Thursday Reads: Congressional Investigations of Russian Cyberattacks Begin

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Good Morning!!

This morning John McCain is holding a hearing on foreign cyberwarfare in the Armed Forces Committee. I’ve been listening to it on C-Span here. Claire McCaskill just asked James Clapper about the effect on the intelligence community of Donald Trump’s “trashing” them and “putting Julian Assange on a pedestal.”

Investigating the Russian Cyberattacks

The New York Times reports: Russia Looms Large as Senate Committee Is Set to Discuss Hacking.

Who are the key players?

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, the committee’s chairman, has made no secret of his belief that Russia was responsible for the election-related hacking, and his recent travels will not have eased his concerns about Russian aggression. He just returned from a New Year’s tour of countries that see themselves as threatened by Russia: Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the ranking Democrat, also has taken a strong public stand in support of the intelligence agencies’ finding of Russian government interference….

The group will hear testimony from James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence; Marcel Lettre, the under secretary of defense for intelligence; and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, a leader of the National Security Agency and United States Cyber Command….

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Who is the intended audience?

He has a tower in Manhattan.

Most Republicans have avoided attacking Mr. Trump directly over his comments — even as he defended the credibility of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, at the expense of the intelligence agencies. But the hearing will offer a potent showcase for the agencies to defend their work.

They are likely to face little hostile questioning from lawmakers.

“The point of this hearing is to have the intelligence community reinforce from their point of view that the Russians did this,” Mr. Graham said on Wednesday.

Let’s hope this will not be the last such hearing in Congress.

The Hill: Five things to watch for in Russia hearings.

Russia’s involvement in the U.S. presidential election will take center stage in Washington on Thursday with two separate hearings in the Senate — including one behind closed doors.

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hear from intelligence officials in public hearings in the morning, while the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will receive a classified briefing in the afternoon.

President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly rejected assertions from the intelligence community that Moscow attempted to influence the election by hacking the Democratic National Committee and the email account of John Podesta, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.n a series of tweets this week, he accused intelligence officials of delaying a briefing until Friday in order to build a case against Russia — an allegation rejected by other officials. He also appeared to side with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who released emails believed to have been hacked by Russia. Trump noted that Assange has asserted that the emails did not come from Russia, while repeating that anyone could have hacked the DNC.

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Trump’s comments have put Republicans in a tough spot, underlining the more friendly approach he has taken with Russia and the more critical approach with U.S. intelligence agencies.

It has provided an opening for Democrats who hope the story about Russia will shadow the beginning of Trump’s presidency, complicating his legislative agenda.

Read the five points at the link.

More news on the hacking scandal

Reuters: U.S. obtained evidence after election that Russia leaked emails: officials.

U.S. intelligence agencies obtained what they considered to be conclusive evidence after the November election that Russia provided hacked material from the Democratic National Committee to WikiLeaks through a third party, three U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

U.S. officials had concluded months earlier that Russian intelligence agencies had directed the hacking, but had been less certain that they could prove Russia also had controlled the release of information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The timing of the additional intelligence is important because U.S. President Barack Obama has faced criticism from his own party over why it took his administration months to respond to the cyber attack. U.S. Senate and House leaders, including prominent Republicans, have also called for an inquiry.

At the same time, President-elect Donald Trump has questioned the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia tried to help his candidacy and hurt Clinton’s. Russia has denied the hacking allegations.

A U.S. intelligence report on theCN hacking was scheduled to be presented to Obama on Thursday and to Trump on Friday, though its contents were still under discussion on Wednesday, officials said.

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CNN: Tim Kaine: Why is Trump Putin’s ‘defense lawyer’?

Sen. Tim Kaine on Thursday criticized President-elect Donald Trump, alleging he is acting like Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “defense lawyer” and calling Trump’s conduct “suspicious.”

“Why does President-elect Trump again and again and again take it upon himself to be Vladimir Putin’s defense lawyer rather than listening to and respecting the intelligence professionals of the United States,” Kaine told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” in his first national interview since the 2016 presidential election.
The former Democratic vice presidential nominee, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee which is hold a hearing on hacking Thursday, said that even if Trump believes Russia can be America’s ally in the fight against ISIS, he doesn’t have to “trash” American intelligence professionals in the process.
“There is something very unusual — indeed, even sort of suspicious — about the degree to which he casually kicks aside the intelligence community when he won’t even go to the briefings again and again and takes the Assange/Vladimir Putin line on this important question” about whether Russian was behind the election-related hacks, Kaine said.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said Republicans’ confidence in Assange over the intelligence community is “embarrassing.”
“You hear former colleagues like mine, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, tie themselves in knots, or my colleague (California Republican) Darrell Issa, saying they put more faith in an accused sex offender tan their own intelligence agencies,” the Democrat told Chris Cuomo on “New Day.”
“It’s embarrassing to be honest with you,” he added. “This is not healthy skepticism as they would like to portray it. This is very unhealthy, essentially avoidance of the facts.”

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The Washington Post Fact Checker: Julian Assange’s claim that there was no Russian involvement in WikiLeaks emails.

U.S. intelligence officials have formally accused the Russian government of interfering in the 2016 U.S. elections. One of the allegations of Russian involvement is that Russian hackers breached the Democratic National Committee’s network and provided tens of thousands of internal DNC emails to WikiLeaks.

CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC, said in June 2016 that Russian hackers had breached the DNC network….

At least two independent cybersecurity firms have confirmed CrowdStrike’s findings that two Russian hacker groups had penetrated the DNC network. One group is believed to have actually stolen and distributed the emails.

While the independent analysts suspected that Guccifer 2.0 was linked to the Russian groups that hacked the DNC or were a part of a Russian government influence operation, they did not have hard evidence because the documents were posted anonymously. The FBI is still investigating ties between Russian hackers and the WikiLeaks emails.

Read much more at the link.

John Schindler at The New York Observer: Donald Trump’s Soft Spot for Russia Could Be His Political Undoing.

Three weeks ago, I counseled President-elect Donald Trump that going to war against the spies is never a good idea in Washington. Our Intelligence Community knows lots of things, not all of which would be flattering to someone whose retinue includes so many people with odd connections to the Kremlin. When spies get angry, they call reporters and arrange discreet chats in parking garages. The last president who entered the Oval Office with this much dislike and distrust of the IC was Richard Nixon—and we know how that worked out for him.

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Trump has now outdone Nixon, upping his war on the spooks even before his inauguration, by making plain that he believes Moscow—not our country’s spies—regarding the issue of Russian interference in our election. As I’ve explained in detail, although there is no evidence that the Kremlin literally “hacked” our election in 2016, there’s a mountain of evidence that Vladimir Putin’s intelligence services stole Democratic emails then went public with them via Wikileaks to hurt Hillary Clinton.

However, the president-elect refuses to accept the consensus view of the IC, not to mention many outside experts who have confirmed their analysis. In response to President Obama’s recent public statement pointing a finger at the Kremlin for their misdeeds against our democracy, backed up by rather mild sanctions on Moscow, President-elect Trump has pursued his customary tactic of denying, doubling-down, then denying some more, regardless of any evidence proffered.

Trump and his mouthpieces continue to deny that Russians had any role in our 2016 election, which is a patent falsehood. Indeed, a few days ago, the president-elect promised to deliver revelations by the middle of this week about what happened with those Democratic emails, adding that he knew “things that other people don’t know” about the hacking. Here he apparently channeled O. J. Simpson, whose quest to find the “real killers” of his ex-wife and her friend remains unfulfilled, more than two decades later.

Trump’s promise was empty, and there is no new evidence to contradict the IC’s conclusion that Moscow stood behind the operation to politically harm Hillary Clinton and her party last year. Like his promise to reveal President Obama’s “real” birth certificate—which would show he was born in Kenya, or Mars, rather than Hawaii—this was no more than another cynical Trumpian publicity stunt.

The facts are in regarding the theft of Democratic emails, and the only people seriously disputing them are those in thrall to Vladimir Putin one way or another. (For an excellent quick primer on the evidence, this cannot be beat.) The promised “new evidence” seems to be no more than the latest lies proffered by Julian Assange in his most recent obsequious interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News. Here, Assange once again stated that Wikileaks, which he created a decade ago, didn’t get the Democrats’ emails from the Russians.

Read the rest at the link.

Other News

The Boston Globe: Enough of the tweets, China’s state media tells Trump.

Vanity Fair: After Trump, Will Twitter Wither?

Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump Plans Revamp of Top U.S. Spy Agency.

Alternet: At Least 50 Trump Electors Were Illegitimately Seated as Electoral College Members.

Vox: Study: racism and sexism predict support for Trump much more than economic dissatisfaction.

Politico: Trump to face sworn deposition in Trump Tower.

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39 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Congressional Investigations of Russian Cyberattacks Begin”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Lindsey Graham is being pretty tough on Trump in his questioning.

    • joanelle says:

      Good, he deserves it and hope his flippant mouth trips him up. Go Lindsey!!!

    • ANonOMouse says:

      At this point I would give both Lady Lindsey and Curmudgeon McCain a tepid fist bump. At least they held a hearing.

      • dakinikat says:

        Odd Heroes for odd times

        • ANonOMouse says:

          Whatever they do is better than nothing. Democrats are in the minority so if any hearings on this happen it will have to be called by the committee chairs which are all republicans. Let’s hope that some of these people still have consciences.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Claire McCaskill ripped Trump.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            Claire was excellent and the only person to acknowledge the elephant in the room which is Donald tRump’s flaming love affair with Russia/Putin and Julian Assange

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I haven’t heard anything from Elizabeth Warren yet.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    We are so f*cked. We have a group of Tea Party idiots in key government positions. Incompetent radicals are about to head cabinet positions. A majority of states are held by the majority GOP. The SC is up for right wing grabs.

    And in a few weeks an unqualified, mentally disturbed, liar will be sworn in as POTUS.

    Can’t get much worse.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Don’t lose hope, Pat. As Rev. Jackson used to say, “Keep hope alive.”

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I agree……And that hope can be realized by getting involved and being proactive instead of reactive. We can all do something, even those of us who are inhibited a bit by age. WE can’t wait for someone to lead us, we must lead ourselves out of the wilderness.

        #indivisible
        #theresistance

  4. bostonboomer says:

    The Atlantic: U.S. Intelligence Officials Testify About Russian Hacking

    Clapper: ‘There’s a Difference Between Skepticism and Disparagement’

    Senator Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat, asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about who gains when elected officials question the assessments of the intelligence community. She did not explicitly name President-elect Donald Trump, but he seemed to be the target of her query. Clapper responded that skepticism of intelligence information is healthy, but “there’s a difference between skepticism and disparagement.”

    Those are the most direct public comments yet by an intelligence official about the impact Trump’s sometimes-dismissive remarks are having on the intelligence community.

    The officials were asked specifically if Donald Trump’s “dismissive attitude” toward the intelligence community—as one Democratic senator characterized it—has affected morale among their employees. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, responded briefly that he “hardly think[s] it helps.” But National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers replied in more detail about his concerns:

    I don’t want to lose good, motivated people who want to help serve this nation because they feel they are not generating value to help that nation. And I’m the first to acknowledge there’s room for a wide range of opinions of the results we generated—we don’t question that for one minute and every intelligence professional knows that. I have had plenty of times in my career when I have presented my intelligence analysis to commanders and policymakers and they just looked at me and say, “Hey, Mike, thanks, but that is not the way I see it or you’re gonna have to sell me on this.” That doesn’t bother any of us. What we do, I think, is relevant, and we realize that what we do is—in no small part—driven in part by the confidence of our leaders in what we do. And without that confidence, I just don’t want a situation where our workforce decides to walk, because I think that really is not a good place for us to be.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    • dakinikat says:

      The cronyism and nepotism is just surreal and open. You think there would be a huge outcry.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        We’re living in the New Normal. Up is down, left is right, evil is good. We can expect more blatant flaunting of the presidential norms and more ignoring of those actions by the GOP.

        Today Ann Coulter tweeted out, “14!” …….That tweet was in reference to 14 words from white supremacist, David Lane, inspired by Mein Kampf. The words are “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” A second 14-word slogan is: “Because the beauty of the White Aryan woman must not perish from the earth.” They must think tRump is going to take them to their white person heaven. May they all rest in pieces.

    • Fannie says:

      Oh fuck, brought and paid.

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    What was this hearing intending to accomplish? The majority of agencies agree there was hacking by Russia along with a good percentage of the nation at large.

    Is this designed to bring President Dumbass around? It won’t happen. Trump is in the grip of a cabal of Russian sympathizers for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with national security.

    Flynn, Tillerson, and Page have his ear. Business interests and conspiracies top the agenda. Putin holds the cards and probably “the goods” on Trump and his business interests. “Homage” must be paid to this murdering dictator or else.

    This is what a small majority has put in charge and for that a price will be paid. The only ones to stop Trump is the GOP and that won’t happen as he is their “useful idiot”.

    We must brace ourselves for the worst under this psychopathic regime about to dismantle every safety net we have come to rely on.

    • Enheduanna says:

      I’m confused too. I just read this:

      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38521503

      Apparently Clapper, et. al are going to brief tRump in Manhattan tomorrow and release the unclassified version to the pubic next week. Almost sounds like they are forcing him to sit down and take an intelligence briefing.

      tRump knows good and well Russia hacked the DNC – he’s just trying to deflect because the Russians OWN HIM.

  7. Earlynerd says:

    Excellent post, BB. A very good way to keep up with the hearing without having a T.V.

    I saw this in the quote from the New York Observer article:

    The facts are in regarding the theft of Democratic emails, and the only people seriously disputing them are those in thrall to Vladimir Putin one way or another. (For an excellent quick primer on the evidence, *this* cannot be beat.)

    and realized that the Democratic official who was data manager for one of the local offices I volunteered for got one of those emails cited in the link “this”. Fortunately, we were all too rushed to give it any attention. Shows how thorough and precise the attempts were, though. It’s very scary.

    I can understand how Podesta might have fallen for this, whatever the commenters in pwnallthethings say: there was no warning the Russians were doing something like this (although I suspect Sanders could’ve helped with that there), everyone on Hillary’s campaign was working at ninety miles an hour and minutely examining email links takes time, and last but not least, Google itself contributes to the ease of things like this by emailing countless trivial warnings: for example, whenever one logs on from somewhere it considers at all different. I just figure they want more info about where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing there, and just delete them, but their very number causes one to just accept that anything that looks like it’s from Google, is from Google.

    • bostonboomer says:

      And the author of that piece is really conservative.

      I think the phishing thing happened because when a tech guy was asked if the email was safe, he made a type–meant to say it was unsafe and said the opposite. It could happen to anyone actually.

      • Earlynerd says:

        Yes, it could. That makes it even more understandable.

        And shows again, how much a certain level of trust is essential to everyday normal functioning. When dishonesty has no restraints, even small errors can have very large consequences. I still blame the media, especially the broadcast media, for whitewashing the tea-party types’ thuggery long before they foisted tRump on us.

  8. Fannie says:

    Oh fuck, McConnel is going to push the nominees for Trump’s cabinet through in one day. That way he says the media will not be pouncing over just one……..they’ll get high ratings when they see what he’s up too.

    Noticed all the democrats in attendance at the meeting this morning. All the republicans wanted to do was make an appearance for t.v., and got and up and left. Didn’t seems like they were taking this seriously, and you can thank McConnel for that. He doesn’t want an independent review of Russia hacking us, because the committee is well stacked with Republicans. Les we forget it was McCain, Graham, and Rand Paul who shuffled this over to McConnell, and he said hell no, to an independent board.

    Listen to Joni Ernest say it’s all Obama’s fault. Listened to another republican say Obama was weak, pure weakness on his part. Did you hear Tom Cotton from Arkansas? One other republican senator, Thom Tillis of NC, was there just to hear himself talk. I mean he went up, down, round and round, back and forth, and McCain didn’t let Clapper respond to his bullshit. Inhofe was there for the showdown, but was interested in getting his arse out as soon as he spoke.

    I just want everybody to know that my account at OPM was hacked in 2014, I didn’t have a D for democrat next to my name……….but those serving on the committee, didn’t seem to understand what that means. Just like they don’t want to be bothered with trying to figure out the connections with Putin and Julian Assange, and Trump. Kellyann doesn’t understand that Russia has been at this game before there were computers, and that in 1980’s they were damn busy stealing from our databank. That’s a proven fact, but you can’t tell them.

    Meanwhile, Trump and the republicans get away with disrespecting our agents who have served us well. Trump is hiding something, and I hope the Obama Report blast his ass. He going to shut it down, and say no more whistle blowers either, and hire some crane operators to knock our houses down.

    I think Clair McCaskell acknowledged the problems with Trump and Russia’s hacking and our country. I guess we aren’t going to see any more reviews.

    This is nothing but a show, McCain said we ran out of time, and we regret we have to end it now. Two hours, that’s all folks. I wanted

  9. dakinikat says:

    Senator Corey Booker liked my tweet to him on the ACA. That’s my good news for the year so far. OH, rats not the real corey booker … 2017 continues downhill

    John Amos died too he was only 77

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Share your tweet with us.

    • Fannie says:

      Dak, check the wrecking crane out…………see if you can get someone to Photoshop Trump in a crane with his big ass wrecking ball, going after Hospitals and Homes, instead of going after Russia.

    • roofingbird says:

      Not sure about Amos, there was a Snopes stating reports that he died in Dec. were untrue. Were you able to check? I couldn’t get on line today.

  10. ANonOMouse says:

    “Listened to another republican say Obama was weak, pure weakness on his part. Did you hear Tom Cotton from Arkansas? One other republican senator, Thom Tillis of NC, was there just to hear himself talk.”

    Lady Lindsey said that Obama threw a pebble when he should have thrown a rock. The only saving grace in all of this is that they won’t be able to blame Obama much longer. This has been the longest 8 years of any presidency that I can remember. Whoever we elect to replace tRump in 4 years needs to be hard hitting and not afraid of ruffling feathers because playing NICE obviously doesn’t work. We need to start kicking ass and taking names.

  11. MsMass says:

    Interesting article from link at Uppity’s place:
    https://thinkprogress.org/the-center-has-fallen-and-white-nationalism-is-filling-the-vacuum-beb0611dfe94#.1cr8km92g

    Resistance to the white nationalists:
    “They have power, but not numbers. In order to stop them, supporters of pluralist democracy will need to assemble a mass movement that reaches into every community, every state capital, and every congressional office it can. The existing liberal infrastructure in most states is not what it once was, but activists will need it as a starting point to rebuild newer, stronger networks. Most of the important work will be done on the state and local level. Labor unions, houses of worship, and community groups all have key roles to play.
    Under no circumstances should this movement back away from its commitment to pluralism. The aim of white nationalism is to destroy the multiracial democratic state, and any attempt at compromise will only bring it closer to that goal. People of color, women, LGBT people, and members of other marginalized groups are not a liability to the resistance against Trump; they are its leaders.”

  12. NW Luna says:

  13. NW Luna says:

    In re:

  14. NW Luna says:

    A must-read article on Snowden:

    …instead of scheming to trap him in Moscow, the U.S. government did all it could to prevent him from boarding a plane to Moscow and defecting to Russia.

    But it failed. On June 23, Snowden boarded an Aeroflot jet bound for Moscow, even though he didn’t have a valid passport. The fact that an airline basically controlled by the Russian government allowed him to board could only mean someone intervened to get Snowden on that plane and then mounted a “special operation,” as the Russian newspaper Izvestia put it, to take him off the plane before the other passengers once it landed.

    On September 2, 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin resolved the mystery regarding who intervened on Snowden’s behalf in a televised press conference: He personally authorized Snowden’s trip to Russia after the American had met with Russian “diplomats” in Hong Kong. Putin either made this extraordinary effort on behalf of Snowden out of altruism, or because he expected to get something of value from Snowden’s defection.

    http://www.newsweek.com/why-obama-wont-pardon-edward-snowden-nsa-538632