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Tag: election

Sex Coaches Jailed in Thailand Claim to Have Evidence of Russian Interference in Election

Russian leader Vladimir Putin

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI has tried to arrange a meeting with two self-proclaimed “sex coaches” housed in a Thai jail over claims that they have information about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

FBI agents attempted to set up a meeting with Anastasia Vashukevich and Alexander Kirillov, both Belarusian citizens, but the bureau was rebuffed by Thai officials who insist only the detainees’ lawyers and family members are allowed to have access to them, CNN reported Tuesday

The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok received handwritten letters last month from the women, who offered to provide evidence of Russian meddling in exchange for asylum.

The women were arrested along with other Russian-Speaking sex coaches at a seminar in Thailand last month.

Vashukevich claims to be a former mistress of a Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the letter, she said she witnessed meetings between the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, and unidentified Americans in 2016 and 2017.

Deripaska denies the affair.

Read: 37-Page Indictment of Russians Interfering with U.S. Elections

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

The Justice Department on Friday announced the indictments of 13 Russians and three Russian groups accused of waging a sophisticated, covert propaganda campaign to help get Donald Trump elected.

Special counsel Robert Mueller unveiled the 37-page indictment, which you can read here. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller

The indictment alleges the Russians stole the identities of Americans, spread falsehoods on social media, staged political rallies and exploited flashpoint issues, such as race, immigration and religion, to sow divisions.

“The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy,” Rod  Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the investigation, said in a brief news conference announcing the charges. “We must not allow them to succeed.”

The indictment amounted to a detailed rebuttal of President Trump’s claims that Russian interference was a “hoax” peddled by the “fake news.”

FBI: U.S. Should Have Foreseen Russia’s Meddling in Election

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

U.S. authorities should have foreseen Russia’s efforts to meddle in the presidential election because of the Kremlin’s actions in the past, said FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

While the extent of Russia’s involvement was surprising “in some ways,” McCabe said the intelligence community had plenty of reasons to be suspicious.

“The fact is, the Russians have been targeting us with everything they have over the last 50 years,” McCabe said, CNN reports. “We sort of should have seen this coming.”

Whatever the case, McCabe said investigators will ensure Russia “pays” for its actions.

But that doesn’t mean the U.S. will be able to stop Russia in the future.

“The experience in the 2016 elections allowed us to diagnose the problem,” McCabe said. “Have we cured it yet? Absolutely not.”

Russia Targeted at Least 21 States in Hacking Scheme During 2016 Election

Cyber crime expert, via FBI.

Cyber crime expert, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security alerted 21 states that Russian tried to hack their election systems in 2016.

Some of the states were critical battlegrounds in the presidential election, including Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Arizona, according to the Washington Post

Homeland Security didn’t release details or say whether the hacking attempts were successful.

“We need Congress and the president to help states with their security systems for elections and ensure funding for more secure equipment where needed, and we need it to happen now,” Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D) said. “Rather than investigating this attack on our democracy from a hostile foreign power, the Trump administration has formed a commission to prove that he won the popular vote, an idea that has been entirely discredited by numerous studies.

At least one state’s election system was breached, according to Bloomberg

In early July 2016, a contractor who works two or three days a week at the state board of elections detected unauthorized data leaving the network, according to Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois board of elections. The hackers had gained access to the state’s voter database, which contained information such as names, dates of birth, genders, driver’s licenses and partial Social Security numbers on 15 million people, half of whom were active voters. As many as 90,000 records were ultimately compromised.

Russian Cyberattacks on Election Systems Adds Pressure to Homeland Security

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Mounting evidence that Russia used cyberattacks to impact the presidential election has turned up the heat on Homeland Security to protect America’s democratic system from hackers.

Homeland Security officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that they have evidence to suggest Russian operatives targeted election systems in 21 states.

The Hill reports that lawmakers are urging the department to help states protect their election systems. 

“I’m deeply concerned about the danger posed by future interference in our elections,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice chairman of the intelligence panel, said Wednesday. “We have elections in 2018, but in my home state of Virginia, we have statewide elections this year. So this needs a sense of urgency.”

Senators asked Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to provide more details about the targeted election systems, including which states were targeted.

(D-Ore.). “We obviously need to know about vulnerabilities, so that we can find solutions, and we need better cybersecurity to protect elections from being hacked in the first place.”

FBI Director Says He Has No Regrets about Handling of Hillary Clinton Probe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey told a Senate committee on Thursday that he felt “mildly nauseous” that he may have affected the outcome of the presidential election, but said he would do it over again.

Comey was hammered with questions for four hours from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Lordy, has this been painful,” Comey said. “I’ve gotten all kinds of rocks thrown at me and this has been really hard, but I think I’ve done the right thing at each turn.”

Comey insisted he had a responsibility to notify Congress that new information had prompted the FBI to reopen the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal less than two weeks before the election.

Sen. Patric Leahy, D-Vt., was not happy, he told the Washington Post after the hearing. 

“I would have been satisfied if he had done what all Republican and Democratic administrations have done in the past,” Leahy said. “The Justice Department has a procedure. You do not release information like that just before an election.”

Comey offered new details about what lead up to his decision to notify Congress of the investigation.

“Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,’’ Comey said, adding later, “His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him to print out for her so she could deliver them to the secretary of state.”

Stephen Colbert Pokes Fun at FBI Director’s Testimony about Clinton Investigation

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Late night comedian Stephen Colbert had harsh words for FBI Director James Comey following controversial testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Colbert played clips of Wednesday’s committee hearing in which Comey defended his decision to notify Congress that the Hillary Clinton investigation had reopened.

Colbert also ribbed Comey for saying he was “mildly nauseous” for potentially upending the election.

“Maybe it’s morning sickness — after all, you did screw the whole country,” Colbert said. 

Other Stories of Interest

Hillary Clinton in Rare Public Appearance Partly Blames FBI’s Comey, Russian Hacking for Election Loss

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Hillary Clinton, in a rare public appearance, said she would be president if not for FBI Director James Comey’s decision to release information to Congress about reopening the bureau’s investigation into her use of a private email server.

Comey’s Oct. 28 letter to Congress reversed her momentum going into the Nov. 8 election, Clinton told a CNN anchor at a Women for Women International event in New York.

Clinton also blamed Russian hackers, which the FBI is investigating.

“If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president,” Clinton told CNN moderator Christiane Amanpour.

Clinton added: “I was on the way to winning until the combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off — and the evidence for that intervening event is, I think, compelling (and) persuasive.”

Still, Clinton said she takes “absolute personal responsibility” for failing to win the election but continued to blame external forces, including “misogyny.”

Just two days before the election, Comey notified Congress that no new evidence was found to conclude that Clinton should face criminal charges.