Enduring Lessons From Securing the Election | Dennis Fisher/Decipher

In the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election, Chris Krebs had a problem. Actually, he had a few, but the biggest one was getting election officials on the state and local level to take the security threat to the integrity of the election seriously. As director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the time, Krebs was heading up the effort to assess the security and resilience of the nation’s election infrastructure and look for the kind of soft spots that malicious actors–foreign or domestic–might target. The concern wasn’t so much that actors would go after the electronic voting machines, but rather the computers used to tabulate the votes and the networks on which they sit. Attackers from China, Russia, and other countries whose interests don’t necessarily align with the United States have demonstrated the willingness and ability to penetrate government and private sector networks and remain inside for long periods of time. CISA officials and their colleagues at the FBI and other agencies warned state and local officials about the seriousness of the threat, but the message wasn’t getting through for some reason. Perhaps the spectre of state-sponsored hackers from halfway around the world was too abstract, or maybe there were too many other things to worry about, but the reality of the threats wasn’t landing. So Krebs changed tactics. “You can talk about Russia and China and Iran all day long and when security teams aren’t seeing these actors walking into their environments waving flags, because they’re patient it’s hard to make the sell,” Krebs said during a keynote at the SANS Institute Cyber Threat Intelligence Summit Thursday. “What we were seeing do the most damage was ransomware actors conducting functionally catastrophic attacks. We made a hard pivot from talking about China and Russia to talking about ransomware, and we saw a shift as the light went on that it wasn’t just about state actors, it was about disruptive non-state actors. And to me that was one of the biggest advances we made.”

Full Article: Enduring Lessons From Securing the Election | Decipher

National: Senate Democrats seek momentum for voting, political money overhaul | Kate Ackley/Roll Call

Senate Democrats, on the cusp of holding the slimmest possible majority in the chamber, signaled Tuesday a symbolic first order of business: a major overhaul of the nation’s voting, campaign finance and ethics laws. The measure, dubbed HR 1 in the House and now christened in the Senate as S 1 to signify that it is a top priority, died in the GOP-controlled Senate last Congress. It could see the same fate again in the 117th Congress unless Democrats remove the 60-vote threshold to end filibusters on legislation, a change the party’s base eagerly wants but remains in doubt. Advocates pushing for the overhaul said they were mobilizing anew to build public support in both chambers. House Democrats expect to take up the measure as soon as this month or next, congressional aides said, as it closely tracks the same bill in the last Congress. Congressional Democrats, as well as representatives of outside groups pushing for passage of the package, said the overhaul would help shore up voters’ confidence in a democracy damaged by a violent attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and after four years of corruption scandals and flouting of ethics norms during Donald Trump’s presidency. “I think that every American has received a message that the integrity of our elections is incredibly important, and so in terms of accountability for the events of this past year, there’s probably nothing more important than passing the For the People Act,” said Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley. But he would not predict what the party will do about the filibuster. “It’s too soon to say how we’ll pursue this,” he said. The bill would create nationwide automatic voter registration and require paper ballots in all jurisdictions. It would set up a 6-to-1 optional public financing system to pay for congressional campaigns and tighten disclosure rules for political groups and super PACs that spend money to influence elections.

Full Article: Democrats seek momentum for voting, political money overhaul – Roll Call

National: U.S. intelligence head who warned of foreign election threats steps down Matthew Choi/Politico

U.S. counterintelligence chief William Evanina stepped down from his position Wednesday, ending a decades-long career in the intelligence community combating leaks and raising the alarm about foreign election interference. “I am honored and humbled to have been surrounded by amazing, dedicated, and vigilent professionals serving around the nation, and the globe, protecting our great nation. I want to especially thank the women and men of NCSC, and the Intelligence Community, for being the best in the world,” he said in a LinkedIn post announcing his retirement Thursday. Evanina left his position after six years as director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center and more than two decades at the FBI. Toward the end of his career, in the final year of President Donald Trump’s term, Evanina was charged with overseeing briefings on foreign threats to election security. It was a politically precarious spot, with Trump and his Republican allies often brushing off Russian election interference and steering attention toward China and Iran. Congressional Democrats in turn expressed discontent with Evanina, portraying him as blanching the Russian election threat in a summary on the issue they said was so vague it was “almost meaningless”. But Evanina’s decades-long career helped him dodge the partisan frays of the Trump era, and he had been celebrated by colleagues and members of both parties as effective and aggressive. A former senior FBI official who worked closely with Evanina called him the “Dr. Fauci of the counterintelligence community” in a comment to POLITICO last summer.

Full Article: U.S. intelligence head who warned of foreign election threats steps down – POLITICO

National: Senate Democrats file ethics complaint against Hawley, Cruz over election challenge | Marianne Levine/Politico

A group of Senate Democrats filed an ethics complaint Thursday against GOP Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, over their Jan. 6 efforts to object to the 2020 presidential election results. “By proceeding with their objections to the electors after the violent attack, Senators Cruz and Hawley lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause and made future violence more likely,” the senators wrote in a letter to incoming Senate Ethics panel Chair Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Vice Chair James Lankford (R-Okla.). The letter, led by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), requests that the panel investigate several issues, including whether Cruz (R-Texas) and Hawley (R-Mo) encouraged the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol; whether they coordinated with organizers of the pro-Trump rally immediately before the riot; whether they received donations from any organizations or donors that also funded the rally; and whether the senators “engaged in criminal conduct or unethical or improper behavior.” Hawley, in a statement, described the complaint as “a flagrant abuse of the Senate ethics process and a flagrant attempt to exact partisan revenge” and said Democrats appeared “intent on weaponizing every tool at their disposal.” A spokesperson for Cruz said in a statement that “it is unfortunate that some congressional Democrats are disregarding President Biden’s call for unity and are instead playing political games by filing frivolous ethics complaints against their colleagues.” Both senators have denied allegations that they incited the Jan. 6 insurrection, which led to the death of five people, and condemned the violence. But in Thursday’s letter, the Democratic senators argue that by announcing they would challenge the election results, Hawley and Cruz gave credibility to former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.

Full Article: Senate Democrats file ethics complaint against Hawley, Cruz over election challenge – POLITICO

National: How Gerrymandering Will Protect Republicans Who Challenged the Election | Reid J. Epstein and Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio comes from a duck-shaped district that stretches across parts of 14 counties and five media markets and would take nearly three hours to drive end to end. Designed after the 2010 census by Ohio Republicans intent on keeping Mr. Jordan, then a three-term congressman, safely in office, the district has produced the desired result. He has won each of his last five elections by at least 22 percentage points. The outlines of Ohio’s Fourth Congressional District have left Mr. Jordan, like scores of other congressional and state lawmakers, accountable only to his party’s electorate in Republican primaries. That phenomenon encouraged the Republican Party’s fealty to President Trump as he pushed his baseless claims of election fraud. That unwavering loyalty was evident on Jan. 6, when Mr. Jordan and 138 other House Republicans voted against certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner of the presidential election. Their decision, just hours after a violent mob had stormed the Capitol, has repelled many of the party’s corporate benefactors, exposed a fissure with the Senate Republican leadership and tarred an element of the party as insurrectionists. But while Mr. Trump faces an impeachment trial and potential criminal charges for his role in inciting the rioting, it is unlikely that Mr. Jordan and his compatriots will face any reckoning at the ballot box.

Full Article: How Gerrymandering Will Protect Republicans Who Challenged the Election – The New York Times

National: Election Misinformation went down after Twitter banned Trump | Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg/The Washington Post

Online misinformation about election fraud plunged 73 percent after several social media sites suspended President Trump and key allies last week, research firm Zignal Labs has found, underscoring the power of tech companies to limit the falsehoods poisoning public debate when they act aggressively. The new research by the San Francisco-based analytics firm reported that conversations about election fraud dropped from 2.5 million mentions to 688,000 mentions across several social media sites in the week after Trump was banned from Twitter. Election disinformation had for months been a major subject of online misinformation, beginning even before the Nov. 3 election and pushed heavily by Trump and his allies. Zignal found it dropped swiftly and steeply on Twitter and other platforms in the days after the Twitter ban took hold on Jan. 8.

Full Article: Misinformation went down after Twitter banned Trump – The Washington Post

National: FBI investigating whether Capitol assault suspect tried to sell Pelosi computer to Russian intelligence service | Luke Barr andJack Date/ABC News

The FBI is investigating whether a woman who allegedly participated in the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol stole a computer or hard drive from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the intention of selling it to Russia’s intelligence service. According to an FBI criminal complaint filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., Sunday, a witness called the FBI with a tip that a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, woman, Riley June Williams, is seen in a video published by ITV, a British broadcasting network, depicting Williams’ presence in the Capitol during the riot. The witness told the FBI he or she was formerly a romantic partner of Williams. The witness claimed to have spoken to friends of Williams who allegedly showed the witness a video of Williams “taking a laptop or hard drive from Pelosi’s office,” according to the complaint. The sale to Russia fell through, according to the witness account described by the FBI in the complaint, and Williams “still has the computer device or destroyed it.” The matter remains under investigation, the document stated. The complaint alleges Williams committed the criminal violations of entering restricted building and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. She is not charged with stealing Pelosi’s computer. Williams’ whereabouts were unknown until late Monday when the Department of Justice reported she had been taken into custody in Pennsylvania. “It appears that WILLIAMS has fled,” according to the document, and “sometime after January 6, 2021, WILLIAMS changed her telephone number and deleted what I believe were her social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Telegram, and Parler.”

Full Article: FBI investigating whether Capitol assault suspect tried to sell Pelosi computer to Russian intelligence service – ABC News

National: Pelosi laptop theft highlights ‘real counterintelligence concerns’ of Capitol riot, lawmaker says | Tonya Riley/The Washington Post

There are growing concerns that U.S. adversaries may be seeking ways to benefit from the Capitol assault – and that some of rioters may have been looking to work with them. The FBI is investigating claims that Riley June Williams stole a laptop or or hard drive from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and intended to sell the device to Russia’s intelligence services by way of a friend who lives in the country. “The idea that a group of so-called ‘patriots’ would sell a government computer to the Russians should tell you everything you need to know about the people who assaulted the Capitol,” Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), incoming chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. “There are real counterintelligence concerns associated with a breach like the one that occurred on January 6th.”Williams was arrested Monday in her home state of Pennsylvania, and it’s unclear if she still had the laptop in her possession. She has been charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct in the Capitol, Spencer S. Hsu and Hannah Knowles report. The case is the first with foreign intelligence implications. There could be more. The Justice Department is treating its investigation into the riot “just like a significant international counterterrorism or counterintelligence operation,” acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin said last week. Sherwin previously stated that his office was still assessing how many of the more than 100 cases related to the Capitol riot involved “national security equities.” He previously said that “multiple devices” were stolen. The FBI also is looking into potential financial ties between some of the groups that incited the riot and foreign governments, 

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: Pelosi laptop theft highlights ‘real counterintelligence concerns’ of Capitol riot, lawmaker says – The Washington Post

National: Dominion Voting Systems Threatens to Sue MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell | Maggie Haberman/The New York Times

Officials with Dominion Voting Systems have sent Mike Lindell, the C.E.O. of MyPillow, a legal letter warning of pending litigation over his baseless claims of widespread fraud involving their machines. “You have positioned yourself as a prominent leader of the ongoing misinformation campaign,” the letter said, referring to his continued false claims that their systems were rigged by someone to effect the outcome. “Litigation regarding these issues is imminent,” the letter said. Mr. Lindell is only the latest to get a warning letter from Dominion officials about potential litigation, after he and Sidney Powell, the right-wing lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani and others have continued to spread false claims about the integrity of the results the machines showed. Mr. Lindell visited Mr. Trump at the White House briefly on Friday, before the national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, steered him away. In a brief telephone interview, Mr. Lindell said he welcomed a lawsuit from Dominion. “I would really welcome them to sue me because I have all the evidence against them,” he said. “They sent this letter a couple of weeks ago. They’re lying, they’re nervous because I have all the evidence on them.”

Full Article: Dominion Voting Systems Threatens to Sue MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell – The New York Times

National: American Thinker apologizes to Dominion after getting letter from defamation attorneys | Celine Castronuovo/The Hill

Conservative opinion website American Thinker on Friday issued a statement apologizing for printing false claims about Dominion Voting Systems after the voting machine company’s lawyers accused the blog of defamation. American Thinker editor and publisher Thomas Lifson posted an online statement saying that the website had received a “lengthy letter from Dominion’s defamation lawyers explaining why they believe that their client has been the victim of defamatory statements.” Lifson said that, “Having considered the full import of the letter,” he admitted that several pieces on the website “falsely accuse” Dominion “of conspiring to steal the November 2020 election from Donald Trump.” Lifson added that the pieces “rely on discredited sources who have peddled debunked theories about Dominion’s supposed ties to Venezuela, fraud on Dominion’s machines that resulted in massive vote switching or weighted votes, and other claims falsely stating that there is credible evidence that Dominion acted fraudulently.” The opinion website head confirmed, “These statements are completely false and have no basis in fact,” and that “Industry experts and public officials alike have confirmed that Dominion conducted itself appropriately and that there is simply no evidence to support these claims.” “It was wrong for us to publish these false statements,” Lifson continued. “We apologize to Dominion for all of the harm this caused them and their employees,” the statement added, along with an apology to readers for what it called a “grave error.”

Full Article: American Thinker apologizes to Dominion after getting letter from defamation attorneys | TheHill

National: Rep. Lauren Boebert led ‘large’ Capitol tour before riots, Rep. Steve Cohen says | Andrea Salcedo/The Washington Post

Amid a push to investigate whether any GOP lawmakers aided rioters at the Capitol, several Democrats last week accused an unnamed House Republican of leading groups on “reconnaissance” tours of the building before the Jan. 6 attack. Now, two Democratic lawmakers say they personally saw one Republican — Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado — with a “large” group in a tunnel connected to the Capitol days before the attempted insurrection that left four rioters and one police officer dead.Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) said on Monday that he and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) had both seen Boebert in the tunnel outside the Cannon House Office Building with a group sometime in the three days before the riots. He said he didn’t know who was in the group or if anyone with Boebert later participated in the attack. “Congressman [John] Yarmuth refreshed my recollection yesterday,” Cohen told Jim Sciutto on “CNN Newsroom.” “We saw Boebert taking a group of people for a tour sometime after the 3rd and before the 6th. … Now whether these people were people that were involved in the insurrection or not, I do not know.” Boebert, a gun rights advocate with links to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, called Cohen’s remarks “false” and “slanderous” in a letter sent to the congressman on Monday, which she also shared on Twitter. Boebert said she had taken a number of family members into the Capitol on Jan. 2 for a tour and Jan. 3 to take pictures on the day she was sworn into office, but had not given any other tours.

Full Article: Rep. Lauren Boebert led ‘large’ Capitol tour before riots, Rep. Steve Cohen says – The Washington Post

National: Urgency mounts for new voting rights bill | Marty Johnson/The Hill

Urgency is mounting among voter rights groups and Black lawmakers for President-elect Joe Biden to make a new and improved voting rights bill a top priority. In his first address to the American people as president-elect back in November, Biden made a bold pledge: that he’d have Black Americans’ backs. The promise holds even more weight following last week’s insurrection at the Capitol that featured strong overtures of white nationalism. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore the original 1965 Voting Rights Act that was gutted by a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2013. Given the slim majority Democrats will now enjoy the Senate, proponents are hopeful Biden will make it a headline of his agenda. Biden transition spokesperson Jamal Brown told The Hill that the former vice president “will work to enact the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act when in office.” The bill prevent state legislatures from unilaterally making changes to voting procedures, which they’ve been able to do since the 2013 ruling. In states where voting rights activists were successful in boosting the turnout of voters of color, proposals already exist to have sweeping roll backs of expanded voting rights that many states reluctantly introduced because of the pandemic. 

Full Article: Urgency mounts for new voting rights bill | TheHill

National: Biden to Restore Homeland Security and Cybersecurity Aides to Senior White House Posts | David E. Sanger/The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., facing the rise of domestic terrorism and a crippling cyberattack from Russia, is elevating two White House posts that all but disappeared in the Trump administration: a homeland security adviser to manage matters as varied as extremism, pandemics and natural disasters, and the first deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology. The White House homeland security adviser will be Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, according to transition officials. She is a longtime aide to Mr. Biden who served under President Barack Obama as senior director for Europe and then deputy secretary of energy, where she oversaw the modernization of the nuclear arsenal. And for the complex task of bolstering cyberoffense and defense, Mr. Biden has carved out a role for Anne Neuberger, a rising official at the National Security Agency. She ran the Russia Small Group, which mounted a pre-emptive strike on the Kremlin’s cyberactors during the 2018 midterm elections, part of an effort to counter Moscow after its interference in the 2016 presidential election. For the past 15 months, she has overseen the agency’s Cybersecurity Directorate, a newly formed organization to prevent digital threats to sensitive government and military industry networks. But it has also been an incubator for emerging technologies, including the development of impenetrable cryptography — the National Security Agency’s original mission nearly 70 years ago — with a new generation of quantum computers. Taken together, the two appointments show how Mr. Biden appears determined to rebuild a national security apparatus that critics of the Trump administration say withered for the past four years. The new White House team will focus on threats that were battering the United States even before the coronavirus pandemic reordered the nation’s challenges.

Full Article: Biden to Restore Homeland Security and Cybersecurity Aides to Senior White House Posts – The New York Times

National: Can the vote be trusted? A conversation on US election integrity. | Jessica Mendoza and Samantha Laine Perfas/CSMonitor

Ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Americans remain divided over the integrity of the election. This is despite Congress having certified the results, and officials across the political spectrum assuring the public that the 2020 election was secure – perhaps “the most secure in American history.” But what does it mean to have a secure election? Is it ensuring that our systems are protected from cyberattacks? That we have ways to independently verify every vote? What about consistently investing in new technologies and resources for election officials? For Mark Lindeman, interim co-director of the nonpartisan organization Verified Voting, it’s all of the above – and then some.  “Doing better objectively and technically does not automatically translate to protecting American elections,” he says. “Voters need to have some fundamental belief that election results are trustworthy. And we can’t congratulate ourselves to the extent that we’re failing to provide that.”  

Full Article: Election doubts abounded in US. What’s reality of ballot integrity? – CSMonitor.com

National: Chris Krebs, the election security chief fired by Trump, warns ‘disinformation is upending our society and literally killing Americans’ as he launches a new commission to help fix it | Jeff Elder/Business Insider

Aiming to address disinformation he says is “upending our society and literally killing Americans,” Christopher Krebs, the federal cybersecurity official who challenged the president on election disinformation, will lead a new Aspen Institute commission he said will take a careful approach to an urgent problem. “America needs to pay attention to what’s unfolding right now and work to ensure that we’re not on the verge of a significant breakdown in democracy and civil society,” Krebs told Insider in written remarks. Krebs will chair a new, bipartisan commission announced Wednesday by the Aspen Institute think tank — called The Commission on Information Disorder — and funded by a $3.25 million grant from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. This new group intends to help connect the private and public sectors to help find solutions for these most complicated of policy issues. Krebs said the commission will pull different segments of society together so that government, tech, and industry can come together to study, discuss, and collaborate on the issue. “The way forward requires industry, government, and civil society taking a hard look at the deep divisions that allow these falsities to propagate, and to recognize that each has a core role to play. That is one of the primary goals of this new commission.”

Full Article: Krebs: Disinformation ‘upending our society’ and killing Americans – Business Insider

National: Lawyers face fallout from fueling Trump’s false claims of election fraud | Peter Stone/The Guardian

Prominent lawyers who helped fuel Donald Trump’s baseless charges of election fraud to try and thwart Joe Biden’s win, are now facing potentially serious legal and financial problems of their own tied to their aggressive echoing of Trump’s false election claims, say former Department of Justice lawyers and legal experts. They include a federal investigation into the Capitol attack by a pro-Trump mob, possible disbarment and a defamation lawsuit. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who led Trump’s conspiratorial drive to overturn the election and gave an incendiary talk to the Trump rally right before the march on the Capitol began, could be ensnared in a federal investigation of the attack and is facing a disbarment complaint in New York. Pro-Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Cleta Mitchell have, respectively, been hit with a defamation lawsuit for making false claims, and losing her law firm post after coming under scrutiny for her work promoting Trump’s false claims. “I never saw allegations of misconduct that I think are as seriously unethical as the conduct of lawyers who have been propounding the false claims of President Trump,” said Mary McCord, who led the DoJ’s national security division at the end of the Obama administration until May 2017, and also served for six years on the DC Circuit’s Grievance Committee.

Full Article: Lawyers face fallout from fueling Trump’s false claims of election fraud | Law (US) | The Guardian

National: How antifa conspiracy theory traveled from fringe to floor of Congress | Aleszu Bajak and Javier Zarracina/USA Today

While much of America watched a mob of Trump supporters overrun police and break into the halls of Congress Wednesday afternoon, members of the far right chatted up an imaginary narrative of what was really going on. After weeks of planting the idea, dozens of extremists used social media to promote an idea with no basis in reality – that the people besieging the Capitol were actually far-left agitators disguised as Trump supporters. The trickle of claims became a flood in a matter of hours. It started in secretive corners of the web such as 4chan, but tweets and articles from more and more mainstream conservative news sites followed. It began spiking around 1 p.m., just after rioters started breaching barriers outside the Capitol. Soon, Fox News personalities were sharing the same speculation that circulated among believers in the discredited QAnon conspiracy theory. By 10:15 p.m., the “false flag” story reached the House floor that rioters had invaded earlier in the day. Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida told his shaken colleagues in a speech: “They were masquerading as Trump supporters and, in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.”

Full Article: How antifa conspiracy theory traveled from fringe to floor of Congress

National: Far-right groups make plans for continued attacks before and after Inauguration Day | Shane Harris, Souad Mekhennet and Razzan Nakhlawi/The Washington Post

President Trump’s incitement of his supporters before their attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 has galvanized a nationwide extremist movement and fueled those determined to disrupt the transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden and violently challenge the legitimacy of the election for months — and possibly years, according to U.S. officials and independent experts. U.S. officials have warned authorities nationwide to be on alert for potential acts of violence at state capitols, as well as a possible second attack on the Capitol or on the White House. Law enforcement authorities have said extremists might use firearms and explosives and are monitoring online calls to rally in cities nationwide beginning Sunday. Security at the inaugural ceremony in Washington on Wednesday probably will be the most intense ever. At the center of the amorphous but increasingly motivated extremist movement sits the current president, now twice impeached, deprived of his social media megaphones but still exerting a powerful influence over his followers who take his baseless claims of election fraud as an article of faith.

Full Article: Far-right groups make plans for continued attacks before and after Inauguration Day – The Washington Post

National: ES&S Threatens Researchers for Exposing Valid Security Flaws | Karl Bode/Vice News

A major manufacturer of voting machine hardware has threatened researchers for highlighting proven privacy and security vulnerabilities in their products. Last week, Election Systems and Software (ES&S) fired off a cease and desist letter to SMART Elections, a New York State based non-partisan project designed to bring greater public awareness to the lack of security in electronic election equipment. In the letter, ES&S accuses the organization of “false, defamatory, and disparaging” comments related to the company’s ExpressVote XL touchscreen-enabled barcode voting system, which SMART Elections has been warning New York State officials suffers from design flaws that make it open to vote manipulation. “Security experts and good government groups say that the ExpressVote XL has a flawed design that makes it dangerously insecure, and that it is also glitchy and over-priced,” the group warned. “Many of them strongly oppose its use. Voters with disabilities have often struggled to use it.” ES&S didn’t take the criticism particularly well, and in its cease and desist letter claims the organization was engaged in “defamation and trade disparagement.” “We demand that you immediately and permanently cease and desist from communicating false allegations about ES&S, and immediately retract and correct the false, defamatory and disparaging accusations you have made against ES&S,” the company threatened. ES&S lawyers appear particularly annoyed by claims that the “ExpressVote XL can add, delete, or change the votes on individual ballots,” will “deteriorate our security and our ability to have confidence in our elections,” and is a “bad voting machine” in general. But many experts, including Princeton University professor Andrew Appel, say the accusations and criticism levied against ES&S are absolutely correct. “The ExpressVote XL, if hacked, can add, delete, or change votes on individual ballots — and no voting machine is immune from hacking,” Appel said. “That’s why optical-scan voting machines are the way to go, because they can’t change what’s printed on the ballot. And let me explain some more: The ExpressVote XL, if adopted, will deteriorate our security and our ability to have confidence in our elections, and indeed it is a bad voting machine. And expensive, too!”

Full Article: Voting Machine Company Threatens Researchers for Exposing Valid Security Flaws

National: McConnell Privately Backs Impeachment as House Moves to Charge Trump | Jonathan Martin, Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fandos/The New York Times

Senator Mitch McConnell has concluded that President Trump committed impeachable offenses and believes that Democrats’ move to impeach him will make it easier to purge Mr. Trump from the party, according to people familiar with Mr. McConnell’s thinking. The private assessment of Mr. McConnell, the most powerful Republican in Congress, emerged on the eve of a House vote to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country for his role in whipping up a mob of his supporters who stormed the Capitol while lawmakers met to formalize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory. In a sign that the dam could be breaking against Mr. Trump in a party that has long been unfailingly loyal to him, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican in the House, announced her intention to support the single charge of high crimes and misdemeanors, as other party leaders declined to formally lobby rank-and-file lawmakers to oppose it. “The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Ms. Cheney said in a statement. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Even before Mr. McConnell’s position was known and Ms. Cheney had announced her plans, advisers to the Senate Republican leader had already privately speculated that a dozen Republican senators — and possibly more — could ultimately vote to convict Mr. Trump in a Senate trial that would follow his impeachment by the House. Seventeen Republicans would most likely be needed to join Democrats in finding him guilty. After that, it would take a simple majority to disqualify Mr. Trump from ever again holding public office.

Full Article: McConnell Privately Backs Impeachment as House Moves to Charge Trump – The New York Times

National: House Sets Impeachment Vote to Charge Trump With Incitement | Nicholas Fandos/The New York Times

House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump on Monday for his role in inflaming a mob that attacked the Capitol, scheduling a Wednesday vote to charge the president with “inciting violence against the government of the United States” if Vice President Mike Pence refused to strip him of power first. Moving with exceptional speed, top House leaders began summoning lawmakers still stunned by the attack back to Washington, promising the protection of National Guard troops and Federal Air Marshal escorts after last week’s stunning security failure. Their return set up a high-stakes 24-hour standoff between two branches of government. As the impeachment drive proceeded, federal law enforcement authorities accelerated efforts to fortify the Capitol ahead of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration on Jan. 20. The authorities announced plans to deploy up to 15,000 National Guard troops and set up a multilayered buffer zone with checkpoints around the building by Wednesday, just as lawmakers are to debate and vote on impeaching Mr. Trump. Federal authorities also said they were bracing for a wave of armed protests in all 50 state capitals and Washington in the days leading up to the inauguration. “I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside,” Mr. Biden said Monday, referring to a swearing-in scheduled to take place on a platform on the west side of the Capitol, in the very spot where rioters marauded last week, beating police officers and vandalizing the building.

Full Article: House Sets Impeachment Vote to Charge Trump With Incitement – The New York Times

Trump charged with impeachment count as FBI warns of armed protests | Tom McCarthy, David Smith and Lauren Gambino/The Guardian

Donald Trump is facing a historic second impeachment after Democrats in the House of Representatives formally charged him with one count of “incitement of insurrection” over the Capitol Hill riot. Five people died in the attack last week, including a police officer, which Trump prompted when he told supporters to “fight like hell” in his attempt to overturn election defeat by Joe Biden. Emerging video footage has revealed just how close the mob came to a potentially deadly confrontation with members of Congress. On Monday, security officials scrambled to ensure that Biden’s inauguration next week would not be marred by further violence. The US Secret Service will begin carrying out its special security arrangements for the inauguration this Wednesday, almost a week earlier than originally planned, although on Monday afternoon the acting secretary of homeland security, Chad Wolf, abruptly resigned, just days after calling the Capitol invasion “sickening”. Earlier, ABC News said it had obtained an internal FBI bulletin which detailed plans for “armed protests” and calls for the “storming” of state, local and federal courthouses and buildings across the country if Trump was removed from power before then. On Capitol Hill, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said on Monday that she would move forward with impeaching Trump if Vice-President Mike Pence did not remove him from office under the 25th amendment to the US constitution. “The president’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action,” she said in a statement.

Full Article: Trump charged with impeachment count as FBI warns of armed protests | US news | The Guardian

National: Supreme Court won’t fast-track Trump challenges to election results | Robert Barnes/The Washington Post

As expected, the Supreme Court refused Monday to fast-track a batch of challenges to the presidential election filed by President Trump and his allies. The rejections came without comment or noted dissent and were formal notifications of what already had become clear. Some of the petitions asking for the court to move quickly were filed in early December, and the court had not even called for responses from officials in the states where the results were challenged. President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in Jan, 20, and the cases presumably will become moot after that. Among the cases the court declined to expedite were Trump v. Biden and Trump v. Boockvar, which challenged the results in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, respectively. Other cases filed by Trump allies objected to the outcomes in Michigan and Georgia. The Supreme Court has uniformly rejected challenges to the election results. On Dec. 11, it dismissed a bid by Trump and the state of Texas to overturn the results in those four battleground states won by Biden, blocking the president’s legal path to reverse his reelection loss. The court’s unsigned order was short, and it denied Texas’s request to sue the states over how they conducted their elections. Texas has not shown it has a legal interest “in the manner in which another state conducts its elections,” the order said. It dismissed all pending motions about the case.

Full Article: Supreme Court won’t fast-track Trump challenges to election results – The Washington Post

National: Dominion lawsuit could be just start of legal action against Trump allies | Tonya Riley/The Washington Post

Dominion Voting Systems is suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for more than $1.3 billion in damages, according a lawsuit filed in D.C. federal court by the company Friday. The company says that Powell has caused significant damage to its reputation and value by spreading unfounded conspiracy theories about it, including alleged ties to deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez and rigging the election for President-elect Joe Biden. The lawsuit is seeking an injunction to remove all of Powell’s statements determined to be false and defamatory. The unprecedented lawsuit could be just the first domino in a chain of lawsuits against Trump allies who have spread misinformation about voter fraud — possibly including Donald Trump himself. In its complaint, Dominion accuses Powell of working “in concert” with like-minded media outlets and allies. Dominion’s lawyer Tom Clare told reporters last week the lawsuit against Powell “is just the first in a series of legal steps.” (The lawsuit also names her law firm and the organization she set up to fundraise for her litigation.) Dominion sent more than 20 individuals and media companies retraction demands or letters last month asking them to preserve relevant evidence. The recipients included Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and pro-Trump news network One America News. Those requests are often a precursor to litigation. “To be clear, none of this would have been possible without other individuals and without other media outlets that have their own responsibility,” Clare said. “And we’re looking at all of them.”

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: Dominion lawsuit could be just start of legal action against Trump allies – The Washington Post

National: ES&S voting machine company sends threats | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker

For over 15 years, election security experts and election integrity advocates have been communicating to their state and local election officials the dangers of touch-screen voting machines. The danger is simple: if fraudulent software is installed in the voting machine, it can steal votes in a way that a recount wouldn’t be able to detect or correct. That was true of the paperless touchscreens of the 2000s, and it’s still true of the ballot-marking devices (BMDs) and “all-in-one” machines such as the ES&S ExpressVote XL voting machine (see section 8 of this paper*). This analysis is based on the characteristics of the technology itself, and doesn’t require any conspiracy theories about who owns the voting-machine company. In contrast, if an optical-scan voting machine was suspected to be hacked, the recount can assure an election outcome reflects the will of the voters, because the recount examines the very sheets of paper that the voters marked with a pen. In late 2020, many states were glad they used optical-scan voting machines with paper ballots: the recounts could demonstrate conclusively that the election results were legitimate, regardless of what software might have been installed in the voting machines or who owned the voting-machine companies. In fact, the vast majority of the states use optical-scan voting machines with hand-marked paper ballots, and in 2020 we saw clearly why that’s a good thing. In November and December 2020, certain conspiracy theorists made unsupportable claims about the ownership of Dominion Voting Systems, which manufactured the voting machines used in Georgia. Dominion has sued for defamation. Dominion is the manufacturer of voting machines used in many states. Its rival, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), has an even bigger share of the market. Apparently, ES&S must think that amongst all that confusion, the time is right to send threatening Cease & Desist letters to the legitimate critics of their ExpressVote XL voting machine. Their lawyers sent this letter to the leaders of SMART Elections, a journalism+advocacy organization in New York State who have been communicating to the New York State Board of Elections, explaining to the Board why it’s a bad idea to use the ExpressVote XL in New York (or in any state). ES&S’s lawyers claim that certain facts (which they call “accusations”) are “false, defamatory, and disparaging”, namely: that the “ExpressVote XL can add, delete, or change the votes on individual ballots”, that the ExpressVote XL will “deteriorate our security and our ability to have confidence in our elections,” and that it is a “bad voting machine.”

Full Article: ESS voting machine company sends threats

National: False fraud claims fanned Capitol riot. Now they’re fueling GOP efforts to restrict voting. | Ronald Brownstein/CNN

Even after President Donald Trump’s disproven allegations of voter fraud fueled last week’s deadly assault on the US Capitol, Republicans across an array of swing states are still touting his baseless allegations to advance measures that would make it tougher to vote. When Congress voted last week, in the immediate aftermath of the Trump-fueled riot, to finalize the Electoral College results declaring Joe Biden the winner of November’s election, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate joined dozens of courts around the country in concluding that there was not meaningful fraud in the election. But despite those findings, Republicans in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas and likely other states including Michigan and Wisconsin are moving to roll back access to mail balloting, eliminate drop boxes, toughen voter identification laws and erect other barriers to the ballot in the name of improving voter security and restoring “faith” in the outcome. “We are seeing a continued use of the voter fraud lie and thoroughly debunked conspiracy theories over the integrity of this election to drive a vote suppression agenda,” says Wendy Weiser, who directs the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.

Full Article: Republicans still push false fraud claims to restrict voting – CNNPolitics

National: The GOP’s sudden and convenient distancing from Trump’s voter fraud claims | Aaron Blake/The Washington Post

The passengers and crew of the sinking ship that is the Trump administration are scurrying. After the failure of President Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election led to a violent attempted insurrection at the Capitol, plenty of Republicans who were unable to locate voices to speak out against him and his conspiracy theories for the past four years are suddenly finding their moral indignation strong enough to do so. That’s perhaps understandable, given the historic nature of what we saw Wednesday. As many have noted, though, it’s also thoroughly convenient now that Trump is finally, officially a lame duck. Resigning or speaking up with two weeks to go in an administration is a great way to insulate yourself from blame while forfeiting little more than the support of an outgoing president’s most devoted supporters and perhaps a single paycheck. And if there was one telling moment when it comes to how quickly Trump’s allies have evolved this week, it came Thursday from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). In an interview, Cruz distanced himself from Trump’s comments. “I think yesterday, in particular, the president’s language and rhetoric crossed the line, and it was reckless,” Cruz told a local ABC station. “I disagree with it, and I have disagreed with the president’s language and rhetoric for the last four years.” Cruz added: “If you looked to what I have said, you will not find me say the same language or rhetoric.” Cruz was one of two ambitious GOP senators with potential 2024 designs — the other being Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) — who spearheaded the unprecedented attempt to reject the certified results from states which Trump narrowly lost. And he has something of a point: The defense of Trump’s election challenge often didn’t actually involve vouching for his far-flung conspiracy theories about voter fraud and the election being definitively “stolen.”

Full Article: GOP now conveniently disputes Trump’s voter fraud claims – The Washington Post

National: State Capitols ‘on High Alert,’ Fearing More Violence | Neil MacFarquhar and Mike Baker/The New York Times

It was opening day of the 2021 legislative session, and the perimeter of the Georgia State Capitol on Monday was bristling with state police officers in full camouflage gear, most of them carrying tactical rifles. On the other side of the country, in Olympia, Wash., dozens of National Guard troops in riot gear and shields formed a phalanx behind a temporary fence. Facing them in the pouring rain was a small group of demonstrators, some also wearing military fatigues and carrying weapons. “Honor your oath!” they shouted. “Fight for freedom every day!” And in Idaho, Ammon Bundy, an antigovernment activist who once led his supporters in the occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, showed up outside the statehouse in Boise with members of his organization carrying “wanted” posters for Gov. Brad Little and others on charges of “treason” and “sedition.” “At a time of uncertainty, we need our neighbors to stand next to and continue the war that is raging within this country,” Mr. Bundy’s group declared in a message to followers. Officials in state capitals across the country are bracing for a spillover from last week’s violent assault on the U.S. Capitol, with legislatures already becoming targets for protesters in the tense days around the inauguration of the incoming president, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Full Article: State Capitols ‘on High Alert,’ Fearing More Violence – The New York Times

Editorial: The only way to save American democracy now | Richard L. Hasen/Slate

What’s next to save American democracy? The events of the past week have left many in this country reeling and worried seriously for the fate of democratic governance in the United States. In one of the most destructive acts in American political history, President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday exhorted his supporters, some armed, to march to the Capitol as Congress began the formal task of counting Electoral College votes to confirm the election of his opponent, Joe Biden. Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building, leading to a bloody rampage and the death of a Capitol Hill police officer and four others. Members of Congress, staff, and journalists rightly feared for their lives from this domestic terrorism, as gangs of masked Trump supporters swarmed the House and Senate chambers carrying zip-tie handcuffs intended for our nation’s leadership. The Senate chamber was desecrated, as was the office of the speaker of the House. Trump supporters smeared feces in the halls of Congress. National Guard troops were delayed as reinforcements, reportedly because the president refused to authorize them, increasing the terror and damage. And after order was restored following this unprecedented assault on the seat of American governance, eight Republican senators and 139 Republican members of Congress still voted to sustain bogus objections to the Electoral College votes from Pennsylvania and Arizona. The Trump-based objections were based upon false claims of voter fraud and election irregularities. All of this occurred in the aftermath of the Georgia Senate elections, in which voters elected a Black preacher and a Jewish son of immigrants in runoff elections on Tuesday, flipping control of the Senate to Democrats—and after which Georgia Republicans plotted ways to make voting more difficult in future elections.

Full Article: The only way to save American democracy now.

New Jersey: Hardware, software bugs derail push for early voting | Jeff Pillets/NJ Spotlight News

Officials across New Jersey agree that 2020’s mostly mail-in election — the biggest and most complex in state history — was also the most successful, as 4.5 million people voted safely in the midst of a public-health crisis. Lawmakers had hoped to build on that success by moving quickly with a plan that would bring early in-person voting to New Jersey as soon as this year’s gubernatorial primary, scheduled for June 8. Early voting already takes place in more than half the states, but for now the bill is stalled. To make early voting happen, New Jersey needs to update its voter registration system. That system is a complex web of computer servers and software linking all 21 counties with agencies in Trenton, including the division of elections, Motor Vehicle Commission and central offices for state courts, corrections and human services. It’s supposed to keep accurate track of registered voters and their addresses. But documents reviewed by New Jersey Spotlight News, as well as interviews with election officials across the state, show that persistent bugs in the state network continue to undermine the voting process and frustrate frontline election workers. Periodic reports generated by KNOWiNK, the St. Louis-based voting-tech startup that receives $1.6 million a year to maintain the state system, list dozens of recurring technical issues that stymied county election workers as they worked to send out mail-in ballots and upload votes.

Full Article: Hardware, software bugs derail NJ push for early voting | NJ Spotlight News