine public faith in the US democratic process"
In the wake of the Mueller indictment of a Russian troll farm, any attempt to claim that the 2016 presidential election wasn’t affected by Russian meddling is laughable. For some time, there has been a conflation of issues—the hacking and leaking of illegally obtained information versus propaganda and disinformation; cyber-security issues and the hacking of elections systems versus information operations and information warfare; paid advertising versus coercive messaging or psychological operations—when discussing “Russian meddling” in the 2016 US elections. The refrain has become: “There is no evidence that Russian efforts changed any votes.” But the bombshell 37-page indictment issued Friday by Robert Mueller against Russia’s Internet Research Agency and its leadership and affiliates provides considerable detail on the Russian information warfare targeting the American public during the elections. And this information makes it increasingly difficult to say that the Kremlin's effort to impact the American mind did not succeed.
For two years, cybersecurity researchers, spies and federal prosecutors have laid out a stunningly thorough chain of evidence to support one simple conclusion: The Russian government sought to sway the 2016 presidential election. Federal agents have traced data and currency trails across continents, revealed inside knowledge of Russian spies’ computer network, and quoted the private emails of employees at a Russian internet firm working to influence voters. Cybersecurity researchers analyzed malware and followed clues buried in the details of stolen emails.
The Justice Department announced indictments against 12 Russian nationals as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, accusing them of engaging in a "sustained effort" to hack Democrats' emails and computer networks. All 12 defendants are members of the GRU, a Russian federation intelligence agency within the main intelligence directorate of the Russian military, who were acting in "their official capacities."
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