Posts Tagged ‘leaks’

John Kelly — President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff — Is in The West Wing — What Some Experts Expect

July 31, 2017

By CATHERINE LUCEY

July 31, 2017

 

 WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff is entering a West Wing battered by crisis.

Retired Gen. John Kelly, previously the Homeland Security secretary, takes over Monday from the ousted Reince Priebus. Trump hopes Kelly can bring some military order to an administration weighed down by a stalled legislative agenda, a cabal of infighting West Wing aides and a stack of investigations.

Still, Kelly’s success in a chaotic White House will depend on how much authority he is granted and whether Trump’s dueling aides will put aside their rivalries to work together. Also unclear is whether a new chief of staff will have any influence over the president’s social media histrionics.


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Former Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski, who was ousted from the campaign in June 2016, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he expected Kelly would “restore order to the staff” but also stressed that Trump was unlikely to change his style.
“I say you have to let Trump be Trump. That is what has made him successful over the last 30 years. That is what the American people voted for,” Lewandowski said. “And anybody who thinks they’re going to change Donald Trump doesn’t know Donald Trump.”

Kelly’s start follows a tumultuous week, marked by a profane tirade from the new communications director, Trump’s continued attacks on his attorney general and the failed effort by Senate Republicans to overhaul the nation’s health care law.

In addition to strain in the West Wing and with Congress, Kelly starts his new job as tensions escalate with North Korea. The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force against North Korea, following the country’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test. The U.S. also said it conducted a successful test of a missile defense system located in Alaska.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that she hopes Kelly can “be effective,” and “begin some very serious negotiation with the North and stop this program.”

Another diplomatic fissure opened Sunday when Russian President Vladimir Putin said the U.S. would have to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by several hundred under new sanctions from Moscow. In a television interview, Putin indicated the cutback was retaliation for new sanctions in a bill passed by Congress and sent to Trump.

Trump plans to sign the measure into law, the White House has said. After Putin’s remarks, the State Department deemed the cutbacks “a regrettable and uncalled for act” and said officials would assess the impact and how to respond to it.

While Trump is trying to refresh his team, he signaled that he does not want to give up the fight on health care. On Twitter Sunday, he said: “Don’t give up Republican Senators, the World is watching: Repeal & Replace.”

The protracted health care fight has slowed Trump’s other policy goals, including a tax overhaul and infrastructure investment. But Trump aides made clear that the president still wanted to see action on health care. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” that senators “need to stay, they need to work, they need to pass something.”

Asked if nothing should be voted on in Congress until the Senate votes again on health care, Mulvaney said: “well, think — yes. And I think what you’re seeing there is the president simply reflecting the mood of the people.”

On Saturday, Trump threatened to end required payments to insurance companies unless lawmakers repeal and replace the Obama-era health care law. He tweeted that if “a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”

The payments reduce deductibles and co-payments for consumers with modest incomes. Trump has guaranteed the payments through July, but has not made a commitment going forward.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump would make a decision on the payments this week.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who opposed the efforts to move a health bill forward this week, said on CNN that cutting the payments would “be detrimental to some of the most vulnerable citizens” and that the threat has “contributed to the instability in the insurance market.”

The House has begun a five-week recess, while the Senate is scheduled to work two more weeks before a summer break.

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Trump Fires Reince Priebus, Brings in Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to be White House Chief of Staff

July 29, 2017

President Donald Trump on Friday removed his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and tapped Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly for the job.

The stunning shakeup is the latest chapter in the West Wing drama that has unfolded publicly in recent days. White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci attacked Priebus in profane terms in an interview on Thursday, predicted he would soon be out of a job, and pledged to crack down on leaks that Scaramucci suspected had come from Priebus.

But what may have ultimately doomed Priebus is the failure of congressional Republicans to repeal Obamacare.

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Reince Priebus, White House chief of staff. Pool/Getty Images

Priebus, former chairman of the Republican National Committee during last year’s presidential campaign, led the White House effort on Capitol Hill to get rid of Obamacare, and his fate was largely tied to that, a source close to the White House told NBC News.

“He failed,” the source said.

The Republicans’ inability to undo the Affordable Care Act — one of Trump’s central campaign promises — was the “final straw for Priebus,” another person close to the administration told NBC.

He resigned privately on Thursday, a source close to Priebus said.

“The president wanted to go in a different direction. I support him in that, and, like I said a couple weeks ago, I said the president has a right to change directions,” Priebus said in an interview on CNN.

He added that there is no “ill will” between him and the president and that he even discussed possible replacements with Trump.

“I will continue to serve as a strong supporter of the president’s agenda and policies,” Priebus said in a statement shortly after the news broke Friday evening.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Friday that the change had been under discussion for about two weeks.

After announcing Kelly, Trump tweeted thanks to his outgoing adviser “for his service and dedication to his country.”

Presidents typically cycle through multiple chiefs of staff during their time in office. But Priebus’ tenure of 190 days is one of the shortest in history. His resignation comes one week after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced he will leave his post in August.

Spicer, like Priebus, worked at the R.N.C. during the 2016 presidential race. Scaramucci’s appointment ultimately pushed Spicer to resign, a source said.

Sanders told reporters that Scaramucci’s role and interview did not factor into Priebus’ departure.

Kelly, who starts his new job on Monday, is a retired four-star Marine general whom Trump frequently credits for dramatically reducing the number of undocumented immigrants coming into the U.S. from Mexico. He called Kelly “a true star” in a tweet announcing his appointment as chief of staff.

“I have been fortunate to have served my country for more than 45 years – first as a Marine and then as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security,” Kelly said in a statement. “I am honored to be asked to serve as the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States.”

Trump has placed a disciplined and respected military leader in one of the most important jobs in the White House. The chief of staff typically serves as the gatekeeper to the president and plays a large role in staffing and policy decisions in the West Wing.

But Kelly’s appointment may also reflect the president’s deep concerns over White House leaks. In an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press” in May, Kelly said leaking intelligence information is “darn close to treason.”

John F. Kelly
 ‘Close to Treason’ DHS Sec. Kelly Calls Out Intel Leaks 1:19

Trump gushed over Kelly’s record at an event in New York on Friday afternoon.

“I want to congratulate John Kelly, who has done an incredible job of Secretary of Homeland Security. Incredible. One of our real stars. Truly, one of our stars. John Kelly is one of our great stars,” the president said.

Trump also tweeted at Priebus to thank him for his service.

Includes videos:

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/trump-ousts-chief-staff-priebus-installs-ret-gen-kelly-n787656

I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American….

…and a Great Leader. John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He has been a true star of my Administration

I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his service and dedication to his country. We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!

UK’s May to warn cabinet ministers over top-level leaks

July 17, 2017

Reuters

July 17, 2017

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LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May will remind her cabinet that top level government discussions must remain private, her spokesman said on Monday, responding to a series of reported leaks after recent meetings.

May’s grip on control of her cabinet, which is divided over Brexit, has been severely weakened by last month’s election result when May lost her parliamentary majority, reopening the debate about the nature of Britain’s EU exit.

Finance minister Philip Hammond, who has championed a softer form of Brexit, bore the brunt of a series of critical newspaper stories over the weekend about what was said at private government meetings. He said he was being attacked because of his views on Brexit.

“Of course cabinet must be able to hold discussions on government policy in private and the prime minister will be reminding her colleagues of that at the cabinet meeting tomorrow,” the spokesman told reporters.

He said he was not aware of any plans for a formal inquiry into the leaks.

“She’ll just be reminding them of their responsibilities and making the point that ministers across government need to be focused on getting on with delivering for the British public,” the spokesman said.

Reporting by William James; Editing by Andrew MacAskill

Trump accuses ex-FBI director Comey of cowardice over ‘leaks’

June 11, 2017

AFP

© AFP | US President © AFP | US President Donald Trump lambasted ex-FBI director James Comey as a “leaker” for making accounts of his meetings with the president public lambasted ex-FBI director James Comey as a “leaker” for making accounts of his meetings with the president public

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Donald Trump on Sunday accused James Comey of cowardice by leaking accounts of his meetings with the president, days after the ex-FBI director testified that Trump sought to derail the Russian probe.

“I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible,” Trump wrote in an early morning tweet. “Totally illegal? Very ‘cowardly!'”

Sacked FBI chief Comey delivered his bombshell allegations at a Senate hearing Thursday, saying in his sworn testimony that he had asked a “friend” identified as a Columbia University law professor to release a memo of his conversations with the president to the press.

Comey said he had hoped releasing the information via the media would prompt the appointment of a special counsel to handle the Russia probe, a ploy that ultimately proved successful.

He branded the president a liar and said Trump urged him to abandon the investigation into the former national security adviser Michael Flynn, an allegation Trump has denied.

On Friday, Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski criticized Comey as not “man enough” for having leaked the memo via his friend rather than doing it himself.

“He gave his notes to a Columbia law professor because he wasn’t man enough to give the notes directly to the media when he wanted them out to the media,” Lewandowski told NBC’s morning show “Today.”

Though Trump has lambasted Comey as a “leaker,” he also claimed “total and complete vindication” following the ex-FBI chief’s testimony, focusing on Comey’s confirmation that Trump was not personally being probed.

Trump calls on NATO members to contribute ‘their fair share’

May 25, 2017

US President Donald Trump has once again urged NATO members to pay more, saying 2 percent of GDP was the miniumum. Earlier, EU officials seemed assured that Trump had reversed some of his criticism of the bloc.

Belgien Trump und Stoltenberg (Reuters/C. Hartmann)

US President Donald Trump on Thursday repeated calls for members of the NATO military alliance to pay more, saying that payments must make up for “the years lost.”

Speaking in Brussels at his first NATO summit, Trump said 23 of the 28 NATO allies owed “massive amounts of money” and that this was “not fair to the people and tax payers of the United States.”

He also urged his NATO counterparts to fight terrorism, and to make the management of immigration a priority.

“You have thousands and thousands of people pouring into our various countries and spreading throughout, and in many cases we have no idea who they are,” he said.

Trump repeatedly cited uncontrolled immigration as a major driver of crime and terrrorism during his presidential campaign, and, as president, has tried to introduce a travel ban on people wanting to enter the US from six majority-Muslim countries.

‘Deeply troubling’ leaks

His comments came after he began the meeting by leading a moment’s silence for victims of the Manchester bombing, which he described as “a barbaric and vicious attack on our civilization.”

Ahead of the NATO meeting, Trump issued a written statement in which he called leaks of sensitive British information about the attack to the US press “deeply troubling,” and said he was asking the Justice Department and other agencies to “launch a complete review of this matter.”

The statement comes amid anger from Britain about the intelligence leaks, and a decision by Manchester police to withhold information from the United States about the investigation into this week’s bombing, in which 22 people died.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to confront Trump over concerns that US officials might be behind the leaks to media outlets.

UK | Trauerbekundungen nach dem Anschlag in Manchester (picture-alliance/empics/D. Lawson)

The bomb attack in Manchester was the worst in Britain since the July 7, 2005 attacks

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9/11 memorial

Trump also unveiled a memorial to the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington at the new NATO headquarters,

“The NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration as well as threats from Russia and NATO’s eastern and southern borders,” he said at the unveiling.

In his speech at the ceremony, the US president made no explicit reference to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, the mutual defense pact that commits allies to defend any of the 28 members that come under attack. Article 5 has been activated only once – after the 9/11 attacks.

Trump has so far refused to personally commit to Article 5.

‘Implied commitment’

Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, said, however, that Trump’s presence at the event underscored the White House’s “commitments and treaty obligations.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also unveiled a monument comprising parts of the Berlin Wall, intended to symbolize efforts to end the division of Europe.

“Germany will not forget the contribution NATO made in order to reunify our country. This is why we will indeed make our contribution to security and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg,” she said.

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Read: Trump says NATO is ‘no longer obsolete’

Belgien Brüssel NATO-Gipfel Gruppenfoto (Picture alliance/dpa/B. Doppagne/BELGA)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (in red) also unveiled a memorial to the Cold War

 

Differences remain with EU

Earlier in the day, Trump met with EU officials in Brussels in a bid to smooth over relations after he championed Brexit and criticized the bloc on the campaign trail.

Belgien Tusk empfängt Trump in Brüssel (Reuters/F. Lenoir)

Trump met with EU leaders ahead of a NATO summit

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Trump met with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, with the two sides agreeing on a number of issues and reaffirming counter-terrorism cooperation.

But after the meeting, Tusk said there were also differences over several key issues.

“We agreed on many areas, first and foremost on counter-terrorism. Some issues remain open, like climate and trade. And I am not 100 percent sure that we can say today – we means the president and myself – that we have a common position, common opinions about Russia,” said Tusk.

Trump has softened his criticism of NATO and the European Union since coming to office, and EU officials suggested that he expressed concern on Thursday that Brexit could cost US jobs.

European leaders have also been urging Trump to keep US commitments to the Paris climate deal to reduce greenhouse gases.

Read more: Ex-US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief pleads for Paris climate deal

 tj, cw/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)

http://www.dw.com/en/trump-calls-on-nato-members-to-contribute-their-fair-share/a-38983673

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Trump Calls for Review After British Complaints of Manchester Investigation Leaks

May 25, 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May raised the issue at a NATO summit in Brussels

People put down flowers in tribute to the victims of the suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester.

People put down flowers in tribute to the victims of the suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

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Updated May 25, 2017 11:18 a.m. ET

President Donald Trump said Thursday he has ordered a review of leaks of sensitive information within his administration following concerns from British officials about intelligence sharing with the U.S.

Mr. Trump, in a statement responding to accusations from the U.K. that U.S. officials leaked information about the investigation into a suicide…

Mr. Trump, in a statement responding to accusations from the U.K. that U.S. officials leaked information about the investigation into a suicide bombing in Manchester, said such “leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security.”

He threatened to prosecute anyone responsible for such leaks, which he called “deeply troubling.”

As outrage in the U.K. intensified over the leaking of sensitive information related to Monday’s bombing at a pop concert, British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would raise the issue of media leaks with Mr. Trump at Thursday’s summit in Brussels of leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Arriving at the gathering in the Belgian capital, Mrs. May said she would tell Mr. Trump that, “intelligence that is shared between law enforcement agencies must remain secure.”

Mr. Trump’s administration has grappled with a series of leaks of classified and sensitive information, which White House officials have said have come from intelligence officials aimed at undermining his presidency.

The president said leaking sensitive information has been happening for a long time and vowed to “get to the bottom of this.”

He stressed the special ties between the U.S. and U.K., saying there was no relationship the U.S. cherished more.

The U.K. considers the U.S. its closest intelligence-sharing ally, and it has become increasingly angry over media reports revealing details of the investigation, with British police saying leaks by U.S. officials had eroded trust between the two partners.

The latest focus of U.K. outrage over leaks was the publication by the New York Times on Wednesday of official police photographs taken at the entrance hall of Manchester Arena where Monday’s blast occurred. The photos showed shrapnel and what the newspaper said were the remnants of a backpack, a switch and a battery that may have been used in the bombing.

The British Broadcasting Corp. reported Thursday that police had stopped sharing with the U.S. information on the attack, Britain’s deadliest since 2005, because of concerns about leaks. The Wall Street Journal couldn’t independently confirm that assertion.

Police in Manchester, as well as officials in London, said the unauthorized disclosure of information was dismaying to families of the 22 dead and dozens injured, and could hamper the investigation of the attack and compromise the prosecution of any accomplices to the suspected bomber, Salman Abedi.

Ian Hopkins, chief constable of the Greater Manchester Police, said the distress of victims’ families about the leaks to the Times was “absolutely understandable.”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council, which coordinates national police operations, said, “This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorized disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counterterrorism investigation.”

The Times defended the publication of the photos and other information gathered by British authorities, saying in a statement that, “the images and information presented were neither graphic nor disrespectful of victims, and consistent with the common line of reporting on weapons used in horrific crimes.”

“Our mission is to cover news and inform our readers,” the newspaper said in a statement, describing its coverage of the attack as “both comprehensive and responsible.”

Intelligence-sharing in cases such as the Manchester bombing is fairly routine, and according to a U.S. counterterrorism official, British authorities shared the photos and intelligence gathered at the site of the attack with law-enforcement agencies and demolition experts in the U.S. and Europe in hopes of gaining clues about origin of the explosive device used in the attack.

Many countries are eager to glean insights from experts working at an FBI laboratory in Alabama that analyzes improvised explosive devices collected across the globe.

Three Things We Know About the Manchester Bombing Suspect
British police named Salman Abedi as the suspected suicide bomber behind the Manchester attack that left 22 people dead. Here are three things we know about him. Photo: AP
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An FBI spokesman declined to comment on whether the British shared photographs or other information related to Monday’s attack with the agency.

The Times account on Wednesday followed earlier leaks on the investigation, including the name of the suspect’s identity to a U.S. television outlet, CBS , which broadcast his name. Other media organizations quickly followed.

The unauthorized disclosures led U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd  to tell U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the U.K. was strongly concerned about the leaks, the Justice Department said. Mr. Sessions said he understood her concern and that leaks wouldn’t be tolerated.

On Thursday in Brussels, where Mr. Trump and Mrs. May were attending the NATO summit, the head of alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, refused to be drawn into what he described as a bilateral issue between the U.S. and the U.K.

As NATO prepared to announce new steps to combat terrorism, one of which is improve intelligence-sharing and coordination among member nations, some alliance officials said fear of leaks and spies within allied governments has sometimes hampered the exchange of intelligence information. The officials noted, however, that the U.S. hasn’t typically been accused of leaks.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is also attending the summit, defended the integrity of his nation’s intelligence-sharing with the U.S. under the so-called Five Eyes system that includes Canada, the U.K., the U.S., New Zealand and Australia.

“The track record has shown collaboration and cooperation between allies, friends and partners that has saved lives and keeps all citizens safe,” Mr. Trudeau said.

Legal experts said that although the leaks are frustrating for police, there is no reason to think they would necessarily threaten a future prosecution in connection with the attack.

Adrian Hunt, an expert in counterterrorism law at the University of Birmingham, said publishing photos of physical evidence wouldn’t normally affect the admissibility of the evidence itself in a criminal trial.

Information about the suspect in the Manchester attack has been disclosed outside the U.K., but it has come from foreign officials.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Wednesday that British investigators told French authorities that Salman Abedi had probably also traveled to Syria. The U.K. government declined to comment.

Write to Carol E. Lee at carol.lee@wsj.com and Jenny Gross at jenny.gross@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-angered-over-leaks-from-u-s-on-investigation-into-attack-at-ariana-grande-concert-in-manchester-1495707444

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British PM May to challenge Trump over intelligence leaks as police hunt bomb-maker

May 25, 2017

Reuters

A woman looks at flowers for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack, in central Manchester Britain. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
By Andy Bruce | MANCHESTER, ENGLAND

British Prime Minister Theresa May will raise concerns with Donald Trump on Thursday about U.S. leaks of intelligence on the suicide bombing in Manchester that police fear could hinder a hunt for a possible bomb-maker still at large.

After the deadliest attack in Britain since July 2005, police are hunting for accomplices whom they suspect helped Salman Abedi build the bomb that killed 22 people on Monday in a crowded concert hall in the northern English city of Manchester.

But British ministers and security chiefs have been dismayed by leaks in the U.S. media which made public details about the British investigation.

May will raise concerns over the leaks when she meets U.S. President Trump at a NATO meeting on Thursday, the BBC reported.

The New York Times published detailed pictures of the crime scene, including the remains of the suspected bomb and the rucksack worn by the suicide bomber.

The BBC reported that British police had stopped sharing information about the Manchester bombing with the United States, due to anger over the detailed disclosures. A spokeswoman for PM May declined to comment on the reports.

British police have arrested two more men in connection with the Manchester attack, taking the number of people in custody to eight, Greater Manchester police said.

Britain views the United States as its most important defense and security ally, and the two countries also share intelligence as part of the “Five Eyes” network which also includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

After Trump defended his decision to discuss intelligence with the Russians during a White House meeting, Prime Minister Theresa May said last week that Britain would continue to share intelligence with the United States.

(For a graphic showing where the blast hit, click tmsnrt.rs/2rbQAay)

(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Russian Hacking: Mission Accomplished — More division and turmoil surrounds US politics — Now US cyber defense is getting better (Because it has to)

May 10, 2017
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By Peter Grier and  Jack Detsch

May 9, 2017
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Sally Yates and James Clapper. AP Photo

Russia meddled in a US election in the past. Will the US be able to stop Moscow when it tries to repeat that action in the future?

That important question has been a subtext in a number of big Russia-related congressional hearings in recent days. FBI Director James Comey, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have all testified before Senate committees in May.

Necessarily much of this public time has been spent talking about FBI investigations, the nature of ex-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s Russian communications, and other specifics. But at some point these current and former officials have all stopped and said that it’s important to remember the foundational problem of the hacking scandal that’s shaken American politics.

Recommended: Passcode How well do you know hacker movies?

“The transcendent issue here is the Russian interference in our election process, and what that means to the erosion of the fundamental fabric of our democracy,” former DNI Clapper told the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 8. “And that to me is a huge deal. And they’re going to continue to do it. And why not? It proved successful.”

Russia’s success in sowing discord perhaps makes it harder for the US to focus on and fight the cyber intrusion that officials say stole Democratic Party emails and planted false news stories about the election. The purpose of this operation was to amplify division and turmoil in US politics. Well, mission accomplished.

As US politics is riven by partisanship like never before, and Washington fights over investigations into Russia’s connections with the Trump campaign, it seems as if the nation can’t wrap up the forensic analysis related to 2016 and unify against the threat to the 2018, and beyond.

“If we need to be focused on preventing this in the future, when are we going to get to the point where we get to do that?” says Chris Edelson, an associate professor of government at American University who specializes in presidential national security power.

The bad news is that the various probes into Russia’s attempt to manipulate the US system seem likely to stretch on for months. In the House, the Intelligence Committee investigation seems completely stalled by partisan bickering. In the Senate, a counterpart effort is plodding along, methodically. Meanwhile, the FBI is conducting its own investigation in secret.

The good news is that paralysis at the top doesn’t immobilize the entire US government. In spite of the suspected Russian influence campaign that used hacks, leaks, and fake news to undermine faith in the US political process and harm Hillary Clinton’s electability, the US has a growing menu of options to respond to digital attacks targeting the polls.

ACTIVE DEFENSE

One main approach might be called active defense. This might mean fusing intelligence, cyberdefense, sanctions, diplomacy, and other policy tools together to respond to foreign hackers.

“You may not want to respond through cyber means if you have greater pressure and leverage in other areas,” says Frank Cilluffo, director of the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at the George Washington University and a top homeland security adviser in George W. Bush’s White House.

After all, other nations might have great cyber capabilities, but the US is a superpower that maintains unique political, military, and economic advantages. That’s helped  in the past.

In 2015, The Washington Post reported that the US used the threat of sanctions against China before working out a deal curbing economic cyberespionage. The US had identified Beijing as the leading suspect in breaches of Office of Personnel Management databases containing 22 million government records.

In response to Russia’s 2016 election meddling, the Obama administration expelled 35 diplomats from the US, designated voting systems as critical infrastructure, and offered strong hints of covert retaliation.

“There are periods in history when new technologies make conflict offense-friendly, when it’s easier to cause harm than prevent harm,” says Nathaniel Gleicher, a former director for cybersecurity policy on the National Security Council in the Obama administration and head of cybersecurity at Illumio. “If you look throughout history, we don’t correct this imbalance by focusing more on offense – we correct it by developing a new kind of defense.”

But to actively defend against digital attacks, some lawmakers argue, there are structural problems that need to be solved, too.

The military’s top offensive hacking unit, US Cyber Command, still remains subordinate to US Strategic Command, and its leader also heads up the National Security Agency, giving it less independent authority than other US agencies with cybersecurity authorities.

Though the last Obama-era defense budget sought to give Cyber Command more independent authority, it’s not yet clear that the Trump administration will honor that pledge. Some cyber experts would like to see greater leverage to respond.

ATTRIBUTION

Naming and shaming nation-state hackers that target American networks might be another aspect of defense against future electoral cyber offenses.

During the Obama administration, the Justice Department often used that approach to deter Russian, Chinese, and Iranian cyberespionage.

In 2014, the Justice Department charged five hackers associated with China’s People’s Liberation Army for allegedly breaching US companies, for instance. Last year the Justice Department charged seven Iranian hackers allegedly tied to Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps with breaking into the computer network of a small New York dam and attacking more than 40 US companies last year.

But digital defenders aren’t always up to speed on watching US networks. To better defend against national-level influence campaigns, US agencies need to have a clearer picture about what’s going on with their networks.

“They lack the rich picture of an orchestra leader bringing all of the pieces together,” says Frank Cilluffo of the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. “The reality is technology far outpaces the ability to protect technology.”

This has led to cybersecurity experts doubting US law enforcement digital forensics in the past. Some were unconvinced by the FBI’s charge that North Korea was behind the devastating 2014 hack into the Sony Pictures network. Then Thomas Rid, a professor of security studies at King’s College London, found an encryption clue that backed up the FBI’s conclusion.

“We’re getting much better at attribution,” says Illumio’s Mr. Gleicher. “The challenge is that we have to agree as a community on what we accept – what is the proof we buy?”

After a last-minute hack of presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s campaign emails before French voters went to the polls on Sunday, National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers told the Senate Armed Services committee on Tuesday that the NSA tipped off French officials about malicious cyberactivity on their networks ahead of the vote.

While Admiral Rogers did not officially blame Russia, he said it appeared to be the handiwork of Russian hackers – suggesting that the US still possesses tremendous ability to track its digital adversaries as they break into and move through computer networks.

“We’re watching the Russians, we’re seeing them penetrate some of your infrastructure,” Mr. Rogers told the committee, recalling the warnings relayed to French officials.

DIPLOMACY

A third part of a national cyber defense might be diplomacy. Right now, the US-Russia relationship is at a “low point,” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at a press conference in Moscow last month.

But the Trump administration may have put its finger on a key aspect of deterring election hacks in the future: US-Russia diplomacy. Yet if recent history is any guide, diplomacy can have an impact on reducing digital attacks on American targets.

In 2015, the US and China signed a landmark deal to halt cyberespionage against each other’s corporations. Last summer, the cybersecurity firm FireEye reported that Chinese hacks aimed at stealing US intellectual property fell significantly after the agreement was inked.

“I just don’t think that there’s a serious effort to engage the Russians,” says Bruce McConnell, global vice president at the East-West Institute and a former deputy under secretary for cybersecurity in the Obama-era Department of Homeland Security. “It’s really a question [if] you want to work on the relationship and improve it, or whether you want to remain in a standoff, which we’re in right now.”

There’s already some precedent for US-Russia diplomacy in cyberspace.

On the international stage, the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts, a 20-country bloc led by the US, Russia, and China, has developed a set of cybersecurity “norms” that encourage members to tamp down on foreign cyberattacks, respect sovereignty in cyberspace, and steer clear of attacks on critical infrastructure.

And it appears that efforts to build upon those rules could go even further. The latest version of the Tallinn Manual, a study convened by NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, aims to apply international law to digital attacks that occur when troops aren’t fighting each other on the battlefield.

“What we’re seeing in the DNC hack is that the Russians have figured out where that gray zone is and they’re operating in it,” says Exeter University professor Michael Schmitt, one of the authors of the new manual. “Now it’s up to states to clarify those gray areas.”

Part of clearing up some of the ambiguity when it comes to international conduct in cyberconflict will be defining a digital act of war. That’s something that a new Senate subcommittee, led by Sen. Mike Rounds (R) of South Dakota, plans to begin tackling later this year.

But the political situation in the US isn’t making it easier. In the movies, people are united by the appearance of a mutual adversary – the US and the USSR would come together to fight aliens, say. But that’s not happening in Washington, as President Trump continues to appear to question whether Russia was even behind the DNC hack.

Meanwhile, US spy agencies are becoming increasingly vigilant about foreign hackers aiming to sway the vote.

“What does this mean in terms of how we move ahead?” says Chris Edelson of American University.

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2017/0509/Russian-hacking-the-real-threat-lies-ahead

Related stories

FBI investigating ties between Russia and Trump campaign

March 20, 2017

AFP and The Associated Press

© Nicholas Kamm, AFP | FBI Director James Comey (pictured left) and NSA Director Mike Rogers on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on March 20, 2017

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-03-20

FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday that the bureau is investigating possible links and coordination between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump as part of a probe of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

The extraordinary revelation came at the outset of Comey’s opening statement in a congressional hearing examining Russian meddling and possible connections between Moscow and Trump‘s campaign. He acknowledged that the FBI does not ordinarily discuss ongoing investigations, but said he’d been authorized to do so given the extreme public interest in this case.

“This work is very complex, and there is no way for me to give you a timetable for when it will be done,” Comey told the House Intelligence Committee.

Earlier in the hearing, the chairman of the committee contradicted an assertion from Trump by saying that there had been no wiretap of Trump Tower. But Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican whose committee is one of several investigating, said that other forms of surveillance of Trump and his associates have not been ruled out.

Comey was testifying at Monday’s hearing along with National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers.

Trump, who recently accused President Barack Obama of wiretapping his New York skyscraper during the campaign, took to Twitter before the hearing began, accusing Democrats of making up allegations about his campaign associates’ contact with Russia during the election. He said Congress and the FBI should be going after media leaks and maybe even Hillary Clinton instead.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!” Trump tweeted early Monday as news coverage on the Russia allegations dominated the morning’s cable news.

Trump also suggested, without evidence, that Clinton’s campaign was in contact with Russia and had possibly thwarted a federal investigation. U.S. intelligence officials have not publicly raised the possibility of contacts between the Clintons and Moscow. Officials investigating the matter have said they believe Moscow had hacked into Democrats’ computers in a bid to help Trump’s election bid.

The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!

Monday’s hearing, one of several by congressional panels probing allegations of Russian meddling, could allow for the greatest public accounting to date of investigations that have shadowed the Trump administration in its first two months.

The top two lawmakers on the committee said Sunday that documents the Justice Department and FBI delivered late last week offered no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower, the president’s New York City headquarters. But the panel’s ranking Democrat said the material offered circumstantial evidence that American citizens colluded with Russians in Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election.

“There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”There’s certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation.”

The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!

Nunes said: “For the first time the American people, and all the political parties now, are paying attention to the threat that Russia poses.”

“We know that the Russians were trying to get involved in our campaign, like they have for many decades. They’re also trying to get involved in campaigns around the globe and over in Europe,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled a similar hearing for later in the month.

It is not clear how much new information will emerge Monday, and the hearing’s open setting unquestionably puts Comey in a difficult situation if he’s asked to discuss an ongoing investigation tied to the campaign of the president.

At a hearing in January, Comey refused to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation exploring possible connections between Trump associates and Russia, consistent with the FBI’s longstanding policy of not publicly discussing its work. His appearances on Capitol Hill since then have occurred in classified settings, often with small groups of lawmakers, and he has made no public statements connected to the Trump campaign or Russia.

Any lack of detail from Comey on Monday would likely be contrasted with public comments he made last year when closing out an investigation into Clinton’s email practices and then, shortly before Election Day, announcing that the probe would be revived following the discovery of additional emails.

(AP)

Related:

FBI Director Comey: Justice Dept. has no information that supports President Trump’s tweets alleging he was wiretapped by Obama

March 20, 2017

James Comey. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images (File Photo)

.

The Washington Post
March 20 at 11:27 AM
.
FBI Director James B. Comey acknowledged on Monday the existence of a counterintelligence investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and said that probe extends to the nature of any links between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government.
.
Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey said the investigation is also exploring whether there was any coordination between the campaign and the Kremlin, and “whether any crimes were committed.”
.The acknowledgment was an unusual move, given that the FBI’s practice is not to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations. “But in unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest,” Comey said, “it may be appropriate to do so.”

Comey said he had been authorized by the Justice Department to confirm the wide-ranging probe’s existence.

He spoke at the first intelligence committee public hearing on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, along with National Security Agency head Michael S. Rogers.

Comey: No information to support Trump’s wiretapping tweets

FBI Director James B. Comey said at a House Intelligence Committee hearing that he has no information that Trump Tower was wiretapped by former president Barack Obama. (Reuters)

The hearing comes amid the controversy fired up by President Trump two weeks ago when he tweeted, without providing evidence, that President Barack Obama ordered his phones tapped at Trump Tower.

Comey says there is “no information’’ that supports Trump’s claims that his predecessor Barack Obama ordered surveillance of Trump Tower during the election campaign.

“I have no information that supports those tweets,’’ said Comey. “We have looked carefully inside the FBI,’’ and agents found nothing to support those claims, he said. He added the Justice Department had asked him to also tell the committee that that agency has no such information, either.

Under questioning from the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif,), Comey said no president could order such surveillance.

Committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in his opening statement, “The fact that Russia hacked U.S. election-related databases comes as no shock to this committee. We have been closely monitoring Russia’s aggressions for years…However, while the indications of Russian measures targeting the U.S. presidential election are deeply troubling, one benefit is already clear – it has focused wide attention on the pressing threats posed by the Russian autocrat. In recent years, Committee members have issued repeated and forceful pleas for stronger action against Russian belligerence. But the Obama administration was committed to the notion, against all evidence, that we could ‘reset’ relations with Putin, and it routinely ignored our warnings.”

Nunes said he hoped the hearing would focus on several key questions, including what actions Russia undertook against the United States during the 2016 election and did anyone from a political campaign conspire in these activities? He also wants to know if the communications of any campaign officials or associates were subject to any improper surveillance.

“Let me be clear,” he said. “We know there was not a wiretap on Trump Tower. However, it’s still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.”

Finally, Nunes said he is focused on leaks of classified information to the media. “We aim to determine who has leaked or facilitated leaks of classified information so these individuals can be brought to justice,” he said.

In his opening statement, Schiff said, “We will never know whether the Russian intervention was determinative in such a close election. Indeed it is unknowable in a campaign in which so many small changes could have dictated a different result. More importantly, and for the purposes of our investigation, it simply does not matter. What does matter is this: the Russians successfully meddled in our democracy, and our intelligence agencies have concluded that they will do so again.”

He added: “Most important, we do not yet know whether the Russians had the help of U.S. citizens, including people associated with the Trump campaign. Many of Trump’s campaign personnel, including the president himself, have ties to Russia and Russian interests. This is, of course, no crime. On the other hand, if the Trump campaign, or anybody associated with it, aided or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history.”

Just hours before the start of the hearing, Trump posted a series of tweets claiming Democrats “made up” the allegations of Russian contacts in an attempt to discredit the GOP during the presidential campaign. Trump also urged federal investigators to shift their focus to probe disclosures of classified material.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information,” Trump wrote early Monday. “Must find leaker now!”

Republican members pressed hard on the subject of leaks to the media that resulted in news stories about contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign or administration officials. Nunes sought an admission from the officials that the leaks were illegal under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court act, the law that governs foreign intelligence-gathering on U.S. soil or of U.S. persons overseas.

“Yes,” Comey answered. “In addition to being a breach of our trust with the FISA court.”

One story in particular that apparently upset the Republicans was a Feb. 9 story by The Washington Post reporting that Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, discussed the subject of sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in the month before Trump took office. The Post reported that the discussions were monitored under routine, court-approved monitoring of Kislyak’s calls.

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) pressed Rogers to clarify under what circumstances it would be legitimate for Americans caught on tape speaking with people under surveillance to have their identities disclosed publicly, and whether leaking those identities would “hurt or help” intelligence collection.

“Hurt,” Rogers noted.

Rogers stressed that the identities of U.S. persons picked up through “incidental collection” – that being the way intelligence officials picked up on Flynn’s phone calls with Kislyak – are disclosed only on a “valid, need to know” basis, and usually only when there is a criminal activity or potential threat to the United States at play.

Rogers added that there are a total of 20 people in the NSA he has delegated to make decisions about when someone’s identity can be unmasked.

The FBI probe combines an investigation into hacking operations by Russian spy agencies with efforts to understand how the Kremlin sought to manipulate public opinion and influence the election’s outcome.

In January, the intelligence community released a report concluding that Russian President Vladi­mir Putin wanted to not only undermine the legitimacy of the election process but also harm the campaign of Hillary Clinton and boost Trump’s chances of winning.

Hackers working for Russian spy agencies penetrated the computers of the Democratic National Committee in 2015 and 2016 as well as the email accounts of Democratic officials, intelligence official said in the report. The material was relayed to WikiLeaks, the officials said, and the anti-secrecy group began a series of damaging email releases just before the Democratic National Convention that continued through the fall.

On Friday, the Justice Department delivered documents to the committee in response to a request for copies of intelligence and criminal wiretap orders and applications. Nunes, speaking Sunday, said the material provided “no evidence of collusion” to sway the election toward Trump and repeated previous statements that there is no credible proof of any active coordination.

But Schiff, also speaking Sunday, said there was “circumstantial evidence of collusion” at the outset of the congressional investigations into purported Russian election meddling, as well as “direct evidence” that Trump campaign figures sought to deceive the public about their interactions with Russian figures.

The concerns about Moscow’s meddling are also being felt in Europe, where France and Germany hold elections this year. “Our allies,” Schiff said, “are facing the same Russian onslaught.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-director-to-testify-on-russian-interference-in-the-presidential-election/2017/03/20/cdea86ca-0ce2-11e7-9d5a-a83e627dc120_story.html?utm_term=.2b44421224ec

*******************************

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday that the bureau is investigating possible links and coordination between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump as part of a broader probe of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

The extraordinary revelation came at the outset of Comey’s opening statement in a congressional hearing examining Russian meddling and possible connections between Moscow and Trump’s campaign. He acknowledged that the FBI does not ordinarily discuss ongoing investigations, but said he’d been authorized to do so given the extreme public interest in this case.

“This work is very complex, and there is no way for me to give you a timetable for when it will be done,” Comey told the House Intelligence Committee.

Earlier in the hearing, the chairman of the committee contradicted an assertion from Trump by saying that there had been no wiretap of Trump Tower. But Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican whose committee is one of several investigating, said that other forms of surveillance of Trump and his associates have not been ruled out.

Comey was testifying at Monday’s hearing along with National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers.

Trump, who recently accused President Barack Obama of wiretapping his New York skyscraper during the campaign, took to Twitter before the hearing began, accusing Democrats of making up allegations about his campaign associates’ contact with Russia during the election. He said Congress and the FBI should be going after media leaks and maybe even Hillary Clinton instead.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!” Trump tweeted early Monday as news coverage on the Russia allegations dominated the morning’s cable news.

Trump also suggested, without evidence, that Clinton’s campaign was in contact with Russia and had possibly thwarted a federal investigation. U.S. intelligence officials have not publicly raised the possibility of contacts between the Clintons and Moscow. Officials investigating the matter have said they believe Moscow had hacked into Democrats’ computers in a bid to help Trump’s election bid.

Monday’s hearing, one of several by congressional panels probing allegations of Russian meddling, could allow for the greatest public accounting to date of investigations that have shadowed the Trump administration in its first two months.

The top two lawmakers on the committee said Sunday that documents the Justice Department and FBI delivered late last week offered no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower, the president’s New York City headquarters. But the panel’s ranking Democrat said the material offered circumstantial evidence that American citizens colluded with Russians in Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election.

“There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” `’There’s certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation.”

Nunes said: “For the first time the American people, and all the political parties now, are paying attention to the threat that Russia poses.”

“We know that the Russians were trying to get involved in our campaign, like they have for many decades. They’re also trying to get involved in campaigns around the globe and over in Europe,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled a similar hearing for later in the month.

It is not clear how much new information will emerge Monday, and the hearing’s open setting unquestionably puts Comey in a difficult situation if he’s asked to discuss an ongoing investigation tied to the campaign of the president.

At a hearing in January, Comey refused to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation exploring possible connections between Trump associates and Russia, consistent with the FBI’s longstanding policy of not publicly discussing its work. His appearances on Capitol Hill since then have occurred in classified settings, often with small groups of lawmakers, and he has made no public statements connected to the Trump campaign or Russia.

Any lack of detail from Comey on Monday would likely be contrasted with public comments he made last year when closing out an investigation into Clinton’s email practices and then, shortly before Election Day, announcing that the probe would be revived following the discovery of additional emails.


PUBLISHED: MARCH 20, 2017, 8:01 A.M.