Evidence is mounting that Russia took 4 clear paths to meddle in the US election – Business Insider

Donald Trump and Hillary ClintonUS President Donald Trump
and Hillary Clinton.
Mark Wilson/Getty
Images; Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business

It was September 2015 when the FBI first noticed that Russian
hackers had infiltrated a computer system belonging to the
Democratic National Committee.

It was the first sign that Moscow was attempting to meddle in the
presidential election.

Nearly a year later, further reporting and testimony from current
and former intelligence officials have painted a portrait of
Russia’s election interference as a multifaceted, well-planned,
and coordinated campaign aimed at undermining the backbone of
American democracy: free and fair elections.

Now, as FBI special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional
intelligence committees continue to investigate Russia’s election
interference, evidence is emerging that the hacking and
disinformation campaign waged at the direction of Russian
President Vladimir Putin took at least four separate but related

The first involved establishing personal contact with Americans
perceived as sympathetic to Moscow — such as former Defense
Intelligence Agency chief Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign
chairman Paul Manafort, and early Trump foreign-policy adviser
Carter Page — and using them as a means to further Russia’s
foreign-policy goals.

The second involved hacking the Democratic National Committee
email servers and then giving the material to WikiLeaks, which
leaked the emails in batches throughout the second half of 2016.

The third was to amplify the propaganda value of the leaked
emails with a disinformation campaign waged predominantly on
Facebook and Twitter, in an effort to use automated bots to
spread fake news and pro-Trump agitprop.

And the fourth was to breach US voting systems in as many as 39
states leading up to the election, in an effort to steal
registration data that officials say could be used to
target and manipulate voters in future elections.

[Un]witting agents

AP Photo/J. Scott

Former FBI Director James Comey
confirmed in a hearing before the Senate Intelligence
Committee in March, two months before he was fired, that the
bureau was investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016
election. That probe included an examination of whether the Trump
campaign colluded with Moscow to undermine Hillary Clinton, Comey
testified at the time.

Restrictions on disclosing classified information in an open
setting precluded Comey from naming names; but reports surfaced
before he testified that certain members of Trump’s campaign had
communicated with Russian officials in ways that raised red

Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Carter Page, Jared Kushner, and
Roger Stone were among those being looked at by federal
investigators, reports said, amid the FBI and congressional
probes into whether any Trump associates acted as agents of the
Kremlin, wittingly or not.

Flynn was forced to resign as national-security adviser in
February after it emerged he had discussed US sanctions with
Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, during the
transition period. The White House said Flynn resigned because he
misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversation with

It was later reported that the acting attorney general, Sally
Yates, had warned the White House in January that Flynn could be
vulnerable to Russian blackmail, because US intelligence knew
Pence had publicly mischaracterized Flynn’s interactions with

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, worked to
advance Russian interests for over a decade. Beginning in 2004,
Manafort served as a top adviser to former Ukrainian President
Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian strongman whom Manafort is
widely credited with helping win the presidency in 2010. Between
2006 and 2009, Manafort was paid millions to lobby on behalf of
Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. AP reporter Jeff Horwitz

told Fox News that Manafort was “a gun for hire” who was
willing to work explicitly “on behalf of Russian interests.”

Carter Page, an early foreign-policy adviser to Trump’s campaign,
has also become a subject of FBI and congressional
investigations. His trip to Moscow in July 2016 raised red flags
at the FBI, which was granted a warrant by the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Page’s communications
on suspicion that he was communicating with Russian officials.

Jared KushnerJared

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, became a
subject of the investigation after US intelligence officials
intercepted communications suggesting he had proposed setting up
a secret backchannel to Moscow using Russian diplomatic
facilities on US soil. Kushner met with both Kislyak and Russian
banker Sergey Gorkov in December and failed to disclose it on his
security-clearance form.

And Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to Trump, communicated with a
self-described hacker, Guccifer 2.0, in August 2016 who US
intelligence officials believe was a Russian prop.

Former FBI Special Agent Clint Watts told the Senate Intelligence
Committee in May that the Trump campaign itself may have been an
unwitting agent of Russia.

“Part of the reasons active measures have worked in the US
election is because the commander-in-chief has used Russian
active measures at times against his opponents,” Watts said,
pointing to Manafort and Trump’s citations of fake-news stories
pushed out by Russian-linked entities last year.

“[Trump] denies the intel from the United States about Russia,
and he claimed the election could be rigged — that was the number
one claim pushed by RT, Sputnik News, all the way up until the
election,” Watts said. “Part of the reasons Russian active
measures work is because they parrot the same lines.”

Indeed, the Trump transition team
released a statement in December that appeared to cast doubt
on the CIA’s findings that Russia had meddled in the election
with the specific purpose of damaging Clinton’s candidacy and
swinging voters towards Trump.

“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons
of mass destruction,” the statement said.

The DNC, WikiLeaks, and Guccifer 2.0

In July 2016, the Democratic National Committee announced that
Russian hacking groups known as “Cozy Bear” and “Fancy Bear” had
infiltrated its servers. The intrusions came after federal
investigators warned the
DNC in September 2015 that its servers had been breached, but
the DNC failed to take action.

After gaining access to the DNC’s system in 2016, Fancy Bear and
Cozy Bear disseminated thousands of emails via hacker Guccifer
2.0, who leaked the information to WikiLeaks. US intelligence
agencies believe Guccifer 2.0 was created by Fancy Bear, or a
Russian organization affiliated with the group. WikiLeaks
published the first batch of DNC emails on July 22, one day
before the Democratic National Convention.

julian assangeWikiLeaks founder Julian
Carl Court/Getty

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Fox News’ Sean Hannity
during a January interview that
the Russian government did not provide the hacked DNC emails to
him. But US intelligence agencies believe WikiLeaks has become a
Kremlin propaganda tool.

Cybersecurity experts at the intelligence firm ThreatConnect also
linked Guccifer 2.0 back to Russia and concluded the hacker was
the product of a
Russian disinformation campaign.
The New York Times reported in December that Guccifer 2.0 had
also hacked into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
and released the information to reporters covering competitive
House districts.

A little over two months later, on October 7, WikiLeaks released
a batch of emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s
account. The hack of Podesta’s emails came after
Trump confidant Roger Stone tweeted in August, “Trust me, it
will soon the [sic] Podesta’s time in the barrel.

WikiLeaks continued releasing Podesta’s emails and published
nearly 60,000 messages leading up to Election Day. Podesta

said after the initial breach that Russian intelligence was

Roger StoneRoger

“A big difference to me in the past was, while there was
cyberactivity, we never saw in previous presidential elections
information being published on such a massive scale that had been
illegally removed both from private individuals as well as
organizations associated with the democratic process both inside
the government and outside the government,” Adm. Mike Rogers, the
director of the National Security Agency, told the House
Intelligence Committee in March.

It soon emerged that Russian hackers had also accessed the
Republican National Committee’s servers and accounts belonging to
Republican officials, but had chosen
not to release the information. This development appeared to
confirm intelligence findings that Russian meddling was done
specifically to hurt Clinton and aid Trump.

The US intelligence community “is confident that the Russian
Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US
persons and institutions, including from US political
organizations,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
and the Department of Homeland Security said in a
joint statement shortly after the first batch of Podesta’s
emails were first leaked.

During a January hearing before the Senate Armed Services
Committee with other intelligence chiefs,
Clapper reaffirmed that finding. “We stand more resolutely on
that statement,” he said.

Fake news, trolls, botnets

In early January, the Office of the Director of National
Intelligence released a
declassified report documenting the results of the
investigation former President Barack Obama had requested into
Russian election interference.

Vladimir PutinRussian President Vladimir
Adam Berry/Getty

The report said that while Russian operatives did not change vote
tallies, Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an
elaborate effort to propel Trump to the presidency — not only via
hacking but also through the dissemination of “fake news” aimed
at undermining Clinton and boosting Trump.

The Russians, Comey said in March, were also “unusually loud” in
their intervention, leaving digital footprints on the DNC and
John Podesta email hacks that were sloppy and easily linked back
to the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, state-sponsored Russian news agencies like RT and
Sputnik, openly backed Trump. And automated Twitter accounts —
many of them linked to Russia and
aided by professional trolls paid by the Kremlin — flooded
the social-media platform with pro-Trump rhetoric and made-up
news throughout the campaign and especially in the days leading
up to the election.

The bots
favored Trump by five-to-one, according to Sam Woolley of the
Oxford Internet Institute’s computational propaganda institute.

Russian internet trolls — paid by the Kremlin to spread false
information on the internet — have been behind a number of
“highly coordinated campaigns” to deceive the American public,
journalist Adrian Chen
found when researching Russian troll factories in St.
Petersburg in 2015.

It’s a brand of information warfare, known as “dezinformatsiya,”
that has been used by the Russians since at least the Cold War.
The disinformation campaigns are only one “active measure” tool
used by Russian intelligence to “sow discord among,” and within,
nations perceived as hostile to Russia.

From his interviews with former trolls employed by Russia, Chen
gathered that the point of their jobs “was to weave propaganda
seamlessly into what appeared to be the nonpolitical musings of
an everyday person.

“Russia’s information war might be thought of as the biggest
trolling operation in history,” Chen wrote. “And its target is
nothing less than the utility of the Internet as a democratic

In a telling case study of how widespread and pervasive fake news
was during the election,
Oxford University researchers found that nearly half of the
news Michigan voters were exposed to on Twitter leading up to
Election Day was fake. They found that the proportion of
“professional to junk news” was “roughly one-to-one,” and that
“fully 46.5% of all content presented as news” about politics and
the election fell under “the definition of propaganda” when
unverified WikiLeaks content and Russian-origin news stories were
factored in.

donald trumpPresident

As many as 39 state-election systems targeted

In January, President-elect Trump issued
a statement after he was briefed on the intelligence
community’s classified report on Russia’s election interference.

“While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people
are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure
of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations
including the Democrat [sic] National Committee, there was
absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the
fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting

As it turns out, that was not entirely true.

reported in June that election systems in as many as 39
states could have been attacked, though voting tallies are not
believed to have been altered or manipulated in any way.

“In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders
tried to delete or alter voter data,” Bloomberg said. “The
hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on
Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign
finance database.”

The report was bolstered by a leaked NSA document published by
The Intercept earlier this month detailing how hackers connected
to Russian military intelligence had attempted to breach US
voting systems days before the election.

National-security experts
were floored by the document and said it was the clearest
evidence so far that Russia interfered in the election.

Department of Homeland Security official Jeanette Manfra
confirmed to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 21 that
Russian hackers targeted at least 21 states’ election systems in
2016, successfully exploiting a small number of networks and
stealing voter registration data. Time reported on Thursday that
the hackers successfully altered voter information in at least
one election database and stole thousands of voter records
containing private information like Social Security numbers.

The exposure of that data has left upcoming elections vulnerable
to manipulation. Virginia and New Jersey will hold gubernatorial
elections later this year, and all 435 seats in the House and 33
of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested in the 2018
midterm elections.

Putin has consistently denied the Kremlin had anything to do with
the hacking or disinformation campaigns waged in 2016 to bolster
Trump and hurt Clinton. But he acknowledged
a potential Russian role for the first time earlier this
month when he said that “patriotically minded” Russian citizens
might have taken it upon themselves “to fight against those who
say bad things about Russia.”

SEE ALSO:‘This is huge’: National security experts were floored by the leaked NSA document on Russian election hack

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Texas Mother Accused of Leaving 2 Children to Die in Hot Car to Teach a ‘Lesson’ – NBCNews.com

A Texas mother faces first-degree felony charges in the deaths of her 2-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son after police say she locked them inside a sweltering car last month to teach them a lesson.

Cynthia Marie Randolph, 24, was arrested Friday on two counts of causing injury to a child. Authorities later determined that the children died from extreme heat exposure.

The incident happened on May 26, when Randolph’s 2-year-old daughter, Juliet, and 1-year-old son, Cavanaugh, were found dead in a locked car in the driveway of her home outside of Fort Worth, police said.

Image: Cynthia RandolphImage: Cynthia Randolph

Cynthia Randolph was arrested in connection with the deaths of her two children from extreme heat exposure after they were found locked inside a car on May 26, 2017.Parker County Sheriff’s Office

Temperatures hovered around 96 degrees that day, reported NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.

In documents released Friday, the Parker County Sheriff’s Department used Randolph’s alleged shifting statements about how her children died as probable cause to charge her.

Authorities said Randolph initially told officers that she had been folding laundry in the house while her children played outside. When she didn’t hear from them for nearly half an hour, Randolph said she searched for the toddlers before discovering them locked inside the car, alongside her keys and cellphone.

She then told officers that she had to break a window and rescue the children, then called 911, authorities said.

But when she was arrested Friday, police said Randolph admitted to officers that she locked the children inside the car on purpose.

“When they refused to leave the car, the defendant said she shut the door to teach Juliet a lesson, thinking she could get herself and her brother out of the car when ready,” authorities said in the probable cause affidavit.

It added that Randolph told officers that she went inside the home, smoked marijuana and fell asleep for several hours.

“When she woke, the defendant found her children in her vehicle, unresponsive,” authorities added. “The defendant said that she broke the car window to make it look like an accident.”

Randolph was booked into the Parker County Jail. A bond had not been set and it wasn’t immediately clear whether she retained an attorney, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported.

So far this year, 13 children have died from heat strokes after being left in hot cars, according to San Jose State University professor Jan Null. Null, who is a meteorologist that works with the National Safety Council, maintains a website that tracks trends in hot car deaths each year.

According to her research, an average 37 children die in hot cars annually in the United States.

In an effort to combat the rise in hot car deaths, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, introduced the Hot Cars Act of 2017. If passed, the legislation would require new cars to come equipped with a system for alerting the driver if a child is left in the back seat after the car is turned off.

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With five holdouts on health-care bill, McConnell is in for a final frenzy of negotiation – Washington Post

By Paul Kane,

The stark divide among Republicans on reshaping the nation’s health system came into full view over the last few days.

Formally unveiled Thursday, the Senate Republican plan came under immediate friendly fire from within Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s GOP conference. The Kentucky Republican now has just a few days to try to navigate the perilous path in trying to appease one bloc of holdouts without losing votes from another bloc.

It sets up a final frenzy of negotiation, as McConnell has determined he’ll finish with the legislation one way or another by the end of this month. If he’s not careful, the GOP leader could end up being lambasted by conservatives and liberals alike for cutting narrow deals to try to buy off votes from individual senators in a similar manner used for passing the Affordable Care Act.

McConnell can only afford to lose two of the 52 Republicans in the Senate, but as the week went on, he had many more holdouts than that.

The highest profile defection, for now, came from Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who is usually a go-along-get-along acolyte to party leadership.

But Heller faces the most difficult reelection next year of any Republican and his state’s governor, Brian Sandoval, is extremely popular and remains a staunch supporter of the current funding structure for Medicaid’s expansion that led to nearly 300,000 of his residents to get health coverage.

“It’s simply not the answer,” he said Friday, with Sandoval at his side. He left some wiggle room to possibly support a rewritten draft but he made clear that his concerns went beyond just the Better Care Reconciliation Act’s phase out of federal support for the Medicaid expansion beginning in 2021. He questioned the plans protection for consumers to have guaranteed coverage for critical conditions and other proposals.

“It’s going to be very difficult to get me to a yes,” Heller said.

His comments came after a quartet of Senate conservatives announced their opposition to the legislation “as written” shortly after McConnell released the plan Thursday, on top of another handful of senators who have expressed concerns about various provisions in the 142-page draft.

One of those conservatives, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), received less attention than Heller but made clear just how far apart the two sides are in a nearly 900-word letter Friday to his constituents about the proposal. “No, the Senate healthcare bill released [Thursday] does not repeal Obamacare. It doesn’t even significantly reform American healthcare,” Lee wrote.

He went on to outline a demand that would in some ways undermine the very structure of the bill, allowing states to completely opt out of the law and create their own health-care systems. It’s the sort of demand that conservatives like but will be fiercely opposed by Democrats, as well as some Republicans, who fear that it would create too much chaos in the marketplace.

Republicans are acknowledging that they expect to know by Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest, whether they have the votes to pass the plan. If he can do it, McConnell then must spend the rest of the summer working with the House to see if they can pass the Senate bill, in whole, or negotiate a new compromise.

All of this makes the coming week’s initial vote — a simple parliamentary motion to begin debate — the critical test of support that will signal whether the legislation rises or falls.

“We take great care in doing the whip process, so we know before we go to the floor how the votes will turn out, so we’ll know that before that happens,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the majority whip, said Thursday.

Until now McConnell has said very little in public, operating what could be called a strategy of political risk minimization.

His secretive process has been criticized loud and clear, from Republicans and Democrats, but most of it has been directed at him. He does not mind absorbing media lashes if it keeps the heat focused on him and not his Republican colleagues. He did so last year when he absorbed most of the Democratic attack for refusing to consider the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland while his Republican incumbents faced little criticism for the move on the campaign trail.

The legislation will be in public view just a few days before the key votes, and by Friday the issue will be resolved, avoiding the long and politically debilitating negotiations that Democrats went through in 2009 and 2010.

But Democrats got a law passed, a really big one that went on to provide insurance to tens of millions of people, and they are now, after years of passively defending the ACA, fully engaged in promoting its benefits and trying to make Republicans look like mean-spirited accountants trying to balance the books on the backs of the poor.

McConnell must decide if he wants to cut side deals to win or if a good faith effort that comes up short is a better path forward politically.

So far the proposal only includes a modest $2 billion for a new funding stream to fight the opioid epidemic, an issue critical to a pair of Midwestern Republicans, Sens. Shelly Moore Capito (W. Va.) and Rob Portman (Ohio).

Once the Congressional Budget Office reports in the next few days about the financial impact of the proposal, McConnell will have a better sense of how many billions more in opioid funding could secure Portman and Capito’s votes.

Will Nevada get its own specific carve out on Medicaid funding to win over Heller?

That’s what McConnell’s nemesis, former Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), did in 2009 to win over wavering Democrats to pass the ACA. Then the majority leader, Reid included a provision that provided full federal funding for the Medicaid expansion just to Nebraska, winning the vote of then-Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who saw the initial proposal as an unfunded mandate.

The proposal was blasted as the “Cornhusker Kickback” and it was eventually nixed as the final version of the law had 100 percent funding for all states for three years and then phased down to 90 percent federally subsidized for Medicaid’s expansion.

“This bill is a legislative train wreck of historic proportions,” McConnell said the day that Reid, Nelson and other Democrats unveiled the final package just before Christmas 2009.

Now, McConnell faces a similar dilemma.

Read more from Paul Kane’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

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DAN Gaming runs through sweep of Invictus – ESPN


3:23 PM ET

Britton Hess

The surging DAN Gaming took down Invictus Gaming on Saturday in a dominant 2-0 sweep to kick off Week 3, Day 3 of the League of Legends Pro League in Shanghai.

The 2017 League of Legends Hub is your stop for all the information you need about the five major regions. You’ll find stats, standings, results, recaps and more, all in one place.

When DAN Gaming (4-2, 8-2 match record) entered the Rift in Game 1, it made the fact that it wasn’t intimidated by IG’s Korean superstars in Song “Rookie Eui-jin and Lee “Duke” Ho-seong abundantly clear. From the get-go DAN’s decisiveness proved to give an edge. Spotting IG jungler Ghao Zhen “Ning” Ning with the assistance of Rookie going for an early game red invade, DAN collapsed and took the first two kills of the game. DAN continued its blistering pace by taking objectives across the top half of the map while IG struggled to take its first turret. Perhaps IG’s biggest mistake was prioritizing giving the tank of Galio to Rookie in the mid lane in a matchup where his team could probably better use him as a damage dealer, or possibly allowing Joeng “Karin” Soo Jong to take Zac as he looked spectacular on the pick, securing easy teamfight wins for DAN. In the end it was a one-sided affair as DAN broke IG’s Nexus with a huge 22-to-4 kill lead, taking Game 1 in 32 minutes.

Early on in Game 2, Invictus (2-3, 5-7 match record) looked like it had a plan to counter DAN’s aggressive playstyle, prioritizing vision and keeping track of Karin’s Kha’Zix to slow his lane pressure. Up until the midgame, the plan looked effective as IG built a gold and objective

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Lennon Aid casino night happening tonight at McKenna Events Center – Herald Zeitung

If you’re looking to win big at the gambling table all for a good cause, there’s an event tonight you may not want to miss. 

The McKenna Events Center will house the annual Lennon-Aid fundraiser. Located at 801 W. San Antonio Street, the fun will get started at 6 p.m. with a casino night. 

Last year the Lennon-Aid Fundraiser was held at Tavern in the Gruene and featured a scavenger hunt and live music. This year the event will be a casino night where your $50 ticket will include a $1,000 chip to get your casino fun started. Cocktails and hor d’oeuvres will be prepared by three chefs with different areas of expertise. Complimentary snacks and desserts will also be provided by the chefs.

Attendees will have chances to win two round trip tickets from Southwest Airlines to anywhere in the continental US, plus chances to win trips to Las Vegas, Cancun and a cruise. There will be plenty of raffle items to win as well, far too many to list here.

Zack and Marci Walther, founders of the Lennon-Aid Foundation, started the organization after they lost their 10-week-old daughter, Lennon Marguerite Walther, to acute myeloid leukemia on June 1, 2015. Zack and Marci went through some extremely trying times during Lennon’s illness, so they made the decision to carry on her legacy by starting the Lennon-Aid Foundation, a non-profit organization. Lennon was treated at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio for a month, and was never released to return home. Many of the difficult experiences they encountered made the family aware that other families are also facing these issues too. The Lennon-Aid Foundation has a high level of awareness for the needs of these families, since Zack and Marci have walked in their shoes just two short

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