The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, US officials told CNN. This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, according to one source. The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. officials. The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.
The Voting News
National: New documents show Trump aide laundered payments from party with Moscow ties, lawmaker alleges – The Washington Post
A Ukrainian lawmaker released new financial documents Tuesday allegedly showing that a former campaign chairman for President Trump laundered payments from the party of a disgraced ex-leader of Ukraine using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan. The new documents, if legitimate, stem from business ties between the Trump aide, Paul Manafort, and the party of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who enjoyed Moscow’s backing while he was in power. He has been in hiding in Russia since being overthrown by pro-Western protesters in 2014, and is wanted in Ukraine on corruption charges. The latest documents were released just hours after the House Intelligence Committee questioned FBI Director James B. Comey about possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow. The hearing that also touched on Manafort’s work for Yanukovych’s party in Ukraine. Comey declined to say whether the FBI is coordinating with Ukraine on an investigation of the alleged payments to Manafort.
National: FEC commissioner sends letter to President Trump: Where is your proof of voter fraud? | The Washington Post
A Democratic member of the Federal Election Commission sent a letter to President Trump on Wednesday reiterating her request that he provide evidence for his claim that thousands of people were bused to New Hampshire to vote illegally in the 2016 elections. FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub told Trump in a letter emailed to the White House that the president’s unsubstantiated charge challenges the legitimacy of the election and could be cited by policymakers nationwide as a reason to pursue “unwarranted voter restrictions. Our democracy depends on the American people’s faith in our elections,” Weintraub wrote. “Your voter-fraud allegations run the risk of undermining that faith.”
Editorials: Lessons learned from the Russian hacking scandal and our “cyber” election | Joel Wallenstrom/TechCrunch
Information security — or what is commonly referred to as ‘cyber’ — has dominated the narrative in this week’s hearings on Capitol Hill about the Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Despite the political noise, a fact-based public debate on how to deal with strategic and targeted attacks is what’s needed now to develop better defenses for all – businesses or government organizations. There is a universal agreement that a highly-motivated and unapologetic entity has conducted an advanced and persistent campaign to disrupt, undermine and gain power over its strategic adversary. The questions become – what have we learned from the 2016 campaign and how are we going to adapt to prevent similar cyber campaigns in the future? The alleged attempt by Russia to influence the outcome of the US elections is today’s news. Yet this has not been and will not be the last time such operations have been conducted by nation-states, including our own.
In most of the U.S., getting to vote is not easy. Sure, it’s pretty straightforward to determine who is eligible: You must be a citizen of the United States and at least 18-years-old to cast a ballot in federal elections. But after that, there’s very little that is straightforward about U.S. elections. In hearing from hundreds of voters through several research projects over the last 5 years at the Center for Civic Design, we have learned a lot about the path to Election Day. During the 2012 presidential election we looked at 145 county election web sites to see what information was most prominent on them, and then asked 40 voters to try to find answers to their questions about the election on their local election department websites. In 2013 through 2015, we interviewed more than 100 first-time and low-propensity voters to understand their information needs. Then, leading up to the 2016 presidential election, we followed 50 voters through their processes for getting informed about that election for about 8 weeks.
Arizona: Settlement could show Maricopa County voters kicked off election rolls | The Arizona Republic
A settlement between the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office and a national voting-rights group could shine a light on how voters are removed from voting rolls across Greater Phoenix. The Recorder’s Office will turn over an electronic list of more than 2 million voter registrations to Project Vote, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan group. The organization last year sued the county after receiving a bill for $50,000 from the previous county recorder to obtain the data, even though political parties get the same information for free, as required by law.
A legislative panel on Wednesday narrowly rejected a bill that would transfer $18.5 million in surplus funds from the state Insurance Department’s trust fund to the secretary of state’s office to buy voting equipment for counties. The 14-member subcommittee’s 7-2 vote on Senate Bill 297, sponsored by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, fell one vote short of the eight votes required for approval. Hester said the money would buy “much-needed voting machines in each of our districts.” SB297 also would grant the secretary of state’s office $34.5 million in spending authority for county voting system grants.
District of Columbia: D.C. primary may move to June to avoid breaking federal law | The Washington Post
The District would permanently shift its primary elections to late June — ending years of struggle by city officials to comply with federal requirements for mailing ballots to voters overseas — under legislation D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) plans to introduce Tuesday. Allen’s bill would establish the third Tuesday in June as D.C.’s primary election date, beginning in 2018 — a closely watched election year in which the primary campaign will likely decide a number of high-profile citywide races, including the next mayoral contest. The legislation is meant to put an end to a protracted period in which city officials have shuffled the primary across the calendar to avoid breaking federal law, which requires that general-election ballots be sent to overseas voters at least 45 days before election day.
Time is running out for the Legislature to decide whether to allow counties in Montana to opt for mail-in ballots for the upcoming special congressional election. Senate Bill 305, which would allow for a mail election, passed the Senate 37-13 in February and gets its first hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls, said 46 of the state’s 56 counties have adopted a resolution to support the mail-in ballot election proposed by the bill, but it still needs to be signed by Gov. Steve Bullock by April 10 in order to take effect. Bullock announced early this month that the special election to fill now Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s vacated congressional seat will be held May 25. The bill indicates that the mail ballot plan must be submitted to the Secretary of State at least 45 days prior to the election.
Montana: Green Party, independent candidate sue for ballot access in Montana’s special House election | Bozeman Daily Chronicle
A trio of plaintiffs, including two from the Montana Green Party, are suing the Montana secretary of state in federal court to put two more candidates onto the special election ballot for U.S. House of Representatives. The lawsuit against Secretary of State Corey Stapleton was filed by Thomas and Danielle Breck of Missoula, and Steve Kelly of Bozeman, in U.S. District Court in Missoula on Wednesday. It says that Thomas Breck was selected on March 4 as the Montana Green Party’s nominee for the coming congressional election to replace Ryan Zinke, now secretary of the interior, as Montana’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives. It also says that Kelly would like to run as an independent candidate in the same election to be held on May 25.