National: ‘Soft Money’ Challenge Heads to Supreme Court | Bloomberg

The Supreme Court has been asked formally to review a challenge to restrictions on “soft money” contributions to political parties—the last remaining major element of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law passed in 2002. The filing of a “jurisdictional statement” appealing to the high court had been expected since a lower court ruling last fall, which rejected the soft money challenge launched by the Republican Party of Louisiana. The party committee sued the Federal Election Commission, the agency that enforces restrictions on campaign money to national, state and local parties. The McCain-Feingold law—formally known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, or BCRA—requires party committees to use FEC-regulated “hard money” for activities affecting federal elections. Hard money includes only limited contributions and no corporate or union money for these activities.

National: State election officials blast ‘unprecedented’ DHS move to secure electoral system | Politico

State election officials on Monday denounced the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to label the country’s electoral system as “critical infrastructure.” The move, which DHS announced on Friday, puts the electoral system on par with the energy or financial sector, industries considered vital to national security and economic stability. On Monday, the National Association of Secretaries of State lashed out at the decision, saying it is “is legally and historically unprecedented, raising many questions and concerns for states and localities with authority over the administration of our voting process.” Secretaries of state oversee elections in most states. Several of these officials have expressed concerns that the “critical infrastructure” tag could presage a federal takeover of local elections.

National: Perez, candidate for DNC chair, calls for expanded voter protection | Baltimore Sun

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, one of several candidates running to lead the Democratic National Committee, said Monday he would use the position to expand the party’s efforts to protect voters in the wake of ballot laws cropping up across the country. The Takoma Park resident, a former Montgomery County and Maryland state official, said the national party needs to take a more active role to ensure voters can cast a ballot, coordinating responses from state and national leaders and “playing offense” by expanding voter registration in every state. “We are going to establish a very robust protection and empowerment effort,” Perez told The Baltimore Sun on Monday, a day before he was to address the Maryland Democratic Party. “The DNC needs to play a very important role in combating [suppression] and ensuring all eligible voters can vote.”

National: U.S. intelligence report says Putin targeted presidential election to ‘harm’ Hillary Clinton’s chances | Los Angeles Times

Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered an intelligence operation against the U.S. presidential campaign and ultimately sought to help Donald Trump win the White House, according to a new U.S. intelligence report released Friday, shortly after the president-elect appeared to dismiss its key findings. Putin both “aspired to help” Trump in November and to “harm” Trump’s rival, Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with leaks of pilfered emails and other covert activities, the report concludes in a dramatic expansion of official U.S. accusations against the Kremlin. The report depicts the Russian operation as unprecedented, saying that an aggressive mix of digital thefts and leaks, fake news and propaganda represented “a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort” against a U.S. election campaign. Moscow’s goals “were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” the report states. “We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.” They “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton,” the report adds.

National: Five reasons intel community believes Russia interfered in election | The Hill

Donald Trump met with intelligence officials Friday for a private briefing on election hacking. Long a skeptic of Russia’s role in the attacks, he finally heard the unfiltered case that Moscow orchestrated breaches at the Democratic National Committee, Democratic National Campaign Committee and two states voter roles, as well as Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta. A declassified version of the intelligence report soon followed. It shows the outline of the U.S. stance, including who did what and why, but does not show much in the way of evidence. Crowdstrike, the company brought in by the DNC to boot the hackers and investigate the report, has publicly released details about its investigation connecting Russian attackers known as Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear to the attacks.

National: Report on election hacking says Russia plans to do more | Associated Press

The new, declassified report on Russian efforts to influence the presidential election has a troublesome prediction: Russia isn’t done intruding in U.S. politics and policymaking. Immediately after Election Day, Russia began a “spear-phishing” campaign to try to trick people into revealing their email passwords, targeting U.S. government employees and think tanks that specialize in national security, defense and foreign policy, the report released on Friday said. “This campaign could provide material for future influence efforts as well as foreign intelligence collection on the incoming administration’s goals and plans,” the report said. That could prove awkward for President-elect Donald Trump. The president-elect wants to warm relations with Russia and has repeatedly denounced the intelligence community’s assessment that the Kremlin interfered in the election. The new report goes even further by explicitly tying Russian President Vladimir Putin to the meddling and saying Russia had a “clear preference” for Trump in his race against Hillary Clinton.

National: Trump’s bogus claim that intelligence report says Russia didn’t impact the 2016 election outcome | The Washington Post

The big, overarching reason that President-elect Donald Trump doesn’t want to accept the conclusions of the intelligence community about Russia’s alleged hacking is pretty simple: It would call into question whether he would have won the 2016 election without it. Trump is a winner, and it would hurt his brand. And he’s making that very clear right now — in a deceptive way. In a statement Friday afternoon and a tweet Saturday morning, Trump claimed that a. Russia had no actual influence on the election results and that b. the intelligence report says so. The first claim is unproveable; the second is just bogus. “While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines,” Trump said in his Friday statement after receiving an intelligence briefing. Trump is using a clever bit of misdirection to argue that the report says something it doesn’t. The report does say voting machines weren’t hacked; it does not say there’s “no evidence that hacking affected the election results.” In fact, on the latter count, it says pretty clearly that it isn’t making any such determination.

National: Russian Intervention in American Election Was No One-Off | The New York Times

The intelligence agencies’ report on the Russian intervention in the American presidential election portrays it as just one piece of an old-fashioned Soviet-style propaganda campaign. But it was a campaign made enormously more powerful by the tools of the cyberage: private emails pilfered by hackers, an internet that reaches into most American homes, social media to promote its revelations and smear enemies. What most Americans may have seen as a one-time effort — brazen meddling by Russia in the very core of American democracy — was, the report says, only part of a long-running information war that involves not just shadowy hackers and pop-up websites, but also more conventional news outlets, including the thriving Russian television network RT. The election intervention to damage Hillary Clinton and lift Donald J. Trump was the latest fusillade in a campaign that has gone on under the radar for years. For the three agencies that produced the report — the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency — this is a heart-stopping moment: They have just told their new boss that he was elected with the vigorous, multifaceted help of an adversary, the thuggish autocrat who rules Russia.

National: Declassified report says Putin ‘ordered’ effort to undermine faith in U.S. election and help Trump | The Washington Post

Russia carried out a comprehensive cyber campaign to sabotage the U.S. presidential election, an operation that was ordered by Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and ultimately sought to help elect Donald Trump, U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in a remarkably blunt assessment released Friday. The report depicts Russian interference as unprecedented in scale, saying that Moscow’s role represented “a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort” beyond previous election-related espionage. The campaign initially sought to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, “denigrate” Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and damage her expected presidency. But in time, Russia “developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump” and repeatedly sought to artificially boost his election chances.

National: US designates election infrastructure as ‘critical’ | Associated Press

Citing increasingly sophisticated cyber bad actors and an election infrastructure that’s “vital to our national interests,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Friday that he’s designating U.S. election systems critical infrastructure, a move that provides more federal help for state and local governments to keep their election systems safe from tampering. “Given the vital role elections play in this country, it is clear that certain systems and assets of election infrastructure meet the definition of critical infrastructure, in fact and in law,” Johnson said in a statement. He added: “Particularly in these times, this designation is simply the right and obvious thing to do.” The determination came after months of review and despite opposition from many states worried that the designation would lead to increased federal regulation or oversight on the many decentralized and locally run voting systems across the country. It was announced on the same day a declassified U.S. intelligence report said Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered” an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. The declassified report said that Russian intelligence services had “obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards.” None of the systems targeted or compromised was involved in vote tallying, the report said.

National: Countering Trump, Bipartisan Voices Strongly Affirm Findings on Russian Hacking | The New York Times

A united front of top intelligence officials and senators from both parties on Thursday forcefully reaffirmed the conclusion that the Russian government used hacking and leaks to try to influence the presidential election, directly rebuffing President-elect Donald J. Trump’s repeated questioning of Russia’s role. They suggested that the doubts Mr. Trump has expressed on Twitter about the agencies’ competence and impartiality were undermining their morale. “There’s a difference between skepticism and disparagement,” James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, said at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Russian hacks. He added that “our assessment now is even more resolute” that the Russians carried out the attack on the election. The Senate hearing was the prelude to an extraordinary meeting scheduled for Friday, when Mr. Clapper and other intelligence chiefs will repeat for Mr. Trump the same detailed, highly classified briefing on the Russian attack that President Obama received on Thursday. In effect, they will be telling the president-elect that the spy agencies believe he won with an assist from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

National: Intel chiefs “even more resolute” on Russian election meddling findings | Ars Technica

In a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee—a regularly scheduled unclassified briefing on “foreign cyber threats”—Director of National Intelligence James Clapper did very little to preview a report on Russian “cyber” activities around the US elections scheduled to be delivered to President Barack Obama this week. Clapper did say that an unclassified version of the report would be released to the public early next week. However, that version is unlikely to contain any new specific evidence to support the intelligence community’s assertions that the Russian government directed hacking and propaganda operations against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in an attempt to deliberately affect the outcome of the US election. “We plan to brief the Congress and release an unclassified version of this report early next week, with due deference to the protection of highly fragile sources and methods,” Clapper said in his opening statement. “We have invested billions, and we put people’s lives at risk to get such information. If we were to expose how we got this, we could just kiss that off. We’re going to be as forthcoming as possible.”

National: Congressman introduces plan to eliminate Electoral College | Palm Beach Post

Congressman Steve Cohen has introduced an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would eliminate the Electoral College. “For the second time in recent memory, and for the fifth time in our history, the national popular vote winner — including Tennesseans Al Gore and Andrew Jackson — will not become President of the United States because of the Electoral College,” Cohen said Thursday. “The Electoral College is an antiquated system that was established to prevent citizens from directly electing our nation’s president, yet that notion is antithetical to our understanding of democracy. In our country, ‘We the People’ are supposed to determine who represents us in elective office.”

National: Democratic bill would require Trump, future candidates, to release tax returns | The Hill

Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, on Wednesday introduced a bill that would require President-elect Donald Trump to release his tax returns. The measure comes as Democrats are pushing to increase the financial transparency of Trump and his wealthy Cabinet picks. But it is unlikely to be enacted with Trump taking office later this month and Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress. Wyden’s bill would require sitting presidents to provide their three most recent years of tax returns to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). It would also mandate that major-party presidential nominees release their returns to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) within 15 days of accepting the nomination at party conventions. Under the bill, if presidents and nominees don’t release their tax returns, the Treasury secretary would provide them directly to OGE and FEC. The agencies would then make the returns public.

National: Top US Intelligence Officials to Testify on Russian Hacking | Associated Press

Senior U.S. intelligence officials face questions at a Senate hearing that will be dominated by the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia meddled in the presidential election to help Donald Trump win. The Armed Services Committee’s cyber threats hearing on Thursday comes a day before the president-elect is to be briefed by the CIA and FBI directors — along with the director of national intelligence — on the investigation into Russia’s alleged hacking efforts. Trump has been deeply critical of their findings, even appearing to back controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s contention that Russia did not provide him with hacked Democratic emails. The committee’s session is the first in a series aimed at investigating purported Russian cyber-attacks against U.S. interests and developing defenses sturdy enough to blunt future intrusions. “We will obviously be talking about the hacking, but the main thing is the whole issue of cybersecurity,” the committee’s Republican chairman, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said ahead of the hearing. “Right now we have no policy, no strategy to counter cyberattacks.”

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

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.

National: Blue-state lawmakers want to keep Trump off 2020 ballot unless he releases tax returns | The Washington Post

Lawmakers in several deep-blue states want to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in those states, a sharp rebuke of President-elect Donald Trump’s ongoing refusal to make his tax records public. A pair of Maryland Democrats on Tuesday announced they would introduce a bill mandating the release of five years of tax returns, mirroring similar proposals in New York, Massachusetts, California and Maine. If approved, the proposals could keep Trump from appearing on some ballots in 2020 if he continues breaking with the decades-long tradition of financial transparency and decides to seek a second term. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in May introduced a federal bill requiring major-party candidates to release their returns, but that legislation didn’t advance in the Republican-controlled Congress.

National: Lawmakers preparing Russia sanctions bill | CNN

A group of bipartisan senators is preparing a bill that would offer sanctions against Russia, lawmakers confirmed as the Senate convened a new session of Congress on Tuesday. Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that he was working on the bill with a “broad group” of bipartisan senators. He said he hoped the bill would be released this week. “It will be a comprehensive bill that will provide congressional authorization for additional sanctions against Russia,” Cardin said.

National: Uncertainty clouds debate on Russia’s suspected role in election hacks | PCWorld

How do you prove Russia meddled with the presidential election? That’s a question the U.S. government is facing, but may never fully answer, at least not publicly. Last week, the U.S. punished Russia, claiming the country’s cyberspies hacked Democratic groups and figures during the election season. However, missing from last week’s announcement was any new evidence — or a smoking gun — proving the Kremlin’s involvement. This isn’t sitting well with everyone in the security industry, especially since identifying the culprit of any cyberattack is no easy matter. “Maybe Russia did do it, but until we have sufficient evidence, it’s a mistake to move forward,” said Jeffrey Carr, a cybersecurity consultant. Carr isn’t the only skeptic. Incoming President Donald Trump has also been doubtful over Russia’s suspected role in the cyber-meddling. “Unless you catch ‘hackers’ in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking,” tweeted Trump, who’s compared the problem to the U.S. incorrectly concluding that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction over a decade ago. Nevertheless, the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama remains convinced that the Kremlin directed the high-profile hacks in an effort to sway public opinion in the run-up to the election.

National: Sanctions mark rare window into cyberwar | USA Today

Sanctions and the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the USA in response to alleged hacking intended to influence the U.S. presidential election are rare physical responses to growing cyberwars between nations. President Obama’s announcement of sanctions Thursday and Russia’s subsequent decision not to expel U.S. diplomats Friday may signal a larger engagement over events in cyberspace, one experts have long said was coming but that may seem like a strange new world to the public. Previous responses to cyberthreats were directed toward nation-states with no full nuclear deterrent capability, said Ian Gray, a cyberintelligence analyst with the Flashpoint company. Those include Iran and North Korea, cases that never escalated to full-blown sanctions. “The possible implications of two fully nuclear-armed powers escalates the potential for future conflict, making the implications unique,” Gray said.

National: Early Voting Didn’t Boost Overall Election Turnout, Studies Show | Wall Street Journal

Most early voting programs didn’t increase the number of people who cast ballots in 2016, they just changed the way people participated, according to examinations of this year’s election results. President-elect Donald Trump’s Nov. 8 victory also put aside long-held notions that pre-Election Day indicators from early-voting data could serve as useful predictors of who would win the election. Election figures in Ohio bear out the lack of relationship between the availability of early voting and overall turnout. Before the 2008 election, Ohio lawmakers for the first time introduced early and no-excuse absentee voting in the state. When President Barack Obama defeated Sen. John McCain that year, 1.72 million Ohioans voted before Election Day. But postelection figures showed that overall turnout increased from 2004 by just 51,000 votes. Fewer Ohioans voted in 2012, and fewer still in 2016, even as early voting numbers rose to 1.86 million in 2012 and 1.88 million in 2016.

National: Post-recount, experts say electronic voting remains ‘shockingly’ vulnerable | The Parallax

As the Obama administration took tough action against Russia for interfering with the 2016 U.S. election this week, two experts in U.S. voting-machine security offered evidence at Europe’s largest annual hacker conference here they say proves that while the voting machines used in the November presidential election were not hacked, U.S. voting systems remain “shockingly” exposed to hackers. “We knew on November 8 that hacking was possible,” J. Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan computer science professor who specializes in testing voting-machine security, said Wednesday in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 attendees of the 33rd annual Chaos Communication Congress. Prior to Election Day, as Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the election would be “rigged” against him, email servers belonging to the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, as well as voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona, were hacked. And after the election, which resulted in Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by a substantial margin but Trump winning more votes in the overriding Electoral College, many people, including Green Party candidate Jill Stein, called into question whether votes had been tallied without interference. Trump also alleged on Twitter that if it wasn’t for “the millions of people who voted illegally,” he would have won the popular vote. “Shockingly—at least shockingly to me and many other people, even under these circumstances—approximately zero U.S. states were going to look at enough paper ballots to know whether the computers had been hacked,” Halderman said. “This is a major gap in our system.”

National: Here’s the evidence U.S. intelligence has on Russia’s election hacking | The Daily Dot

U.S. intelligence agencies on Thursday released a detailed report laying out evidence showing that Russia’s government orchestrated cyberattacks meant to tamper with America’s presidential election. The 13-page Joint Analysis Report (JAR), released by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), details the technical methods two Russian intelligence agencies used to “compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. Government, political, and private sector entities.” The report coincides with the White House announcement that it has ejected 35 Russian intelligence diplomats and imposed sanctions on nine Russian officials or entities. 

National: White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election | Ars Technica

Talk about disappointments. The US government’s much-anticipated analysis of Russian-sponsored hacking operations provides almost none of the promised evidence linking them to breaches that the Obama administration claims were orchestrated in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The 13-page report, which was jointly published Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, billed itself as an indictment of sorts that would finally lay out the intelligence community’s case that Russian government operatives carried out hacks on the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Clinton Campaign Chief John Podesta and leaked much of the resulting material. While security companies in the private sector have said for months the hacking campaign was the work of people working for the Russian government, anonymous people tied to the leaks have claimed they are lone wolves. Many independent security experts said there was little way to know the true origins of the attacks. Sadly, the JAR, as the Joint Analysis Report is called, does little to end the debate. Instead of providing smoking guns that the Russian government was behind specific hacks, it largely restates previous private-sector claims without providing any support for their validity. Even worse, it provides an effective bait and switch by promising newly declassified intelligence into Russian hackers’ “tradecraft and techniques” and instead delivering generic methods carried out by just about all state-sponsored hacking groups.

National: Supreme Court Faces Its Own Campaign Season | US News & World Report

America’s nasty, brutish and not-so-short 2016 presidential campaign raised some painful issues about the nation’s democratic institutions and the treatment of people involved in them. Charges were made about voter fraud, “rigged” elections and whether people’s ethnic or racial background makes them more likely to commit crimes. It was the sort of ugly dialogue justices on the US Supreme Court can typically experience as interested observers, separated from the politics and immune from the fallout. But this year, a high court already hit with the collateral damage of legislative-executive branch politics may well be dealing with the aftermath of a painful election season. Voting rights, redistricting and the fairness of the criminal justice system to racial and ethnic minorities are all topics likely to reach the high court, adding a judiciary sequel to the tense debates of the 2016 campaign season. “It’s going to go on forever, apparently,” quips David Coale, a partner at Dallas-based Lynn Pinker Cox Hurst who has been monitoring critical cases rooted in the Lone Star State.

National: Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking | The New York Times

President Obama struck back at Russia on Thursday for its efforts to influence the 2016 election, ejecting 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the United States and imposing sanctions on Russia’s two leading intelligence services. The administration also penalized four top officers of one of those services, the powerful military intelligence unit known as the G.R.U. Intelligence agencies have concluded that the G.R.U. ordered the attacks on the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations, with the approval of the Kremlin, and ultimately enabled the publication of the emails it harvested. The expulsion of the 35 Russians, whom the administration said were spies posing as diplomats and other officials, and their families was in response to the harassment of American diplomats in Russia, State Department officials said. It was unclear if they were involved in the hacking.

National: Recounts or no, US elections are still vulnerable to hacking | Associated Press

Jill Stein’s bid to recount votes in Pennsylvania was in trouble even before a federal judge shot it down Dec. 12. That’s because the Green Party candidate’s effort stood little chance of detecting potential fraud or error in the vote — there was basically nothing to recount. Pennsylvania is one of 11 states where the majority of voters use antiquated machines that store votes electronically, without printed ballots or other paper-based backups that could be used to double-check the balloting. There’s almost no way to know if they’ve accurately recorded individual votes — or if anyone tampered with the count. More than 80 percent of Pennsylvanians who voted Nov. 8 cast their ballots on such machines, according to VotePA, a nonprofit seeking their replacement. VotePA’s Marybeth Kuznik described the proposed recount this way: “You go to the computer and you say, ‘OK, computer, you counted this a week-and-a-half ago. Were you right the first time?'” These paperless digital voting machines, used by roughly 1 in 5 U.S. voters last month, present one of the most glaring dangers to the security of the rickety, underfunded U.S. election system. Like many electronic voting machines, they are vulnerable to hacking. But other machines typically leave a paper trail that could be manually checked. The paperless digital machines open the door to potential election rigging that might not ever be detected.

National: State election recounts confirm Trump win but reveal hacking vulnerabilities | The Guardian

The US presidential election was correct, according to a crowdfunded effort to recount the vote in key states, but the review also highlighted the unprecedented extent to which the American political system is vulnerable to cyberattack, according to two computer scientists who helped the effort to audit the vote. J Alex Halderman and Matt Bernhard, both of the University of Michigan, campaigned in favor of a recount of the US presidential election, which was eventually spearheaded by Jill Stein, the Green party candidate. Only the Wisconsin recount was substantially completed, with the recount in Michigan eventually stopped and a potential recount in Pennsylvania killed before it had even begun. But the researchers say the recounted counties and precincts were enough to give them confidence that Donald Trump is the genuine winner of the election. “The recounts support that the election outcome was correct,” Bernhard told the Chaos Communications Congress cybersecurity convention in Hamburg, where he and Halderman gave a talk summarising their findings.

National: Obama expels 35 Russian diplomats as part of sanctions for US election hacking | The Guardian

The Obama administration on Thursday announced its retaliation for Russian efforts to interfere with the US presidential election, ordering sweeping new sanctions that included the expulsion of 35 Russians. US intelligence services believe Russia ordered cyber-attacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other political organizations, in an attempt to influence the election in favor of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump. In a statement issued two weeks after the president said he would respond to cyber-attacks by Moscow “at a time and place of our choosing”, Obama said Americans should “be alarmed by Russia’s actions” and pledged further action. “I have issued an executive order that provides additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine our election processes and institutions, or those of our allies or partners,” Obama said in the statement, released while he was vacationing with his family in Hawaii. “Using this new authority, I have sanctioned nine entities and individuals: the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.

National: US releases detailed look at Russia’s election hacking | Associated Press

The U.S. on Thursday released its most detailed report yet on Russia’s efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election by hacking American political sites and email accounts. The 13-page joint analysis by the Homeland Security Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was first such report ever to attribute malicious cyber activity to a particular country or actors. It was also the first time the U.S. has officially and specifically tied intrusions into the Democratic National Committee to hackers with the Russian civilian and military intelligence services, the FSB and GRU, expanding on an Oct. 7 accusation by the Obama administration. The report said the intelligence services were involved in “an ongoing campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. government and its citizens.” It added, “In some cases, (the Russian intelligence services’) actors masqueraded as third parties, hiding behind false online personas designed to cause the victim to misattribute the source of the attack.”