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FBI Watched, Then Acted As Russian Spy Moved Closer To Hillary Clinton |RN

John Solomon and Alison Spann
FBI watched, then acted as Russian spy moved closer to Hillary Clinton© Provided by The Hill FBI watched, then acted as Russian spy moved closer to Hillary Clinton
As Hillary Clinton was beginning her job as President Obama’s chief diplomat, federal agents observed as multiple arms of Vladimir Putin’s machine unleashed an influence campaign designed to win access to the new secretary of State, her husband Bill Clinton and members of their inner circle, according to interviews and once-sealed FBI records.Some of the activities FBI agents gathered evidence about in 2009 and 2010 were covert and illegal.

A female Russian spy posing as an American accountant, for instance, used a false identity to burrow her way into the employ of a major Democratic donor in hopes of gaining intelligence on Hillary Clinton’s department, records show. The spy was arrested and deported as she moved closer to getting inside the secretary’s department, agents said.

Other activities were perfectly legal and sitting in plain view, such as when a subsidiary of Russia’s state-controlled nuclear energy company hired a Washington firm to lobby the Obama administration. At the time it was hired, the firm was providing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in pro bono support to Bill Clinton’s global charitable initiative, and it legally helped the Russian company secure federal decisions that led to billions in new U.S. commercial nuclear business, records show.

Agents were surprised by the timing and size of a $500,000 check that a Kremlin-linked bank provided Bill Clinton with for a single speech in the summer of 2010. The payday came just weeks after Hillary Clinton helped arrange for American executives to travel to Moscow to support Putin’s efforts to build his own country’s version of Silicon Valley, agents said.

There is no evidence in any of the public records that the FBI believed that the Clintons or anyone close to them did anything illegal. But there’s definitive evidence the Russians were seeking their influence with a specific eye on the State Department.

“There is not one shred of doubt from the evidence that we had that the Russians had set their sights on Hillary Clinton’s circle, because she was the quarterback of the Obama-Russian reset strategy and the assumed successor to Obama as president,” said a source familiar with the FBI’s evidence at the time, speaking only on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

That source pointed to an October 2009 communication intercepted by the FBI in which Russian handlers instructed two of their spies specifically to gather nonpublic information on the State Department.

“Send more info on current international affairs vital for R., highlight US approach,” part of the message to the spies read, using the country’s first initial to refer to Russia. “… Try to single out tidbits unknown publicly but revealed in private by sources closer to State department, government, major think tanks.”

The Clintons, by that time, had set up several new vehicles that included a multimillion dollar speech-making business, the family foundation and a global charitable initiative, all which proved attractive to the Russians as Hillary Clinton took over State.

“In the end, some of this just comes down to what it always does in Washington: donations, lobbying, contracts and influence – even for Russia,” said Frank Figliuzzi, the former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence.

The sleeper ring

Figliuzzi supervised the post-arrest declassification and release of records from a 10-year operation that unmasked a major Russian spy ring in 2010. It was one of the most important U.S. counterintelligence victories against Russia in history, and famous for nabbing the glamorous spy-turned-model Anna Chapman.

While Chapman dominated the headlines surrounding that spy ring, another Russian woman posing as a mundane New Jersey accountant named Cynthia Murphy was closing in on accessing Secretary Clinton’s department, according to records and interviews.

For most of the 10 years, the ring of Russian spies that included Chapman and Murray acted as sleepers, spending a “great deal of time collecting information and passing it on” to their handlers inside Russia’s SVR spy agency, FBI records state.

Murphy, living with her husband and kids in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City, reported a major breakthrough in February 2009 in an electronic message sent to her handlers: she had scored access to a major Democrat, FBI records state.

“Murphy had several work-related personal meetings with [a prominent New York-based financier, name omitted] and was assigned his account,” one FBI record from the case read. “The message accurately described the financier as  ‘prominent in politics,’ ‘an active fund-raiser’ for [a major political party, name omitted] and a ‘personal friend’ of [a current Cabinet official, name redacted].”

Multiple current and former officials confirmed to The Hill that the Cabinet officer was Hillary Clinton, the fundraiser was New York financier Alan Patricof and the political party was the Democratic National Committee. None of the Americans were ever suspected of illegalities, but the episode made clear the Russian spies were stepping up their operations against the new administration after years of working in a “sleeper” capacity, officials said.

Patricof did not return a call to his office Friday seeking comment. But in 2010 he told The Washington Post after the spy case broke he believed he had been a victim of the spy ring, saying Murphy had worked for him but that he only talked accounting and not government or politics with her.

“It’s just staggering,” he told the Post about the idea of being targeted by Russia. “It’s off the charts.”

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill declined Saturday to say if the secretary was ever alerted or briefed to the Russian spy effort, instead suggesting that any focus on the spy case was a partisan effort to distract from the controversy around Moscow and President Trump.

“Nothing has changed since the last time this was addressed, including the right’s transparent attempts to distract from their own Russia problems, which are real and a grave threat to our national security,” he wrote in an email to The Hill.

Back in 2010, when the spy story broke, Hillary Clinton’s office issued a statement that there was “no reason to think the Secretary was a target of this spy ring.”

Court documents and agents who worked the case suggest otherwise, saying the Russians were specifically targeting her department and any intelligence they could get on the new administration’s emerging foreign policy.

Trying to get inside State

The FBI documents show exactly what Murphy’s Russian handlers wanted her to get from a Clinton-tied donor she had befriended. “Maybe he can provide Murphy with remarks US foreign policy, roumors (sic) about White House internal kitchen, invite her to major venues,” one FBI document quoted the Russians as saying.

By 2010, the Russian SVR urged Murphy to consider taking a job with a lobbying firm because “this position would expose her to prospective contacts and potential sources in U.S. government,” the FBI affidavit read.

Figliuzzi said it was the FBI’s belief that Murphy wasn’t going to risk taking a job inside the State Department, where the vetting process might unmask her true identity. So she aimed for a private sector job where “she could get next to people who had the jobs who could get the information she wanted from State,” he said.

The retired FBI executive said that by early summer 2010, agents feared Chapman might flee the country and Murphy was getting too close to posing a security concern to Hillary Clinton. As a result, they arrested the entire ring of 10 spies, and quickly expelled them.

“In regards to the woman known as Cynthia Murphy, she was getting close to Alan, and the lobbying job. And we thought this was too close to Hillary Clinton. So when you have the totality of the circumstance, and we were confident we had the whole cell identified, we decided it was time to shut down their operations,” Figliuzzi said.

The FBI announced the arrests on June 28, 2010, a day after they were made.

The ring highlights the long-standing efforts Russia has made to gain access to U.S. officials, which sprouted up well before the last election. But the recent events also illustrate how Russia’s efforts have advanced.

Figliuzzi said they show a “logical evolution or morphing of methodology to exploit social media in a way that is far more effective and potentially damaging” than the spy ring rolled up in 2010.

“We watched a sleeper cell of ten people for ten years that didn’t come close to the impact of a few thousand ads and posts on FB, Twitter, Google and Instagram,” he said.

Bill Clinton’s big check

A day after the arrests of the sleeper ring, another event captured the FBI’s attention.

Thousands of miles away in Russia, former President Bill Clinton collected a $500,000 check for giving a 90-minute speech to Renaissance Capital, a Kremlin-connected bank, and then he scored a meeting with Putin himself.

The check caught the attention of FBI agents, especially with Hillary Clinton having recently returned from meetings in Russia, and her department working on a variety of issues where Moscow had an interest, records show.

One issue was American approval of the Russian nuclear company Rosatom’s purchase of a Canadian company called Uranium One that controlled 20 percent of America’s strategic uranium reserves. State was one of more than a dozen federal agencies that needed to weigh in, and a Clinton deputy was handling the matter.

The second issue was the Russian company TENEX’s desire to score a new raft of commercial nuclear sales to U.S. companies. TENEX for years was selling uranium recycled from old Soviet warheads to the United States. But that deal was coming to an end and now it needed a new U.S. market for its traditional uranium

And the third was a promise Secretary Clinton herself made to Russian leaders to round up support in America’s Silicon Valley for then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s dream for a new high-tech hub outside Moscow known as Skolkovo. A team of venture capitalists had been dispatched to Moscow just a few weeks before Bill Clinton landed his payday, records show.

“We have 40,000 Russians living in Silicon Valley in California. We would be thrilled if 40,000 Russians were working in whatever the Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley is, providing global economic competition, taking the internet and technology to the next level,” Mrs. Clinton boasted at the time, according to a State Department transcript. She added hat the business executives she dispatched to Putin’s homeland had Twittered their way through Russia.

The bank that paid Clinton was promoting the Uranium One deal’s stock. And the former president entertained – though he never followed through with – meeting with two Russian figures who had ties to the nuclear sales and the Silicon Valley deals as well, State Department records show.

Angel Urena, the official spokeswoman for the former president, told The Hill that Bill Clinton never discussed those issues pending before his wife’s department when he was in Russia and that the money he collected for himself and his charitable efforts never influenced his wife’s decision making

Another investigation

Away from Clinton’s big payday and the breaking news of a spy ring, the FBI had another major investigation under way where the Clinton name was surfacing.

Since 2009, the FBI had an undercover informant gathering evidence of a massive bribery and kickback scheme inside the Russian nuclear energy firm TENEX and its American arm TENEM.

Years later, FBI agents would help the Justice Department bring charges against the Russian nuclear industry’s point man in the United States, TENEX director Vadim Mikerin, as well as a Russian financier and an American trucking executive whose company moved Russian uranium around the United States.

But as the informant gathered evidence of the bribery scheme in early 2010, he began to hear a familiar name crop up in conversations. The Russians kept talking about ways they could win access to or favor with the Clintons, and the informant kept reporting it back to his FBI handlers.

The informant has never been publicly identified, but his lawyer told The Hill on Friday he can shed significant light to Congress on what the Russians were doing to try to win favorable treatment from the Obama administration.

“I can confirm that my client while working undercover for the FBI and in the employ of the Russian energy firm TENEX witnessed numerous, detailed conversations in which Russian actors described their efforts to lobby, influence or ingratiate themselves with the Clintons in hopes of winning favorable uranium decisions from the Obama administration,” attorney Victoria Toensing said.

“Unfortunately, he cannot at the present time disclose the specifics of that evidence he reported to the agents in real time because of an NDA he signed with the bureau. But we are working with Congress to find a means in the future for him to transmit the important information he possesses,” she added.

There are some public records that show what TENEX was trying to do inside the United States.

The Russian firm between 2009 and 2011 hired two Washington consulting firms to help it win Obama administration approval for policies and contracts that opened up billions in new nuclear fuel sales for TENEX, foreign agent registration records show. Those firms were never implicated in any wrongdoing in court records, and were just doing contract work to expand the Russian’s commercial nuclear sales inside the United States.

The lobbying work was perfectly legal, focusing on agencies like State, Commerce and Energy that supervised the US-Russia nuclear relationship. But once again, a connection to the Clintons emerged.

One of the firms TENEX hired in 2010 was providing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in support to the Clinton Global Initiative, starting in 2008.   (The Hill)

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War With North Korea ‘Dangerous, Short-Sighted’, Says Hillary Clinton |RN

Former US presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, on Wednesday, said “cavalier” threats to start war on the Korean peninsula were “dangerous and short-sighted”.
Clinton, however, urged the US to get all parties to the negotiation table.
Clinton also called on China to take a “more out-front role” in enforcing sanctions against North Korea aimed at curbing its missile and nuclear development.
“There is no need for us to be bellicose and aggressive over North Korea,” Clinton told the World Knowledge Forum in Seoul, stressing the need for more pressure on North Korea and diplomacy to bring Pyongyang to talks.
Tension between Pyongyang and Washington has soared following series of weapons tests by North Korea and a string of increasingly bellicose exchanges between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Picking fights with Kim Jong Un puts a smile on his face,” Clinton said, without mentioning Trump by name.
Clinton also indirectly referred to Trump’s social media comments on North Korea, saying, “the insults on Twitter have benefited North Korea, I don’t think they’ve benefited the United States”.
The war of words has seen Trump call the North Korean leader “little rocket man” on a suicide mission, and vow to destroy the country if it threatens the US or its allies.
In turn, the North called Trump “mentally deranged” and a “mad dog”.
Talks between the adversaries have long been urged by China in particular, but Washington and its ally, Japan have been reluctant while Pyongyang continues to pursue a goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile to hit the U.S.

On Tuesday, Deputy Secretary of State, John J. Sullivan, said the U.S. did not rule out the eventual possibility of direct talks with North Korea.
The situation on the Korean peninsula was now touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment”, North Korea’s Deputy UN Amb. Kim In Ryong had told a UN General Assembly committee, on Monday.
In Seoul, the vice foreign minister said South Korea was considering levying its own sanctions on the North, although no decision had yet been made. (NAN)

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Clinton: Trump Has ‘Been Even Worse Than I thought He Would Be’

Julia Manchester
Clinton on Trump presidency: ‘He’s been even worse than I thought he would be’© Provided by The Hill Clinton on Trump presidency: ‘He’s been even worse than I thought he would be’  

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton slammed President Trump on Saturday, saying his presidency is worse than she expected it would be.

“I really had such deep doubts about his preparation, his temperament, his character, his experience, but he’s been even worse than I thought he would be,” Clinton told MSNBC’s Joy Reid on “AM Joy.”

“I tried in my concession speech to make clear that we should all give him the space to be president for every American. That’s what we want from our presidents, regardless of our partisan differences, we want to feel like the person in the oval office really cares about and is looking after everybody,” she continued.

“And that just hasn’t turned out to be the case, starting with our inauguration, which is how I opened the book talking about how excruciating it was to go and what a missed opportunity for him because all he did was reinforce the dark, divisive image of America that he’d been feeding to his supporters.”

Clinton’s comments come as she promotes her new book “What Happened,” which documents her experience during the 2016 presidential campaign and her shocking electoral loss to Trump.

The former Democratic nominee has not shied away from criticizing Trump’s policies in the book and in public, recently slamming him for his rhetoric toward North Korea.

Trump has also taken aim at Clinton in recent days, tweeting an edited video of him hitting her with a golf ball and blasting her criticism of his debut speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

(The Hill)

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Obama Goes From White House To Wall Street In Less Than One Year |RN

Max Abelson
                              © Getty 

Hillary Clinton says she made a mistake when she gave speeches on Wall Street after leaving government. Taking money from banks, she writes in her new memoir, created the impression she was in their pocket.

Her old boss doesn’t seem to share her concern.

Last month, just before her book “What Happened” was published, Barack Obama spoke in New York to clients of Northern Trust Corp. for about $400,000, a person familiar with his appearance said. Last week, he reminisced about the White House for Carlyle Group LP, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms, according to two people who were there. Next week, he’ll give a keynote speech at investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald LP’s health-care conference.

Related: How much is Obama worth?

Obama is coming to Wall Street less than a year after leaving the White House, following a path that’s well-trod and well paid. While he can’t run for president, he continues to be an influential voice in a party torn between celebrating and vilifying corporate power. His new work with banks might suggest which side of the debate he’ll be on and disappoint anyone expecting him to avoid a trap that snared Clinton. Or, as some of his executive friends see it, he’s just a private citizen giving a few paid speeches to other successful people while writing his next book.

U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to speak about financial reform at Cooper Union in New York, U.S.: President Obama                          © Bloomberg/Bloomberg President Obama  

“He was the president of the entire United States — financial services are under that umbrella,” said former UBS Group AG executive Robert Wolf, an early supporter who joined the Obama Foundation board this year. “He doesn’t look at Wall Street like, ‘Oh, these are individuals who don’t want the best for the country.’ He doesn’t stereotype.”

Fat Cats

Since leaving office, Obama has delivered public and private speeches that are “true to his values,” Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president, said in an email. “His paid speeches in part have allowed President Obama to contribute $2 million to Chicago programs offering job training and employment opportunities to low-income youth.”

Obama’s relationship with Wall Street hasn’t always been good. Bankers still boil over with rage about him, wincing over his 2009 line about fat cats as if the wounds were fresh. But his Justice Department prosecuted no major bankers for their roles in the financial crisis, and he resisted calls to break up the biggest banks, signing a regulatory overhaul that annoyed them with new rules but didn’t stop them from pulling in record profits.

The brokerage and investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald isn’t one of those giants. S&P Global Ratings announced this year that the New York-based firm’s debt grades could be cut to junk. Cantor’s investment banking division is run by health-care specialist Sage Kelly, who left Jefferies Group after divorce-case accusations became salacious tabloid fodder in 2014. His ex-wife later apologized for the storm caused by the claims, which he had denied.

Cantor Chief Executive Officer Howard Lutnick, whose firm lost more than 600 people in the Sept. 11 attacks, said the former president will make remarks and take questions. The three-day conference for current and prospective clients begins Sept. 25. Obama will be paid about $400,000, according to a person familiar with the arrangement.

“Everybody would like to come,” Lutnick said. “Hopefully, we will really talk about the Affordable Care Act in interesting and nuanced ways, which I think is really cool.”

Private Island

Obama’s appearance at the Carlyle conference in Washington was previously unreported. The private equity giant has enjoyed some of the best political connections in the world, with executives and advisers who have included former presidents, prime ministers and cabinet secretaries. Obama discussed his life and the decisions he made in the White House, the people who heard him said. A spokesman for the firm wouldn’t comment.

The ex-president has been busy. His foundation is raising money for a library in Chicago, and he and his wife signed a book deal with Penguin Random House after an auction that went above $60 million, according to the Financial Times. He spoke about food in Milan, democracy in Jakarta and himself at an A&E Television Networks event in New York. He vacationed in California and Hawaii and on Richard Branson’s Necker Island with its billionaire owner.

Obama has picked private equity, hedge fund, venture capital and banking veterans to oversee his foundation, and an alumnus of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to advise him on investments.

Northern Trust is a bank that specializes in wealth management for rich families and services for big funds. The event had gone unreported, but a program accessible on the firm’s website lists Obama alongside executives from Microsoft Corp., IBM and Michael Bloomberg, majority owner of Bloomberg LP.

Northern Trust, based in Chicago, gave Obama a discount on a $1.32 million loan for a mansion in that city in 2005, after he was elected to the Senate, the Washington Post reported. The rate was changed to account for an offer from another lender, a spokesman for Obama said three years later. Doug Holt, a spokesman for Northern Trust, wouldn’t comment for this story.

Imperial Ballroom

Obama is getting advice on investments from Robbie Robinson, who’s on leave from BDT & Co., according to a person familiar with the arrangement. That Chicago-based firm works with wealthy families and is run by Byron Trott. Both bankers worked for Goldman Sachs.

Obama has known executives there for more than a decade. He spoke at the 2006 Goldman Sachs partners’ meeting in Chicago. Then a senator, he appeared between Hank Paulson and Warren Buffett in the Fairmont hotel’s Imperial Ballroom, an event program shows.

Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump blasted Clinton for her lucrative Goldman Sachs speeches, and the issue is still raw. Sanders and fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren have tried to pry the Democratic Party away from its cosiness with Wall Street. If Obama is hoping the party will be a big tent with room for corporate giants, they may stand in his way.

Obama’s donor friends tend to mention the same reason when they defend his Wall Street speeches, saying he’s no longer president and not running for office. Morgan Stanley Vice Chairman Tom Nides is one of them.

“I love Barack Obama, and if someone is willing to pay him to give a speech, God bless America,” said Nides, a deputy secretary of state under Clinton in Obama’s administration.

Revolving Door

But Jeff Hauser, who studies political corruption as head of the Revolving Door Project in Washington, said Obama should play by the same rules as other politicians because of his ongoing work with the Democratic Party.

“He’s continuing to exercise the authority,” Hauser said, citing Obama’s support for the party’s redistricting committee and the push he gave Tom Perez in the race to head the Democratic National Committee. If he wants to play a role, “he ought to forgo a few hundred thousand here and maybe a half-million there.”

Few leaders have left the top of the U.S. government recently and resisted the lure of corporate money. Former Vice President Al Gore is a director at Apple Inc. and a senior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the venture capital firm whose chairman, John Doerr, is on the Obama Foundation’s board. Dan Quayle, another ex-vice president, has spent almost two decades with private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP. Trump’s White House has lost officials so quickly that Sean Spicer has already made arrangements to speak to a financial firm this year.

“Not everyone’s going to be a Jimmy Carter, who does purely good works after he gets out,” said Sean Coffey, a Democratic donor who chairs the complex litigation group at the corporate law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP. Obama is used to being criticized, the attorney added. “I don’t think to get any grief for doing this is going to bother him at all.”   (Bloomberg)

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Clinton Blames Misogyny, FBI, Russia, Herself For 2016 Election Loss (Video)

 

By STEVE PEOPLES
Video by The Washington Post

NEW YORK — Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that she’s taking responsibility for her 2016 election loss but believes misogyny, Russian interference and questionable decisions by the FBI also influenced the outcome.

The former Democratic presidential nominee offered extensive comments about the election during the Women for Women International’s annual luncheon in New York. Clinton said she’s been going through the “painful” process of reliving the 2016 contest while writing a book.

“It wasn’t a perfect campaign. There is no such thing,” Clinton said in a question-and-answer-session with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “But I was on the way to winning until a combination of (FBI Director) Jim Comey’s letter on Oct. 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off.”

She reminded the enthusiastic audience packed with women that she ultimately earned 3 million more votes than President Donald Trump.

“If the election were on Oct. 27, I would be your president,” Clinton said.

FILE - In this April 20, 2017 file photo, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks in New York. Clinton said Tuesday, May 2, 2017, that she's taking responsibility for her 2016 election loss but believes misogyny, Russian interference and questionable decisions by the FBI also influenced the outcome. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen, File)© The Associated Press FILE – In this April 20, 2017 file photo, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks in New York. Clinton said Tuesday, May 2, 2017, that she’s taking responsibility for her 2016 election loss but believes misogyny, Russian… She also highlighted Russia’s role in hacking into her campaign’s internal emails and subsequently coordinating their release on WikiLeaks. U.S. intelligence agencies are investigating whether Russia coordinated with Trump associates to influence the election.

“He (Russian President Vladimir Putin) certainly interfered in our election,” Clinton said. “And it’s clear he interfered to hurt me and help his opponent.”

Amanpour also asked Clinton whether she was a victim of misogyny.

“Yes, I do think it played a role,” she said, adding that misogyny is “very much a part of the landscape politically, socially and economically.”

After two unsuccessful presidential campaigns, Clinton is not expected to run for public office again.

“I’m now back to being an active citizen,” she said.                (AP)

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Trump Isn’t A Legitimate Presdient, Says John Lewis | The Republican News

 

Brooke Seipel

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said he doesn’t believe Donald Trump is a legitimate President in an interview on NBC News “Meet The Press With Chuck Todd.””You know, I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It will be hard. It’s going to be very difficult. I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis said when asked if he would “forge a relationship” with the president-elect.

When pressed on why he believes Trump’s presidency is illegitimate, Lewis pointed to intelligence reports of Russian interference in the election.

“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” Lewis said.

Trump acknowledged this week that Russia was responsible for some hacking during the campaign, though the president-elect and many on his team assert that it had no affect on election results.

Lewis, in the interview, also said he wouldn’t attend the inauguration.

“I don’t plan to attend the inauguration. It will be the first one that I miss since I’ve been in Congress,” Lewis said. “You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right.”

John Lewis recalls 'bitter fruits of segregation' at Sessions hearing© Provided by The Hill John Lewis recalls ‘bitter fruits of segregation’ at Sessions hearing

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U.S. Intel Report: Putin Directed Cyber Campaign To Help Trump Win | The Republican News

Yara Bayoumy and Warren Strobel

WASHINGTON  – Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to help Republican Donald Trump’s electoral chances by discrediting Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign, U.S. intelligence agencies said in an assessment on Friday.Russia’s objectives were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate former secretary of state Clinton, make it harder for her to win and harm her presidency if she did, an unclassified report released by the top U.S. intelligence agency said.

Read more: Trump Calls Storm Over Hacking A ‘Witch Hunt’ |The Republican News

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” the report said. “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

The report, although it omitted classified details, was the U.S. government’s starkest public description of what it says was an unprecedented Russian campaign to manipulate the American body politic.

Reports of Russian interference in the already divisive election have roiled Washington, even as the U.S. Congress on Friday certified Trump’s victory in the Electoral College. Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots.

In this photo released by the Kremlin Press service via Sputnik agency, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an undated recording of his annual televised New Year's message in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.© Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin Press Service, Sputnik, via AP In this photo released by the Kremlin Press service via Sputnik agency, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an undated recording of his annual televised…  

The report neither assessed “the impact Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election” nor did it provide details on the evidence underpinning its conclusions, a fact likely to keep alive the controversy over what Moscow may have done.

Russia denies the U.S. government’s allegations of hacking during the election campaign.

RUSSIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

The report said U.S. intelligence agencies believe Russian military intelligence, the GRU, used intermediaries such as WikiLeaks, DCLeaks.com and the Guccifer 2.0 “persona” to release emails that it had acquired from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and top Democrats as part of the effort.

The release of the emails led to embarrassing media coverage for Clinton and triggered the resignation of the DNC’s chief.

Read more: U.S. Intercepts Capture Senior Russian Officials Celebrating Trump Win |The Republican News

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said he did not receive emails stolen from the DNC and top Clinton aide John Podesta from “a state party.” However, Assange did not rule out the possibility that he got the material from a third party.

Russian actors were not found to have targeted U.S. systems that are involved in tallying votes, the report said. The report was produced by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency.

Also on Friday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security designated U.S. election infrastructure as critical infrastructure, widening the options the government has to protect voting machines from cyber attacks.

While the report found Russia had conducted cyber attacks on both the Democratic and the Republican parties, it made clear that the primary aims were to harm Clinton whether or not she won the election and evolved over time.

“When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency,” it said.

“We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him,” it said. The CIA and FBI had high confidence in this judgment and NSA moderate confidence, the report said.

Neither the Russian embassy in Washington, nor Clinton aides immediately responded to requests for comment.

The report suggested Putin was motivated in part by personal animus toward Clinton.

“Putin most likely wanted to discredit Secretary Clinton because he has publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012, and because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him,” it said.

‘TROUBLING CHAPTER IN ONGOING STORY’

The report’s conclusions, though lacking details of how the Russians may have relayed the material to Wikileaks and others, will give ammunition to Democrats and Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress who want tougher action against Russia, setting the scene for a potential showdown with Trump.

Trump, who has developed a rocky relationship with U.S. spy agencies and at times disparaged their work, defended the legitimacy of his election victory after receiving a nearly two-hour briefing Friday on the report.

In a statement, Trump did not squarely address whether he was told of the agencies’ belief Russia carried out the hacking.

Read more: Russia’s Hack Followed By Years Of Paranoia Toward Hillary Clinton |The Republican News

Instead, he said: “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 DNC.

“There was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines,” Trump said.

The businessman, who is to be inaugurated as president on Jan. 20, also said he would appoint a team to give him a plan within 90 days of taking office on how to prevent cyber attacks but suggested that he would keep their recommendations secret.

The report did not reveal how the intelligence agencies collected the evidence underpinning their conclusions or the evidence itself, including the means by which Russian military intelligence “relayed” the materials filched from the DNC and other hacking targets to Wikileaks and others, omissions likely to leave the report open to criticism.

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence who was briefed on the report on Friday, took issue with Trump’s comments.

“The President-Elect’s statement that the Russian hacking had ‘absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election’ is not supported by the briefing, report, or common sense,” Schiff said.

“It is one thing to say that there was no tampering with vote tallying – which is true – it is another thing to say that the daily dumping of documents disparaging to … Clinton that was made possible by Russian cyber operations had no effect on the campaigns,” he said. “The consequence of these disclosures was hugely beneficial to the President-Elect and damaging to the Clinton campaign, just as the Russians intended.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said his panel would continue to compile “facts surrounding Russia’s active measures,” adding: “This is a troubling chapter in an ongoing story.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Mark Hosenball, Yara Bayoumy and Warren Strobel in Washington; additional reporting by Amy Tennery, Patricia Zengerle, Dustin Volz, David Alexander, Susan Heavey; Writing by Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Editing by Grant McCool)

REUTERS

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Trump Tweets Backhanded New Year’s Greeting To His ‘Many Enemies’ |The Republican News

Donald Trump                                                 US President-elect, Donald J. Trump

Donald Trump sent New Year’s greetings to his “many enemies” in a backhanded tweet Saturday in which he gloated over his political conquests.

“Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!” the US president-elect wrote.

The message on Twitter, Trump’s preferred mode of communication, caps a year in which he overcame long odds to vanquish 16 other Republicans vying to become the party’s White House nominee.

He then upended Democrat Hillary Clinton in last month’s general election — her formidable political machine and bigger campaign coffers notwithstanding — in a shock election upset.

Trump takes the oath of office on January 20, when he will become the 45th US president.

AFP

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After Russia Sanctions, Trump Says It’s Time ‘To Move On To Bigger And Better Things’ But Will Meet Intelligence Leaders

John Wagner
President-elect Donald Trump.© Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post President-elect Donald Trump.  

President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday played down the ramifications of any Russian interference in the U.S. election, saying it is “time for the country to move on to bigger and better things” in a statement issued just hours after President Obama announced sweeping sanctions against Moscow.

Trump, who has for weeks voiced skepticism about Russia’s role in the hacking of Democratic email accounts and other hostile actions, said he would seek to learn more about the situation next week.

“Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation,” the president-elect said in his statement.

Trump’s posture put him at odds with Republican congressional leaders, who have condemned Russia for its actions, with some suggesting tougher measures than what Obama detailed Thursday afternoon. The president’s retaliation included the removal of 35 Russian government officials and sanctions against state agencies and individuals tied to the hacks.

The FBI and the CIA have concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Trump win the White House in his race against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The hacks targeted the Democratic National Committee and the account of Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, among others.

Trump has suggested in recent weeks that the source of the hacks could be a range of other actors, including someone “sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” or “some guy in his home in New Jersey.”

Speaking to reporters Wednesday night at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., Trump sought to distance himself from Obama’s expected punishment of Russia, saying, “I think we ought to get on with our lives.”

During a conference call with reporters Thursday morning, Sean Spicer, the incoming White House press secretary, said Trump’s views could change if more solid evidence emerges that Russia was responsible.

“If the United States has clear proof of anyone interfering with our elections, we should make that known,” Spicer said, adding: “Right now we need to see further facts.”

But Spicer said there is also another aspect to the talk about Russia influencing the presidential election.

“I think you have a lot of folks on the left who continue to undermine the legitimacy of his win and the nature of how big that win was,” Spicer said. He called that behavior “unfortunate.”

Later Thursday, in an interview with CNN, Spicer suggested that the DNC was partly to blame for being hacked.

“At some point, the question hasn’t even been asked of the [Democratic National Committee]: Did you take basic measures to protect the data that was on there?” said Spicer, who spoke shortly before the Obama administration announced its actions. “Where’s the responsibility of them to protect their systems?” (The Washington Post)

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Obama vs Trump: Dispute Ensues Over Who Would Have Won |The Republican News

 

By JOSH LEDERMAN,

US President Barack Obama addresses troops with First Lady Michelle Obama at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kailua on December 25, 2016.© NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images US President Barack Obama addresses troops with First Lady Michelle Obama at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kailua on December 25, 2016.

 

HONOLULU (AP) — In an alternate universe in which President Barack Obama ran for a third term against Donald Trump, who would have won?

No surprise: The president and the president-elect disagree.

A fresh dispute erupted Monday between Obama and his successor, spurred by Obama’s hypothetical musings that had he run again, he would have been victorious. Interviewed for a podcast, Obama suggested he still holds enough sway over the coalition of voters that elected him twice to get them to vote for him once again.

“I am confident in this vision because I’m confident that if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could’ve mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it,” Obama told his former White House adviser, David Axelrod, in a podcast released Monday.

Trump, naturally, disagreed. He took to his preferred medium — Twitter — to offer his reaction.

“President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say NO WAY!” Trump wrote.

He suggested Obama’s record would have prevented him from securing a victory, citing jobs that have left the U.S., troubles with Obama’s Affordable Care Act and the ongoing threat posed by the Islamic State group as examples.

The White House declined to comment on Trump’s tweet.

In the podcast, Obama didn’t address whether he would have been able to surmount the obstacle that the Electoral College posed for Hillary Clinton. The Democrat failed to secure a majority of electoral votes despite winning the popular vote by millions.

Yet Obama said he’s spoken to people across the U.S. who have told him the direction he pursued “is the right one,” a sentiment he said extends even to some people “who disagreed with me.” He suggested Democrats’ failure in the election may have stemmed from the prevailing assumption that Clinton’s victory was all but assured.

“If you think you’re winning, then you have a tendency — just like in sports — maybe to play it safer,” Obama said.

Though Obama railed against Trump during the campaign, he’s largely held his tongue since the Republican’s Election Day victory, in large part to ensure a smooth transition of power. He and Trump have spoken regularly by phone, and Trump has praised his predecessor for the graciousness with which he’s handled the process.

But in recent days, points of tension between their two teams have started to emerge, driven by Trump’s picks of Cabinet nominees who have vowed to dismantle much of what Obama has accomplished. The Obama administration has also been dismayed by requests from Trump’s team for information they fear could be used to try to identify and then eliminate bureaucrats who have worked on Obama priorities like climate change and women’s rights overseas.

Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii, was prohibited by the Constitution’s 22nd Amendment from running for a third term. But Obama has said even if there weren’t term limits for presidents, he believes it’s important for the country to have a change of leadership after eight years. He’s also suggested his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, would have had little patience for a third term in the White House.

Associated Press

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