Critics, including Trump's former intelligence briefer, are concerned that he cannot be trusted with classified information after leaving office.
Read an exclusive excerpt by author Dan Morain, detailing Harris' journey from attorney general to dynamic senator to the first female VP.
When Amanda Litman first heard the words: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy,” she was at Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. It was October 7, 2016, a Friday afternoon, and The Washington Post published a bombshell: Donald Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee, had boasted about sexual assault in 2005. And it was on tape. “It was almost a feeling of: ‘Oh my god, we just won the election,’ complicated by the fact that so many of the women on our staff were deeply traumatised,” Litman said. She remembers female staffers listening to the audio over and over again, then leaving the office for 10-minute walks around the block. When they came back, they looked as though they had been crying.The audio, taken from an “Access Hollywood” shoot, seemed like a turning point in the election. Republican politicians quickly condemned Trump, many of them noting that as fathers of daughters, they had to speak up. Then-House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly urged the party’s chair to get the nominee out of the race. Trump’s daughter Ivanka reportedly pleaded with him to offer a full apology. Karen Pence, the wife of Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, was reportedly livid, but her husband decided it was too late to leave the ticket. In the 20 days that followed, 15 women came forward to say Trump had sexually abused them. Democrats thought this might be their shot to cement the election for Clinton, who would have been the first female president in US history.But come November, Trump won nonetheless.The same Republican politicians who claimed they couldn’t abide his words continued to back him. Then-congressman Jason Chaffetz, who said after the tape’s release that he couldn’t look his 15-year-old daughter in the eyes and still endorse Trump, announced 19 days later that he still planned to vote for the nominee. Once Trump became president, Ryan and other Republicans helped push through his priorities, which they shared. Trump went on to appoint Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault, to the Supreme Court.Four years later, the “Access Hollywood” tape is buried under Trump’s record in office, including mishandling the coronavirus pandemic, dismantling the immigration system, derailing climate change efforts and much, much more. This September, when former model Amy Dorris accused Trump of sexually assaulting her at the 1997 US Open, the charge was simply added to the list. Few, if any, Republicans spoke out, and the news cycle moved on.But women haven’t forgotten. Activists and former Clinton staffers say that the “Access Hollywood” tape (and Republicans’ subsequent inaction) helped lay the groundwork for a seismic national shift in both the dialogue surrounding sexual abuse and the political mobilisation of many women who had previously been passive observers.“It’s one of the reasons why the Women’s March was such a galvanising thing,” said Litman. “[Trump] didn’t just beat a woman candidate; he did so while denigrating women, which lays the cultural groundwork – along with the work Tarana Burke had been doing for years – for the Me Too movement.”At Least He’s Not ClintonWhen David Fahrenthold, the Washington Post reporter who first uncovered the “Access Hollywood” tape, reached out to the Trump campaign before publishing, they at first thought the transcript wasn’t real.“This doesn’t sound like me,” Trump said, according to a retelling of the weekend by Politico’s Tim Alberta. Then the campaign received the audio, and it was clear that it was Trump speaking. The campaign went into spin mode. “This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago,” Trump said in a statement to the Post, before quickly turning to his opponent’s husband. “Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologise if anyone was offended.”That non-apology didn’t quell the public outrage after the story was published, and Trump appeared on video later that night to try again. In a markedly un-Trump-like performance, he said he never claimed to be a perfect person. “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologise,” he said, before claiming the video was “a distraction from the important issues we’re facing today” and attacking Bill and Hillary Clinton for the former president’s sexual misconduct and alleged assaults, as well as accusing the former first lady of having bullied her husband’s victims. One person faced swift consequences: Billy Bush, the “Access Hollywood” host who laughed along with Trump on tape, was suspended from his job at the “Today” show and fired a week and a half later. It looked like Trump might face consequences too. Republican after Republican issued statements condemning him. “As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the 11-year-old video released yesterday,” Pence said in a statement, notably emphasising that the remarks were made a long time ago. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Trump’s comments “repugnant, and unacceptable in any circumstance”.Speaker Ryan uninvited Trump from a campaign event set to take place the next day. During a call with House Republicans on October 10, he told the lawmakers that he would not campaign with Trump or defend him. If others wanted to, that was up to them. “I’m going to spend the next 28 days working hard with all of our members to get re-elected because we need a check on Hillary Clinton if Donald Trump and Mike Pence don’t win the presidency,” Ryan said at the time, according to audio later published by Breitbart News.Some House Republicans agreed. Others didn’t – and the ones who wanted to defend Trump were some of the loudest voices. On the call, member after member said, “I don’t care how bad this is, you can’t let Hillary Clinton win,” according to a then-Republican aide. “It was very clear that everyone was still thinking in highly political terms.” That was the calculus: sure, what Trump said was bad. But at least he wasn’t Clinton.“It demonstrated what was to come in terms of being able to rationalise anything as long as you compare it to Democrats,” the former party aide said. Outrage, Pain And MotivationThe next episode of “Saturday Night Live” featured a sketch about the “Access Hollywood” tape that cut to Clinton campaign headquarters, where the candidate, played by Kate McKinnon, and her staff pop champagne.But in reality, learning about the tape wasn’t a gleeful moment for the Clinton team. “I was like: ‘Wow, they don’t usually get that wrong,’” said Jess McIntosh, who was a senior communication adviser to the campaign.Today, McIntosh likens the moment to learning last week that the president had been diagnosed with Covid-19: a pre-election shock that might impact the race, but certainly nothing to cheer over.In fact, for many Democrats, the tape was a sobering reminder of just how much was at stake in the election. Both Clinton and vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine responded swiftly to the audio. On October 7, Kaine told reporters that Trump’s words made him “sick to my stomach,” adding: “I’m sad to say that I’m not surprised.” Clinton tweeted the Washington Post story along with the comment: “This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to be president.” Two days later, Trump and Clinton were in St Louis facing off at the second presidential debate. When the tape came up, Clinton attempted to hammer home the idea that Trump’s denigration of women made him unfit to hold the highest office in the nation. “With prior Republican nominees for president, I disagreed with them, politics, policies, principles, but I never questioned their fitness to serve,” she said. “Donald Trump is different.” During the same debate, Trump stood behind Clinton and followed her across the stage – a physical posturing that many compared to stalking.Democrats and activists alike were also grappling with the larger cultural implications of a Republican nominee for president who bragged about sexual assault. At 7.48pm on the night the audio was published by The Washington Post, author Kelly Oxford tweeted, “Women: tweet me your first assaults. They aren’t just stats. I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me, I’m 12.” Women began responding, many using the hashtag #NotOkay. According to NPR, within a day, a million women had responded to Oxford’s callout.For so many, Trump’s words felt sickeningly familiar. They felt personal.Jess Morales Rocketto, who was working on the Clinton campaign in 2016 and is now the civic engagement director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the executive director of Care in Action, told HuffPost that the Trump tape – and working with fellow Clinton staffers to make people see the enormity of the moment – pushed her to grapple with her own sexual assault.“Engaging in that work [...] is what enabled me to understand what had happened to me,” Rocketto said.“And to make it something that was not just about what had happened to me, and instead use it as fuel and transformation for keeping myself safe, and keeping other women like me safe.”For Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director of UltraViolet, and other activists who focus on women’s and survivors’ issues, the “Access Hollywood” tape was a loud, clear and “rude awakening” to the ways that “American society continues to degrade women and reward people who abuse them.” Thomas also saw an opportunity for a larger conversation to come out of Trump bragging so brazenly about sexual assault. Because, as many pointed out in the days and months after the “Access Hollywood” tape dropped, sexually abusive “locker-room talk” was reflective of a cultural rot much larger than Donald Trump.“I remember thinking, like, that this was a pivotal exposure of what we knew was likely true about him and about his attitudes, but also the attitudes and the beliefs and behaviour of so many men like him,” said Thomas. “And that it was a hugely important opportunity for having a national conversation about why that attitude and behaviour is so toxic [and] so damaging.” ‘But Her Emails’ Takes OverBut the Trump campaign had a secret weapon. Trump and the campaign, via unofficial adviser Roger Stone, knew as of August that WikiLeaks had obtained hacked emails from Democratic Party staffers, including Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report published in August of this year. The hack was unrelated to Clinton’s previous email controversy, which had to do with her use of a private server for some official business as secretary of state. But given the sensitivity of “email” and “Clinton”, it could still be highly damaging. According to US intelligence, the hack was carried out by Russians, whom Trump had openly courted to find Clinton’s “missing” emails.On October 7, Stone learned about the “Access Hollywood” tape before its release and called Jerome Corsi, an infamous conspiracy theorist, to ask him to get in touch with WikiLeaks, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee report. Stone “[w]anted the Podesta stuff to balance the news cycle,” Corsi told the committee.“According to Corsi, Stone also told him to have WikiLeaks ‘drop the Podesta emails immediately,’” the committee report states. Later that day, WikiLeaks did. McIntosh, the former Clinton adviser, was dismayed at how quickly the media seized on the hacked emails even amid the news that Trump had admitted to sexual assault. The media’s focus on the “Access Hollywood” tape “only lasted until everybody got into John Podesta’s risotto recipe,” McIntosh said. “They played journalists so perfectly with that release. They had that in their back pocket for their ‘break glass in case of emergency’. This was clearly the emergency. They broke the glass and everybody scattered for it.”In the following weeks, even as multiple women accused Trump of sexual assault, reporters continued to question him on other matters, which McIntosh found disappointing. “I am pretty sure if Hillary Clinton had been accused of assaulting somebody, that would be the last time someone asked her about her climate change plan,” McIntosh said. “The only questions would be: ‘When are you going to drop out of the race?’ And that was simply not what happened.” They had that in their back pocket for their ‘break glass in case of emergency.’ This was clearly the emergency. They broke the glass and everybody scattered for it.Jess McIntosh, a former Clinton staffer, on the WikiLeaks release of Democratic Party emailsAbout a week before the election, then-FBI Director James Comey released a letter saying the agency was examining more of Clinton’s emails – an announcement that Clinton blames, in part, for her ultimate loss. The Democratic candidate’s emails remained in the news. The same Republicans who had condemned Trump’s remarks continued to back him.And then, a month and approximately a million news cycles later, Trump won. Despite the polls, despite the “Access Hollywood” tape, despite the allegations of 15-plus women. The man who openly denigrated women, immigrants and people of colour was going to ascend to the highest office in the nation. Litman remembers thinking about Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” comments on election night as she watched the returns come in from the Javits Center in New York City. “I could not stop thinking about: what does this tell little girls and what does this tell little boys,” said Litman.“[For little girls], you can be talked about this way, you can be treated this way, you can be assaulted this way, and there will be no punishment. For little boys, you have to behave this way to gain power. What a horrible message.”The Birth Of The ‘Pussy Hat’However, after the initial shock and grief subsided, something else happened. Lots of American women who had once observed politics from the sidelines were angry. Furious, even. And they started organising. Within four weeks, thousands of women had signed up for programmes designed to help people run for political office.Litman sees the mass, sustained effort as a response to the obvious lack of consequences for egregious behaviour, like openly bragging about sexual assault, coupled with more than 15 women telling the country that this man had assaulted them.“He did this and then he got rewarded,” said Litman. “There were tapes. It wasn’t just a ‘he said, she said’. He bragged about [assault] and then he got the highest office in the land. There’s no sense of justice.” On November 8, just hours after Trump was elected, retired attorney Teresa Shook posted on Facebook suggesting that women march on Washington. The post lit a spark that turned into the Women’s March – the largest single-day protest in US history. Thanks to seasoned organisers Carmen Perez, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, who stepped in early to help, the Women’s March brought an estimated 500,000 people to DC on January 21, 2017, the day after Trump’s inauguration. (The New York Times reported that crowd scientists thought the march drew a crowd three times larger than that on Inauguration Day.) Sister protests happened around the nation and the world. Many of the participants showed up wearing handmade pink “pussy hats”, a direct response to the president’s “grab ’em by the pussy” comment.Less than three months later, organisers showed up again, this time to protest the continued employment of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, after news broke that the network had settled five separate sexual harassment lawsuits on his behalf since 2002. On April 19, 2017, O’Reilly was officially ousted from Fox.“There was a [new] opportunity for holding people in positions of power accountable for abusing or harassing their staff,” said Thomas. “We were ready. The survivors came forward, the evidence was overwhelming, but it was also Fox News. It was an important moment to demonstrate the public lack of patience and disinterest in continuing to see institutions protecting abusers from accountability.”Trump’s Republican Party TakeoverThe opposition from women didn’t seem to greatly affect Trump, who soon after his election began to suggest to Republican senators and other allies that the tape wasn’t real, The New York Times reported in 2017.Trump went on to push policies that harmed women and to back powerful men in spite of allegations that they had harmed women. He supported Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore of Alabama in 2017 as Moore faced allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, including against teenage girls. Trump stuck with Kavanaugh when the now-Supreme Court justice was accused of sexual assault. He defended his former aide Rob Porter after Porter resigned from the White House due to accusations he had abused his ex-wives. All three men have denied the allegations against them.The “Access Hollywood” tape continued to come up. UltraViolet Action played the tape on loop outside the Capitol in 2018 to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination.Activists stress that there isn’t one straight line from the “Access Hollywood” tape to a movement, but that it is all connected.“There’s no way of knowing all the ways this stuff ripples out,” Rocketto said. If the Trump tape hadn’t been exposed by The Washington Post, she’s not sure if she would have ultimately organised against Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “I wouldn’t have confronted Senator [Ted] Cruz in an elevator,” Rocketto said. “You don’t have Christine Blasey Ford coming forward [about Kavanaugh] without Me Too. And you don’t have a wave of women being elected.”During the 2018 midterm elections, 125 women were elected in House, Senate and governor races. And not only did women run for elected office, they also spoke out about their own experiences with sexual harassment and abuse. Litman, who is now the executive director of Run for Something, an organisation that helps recruit and support young Democrats running for office, told HuffPost that the shift in candidates’ openness about surviving sexual abuse has been significant. “We work with these candidates who incorporate their experience as survivors into their campaigns,” Litman said. “I don’t think that would have happened before four years ago.”Four years after the “Access Hollywood” tape was revealed, Trump remains president and Republicans still control the Senate, where they are fighting to confirm a new Supreme Court justice who could put abortion rights at risk. Except now, we are also in the midst of a global pandemic, in which more than 200,000 Americans have died, millions have lost their jobs, and women – especially women of colour – have been hit especially hard.There’s still plenty to fight for.“If you were scared by that tape, you should be really scared right now,” said Rocketto. “And if you’re scared, the only way to get past that is to do something about it.”
The memo was "incoherent" and "you could almost feel the spittle coming off the paper," according to Andrew Weissmann's new memoir.
It’s 7 pm on a Monday night in late September, and Andrew Yang, the most idiosyncratic of presidential candidates, is about to storm a stage in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park.Many are wearing hats that say “math,” an acronym for Make America Think Harder.His face, chiseled by a generous graphic artist into something resembling Daniel Craig’s, is on posters all around.A more accurate depiction—with softer lines and a bigger smile—grins from hundreds of shirts and fake $1,000 bills, symbolizing Yang’s signature idea of giving every American adult a “freedom dividend” of $1,000 a month for life.“He seems to think about everything with a clear head.”Eventually, the real Yang comes bounding onstage and immediately launches into the core argument of his candidacy: Donald Trump wasn’t elected because of Russia, James Comey, or Macedonian trolls.
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Former special counsel Robert Mueller's hearings before the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees Wednesday should be among the most important moments of the Trump presidency—the rare, and perhaps only, chance to question the man who has spent two years investigating and uncovering the various attempts of Donald Trump to circumvent US democracy.The first was allegedly led by Trump himself alongside his lawyer Michael Cohen, to cover up damaging stories about himself through federal felony campaign finance violations; the second, which Mueller literally charged as a “conspiracy against the United States” was led by the Russian government and involved a variety of pro-Trump, anti-Clinton information operations, advanced through identity fraud, computer hacking felonies, and other crimes.Both conspiracies represent attempts to corrupt the democratic practice of free, open, and transparent elections.It’s important that Democrats keep the focus of the next week's hearing on that core message, because GOP members have made clear they plan to muddy Mueller’s findings—and his reputation—by shouting a lot about Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Christopher Steele, and a host of other vague, conspiratorial theories that ultimately matter not at all to Mueller's central findings.Robert Mueller will pose a challenge to even the Democrats on the panel: a friendly but uncooperative witness, more prone to silence and deflection than the verbosity of a James Comey.Many, including some of his former Justice Department colleagues, hope Mueller will break with tradition and be blunt.
(Apple and Microsoft still seem relatively immune, for now.)But I find myself wondering: why does the ire go beyond that, into irrational territory?There are a sizable number of people out there who think — no, who don’t just think, who take as a given, as something no right-thinking person would ever dispute — that the most recent US presidential election went the way it did purely because of Facebook.I think it’s obvious that media treatment of Facebook and Google has grown much harsher since they have begun to realize that Facebook and Google are rapidly devouring the advertising money on which the media feed.I’m not suggesting that publishers are telling journalists to be critical; I’m suggesting that journalists are individually well aware of what’s going in their industry and are individually, but en masse, aligning against the threats to their collective livelihood.A learned helplessness has set in.
Your computer's webcam has always been a gateway for potential security intrusion, which is why people like Mark Zuckerberg and ex-FBI head James Comey put tape over theirs.On Monday, security researcher Jonathan Leitschuh gave Mac users another reason to fret over their webcams -- there's a security flaw in the Zoom video-conferencing app.Zoom is most notable for its click-to-join feature, where clicking on a browser link takes you directly to a video meeting in Zoom's app.But Leitschuh in a Medium post explained that he months ago discovered Zoom achieves this in insecure ways, allowing websites to join you to a call as well as activating your webcam without your permission.He adds that this would allow any webpage to denial-of-service a Mac by repeatedly joining you to an invalid call.Uninstalling the Zoom app from your Mac isn't enough to fix the problem, either.
The events of The Threat span the summer of 2016 through May 2017, encompassing the bungling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, the election of Donald Trump, the bureau’s investigation of Michael Flynn, and, finally, the 10 chaotic days that began with the firing of FBI director James Comey and ended with the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, the man who had preceded Comey at the bureau.Over the past two years, Trump and his cable news and talk radio allies have painted the trio of Rod Rosenstein, James Comey, and Andrew McCabe as an inseparable "Deep State" cabal.Much of the middle of McCabe’s book recounts the Clinton email investigation, codenamed MIDYEAR EXAM.McCabe makes clear how he felt about the case as it unfolded, saying the Justice Department’s leadership was “half-in, half-out, and all confused.” He labels the choices made by Comey and the DOJ about handling the matter as “feckless” and “fatal.”Amid the pre-election letter “reopening” the Clinton email investigation, Comey—according to McCabe—was more deeply concerned that prominent Clinton associates had donated money to McCabe’s wife’s state senate race than he had initially let on.McCabe, meanwhile, disagreed with Comey’s decision to send Congress a letter announcing that the investigation had been reopened—which didn’t much matter, because Comey cut McCabe out of the decisionmaking around the letter anyway.
He wrote: “In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I’m sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate.”Just how underhand this response was quickly became apparent – the trip to Afghanistan was being kept top-secret for security reasons and Trump’s letter blew any chance of it going ahead, even if she “flew commercial” as he suggested.The New York Times reported the probe began in the days after Trump fired James Comey as director of the FBI in May 2017 and said the agency’s counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether his actions constituted a possible threat to national security.In an interview with Jeanine Pirro, he was asked outright if he “had ever worked for Russia”.Backing up Trump’s claim that the president had never worked for Russia, Giuliani insisted he had “never said there was no collusion” between the president’s 2016 election campaign and the Kremlin – only that he’s said Trump himself was never involved.Aside from the fact Giuliani has made numerous claims that seemed to suggest both Trump and his associates have never colluded, the statement effectively laid out a defence against further revelations against members of the campaign team.
One, the strategic release of stolen documents through WikiLeaks, which were amplified by the US media, helped Russia manipulate news cycles in ways that diminished trust in Clinton and distracted from Trump’s gaffes.Two, a forged email purporting to be from Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in which Lynch promised to go easy on Clinton in the investigation into her private email server, led FBI Director James Comey to go rogue and hold a dramatic press conference calling Clinton’s actions “careless.” The email that sparked the press conference appears to have been Russian disinformation — but Comey’s concerns that Lynch’s integrity had been compromised changed the course of the campaign, and maybe history.Hall believes that voter modeling documents stolen from the DNC would have been useful to Russian hackers as they worked to sow division in key battleground states.In the meantime, Monday brought fresh reminders that Russia’s campaign is ongoing.Reddit’s largest group devoted to celebrating Trump, TheDonald, appears to have been targeted by Russian propagandists for years, reports Ryan Broderick:The bulk of the investigation that was posted to /r/FuckTheAltRight focused on two suspicious domains: brutalist.press and usareally.com.
He has every legal right to do so.But national security analysts and former intelligence officials say that such a demand isn't just largely unprecedented; it's potentially dangerous.The affected documents include certain pages of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application related to former Trump foreign policy aide Carter Page, and a number of FBI interview reports related to the Page FISA application and larger Russia investigation.President Trump has been fixated for more than a year on proving that a wiretap of Page—after he left the Trump campaign—was part of a partisan effort to undermine his candidacy.Additionally, Monday's White House order includes the public, unredacted release of a trove of text messages "relating to the Russia investigation" sent from and between former FBI director James Comey, former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, and current Justice Department official Bruce Ohr."I do not recall anything like this happening in the past," says Jeffrey Ringel, director at the intelligence consultancy The Soufan Group, who spent 21 years as a national security specialist at the FBI.
Longest-ever sentence for Russia hack whistleblower as defenders claim public serviceA former NSA translator who leaked a classified report into attempted Russian hacking of US voting systems has been sentenced to 63 months behind bars.Reality Winner received the longest sentence ever imposed for the unauthorized release of government information to the media.At the time, speculation was rife about Russian interference in the US presidential elections, and the same morning she printed off the report, President Trump fired FBI director James Comey in a move most consider an effort to shut down investigations into that meddling.The dossier she leaked revealed that American intelligence agencies knew of Russia's determined efforts to hack into voting systems – something that, when it was made public, came as news to even the election officials in Florida whose systems had been targeted.Regardless, the judge in Winner's case, James Randal Hall, sitting in a federal district court in southern Georgia, today gave her the maximum sentence allowable.
This fall, Showtime is turning two of Donald Trump’s favorite Twitter targets into docuseries.The premium cable network will air a docuseries in November that looks at the conflicts between U.S. presidents and the FBI, as well as one in October focusing on the political evolution of NBA athletes, which is executive produced by LeBron James.David Nevins, president and CEO of Showtime Networks, announced both projects today at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in L.A.The presidency/FBI series—tentatively titled Enemies: The President, Justice and the FBI—is inspired by Tim Weiner’s book, Enemies: A History of the FBI, which looks at what happens when presidents and the bureau abuse their respective power.The four-part series will debut on Sunday, Nov. 18 and cover the uneasy relationships between certain presidents and their respective FBI directors, from Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover to Trump and James Comey.Trump routinely bashes Comey, whom he fired in May 2017, and the “lying” FBI on Twitter.
It feels like it was only a matter of time before Robert Mueller started investigating Donald Trump’s tweets.And it seems that time has come.Specifically, Mueller reportedly wants to know if Trump’s behaviour adds up to obstruction of justice.Some of these statements could represent a pattern of intimidating witnesses and pressuring high level officials to stop investigating.His interest in them is the latest addition to a range of presidential actions he is investigating as a possible obstruction case: private interactions with Mr. Comey, Mr.Sessions and other senior administration officials about the Russia inquiry; misleading White House statements; public attacks; and possible pardon offers to potential witnesses.
The special counsel is also investigating a series of other actions by the president for a possible obstruction case, The Times reported.They include private meetings with Comey, Sessions and other officials about the Russia investigation, as well as misleading statements from the White House and public attacks, according to the paper.The two men are key witnesses in the inquiry.Mueller is looking into whether those acts qualify as attempts to obstruct the investigation "by both intimidating witnesses and pressuring senior law enforcement officials to tamp down the inquiry," according to The Times.Trump's lawyers told the publication that these acts don't constitute obstruction, and said the president shouldn't have to answer Mueller's questions.But some have also said they're concerned Mueller will use several pieces of evidence, such as the tweets, to string together a case that Trump partook in an effort to tamper with the investigation.
There may not be a lawmaker in Congress who has done more to shape the internet than Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).As a congressman, Wyden co-authored Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a piece of legislation that, in 1996, limited internet companies’ liability for what was posted on their platforms by third parties.In his more than two decades as a senator since then, Wyden has continued to be a staunch defender of internet freedoms, introducing net neutrality legislation as far back as 2006 and spearheading the congressional fight over SOPA/PIPA, a legislative battle that ignited the internet and helped set the modern playbook for digital activism.Over the last year, serious questions have emerged about Facebook’s mishandling of user data, children’s videos on YouTube, harassment and abuse on Twitter, and unscrupulous use of Google’s search system.“Back then, I think there was an awareness of the fact that there might be significant privacy issues, but I don’t think anybody was talking about an Exxon-Valdez of privacy the way people talk about it today,” Wyden says.The slim, six-foot-four lawmaker has a tendency to bang the table with the palm of his hand as he works his way through an issue, giving a hint of the studied intensity with which he famously grilled a former director of National Intelligence on digital spying programs in 2013.
When the history books are written, Rod Rosenstein might just be the most interesting figure of the Russia investigation—the beleaguered deputy attorney general whose memo in his first days on the job was used to justify the firing of James Comey.As congressional Republicans have sought to undermine the Justice Department’s integrity and independence, Rosenstein has made numerous short-term, tactical concessions to his critics, bending traditional rules and handing over documents to Congress about confidential sources and ongoing investigations—compromises that previous administrations would never have made.It was only the second time Rosenstein has personally issued the special counsel’s indictments, the other being February’s equally monumental indictment of the Russians involved in the Internet Research Agency’s social media campaigns during the election.Last month, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, joked to donors, “If you get me one more glass of wine, I’ll tell you stuff only Bob Mueller and I know.Mueller’s four buckets of indictments—stretching from the IRA’s information operations to the Russian intelligence active cyber attacks to the Kremlin-backed business deals of Paul Manafort to the 2016 Trump campaign contacts of George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn—appear to outline the possible four corners of a conspiracy that stretches from the Kremlin to Trump Tower, one that involves Putin-friendly oligarchs, the Russian military, and senior level campaign and transition officials whose motives weren’t necessarily “America first.”What lies in between those four corners is presumably what Mueller and Rosenstein know—and we can expect that the next round of indictments to begin to connect those dots, particularly in regard to the role of Americans who participated, wittingly or unwittingly, in the attacks.
A good ol’ fashioned meeting of world powers, in which North Korea promised to denuclearize for at least the seventh time in the last 30 years.Oh, and even if North Korea does actually go through with ditching its nukes this time, it’s going to be almost impossible to hold them accountable.The Inspector General report of the FBI’s actions during the 2016 presidential campaign came out this week as well.It did, however, show that the FBI and its former director James Comey made some not-great decisions in its probe of the Clinton email server.Everyone from Paul Manafort to Michael Cohen learned that encrypted messaging isn’t magic this week, and you should too before misplaced trust gets you in trouble.And US senators want straightforward answers from Amazon about exactly how much the Echo snoops on its owners.
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