National

National: Key House Democrat: U.S. ‘dramatically unprepared’ for potential 2018 election hacking | Philadelphia Inquirer

One of the leading voices in Democrats’ efforts to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election is coming to the University of Pennsylvania Monday with a warning. U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, a Californian who serves as the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, says the threat of foreign interference is being dangerously downplayed by President Trump, and fears that many states are not ready to combat potential hacking during the 2018 elections. Much of Pennsylvania, he said, could be vulnerable because of a lack of a paper trail for its voting machines, leaving no physical record of votes cast. The state was among 21 that Russian hackers targeted during the 2016 campaign. Read More

National: Mueller adds veteran cyber prosecutor to special-counsel team | The Washington Post

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has added a veteran cyber prosecutor to his team, filling what has long been a gap in expertise and potentially signaling a recent focus on computer crimes. Ryan K. Dickey was assigned to Mueller’s team in early November from the Justice Department’s computer crime and intellectual-property section, said a spokesman for the special counsel’s office. He joined 16 other lawyers who are highly respected by their peers but who have come under fire from Republicans wary of some of their political contributions to Democrats. Read More

National: Trump’s attempts to show voter fraud appear to have stalled | PBS

President Donald Trump hasn’t backed away from his unsubstantiated claim that millions of illegally cast ballots cost him the popular vote in 2016, but his efforts to investigate it appear to have stalled. He transferred the work of the commission investigating his claim to the Department of Homeland Security. This week, the department’s top official made it clear that, when it comes to elections, her focus is on safeguarding state and local voting systems from cyberattacks and other manipulation. Read More

National: Judge Knocks DOJ Claim That Kobach Can’t Speak For Voter Fraud Panel | TPM

A federal judge didn’t buy the Justice Department’s argument that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach couldn’t speak to what was being done with the data collected by the now-defunct voter fraud commission he led. The judge ordered that Kobach or another commission member file a declaration giving a full explanation. The declaration will state “what information was collected or created by the Commission and/or its members on behalf of the Commission, where that information was and is being stored, by whom the information has been accessed, and what plans were made by the Commission to maintain or dispose of the information,” U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke said Thursday. Read More

National: Senators unveil bipartisan push to deter future election interference | The Hill

A pair of senators from each party is introducing legislation meant to deter foreign governments from interfering in future American elections. The bill represents the latest push on Capitol Hill to address Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and counter potential threats ahead of the 2018 midterms. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Tuesday introduced the “Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act,” which lays out specific foreign actions against U.S. elections that would warrant penalties from the federal government. Read More

National: DHS won’t do voter-fraud investigation after Trump commission shut down | Washington Times

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tamped down on claims her department is going to pursue an investigation into voter fraud, saying Tuesday that her role will be limited to assisting states looking to weed out their own voter lists. President Trump earlier this month canceled his voter fraud commission and asked Homeland Security to pick up some of the work. Republican commissioners had said they expected Ms. Nielsen to take on the work they started of using government data to figure out how many non-citizens are registered and, in some cases, actually casting ballots. But the new secretary told Congress on Tuesday that’s not her goal. Read More

National: Election security hearing sought by Democrats | Washington Times

Democratic members of the House Science Committee have called on the panel’s Republican leadership to hold another hearing on security issues related to the nation’s election infrastructure. Texas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson and Virginia Rep. Donald Beyer requested the hearing in a letter sent Wednesday to Texas Rep. Lamar Smith and Illinois Rep. Darin LaHood —the Republican chairs of the House panel and its oversight subcommittee, respectively — citing lingering concerns raised in the wake of Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential race. “We believe it is our obligation as Members of the Science Committee to examine concerns regarding the cybersecurity of our election infrastructure as well as efforts to identify foreign covert influence operations against U.S. citizens and our democratic institutions that are likely to reemerge as a major issue in the 2018 and 2020 elections,” the Democrats wrote. Read More

National: FBI investigating whether Russia funneled cash to NRA to aid Trump’s campaign | McClatchy

The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy. FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said. It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections. It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up. All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because Mueller’s investigation is confidential and mostly involves classified information. A spokesman for Mueller’s office declined comment. Read More

National: The Russia scandal just got bigger. And Republicans are trying to prevent an accounting. | The Washington Post

Aside from the president of the United States, almost no one denies that Russia mounted a serious and concerted effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential campaign. The Russians hacked into Democratic Party emails and gave what they obtained to WikiLeaks so that it could be released publicly to maximize the political damage to Hillary Clinton. They used social media to spread fictional stories meant to do the same. They made repeated attempts to engage the Trump campaign in a cooperative effort to undermine Clinton and help then-candidate Donald Trump. They attempted to hack into state voting systems. Read More

National: States Waiting To Share Voter Data While Kansas Shores Up Security | KCUR

Some states fear that a Kansas voter record system could fall prey to hackers, prompting a delay in the annual collection of nearly 100 million people’s records into a database scoured for double-registrations. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach touts the program, called Crosscheck, as a tool in combating voter fraud. Last year, 28 states submitted voters’ names, birth dates, and sometimes partial social security numbers, to Kobach’s office. But last fall, the news outlets ProPublica and Gizmodo reported a raft of cybersecurity weaknesses. For instance, Crosscheck relied on an unencrypted server for transmitting all that data. Read More