Campaigns and candidates still easy prey for hackers

Some bathrooms have signs urging people to wash their hands. But at the Democratic National Committee, reminders hanging in the men’s and women’s restrooms address a different kind of hygiene.

"Remember: Email is NOT a secure method of communication,” the signs read, “and if you see something odd, say something.”

The fliers are a visible symptom of an increased focus on cybersecurity at the DNC, more than two years after hackers linked to the Russian military looted the committee’s computer networks and inflamed the party’s internal divides at the worst possible time for Hillary Clinton. But the painful lessons of 2016 have yet to take hold across the campaign world — which remains the soft underbelly for cyberattacks aimed at disrupting the American political process.

Despite making some strides in cybersecurity protections since 2016, cyber experts and researchers say, many candidates and campaigns have yet to implement standard safeguards Continue reading “Campaigns and candidates still easy prey for hackers”

Klobuchar ‘very concerned’ midterms could be hacked

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Sunday she is worried that upcoming midterm elections could come under digital assault.

"I’m very concerned that you could have a hack that finally went through," Klobuchar said on NBC’s "Meet the Press."

"I think you also have the fact that you’ve got the president undermining this on national TV still after his security people … go in front of the world and they say this is happening, he says that night at a rally in Pennsylvania that it’s a hoax. So that concerns me," she added.

Klobuchar said Trump‘s’ comments — made Thursday in Pennsylvania and echoed at a rally Saturday in Ohio — also undercut the country’s national security because “you’ve got these people that are our security people, our intelligence people, when he stood next to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin in front of the world and really sided with him over Continue reading “Klobuchar ‘very concerned’ midterms could be hacked”

Klobuchar ‘very concerned’ midterms could be hacked

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Sunday she is worried that upcoming midterm elections could come under digital assault.

"I’m very concerned that you could have a hack that finally went through," Klobuchar said on NBC’s "Meet the Press."

"I think you also have the fact that you’ve got the president undermining this on national TV still after his security people … go in front of the world and they say this is happening, he says that night at a rally in Pennsylvania that it’s a hoax. So that concerns me," she added.

Klobuchar said Trump‘s’ comments — made Thursday in Pennsylvania and echoed at a rally Saturday in Ohio — also undercut the country’s national security because “you’ve got these people that are our security people, our intelligence people, when he stood next to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin in front of the world and really sided with him over Continue reading “Klobuchar ‘very concerned’ midterms could be hacked”

Trump attorney vows fight over subpoena, defends 2016 meeting with Russians

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Sunday warned of a legal battle if special counsel Robert Mueller subpoenas Trump to testify in the ongoing Russia investigation.

"A subpoena for live testimony has never been tested in court as to a president of the United States," Jay Sekulow said on ABC’s "This Week," adding: "It’s hard-pressed to see why they need the president’s testimony.”

"The president has been clear that he wants to interview … his legal team is concerned," according to Sekulow, noting the legal team’s "inclination" is for Trump not to sit down with Mueller.

The remarks came within an hour after the president tweeted about the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where his oldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., and senior campaign officials met with Russian representatives.

The president tweeted Sunday the meeting was "to get information on an opponent," though his son initially claimed it was Continue reading “Trump attorney vows fight over subpoena, defends 2016 meeting with Russians”

Rubio signals changes to election meddling bill

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday signaled he is willing to alter bipartisan legislation that would automatically sanction Russia, or any other country, for any future election meddling in order to get is passed.

The proposed bill, known as the DETER Act and backed by Rubio and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), would bar foreign governments from buying ads to influence U.S. elections, and would also give the director of national intelligence the power to deploy “national security tools” such as sanctions if the Kremlin interferes in another American election.

However, there is worry on Capitol Hill about giving the nation’s spy chief, not the president, such power.

"That’s part of the bill that we’ll probably have to rework in some way," Rubio said on "Fox News Sunday.“ "There’s some concern about it."

"We want to pass a bill," the Florida Republican added, noting that most Continue reading “Rubio signals changes to election meddling bill”

White House not ‘starry-eyed’ about North Korea, Bolton says

No one is the Trump administration is "starry-eyed" about of North Korea actually giving up its nuclear stockpile, according to White House national security adviser John Bolton.

President Donald Trump is giving Pyongyang "a master class of how to hold the door open for somebody," Bolton said on "Fox News Sunday.“

The remarks come after Trump sent another letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The two leaders met in Singapore in June.

"We’re going to have see performance from the North Koreans, there’s no question about it," Bolton said, adding recent reports that the regime would denuclearize in a year stems from Kim telling the White House he will decide within a year whether he will give up nuclear weapons.

Bolton declined to say if the U.S. is seeing evidence of North Korea moving to give up its arsenal.

"Unfortunately, I can’t talk about intelligence."

Continue reading “White House not ‘starry-eyed’ about North Korea, Bolton says”

Bolton: No disconnect between Trump and administration on election meddling

White House national security adviser John Bolton on Sunday rejected the idea there is a disconnect between President Donald Trump and his senior national leaders about Russian attempts to undermine the United States, calling it a media "narrative."

The president has come under sharp criticism in recent days for not standing alongside several top security and intelligence chiefs when they appeared in the White House briefing room last week and accused Moscow of ongoing influence operations.

"The president knew exactly what was going to be said at that press briefing on Thursday," Bolton said on "Fox News Sunday.“

He noted Trump "directed it to be held" and that it was the result of a recent National Security Council meeting on the issue of election meddling.

The president felt it was important to "hear directly from the people responsible for election security at the federal level," according to Bolton.

Continue reading “Bolton: No disconnect between Trump and administration on election meddling”

Coats faces greater scrutiny as fallout from Russia summit spreads

As the fallout from his Russia summit spills into the weekend and spreads among his staff, President Donald Trump is retreating to the site of his most consequential personnel decision, the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey last spring.

Trump’s return to his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey, where he often surrounds himself with close friends and family, follows a calamitous week, beginning with the news conference in Finland with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and ending with news that the president’s longtime personal attorney made a recording of Trump talking about payments related to a former Playboy model.

Trump loyalists have come to see the White House staff’s response as insufficiently supportive, as officials inside struggle to explain the president’s seesaw statements about Putin and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The hair-trigger situation culminated in an on-brand yet off-message remark by his director of national intelligence, Dan Continue reading “Coats faces greater scrutiny as fallout from Russia summit spreads”

House Republicans defeat attempt to subpoena Trump interpreter

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday defeated an attempt by panel Democrats to subpoena the interpreter who worked for President Donald Trump during his summit Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“This is an extraordinary remedy, I realize, but then it’s extraordinary for the president of the United States to ask all of his senior staff essentials to leave the room and have a conversation with an adversary,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who called for the vote to compel the interpreter to testify behind closed doors. “And then in a public conversation disavow his own intelligence agencies and in many respects disavow his own country.”

Trump has come under increasing scrutiny from Democrats as well as his fellow Republicans for appearing to side with Putin over his own intelligence agencies on Russian meddling allegations, even as the president has attempted to walk back his comments Continue reading “House Republicans defeat attempt to subpoena Trump interpreter”

What we know about Russia’s election hacking

The White House’s verbal gymnastics over Russia’s alleged campaign to hack American democracy threatens to obscure a basic fact: U.S. authorities have laid out a wealth of details about how they believe Moscow carried out its plot in 2016.

And, they say, Moscow is continuing to meddle in this year’s elections.

The U.S. intelligence community has offered specifics about the 2016 plot, which are also outlined in special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s indictments against Russian spies and internet saboteurs — conclusions that congressional leaders of both parties have endorsed.

That leaves one prominent waffler: President Donald Trump, who has said both that Russia “would” or “wouldn’t” have tried to tamper in the 2016 election, and whose staff was scrambling Wednesday to explain whether he thinks Russia continues to target the U.S.

This is the picture the evidence paints so far about Russia’s interference campaign — and the prognosis Continue reading “What we know about Russia’s election hacking”

Mueller reveals depth of states’ election vulnerabilities

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s latest indictment offers new details of just how deeply Russian operatives have infiltrated state and local election agencies across the U.S. — adding to years of warnings about the technologies that underpin American democracy.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Friday that hackers within Russia’s GRU military intelligence service targeted state and local election boards, infiltrated a Florida-based company that supplies software for voting machines across the country, and broke into a state election website to steal sensitive information on about 500,000 American voters.

While the FBI had issued warnings in 2016 about hackers breaching state election websites in Illinois and Arizona, the latest indictments in Mueller’s ongoing Russia probe surfaced the most granular account yet on foreign operatives’ efforts to tamper with U.S. election systems.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said the charges outline a Russian “attack on our democracy.”

“Today’s indictments Continue reading “Mueller reveals depth of states’ election vulnerabilities”

Silence on Russian election meddling frustrates lawmakers

Robert Mueller and the nation’s top intelligence official say Russia is trying to interfere in the midterm elections — but Republican and Democratic lawmakers say the Trump administration is keeping them in the dark about whether the U.S. is ready.

A half-dozen senior House and Senate lawmakers who spoke to POLITICO say they’re hearing only an alarming silence from the administration about what Moscow’s trolls and hackers are up to, less than five months before an election that could undo the Republican lock on Congress and derail President Donald Trump’s agenda.

They’re also getting conflicting messages: Mueller and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats have both asserted that Russian efforts to undermine the American political system are underway, without offering any public evidence or specifics. Meanwhile, officials from the Department of Homeland Security say they haven’t detected any specific Russian attacks on U.S. voting machines or databases this Continue reading “Silence on Russian election meddling frustrates lawmakers”

Trump flouts national security advice in bid to save ZTE

The Pentagon was so concerned about the “unacceptable risk” posed by the Chinese tech giant ZTE in April that it banned sales of its cellphones on military bases. The same month, British officials cautioned that using ZTE equipment was so problematic national security concerns “cannot be mitigated.”

Yet the Trump administration’s proposal to reverse a Commerce Department ban forbidding American companies from selling to ZTE doesn’t protect U.S. customers from surveillance, hacking or digital espionage, say experts and lawmakers. Negotiators are reportedly close to a deal on that proposal.

Critics of that proposal say it shows that President Donald Trump is willing to ignore the national security advice of his own intelligence and defense officials in his pursuit of a larger trade agreement with China. Even Trump’s new CIA Director Gina Haspel said during her recent confirmation hearing that she would not use ZTE phones.

“This is where Continue reading “Trump flouts national security advice in bid to save ZTE”

Trump flouts national security advice in bid to save ZTE

The Pentagon was so concerned about the “unacceptable risk” posed by the Chinese tech giant ZTE in April that it banned sales of its cellphones on military bases. The same month, British officials cautioned that using ZTE equipment was so problematic national security concerns “cannot be mitigated.”

Yet the Trump administration’s proposal to reverse a Commerce Department ban forbidding American companies from selling to ZTE doesn’t protect U.S. customers from surveillance, hacking or digital espionage, say experts and lawmakers. Negotiators are reportedly close to a deal on that proposal.

Critics of that proposal say it shows that President Donald Trump is willing to ignore the national security advice of his own intelligence and defense officials in his pursuit of a larger trade agreement with China. Even Trump’s new CIA Director Gina Haspel said during her recent confirmation hearing that she would not use ZTE phones.

“This is where Continue reading “Trump flouts national security advice in bid to save ZTE”

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”