Suspect revealed in CIA hacking tools dump

A former CIA computer programmer has come under suspicion for facilitating the largest loss of the spy agency’s documents — a devastating and embarrassing public leak of its cyber weapons arsenal, according to court documents.

But the former government employee, Joshua Adam Schulte, has not been charged with stealing or passing along the secret documents. Instead, he is being held in a New York City jail on child pornography charges as law enforcement continues to investigate how the cache of files were shuttled to WikiLeaks, the activist site that posted the purloined documents in March 2017.

Meanwhile, Schulte’s lawyers have protested that numerous government search warrants that gave investigators access to the suspect’s personal electronic devices were based on false information and failed to turn up “any connection to the WikiLeaks investigation,” according to a court hearing transcript from January.

Government prosecutors disputed the characterization, countering in the hearing that Continue reading “Suspect revealed in CIA hacking tools dump”

New Russia sanctions coming Monday, Haley says

The Trump administration is set to roll out more sanctions against Russia on Monday in the wake of the latest U.S. airstrikes on Syria, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday.

"You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down," she said on CBS’s "Face the Nation."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "will be announcing those on Monday, if he hasn’t already, and they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use," Haley explained.

"I think everyone is going to feel it at this point. I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message and our hope is that they listen to it," she said.

Russia, which is helping the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country’s years-long civil war, has condemned the airstrikes carried out Friday by the Continue reading “New Russia sanctions coming Monday, Haley says”

Kaine to oppose Pompeo for secretary of state

Sen. Tim Kaine announced on Sunday he would oppose Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state, further complicating the CIA director’s confirmation prospects on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“We have a president who is anti-diplomacy. And I worry that Mike Pompeo has shown the same tendency to oppose diplomacy," Kaine, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee who voted for Pompeo to take over the CIA, said on CBS’ "Face the Nation.”

"I don’t want a secretary of state who is going to exacerbate [President Donald Trump’s] tendencies," the Democratic senator from Virginia said, noting Pompeo’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and for taking military action without the approval of Congress.

In addition to Kaine, fellow panel members Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have signaled they would also vote against Pompeo’s nomination.

Even if Pompeo doesn’t win the committee’s endorsement, Senate Republican Continue reading “Kaine to oppose Pompeo for secretary of state”

Kaine: Trump not a ‘king,’ can’t go to war without Congress

Sen. Tim Kaine said on Sunday President Trump’s order to launch airstrikes against Syria without congressional approval is "illegal" and "reckless" absent a broader strategy.

"I hope President Trump will follow the American Constitution," the Democratic senator from Virginia said on CBS’s "Face the Nation.” "It’s very, very clear Congress has the power to declare war —and only Congress."

Trump "is not a king, he’s a president," Kaine added.

The president’s order to strike three chemical weapons facilities in Syria has renewed calls from Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike for the administration to seek a new legal framework to wage war on terrorists around the globe.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Kaine sits, is expected to take up in the next few weeks a bipartisan measure for the authorization of the use of military force that would replace those passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, Continue reading “Kaine: Trump not a ‘king,’ can’t go to war without Congress”

Sanders ‘not aware’ of any plans to fire Mueller or Rosenstein

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Sunday she isn’t aware of any plans to fire special counsel Robert Muller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

"I’m not aware of any plans to make those movements," she said on ABC’s "This Week."

But, she added, "We do have some real concerns with some of the activities and some of the scope that the investigation has gone."

President Donald Trump lashed out at Mueller and Rosenstein last week after the FBI raided the offices of his personal lawyer in New York, Michael Cohen, in part because of a referral from the special counsel.

Sanders repeated the administration claim that "there absolutely was no collusion with Russia, and that’s exactly what they’ve been investigating."

"Not only has the special counsel but a number of different congressional committees have been looking at this for over a year and Continue reading “Sanders ‘not aware’ of any plans to fire Mueller or Rosenstein”

Gowdy sees no basis to fire Rosenstein over Mueller probe

House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy says President Donald Trump shouldn’t fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because of the ongoing special counsel investigation.

"I don’t see a basis for firing him in the handling of this probe," the retiring Republican congressman from South Carolina said on "Fox News Sunday."

The president’s ire over the investigation into possible Trump campaign’s ties with Russia, which Rosenstein stepped in to oversee after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself last year, has grown considerably over the last week after Rosenstein authorized the raid in New York on longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, noted the decision to conduct the raid had to be made a the "highest level" of the Justice Department and that a "neutral, detached" federal judge "who has nothing to do with politics" had to sign off on the warrant, which was, in part, made on Continue reading “Gowdy sees no basis to fire Rosenstein over Mueller probe”

Haley warns: If Assad doesn’t get it, ‘it will hurt’

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Sunday said if Syrian President Bashar Assad uses chemical weapons against his own people again there’ll be more strikes against his regime.

"If Assad doesn’t get it, it’s going to hurt," Haley said on "Fox News Sunday." "If Assad continues to go forward there will be more, and it will hurt.”

The stern warning comes after the U.S. and European allies launched airstrikes on a handful of targets after what U.S. officials say was a poison gas attack on civilians by the Assad regime.

Haley said the chemical attack in Douma, Syria, was "egregious, it was barbaric, and it was disgusting," adding the airstrikes were the result of "cumulative wave" of actions by Assad.

But, asked if more strikes were in the offing, Haley demurred.

"That is totally up to Assad," she said, adding later, "He Continue reading “Haley warns: If Assad doesn’t get it, ‘it will hurt’”

Ryan says he’s leaving behind a ‘darn good legacy’

House Speaker Paul Ryan is pushing back against reports that his congressional legacy will be overshadowed by a perceived deference to President Donald Trump.

Since announcing last week that he’s not seeking re-election and will retire from Congress in January, the Wisconsin Republican has come under criticism in both national and local media for not doing enough to stand up to the commander in chief or sticking to his long-held conservative views on fiscal spending.

In an interview airing Sunday on NBC’s "Meet the Press," Ryan ticked off some legislative accomplishments, including the recent $1.5 trillion tax cut and establishing "empowerment zones."

"We have done what needs to be done to get a stronger, more durable foundation under the economy," the speaker said, adding that he’s "excited" about the GOP’s agenda, which will "focus on career and technical education."

"We’re going to focus on getting people from Continue reading “Ryan says he’s leaving behind a ‘darn good legacy’”

Trump taps Army cyber chief as next NSA head

President Donald Trump on Tuesday nominated Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the leader of the Army’s digital warfighting arm, to helm the National Security Agency.

The move, which was long expected, will also put Nakasone atop U.S. Cyber Command, the Defense Department’s digital warfighting unit, once he is confirmed by the Senate. The two organizations have shared a leader since the Pentagon launched Cyber Command in 2009.

Rob Joyce, Trump’s top cyber adviser, announced the pick on Twitter.

"An exceptional leader for two exceptional [organizations], he brings great experience and strong cyber background," Joyce wrote.

Both the NSA and Cyber Command need a new head after current NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers announced he would retire this spring after a nearly four-year term.

Nakasone, 54, has been the chief of Army Cyber Command since late 2016. In that role, he also directed Joint Task Force Ares, a special unit Continue reading “Trump taps Army cyber chief as next NSA head”

FBI director puts responsibility for Porter on White House

Trump expected to tap Army cyber warfare chief to lead NSA

President Donald Trump is expected to pick Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the head of the Army’s digital warfare branch, to head the clandestine National Security Agency, according to multiple people on and off Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon with knowledge of the situation.

The NSA is looking for a new leader after its current director, Adm. Mike Rogers, announced he will retire this spring, ending a near four-year run.

Picking Nakasone — who took the reins at Army Cyber Command in late 2016 — would place someone deeply versed in cyberspace operations atop the country’s premier intelligence-gathering service. As NSA head, Nakasone would also lead U.S. Cyber Command, the Pentagon’s digital warfare organization.

It’s unclear when the administration might formally announce the choice, but it’s believed the announcement could come in the next week or two, which means the Senate Armed Services Committee would hold a confirmation hearing Continue reading “Trump expected to tap Army cyber warfare chief to lead NSA”

Surveillance bill clears key hurdle amid confusion over Trump tweets

The House on Thursday passed a long-term extension of controversial online spying tools just hours after President Donald Trump sparked confusion with successive tweets that condemned, then supported the measure.

The bill, which passed by a 256-164 vote, would renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for six years, allowing the intelligence agencies to retain powers that libertarians and privacy advocates have spent years trying to rein in, but that national security leaders say are critical to the country’s fight against terrorism and crime.

The measure now heads to the Senate, where it has a good shot of passing, although at least two lawmakers have vowed to filibuster. The White House has said Trump will sign the bill if it gets to his desk.

Passage of the bill was in doubt until the final minutes. GOP leaders scrambled on Wednesday and into Thursday morning to gather the support Continue reading “Surveillance bill clears key hurdle amid confusion over Trump tweets”

Trump undercuts White House stance hours before critical surveillance vote

President Donald Trump on Thursday offered whiplash condemnation and then support for a White House-backed bill to renew controversial online surveillance efforts, sparking confusion just hours before the House is set to vote on the issue.

The remarks, which came via two early morning tweets, were made as Republican House leaders scrambled on Capitol Hill to secure the last-minute support needed to pass legislation to retain powerful overseas spying tools that national security leaders say are vital to the country’s fight against terrorism.

At 7:30 a.m., Trump first tweeted: "’House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.’ This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?" referring to the so-called Steele dossier, a compilation of alleged and unverified ties between Trump and Continue reading “Trump undercuts White House stance hours before critical surveillance vote”

Jones doesn’t think Trump should resign over harassment allegations

Alabama Sen.-elect Doug Jones broke with some members of his own Democratic Party on Sunday by refusing to call for President Donald Trump to step down over sexual harassment allegations.

“Those allegations were made before the election, and so people had an opportunity to judge before that election,” Jones said on CNN’s "State of the Union," referring to the 2016 presidential contest.

“We need to move on and not get distracted by those issues. Let’s get on with the real issues that are facing the people of this country right now," he added.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey and some other congressional Democrats have called for Trump to resign over allegations by at least 16 women that he engaged in sexual misconduct.

In last Tuesday’s special election in Alabama, Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore, who was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior toward Continue reading “Jones doesn’t think Trump should resign over harassment allegations”

White House not talking about firing Mueller, top aide says

The White House legislative affairs director on Sunday shot down speculation that President Donald Trump is seriously weighing the idea of firing special counsel Robert Mueller.

"There’s no conversation about that in the White House whatsoever," Marc Short said on NBC’s "Meet the Press."

"You guys keep bringing that up," he added. "We’ve continued to cooperate in every single possible way in that investigation."

“Taxpayers have spent millions and millions of dollars on this investigation that has not yet proven any sense of collusion with the Russians,” Short said.

His remarks come a day after a lawyer for the Trump transition team accused Mueller of unlawfully obtaining tens of thousands of private emails from the General Services administration during its investigation.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb on Saturday declined comment about the transition team’s specific complaint, but insisted to POLITICO that Mueller isn’t about to be axed.

“As Continue reading “White House not talking about firing Mueller, top aide says”

Sanders: Corporate taxes would roll back up if Democrats retake the Senate

Sen. Bernie Sanders said Sunday that corporate taxes would likely roll back up if Democrats retake control of the Senate in the 2018 midterm elections.

Congress is poised this week to pass a sweeping tax overhaul that would drop the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. But Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats, said that would change under a Democratic majority.

"Absolutely, yes. In my view, absolutely," he said on CBS’ "Face the Nation."

"We’re going to take a very hard look at this entire tax bill and make it a tax bill that works for the middle class and working families, not for top 1 percent and large multinational corporations," he said.

Opponents of the bill, Sanders said, "did everything that we could" to stop it.

"Our job is to pay attention to the needs of working families," he said.

Sanders Continue reading “Sanders: Corporate taxes would roll back up if Democrats retake the Senate”

Firing Mueller ‘obviously’ up to Trump, Mnuchin says

Any decision to fire special counsel Robert Mueller is "obviously" up to President Donald Trump, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says.

"I don’t have any reason to think that the president is going to do that, but that’s obviously up to him," Mnuchin said Sunday on CNN’s "State of the Union."

He noted that he had dinner with the president and Vice President Mike Pence at Camp David on Saturday and that he hadn’t "heard anything about this, any firing."

Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election has come under increased scrutiny from Capitol Hill conservatives after it was revealed that one of the members of his team was dismissed for sending anti-Trump text messages.

The calls to fire the former FBI director could grow louder this week after a lawyer for the Trump transition team accused Mueller of unlawfully obtaining tens of thousands of private Continue reading “Firing Mueller ‘obviously’ up to Trump, Mnuchin says”

Democrat Jones extends olive branch to Republicans

Alabama Sen.-elect Doug Jones on Sunday signaled he’s willing to work on a bipartisan basis with Republicans once he’s sworn into office.

“I think there’s an opportunity at every turn,” he said on “Fox News Sunday” before adding such cooperation is a “two-way street.”

Jones won the Alabama special election Tuesday after a bitter race against Republican Roy Moore, making him the first Democrat to win a Senate election in the state since 1992.

Jones, a former U.S. attorney, declined to say if he would be a conservative or moderate Democrat once he arrives on Capitol Hill.

“I have resisted trying to put labels on myself. People are going to do that left and right,” he said.

Jones said he had not studied the GOP’s tax plan that’s poised for passage this week. While he likes the idea of cutting the corporate tax rate, he said he Continue reading “Democrat Jones extends olive branch to Republicans”

Mnuchin won’t ‘rule out’ a shutdown, but doesn’t see one coming

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Sunday wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a federal government shutdown at the end of the week, but doesn’t see one coming.

"I can’t rule it out, but I can’t imagine it occurring," he said on "Fox News Sunday."

"I would expect that both the House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats, understand if they can’t agree on this they need to have another short-term extension to move this to January," Mnuchin added.

"We can’t have a government shutdown in front of Christmas," he emphasized.

The government is set to run out of money Friday, unless Congress acts. Lawmakers are expected to take up a funding measure after they deal with the $1 trillion-plus tax bill early in the week.

House GOP leaders have proposed a partisan funding bill that covers a full year of defense spending at $640 billion but only keeps the doors Continue reading “Mnuchin won’t ‘rule out’ a shutdown, but doesn’t see one coming”

Mnuchin predicts Congress will approve a ‘terrific’ tax bill this week

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday predicted Congress will pass a sweeping tax overhaul this week, calling the legislation a “terrific bill.”

“It’s a historic moment, and we’re excited to be here,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding he has “no doubt” that lawmakers will approve the measure.

His comments came a day after President Donald Trump similarly predicted his administration is on the verge its first major legislative victory on Capitol Hill.

The Republican tax plan is set for a final passage vote in the House on Tuesday before it goes to the Senate, where GOP opposition —notably from Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Marco Rubio of Florida — has melted away in recent days.

On Sunday, Mnuchin pushed back against an estimate from the Tax Policy Center that said the GOP tax plan would increase the deficit.

“I don’t agree with those numbers,” he said, Continue reading “Mnuchin predicts Congress will approve a ‘terrific’ tax bill this week”