National

National: The U.S. military is quietly launching efforts to deter Russian meddling | The Washington Post

With little public fanfare, U.S. Cyber Command, the military’s new center for combating electronic attacks against the United States, has launched operations to deter and disrupt Russians who have been interfering with the U.S. political system. Like other U.S. cyberwar activities, the disruption effort against Russia is cloaked in secrecy. But it appears to involve, in part, a warning to suspected Russian hackers that echoes a menacing phrase that’s a staple of many fictional crime and spy thrillers: “We know where you live.” Beginning last fall, before the midterm elections, Cyber Command began directly contacting Russians who were linked to operations, such the Internet Research Agency, that allegedly helped coordinate Moscow’s campaign to subvert the 2016 presidential election. The apparent aim was to put people on notice that their covers had been blown, and that their ability to work and travel freely might be affected.

Full Article: The U.S. military is quietly launching efforts to deter Russian meddling - The Washington Post.

National: Lawmakers Push for the State Department to Help Secure Foreign Elections | Nextgov

As misinformation campaigns and cyberattacks threaten to undermine democracy around the world, lawmakers want the State Department to play a bigger role in helping other countries secure their elections. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would create a program at State to share information about election threats with other countries. Through the Global Electoral Exchange Program, the department would assist allies in adopting best practices around election cybersecurity, transparency and auditing. It would support work to combat misinformation campaigns and end discriminatory voter registration practices. An earlier version of the bill passed the House in September but was never put to a vote in the Senate. “Our election systems—and those of our allies—have become a target for foreign adversaries,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “Safeguarding our democracies must be a priority for us all.”

Full Article: Lawmakers Push for the State Department to Help Secure Foreign Elections - Nextgov.

National: Debate Over Election Reform Bill Gets Heated in House | Courthouse News

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle raised their voices Wednesday over whether a sweeping election reform bill proposed by Democrats would drain or fill the Washington swamp. The wide-ranging anti-corruption bill, House Resolution 1, includes a provision that would increase transparency in campaign finance by requiring candidates to report where their campaign money comes from. That measure was the focus of committee members from both parties during the nearly four-hour hearing in the House Oversight Committee. Bradley Smith, an expert witness and chairman of the Institute for Free Speech, repeatedly told committee members that the bill would have a “chilling effect” on citizens’ desire to engage in elections through avenues like campaign donations. “You run the risk of regulations swallowing up the entire discourse in which the public engages,” Smith said.

Full Article: Debate Over Election Reform Bill Gets Heated in House.

National: Midterm election infrastructure deemed meddle-free, but states seek equipment funding | GCN

The federal government has determined there is no evidence that foreign interference in the 2018 midterm election “had a material impact on the integrity or security of election infrastructure or political [and] campaign infrastructure,” the Justice Department announced. DOJ and the Department of Homeland Security said Feb. 5 that they have submitted a classified report to President Donald Trump in accordance with an executive order issued last year to root out and investigate foreign interference targeting American elections or campaigns. The conclusions represent the second half of an interagency process created late last year to assess whether foreign governments made any efforts to hack into voting machines and election systems or alter voter behavior through covert influence campaigns on social platforms and other media.

Full Article: Midterm election infrastructure deemed meddle-free, but states seek equipment funding -- GCN.

National: DHS prioritizes restart of election security programs post-shutdown | CNN

Since the shutdown ended, the Department of Homeland Security has prioritized the resumption of its election security programs, some of which were forced to go on hiatus during the lapse in government funding, according to Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs. “Coming out of the shutdown, anything that had paused on election security-related activities was put on the top of the priority list for restart,” he said. Krebs told CNN that if there was an active threat during the shutdown, the department was able to respond by conducting assessments and hunting down the threat. “What paused was the more routine vulnerability assessments,” he said. Those included a “couple of the election security-related” assessments run by the department, specifically focused on state networks.

Full Article: DHS prioritizes restart of election security programs post-shutdown - CNNPolitics.

National: Inaccurate claims of noncitizen voting in Texas reflect a growing trend in Republican states | The Washington Post

When Texas officials announced in late January that as many as 58,000 noncitizens may have voted illegally in state elections over nearly two decades, top Republicans — including President Trump — quickly warned about the prevalence of voter fraud and the need to crack down on it. But just as quickly, the numbers stopped adding up. First, on Jan. 25, the secretary of state instructed counties to give voters 30 days to prove their citizenship before canceling their registration. Then, four days later, the office began calling local election officials to say that thousands of people on the list were in fact U.S. citizens, eligible to vote.

Full Article: Inaccurate claims of noncitizen voting in Texas reflect a growing trend in Republican states - The Washington Post.

National: House will advance HR 1 government overhaul package this month, Pelosi says | Roll Call

The House will advance a package of voting rights, campaign finance and ethics overhauls this month, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a “Dear Colleague” letter Monday night. House Democrats have introduced the government overhaul package as HR 1 to reflect its priority status. They believe fundamentally changing the way government operates will increase public buy-in as Democrats pursue an economic policy agenda focused on issues such as heath care, infrastructure and climate change. “During this Black History Month, I am pleased we will be advancing H.R. 1, which contains Congressman John Lewis’s Voter Empowerment Act ensuring equal access to the ballot for every eligible voter, and lays the groundwork of the subsequent passage of Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s Voting Rights Advancement Act,” Pelosi wrote, citing two black lawmakers who have sponsored legislation that is part of the Democrats’ effort to overhaul voting rights laws.

Full Article: House will advance HR 1 government overhaul package this month, Pelosi says.

National: Mitch McConnell balked at Election Day holiday. What if it were one? | USA Today

House Democrats introduced their first piece of legislation in the new Congress this week, an anti-corruption bill that proposes making Election Day a federal holiday  and encourages private employers to give their workers the day off, too. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the legislation on the Senate floor, calling it a “power grab” by Democrats. He was subsequently dragged by progressive lawmakers on Twitter, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who tweeted that “voting isn’t a ‘power grab.’ It’s democracy, and it’s literally the entire point of our representative government.” But according to the Pew Research Center, Americans on both sides of the aisle support making Election Day a national holiday: 71% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans favor the idea. 

Full Article: Mitch McConnell balked at Election Day holiday. What if it were one?.

National: DOJ, DHS say foreign influence campaigns didn’t alter 2018 elections | FCW

The federal government has determined that foreign interference campaigns had no material impact on the outcomes of the 2018 midterm elections. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced Feb. 5 that they have submitted a classified report to President Donald Trump in accordance with an executive order issued last year to root out and investigate foreign interference targeting American elections or campaigns. “Although the specific conclusions within the joint report must remain classified, the Departments have concluded there is no evidence to date that any identified activities of a foreign government or foreign agent had a material impact on the integrity or security of election infrastructure or political [and] campaign infrastructure used in the 2018 midterm elections for the United States Congress,” said DOJ in a statement.

Full Article: DOJ, DHS say foreign influence campaigns didn't alter 2018 elections -- FCW.

National: State officials want election security cash. But some don’t like the strings attached. | The Washington Post

State election officials want the latest round of election security money included in a major bill proposed by House Democrats – but they’re divided on whether they want to accept a slew of voting mandates that come along with it. The divide is largely along partisan lines. On one side, there’s Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R), the incoming president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, who balked at provisions in H.R. 1 that make it more difficult for states to impose voter ID requirements. Pate said in an email the For the People Act amounts to the federal government seizing authority over elections from states. On the other side are Democrats who largely support those efforts to expand voter access and consider them a fair trade for more election security money. “There’s a tension over H.R. 1 and whether or not it’s a federalization of elections,” one Democratic secretary of state told me at the NASS conference in Washington this weekend. “It is not. And anyone who claims that it is, that’s an overreach.”

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: State officials want election security cash. But some don't like the strings attached. - The Washington Post.

National: House Intelligence poised to send Mueller lingering Russia investigation transcripts | Washington Examiner

The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled a vote this week on sending more transcripts to the Justice Department. The panel’s website says members will vote on Wednesday regarding the “transmission of Certain Committee Transcripts to the Department of Justice.” Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said last week the first thing his panel would do in the new term would be to release all remaining transcripts from their Russia investigation to special counsel Robert Mueller. “Neither we nor the Special Counsel will tolerate efforts by any person to impede any investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, nor to pressure a witness to withhold testimony from or mislead Congress,” Schiff said in a statement released after longtime associate Roger Stone was indicted as part of Mueller’s investigation.

Full Article: House Intelligence poised to send Mueller lingering Russia investigation transcripts.

National: Black caucus members explore voting rights issues | Brownsville Herald: Local News

The first Voting Rights and Elections listening session of the U.S. Committee on House Administration took place Monday in Brownsville at the invitation of U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela as part of a day of events he hosted in recognition of Black History Month. Several members of the Congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses took part in the session, which was led by U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, CHA Elections Subcommittee chair-designee, and which and took place at the Cameron County Courthouse Oscar C. Dancy Building. … The members of Congress heard testimony from a panel made up of veteran voting and civil rights attorneys Chad Dunn, George Korbel and Rolando Rios; Mimi Marziani, attorney and president of the Texas Civil Rights Project, and Matthew McCarthy, representing the American Civil Liberties Union.

Full Article: Black caucus members explore voting rights issues - Brownsville Herald: Local News.

National: House Panel Launches Inquiry Over Voter Rights Roll-Backs | Reuters

The Democratically controlled U.S. House Judiciary Committee launched an inquiry on Friday into the Trump administration’s decision to reverse course on several key voting rights lawsuits and its efforts to add a citizenship question to the upcoming 2020 U.S. census. In a letter to acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker seen by Reuters, the chairman of the committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler, demanded that the Justice Department turn over any internal records on a number of voting rights issues and said he was concerned by a lack of enforcement of voter rights laws in general. The letter seeks records related to the Justice Department’s decision to drop its opposition to a contentious Ohio policy allowing the state to purge infrequent voters from registration rolls and a Texas voter identification law.

Full Article: House Panel Launches Inquiry Over Voter Rights Roll-Backs | Top News | US News.

National: Russians reportedly “altered” Mueller documents and leaked them online to discredit probe | Salon

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has accused Russian operatives of stealing materials obtained from his prosecutors, altering the documents, and posting them online in a disinformation effort to discredit the Russia investigation, according to court documents filed on Wednesday. Mueller’s team made the filing in its case against Concord Management and Consulting LLC, a sanctioned Russian company indicted in the probe for allegedly funding a Russian troll farm that waged a disinformation campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. According to prosecutors, a Twitter account with the handle @HackingRedstone was created last October. The user bragged that he had hacked evidence in the Mueller probe. “We’ve got access to the Special Counsel Mueller’s probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case Concord LLC v. Mueller,” the account tweeted, according to the court filing. “Enjoy the reading!”

Full Article: Russians reportedly "altered" Mueller documents and leaked them online to discredit probe | Salon.com.

National: Russia Is Attacking the U.S. System From Within | The Atlantic

A new court filing submitted on Wednesday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed that a Russian troll farm currently locked in a legal battle over its alleged interference in the 2016 election appeared to wage yet another disinformation campaign late last year—this time targeting Mueller himself. According to the filing, the special counsel’s office turned over 1 million pages of evidence to lawyers for Concord Management and Consulting as part of the discovery process. The firm is accused of funding the troll farm, known as the Internet Research Agency. But someone connected to Concord allegedly manipulated the documents and leaked them to reporters, hoping the documents would make people think that Mueller’s evidence against the troll farm and its owners was flimsy. The tactic didn’t seem to convince anyone, but it appeared to mark yet another example of Russia exploiting the U.S. justice system to undercut its rivals abroad.

Full Article: A New Mueller Filing Shows How Russia Misuses U.S. Courts - The Atlantic.

National: Republicans Rewrote Voting Laws for 8 Years. Now Democrats Say It’s Their Turn. | The New York Times

In the years after Republicans swept state and congressional elections in 2010, legislatures in 25 states — all but a handful of them dominated by the party — enacted laws that made it harder to register and vote, from imposing ID requirements and curbing voter registration drives to rolling back early voting periods. In November, Democrats reclaimed some of the ground they lost eight years ago. And now the rules for casting a ballot are moving fast in the opposite direction. The signal example is in New York, where Democrats this month enacted a series of measures expanding access to the ballot box, just two months after taking full control of both the State House and Senate. But that state is far from the only one: Legislatures in New Jersey and Virginia are set to consider even more expansive packages. Delaware, New Hampshire, Minnesota and New Mexico are also set to take up voting rights measures. All those proposals, in legislatures under Democratic control or on the cusp of it, have plausible prospects of becoming law. But Democrats are pushing legislation to expand access to the ballot even in some states like South Carolina and Texas where Republicans control makes approval unlikely.

Full Article: Republicans Rewrote Voting Laws for 8 Years. Now Democrats Say It’s Their Turn. - The New York Times.

National: Russian DNC Hackers Launch Fresh Wave of Cyberattacks on U.S. | Daily Beast

Russia’s military intelligence directorate, the GRU, has been caught in a new round of computer intrusion attempts, this time aimed at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a prominent Washington, D.C. think tank heavy with ex-government officials. The new efforts by the Kremlin hackers who notoriously breached the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign to support Donald Trump suggests that indictments, international sanctions, a botched assassination and an unprecedented global spotlight have done little to deter Vladimir Putin from continuing to target the West with his hacker army, even as American intelligence agencies warn that Russia is gearing up to interfere in the 2020 election. “We’ve about exhausted our ability to achieve some kind of deterrent model that works,” said Robert Johnston, the security expert who investigated the 2016 DNC breach, and now heads the financial cybersecurity firm Adlumin. “You have indictments. You have Cyber Command releasing Russian malware. We ran psyops inside of Russia saying, ‘We know what you’re up to, stop it.’ Sanctions and diplomatic measures. The combination of all those isn’t enough to make it come to a complete halt.”

Full Article: Russian DNC Hackers Launch Fresh Wave of Cyberattacks on U.S..

National: Purported hackers stole U.S. evidence to discredit Mueller probe: filing | Reuters

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office said on Wednesday that self-proclaimed hackers in Russia stole evidence in an attempt to tarnish its investigation of a firm charged with funding a Russian propaganda campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. Prosecutors said in a court filing in Washington that a Twitter handle called @HackingRedstone came online last Oct. 22 to brag it had hacked some of the evidence in the case. “We’ve got access to the Special Counsel Mueller’s probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case,” the court document quoted the Twitter post as saying. In February 2018, Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies with allegations of tampering in 2016 to support then-Republican candidate Donald Trump. In all, 34 people have pleaded guilty, been indicted or otherwise swept up in the broader inquiry.

Full Article: Purported hackers stole U.S. evidence to discredit Mueller probe: filing | Reuters.

National: What was the cybersecurity impact of the shutdown? | FCW

For 35 days, former high-ranking feds and Congress publicly warned about the potential negative ramifications of the partial shutdown on federal cybersecurity initiatives. Now with a short-term spending deal in place, many on Capitol Hill are shifting focus towards sifting through the wreckage to determine just how much damage was actually done. House Homeland Security Committee chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said earlier this month that DHS and Congress “will be dealing with the consequences of [the shutdown] for months — or even years — to come.” At the Jan. 29 State of the Net conference in Washington D.C., Moira Bergin, subcommittee director for the House Homeland subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection listed a number of cybersecurity initiatives at DHS — from pipeline security to botnets to election security and activities at the new National Risk Management Center — that simply stopped during the shutdown.

Full Article: What was the cybersecurity impact of the shutdown? -- FCW.

National: McConnell says bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday is a ‘power grab’ by Democrats | The Washington Post

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that a Democratic bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday is a “power grab,” sparking a fierce backlash online. McConnell was speaking about H.R. 1, legislation that Democrats have made a centerpiece of their agenda since retaking the House earlier this month. In remarks on the Senate floor, McConnell (R-Ky.) said Democrats “want taxpayers on the hook for generous new benefits for federal bureaucrats and government employees,” including making Election Day a “new paid holiday for government workers.” “So this is the Democrats’ plan to ‘restore democracy,’” McConnell said, describing the legislation as “a political power grab that’s smelling more and more like what it is.”

Full Article: McConnell says bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday is a ‘power grab’ by Democrats - The Washington Post.