election interference

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National: Sessions will keep Rosenstein in charge of Russia investigation | CNN

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking responsibility for authorizing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to remain in charge of the Russia investigation, and detailed the process by which former FBI Director James Comey was fired. The comments come amid criticism from Republicans for the Justice Department’s decision to keep Rosenstein in charge of the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling in 2016, and any possible collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign. Sessions said in an interview released Thursday that he was the one who made the decision to recommend to Trump that he fire Comey, not Rosenstein — and that therefore Rosenstein isn’t disqualified from his role in the Russia investigation. “That decision … really fell to me, ultimately, on the Comey matter,” Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation, told Hill.TV’s “Rising.” “And that’s not a disqualifying thing.” Read More

National: Foreign interference in U.S. elections still going on, Mueller says | Euronews

Foreign efforts to interfere in U.S. elections are still going on just five months before the midterm elections, special counsel Robert Mueller told a judge on Tuesday. Mueller made the assertion in a filing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., in his prosecution of 13 Russian nationals and three companies who were indicted in February on charges including interference in the 2016 presidential election. It says the government believes foreign “individuals and entities” are continuing to “engage in interference operations like those charged in the present indictment.” The filing seeks to protect evidence requested by one of the companies, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, which provides food services at the Kremlin and is run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, who prosecutors allege is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and has had “extensive dealings” with the Russian Defense Ministry.

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National: Democrats and Republicans split over using hacked material in campaigns | CyberScoop

Another Democrat-Republican feud is showing that when it comes to politically charged hacking, politics may not stop at the water’s edge. The divide is focused on whether political parties should be allowed to use insider information that’s provided by hackers; similar to what occurred at the state level in 2016. Last week, a Democratic lawmaker on the House Intelligence Committee introduced a bill that would punish federal candidates if they fail to notify the FBI whenever a suspected hacking group offers them political dirt. On Thursday, Rep. Eric Swalwell introduced the “Duty to Report Act.” The proposed law would make it a crime for campaign staffers to not tip the government off to certain suspected hacking activities. Read More

International: The West still isn’t prepared to stop Russia meddling in elections | Politico

Between now and the next U.S. presidential election in 2020, Western voters will go to the polls in more than 20 elections. Looking at recent cases of election meddling in both the U.S. and Europe, and the patchy responses from our democratic institutions, there is every reason to believe that these elections provide 20 ripe new targets for Russia and others to interfere. Foreign interference is a relatively low-cost affair in terms of human or financial resources needed. Yet it brings the almost guaranteed advantage of undermining confidence in our legitimate institutions, something non-democratic regimes like Russia relish in. Worryingly, Western governments are still fighting the last war: They’re stuck in the blunt 2016 lexis of “fake news,” while current trends indicate that Russia and similar adversaries are sharpening their toolkit. Read More

Canada: 2019 federal election a likely target for Russian meddlers, Comey warns | The Canadian Press

Canada — like any number of democracies around the world — needs to be concerned about the threat of Russian interference in its elections, says former FBI director James Comey. Any country that shares liberal, democratic and western values should be worried, considering how much of a threat those values are considered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, one of the world’s most famous former investigators told an Ottawa audience Tuesday. Comey headed up the controversial investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election before he was unceremoniously fired last May by U.S. President Donald Trump. Read More

Sweden: How Sweden is preparing for its election to be hacked | BBC

Russia has been repeatedly accused of interfering in recent elections. But Sweden is determined it won’t fall victim to any such meddling – with millions of leaflets being distributed and propaganda-spotting lessons for students. As campaigning intensified in the French election, the team of now President Emmanuel Macron said it was a target for “fake news” by Russian media and the victim of “hundreds if not thousands” of cyber-attacks from inside Russia. In Washington, sanctions were recently imposed on 19 Russians accused of interference in the 2016 US election and “destructive” cyber-attacks. Read More

National: Trump claims, without evidence, that Mueller team plans to meddle in midterm elections | The Washington Post

President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused prosecutors working on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election of planning to meddle in this year’s midterm elections, escalating his attack on the probe while offering no evidence to back up his assertion. In several morning tweets, Trump attempted to cast himself as the victim of a partisan assault, part of a pattern of political deflection in recent days where the president has made false or exaggerated statements in defending his policies or attacking his perceived enemies. Over the weekend, Trump blamed Democrats for his policy of separating migrant families at the border, falsely said that the New York Times made up a source for a story on negotiations between the United States and North Korea, and continued to claim that the FBI’s use of a source to interact with members of his 2016 election team was an attempt to spy on the campaign. Read More

National: How has the Senate Intel committee stayed united on Russia probe? | USA Today

Congress’s last chance to tell Americans — in a bipartisan way — about Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election rests with 15 senators who meet twice a week behind closed doors. The Senate Intelligence Committee has become a rare symbol of unity on the divisive issue of Russia’s role in the presidential race — quite a feat for a panel with members ranging from conservative Trump ally Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to liberal Trump critic Kamala Harris, D-Calif. While bitter partisan fighting ripped apart the House Intelligence Committee and ended its Russia investigation in March with no agreement between Republicans and Democrats, the Senate panel managed to stay united. Read More

National: Trump Asked Sessions to Retain Control of Russia Inquiry After His Recusal | The New York Times

By the time Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for dinner one Saturday evening in March 2017, he had been receiving the presidential silent treatment for two days. Mr. Sessions had flown to Florida because Mr. Trump was refusing to take his calls about a pressing decision on his travel ban.  When they met, Mr. Trump was ready to talk — but not about the travel ban. His grievance was with Mr. Sessions: The president objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request. Mr. Sessions refused. Read More

Latvia: Latvia probes whether Russian money flows used to meddle in Europe | Reuters

Latvia is investigating whether its banks acted as conduits for Russian funds used to interfere in elections and politics elsewhere, after it received a warning from the United States, officials have told Reuters. The allegations, which highlight the country’s role as a stepping stone for Russian money on its way to the west, come after Latvia’s third largest bank was shut in February after being accused by the United States of money laundering. Foreign affairs minister Edgars Rinkevics told Reuters that citizens from Russia and former Soviet states, including people subject to U.S. sanctions, had put money in Latvian banks and some of it may have been used for political manipulation. Read More