President Donald Trump said the Russian trolls and Kremlin-connected hackers who were integral to his election victory last year need to get back in gear after Democratic candidates in statehouse races yesterday swept to victories.
“We’re not going to keep the House and maybe not even the Senate next year if the Russians don’t step it up a notch,” Trump said while on tour in Asia.
Trump continues to insist Russian hacking and fake social media accounts didn’t help him win the presidency last year, but even so, he said, “the Russians can’t just sit around in their bathrobes surfing the Internet on their beds. They need be out there getting the emails and targeting our country’s divisions with inflammatory posts, or things are going to be very different next year when I no longer have a Republican Congress to work with.”
Yesterday’s races included two key governorships, in Virginia and New Jersey. Democrats Ralph Northam in Virginia and Phil Murphy in New Jersey both won despite Trump weighing in by insulting the Democratic candidates. “I was out there,” Trump said. “Were the Russians out there? It sure didn’t look like they were, honestly.”
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HAMBURG, Germany. President Donald Trump, fresh from his two-hour meeting with Russia President Vladimir Putin, was in good spirits as he headed for a dinner at the G-20 meeting here Friday night. “I had a terrific meeting with President Putin, a really terrific meeting that will mean great things for America,” Trump said. “I’ve said all along America would be better off if we got along with Russia, and our meeting today was a fresh start, a really good start after the disastrous years we’ve had for so long.” Trump said he and Putin talked about cyber security and bringing peace to Syria—“a really important topic, by the way, really serious stuff”—and about forging closer ties between their two countries in the coming years. “I said I wanted to put the past behind us,” Trump said. “President Putin is a strong leader who I think we can do a lot with. And he certainly respects our strength, our military, our control over the cyber. We’re a really big country and I think he knows that.” More.
President Donald Trump, who took a national security briefing on North Korea last week while dining in a public restaurant at his Mar-a-Lago restaurant, tweeted on an unsecured phone today that Americans shouldn’t forget about Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server while she was secretary of state. “I let her off the hook, but we shouldn’t forget how she risked national security with her emails,” Trump tweeted from his iPhone 7. In another tweet, Trump said he might have his Department of Justice take a look at what she did, even though he had said after the election he would let the matter drop, because “Russians, others could have hacked her like they did the DNC.” More.
President Donald Trump, on the defensive for staff contacts with the Russian government before he was sworn in as president, said the only scandal is the unsecured server Hillary Clinton used as secretary of state when Barack Obama was president. “You have 30,000 emails that could have been compromised because of Hillary Clinton’s illegal use of a private server,” said Trump, who continues to use an unsecured phone for conversations and tweeting and who has taken national security briefings in public locations, including the main dining room at his Mar-a-Lago resort. “We must get to the bottom of her use of a private server when she was communicating with foreign leaders.” To that end, he is directing the Department of Justice to open up an investigation into what Clinton did, and didn’t do, with her server. “Nothing less than our national security is at stake,” he said. More.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the former prosecutor who led the investigation into the Benghazi attacks when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, says he is ready to “pull out all the stops” to learn whether laws were broken when National Security Advisor Michael Flynn held talks with Russia about lifting sanctions while Barack Obama was still president. “If the contacts were in fact about the lifting of sanctions, then that would be a clear violation of U.S. law and appropriate steps would have to be taken,” says Gowdy, who earned a reputation in Congress for his tough prosecutorial approach when he led the special committee on what Hillary Clinton knew and didn’t know about the raid on the U.S. embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of four Americans, including the Libyan ambassador, Christopher Stevens. More.
Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate this week are tweaking 2017 budget legislation to allocate money for construction of the Mexican border wall, a priority of incoming president Donald Trump, but the budgetary maneuver faces a high hurdle to get past Democrats—and might not even be necessary. A consortium of Russian businessmen, including one who is a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has come forward with a proposal to create a private fund that would pay for the wall, enabling Trump to meet his highest-profile campaign promise without taking money away from other U.S. priorities or adding to the federal deficit. More.
President-elect Donald Trump said today he has created so much doubt about what is true and what is not that any compromising information the Russians could reveal about him would not hurt his political standing among his supporters. “If Russian hackers were to reveal that I, say, participated in a golden shower with prostitutes, no one who supports me would believe it,” Trump said today at Trump Tower in New York City. “I’m not saying I participated in that on any of my tips to Moscow when I was seeking Russian money to bail my company out of bankruptcy. But even if I did and the Russians released a video of me doing it, it wouldn’t affect me. Everything is doctored, everything is fake. More.
As he vowed to do, President Barack Obama retaliated against Russian hacking of the U.S. election by releasing photos that Russian President Vladimir Putin is embarrassed to see on the Internet. “We were clear to President Putin that he would regret meddling in the election, which is so fundamental to our Democracy,” said White House spokesperson Josh Earnest this morning. “President Obama was very clear that the United States would retaliate in a manner and at a time of its choosing, and today we have made good on that threat with the release of these embarrassing photos of Vladimir Putin.” The photos are devastating indictments of Putin, say security experts and intelligence analysts. In one photo, Putin is wearing an anti-Putin t-shirt. In another, he has a propeller hat on his head. In a third, he has a message taped to his back that says “Kick me!” More.
President-elect Donald Trump said today he will move U.S. spy operations to Russia, which has “terrific” surveillance and “fantastic” intelligence gathering. “Our spy operations are a disaster,” Trump said after meeting with Mike Pompeo, the Kansas congressman who is in line to head up the CIA. Trump said his “good relationship” with Russia president Vladimir Putin makes the partnership with Russia’s spy agency, known as the KGB, a “fantastic opportunity to get the best intelligence, the best knowledge of what’s going on in the world.” More.
The Democratic National Committee has been hacked. Colin Powell has been hacked. The NSA has been hacked. The American Olympic Committee has been hacked. So many opportunities. So many directions. When you can get into any email you want, whose email do you get into next? That’s the question Russia’s state-supported hackers have been asking themselves and now they want to get your input. In a first for Russia’s hackers, they’ve put out a call on their Facebook page to get ideas from you on whose lives they should turn upside down next. “Tom Brady? Beyonce? Barbra Streisand? It’s just so hard to know,” said the group, which calls itself Анонимный, or “anonymous” in Russian. “It’s impossible to keep up with who’s trending. “Drake is big. But you already know what his emails are going to say. There has to be a surprise factor.” More.
Russian president Vladimir Putin says he’s enjoying the positive coverage he’s getting from the endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump but he doesn’t want to give the impression his success is all about his leadership skills; it helps to be an authoritarian, he says. Putin says he could never work his will if he couldn’t jail critics or have them killed, which takes care of a lot of opposition. He also takes advantage of a rubber-stamp legislative body and gets to set the terms of his election, which is better than running campaign ads, even if they’re good ones. “Truth be told, it helps to do what you want without checks and balances,” he says. “Sure, I’m a good leader. I’m strong. But at the end of the day, I never lose sight of the real source of my strength: my authoritarianism.” More.