President Ignoring Russia’s Cyber-Threats Against US Voting Systems For 2020 Elections

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ROBERT MUELLER III
On the 22nd of March 2019, the FBI’s Special Counsel Robert Mueller III delivered as required, his final report pertaining to its 22 months long Trump-Russia probe to the Department of Justice’s head, the Attorney General William Barr.
Despite the Attorney General William Barr’s attempts to publicly white-wash the FBI’s final report to provide cover for the republican President Donald Trump, both Mr. Barr and Mr. Mueller agreed, that Russia did indeed conduct a covert operation in 2016, an all out, full throttle, multi prong attack against US elections’ infrastructure designed to effect the outcome in favor of Mr. Trump, and that Russia is continuing in these efforts. In short, Moscow made a concerted effort to sabotage the 2016 US elections and its agents plan to do likewise in 2020 US elections.
This is why the president’s refusal to face the reality that Russia did attack US elections’ infrastructure in 2016 is a big deal as he resists protecting this country from future similar cyber-warfare on our elections’ systems.
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Here is the rest of the story…

On April 24, 2019, Eric Schmitt, David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times penned the following report, “In Push for 2020 Election Security, Top Official Was Warned: Don’t Tell Trump”

Excerpts:

“In the months before Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign, she tried to focus the White House on one of her highest priorities as homeland security secretary: preparing for new and different Russian forms of interference in the 2020 election.”

“President Trump’s chief of staff told her not to bring it up in front of the president.”

“Ms. Nielsen left the Department of Homeland Security early this month after a tumultuous 16-month tenure and tensions with the White House. Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the US during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids.”

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“But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”

“Even though the Department of Homeland Security has primary responsibility for civilian cyberdefense, Ms. Nielsen eventually gave up on her effort to organize a White House meeting of cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect next year’s elections.”

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“As a result, the issue did not gain the urgency or widespread attention that a president can command. And it meant that many Americans remain unaware of the latest versions of Russian interference.”

“This account of Ms. Nielsen’s frustrations was described to The New York Times by three senior Trump administration officials and one former senior administration official, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity.”

“After this article was published on Wednesday, Mr. Mulvaney said through a spokesman, “I don’t recall anything along those lines happening in any meeting.”

“He said the Trump administration would not tolerate foreign interference in American elections and was working to prevent it, including by increasing coordination and intelligence sharing among state, local and federal governments.”

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“While American intelligence agencies have warned of the dangers of new influence campaigns penetrating the 2020 elections, Mr. Trump and those closest to him have maintained that the effects of Russia’s interference in 2016 was overblown.”

You look at what Russia did — you know, buying some Facebook ads to try to sow dissent and do it — and it’s a terrible thing,” Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said on Tuesday during an interview at the Time 100 Summit in New York.

“But I think the investigations, and all of the speculation that’s happened for the last 2 years, has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple of Facebook ads,” he said.”

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JARED KUSHNER

Before she resigned under pressure on April 7, Ms. Nielsen and other officials looked for other ways to raise the alarm.

The opening page of the Worldwide Threat Assessment, a public document compiled by government intelligence agencies that was delivered to Congress in late January, warned that “the threat landscape could look very different in 2020 and future elections.”

“Russia’s social media efforts will continue to focus on aggravating social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities and criticizing perceived anti-Russia politicians,” the report noted. It also predicted that “Moscow may employ additional influence tool kits — such as spreading disinformation, conducting hack-and-leak operations or manipulating data — in a more targeted fashion to influence U.S. policy, actions and elections.”

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By comparison, cyberthreats have taken a back seat among security priorities at the White House.

Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator at the White House last year, leaving junior aides to deal with the issue. In January, Ms. Nielsen fumed when 45 percent of her cyberdefense work force was furloughed during the government shutdown.

“Ms. Nielsen grew so frustrated with White House reluctance to convene top-level officials to come up with a governmentwide strategy that she twice pulled together her own meetings of cabinet secretaries and agency heads. They included top Justice Department, F.B.I. and intelligence officials to chart a path forward, many of whom later periodically issued public warnings about indicators that Russia was both looking for new ways to interfere and experimenting with techniques in Ukraine and Europe.”

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“One senior official described homeland security officials as adamant that the United States government needed to significantly step up its efforts to urge the American public and companies to block foreign influence campaigns. But the department was stymied by the White House’s refusal to discuss it, the official said.”

“As a result, the official said, the government was failing to adequately inform Americans about continuing influence efforts.”

“A second senior administration official said Ms. Nielsen began pushing after the November midterms for the governmentwide efforts to protect the 2020 elections.”

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“That official said Ms. Nielsen wanted to make election security a top priority at meetings of Mr. Trump’s principal national security aides, who resisted making it a focus of the discussions given that the 2020 vote was, at the time, nearly two years away.”

“On Friday, the day after Mr. Mueller’s conclusions were made public, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration would continue to confront Moscow on its attempts to meddle in the 2020 elections.”

“Russia interferes in a number of places,” Mr. Pompeo said. “I don’t think there’s been a discussion between a senior U.S. official and Russians in this administration where we have not raised this issue about our concern about Russia’s interference in our elections.”

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“I do believe the Department of Homeland Security and the White House should be prioritizing this threat and should be doing so consistent with the intelligence community’s own assessment,” said Lisa Monaco, who was among officials who worked to counter Russian cyberinterference in 2016 as the White House homeland security adviser to Mr. Obama.”

“She said parts of Mr. Mueller’s report showed how the threat from Russia had grown.”

“More recently, officials at the Department of Homeland Security credited unprecedented help from Facebook, Google and Microsoft to block malicious influence campaigns in the 2018 elections, including by taking down inauthentic posts or other suspect activity quickly. Microsoft also warned of attacks on the offices of 2 senators.”

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MATTHEW MASTERSON

“Before the midterms, the US Cyber Command created a so-called Russia Small Group of American officials to disrupt election influence campaigns by two groups whose members were indicted as part of Mr. Mueller’s investigation: the G.R.U., which is Moscow’s military intelligence agency, and the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm with ties to Mr. Putin.”

“Matthew Masterson, a senior adviser at the Department of Homeland Security who coordinates its election cybersecurity, said Russian interference remained a threat as the 2020 presidential campaign approached.”

“He said the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is working with American states to fortify election systems to prevent Russians and other hackers from penetrating voter registration records. The department is also working with other federal agencies to provide state officials with more information about election interference efforts.”

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“Russian intelligence’s 2016 covert actions to divide Americans by interfering in our election were so successful,” said Kevin T. Carroll, a former C.I.A. officer who was a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security during the first two years of the Trump administration.”

“Putin will amplify them in 2020.”

Link to entire report: In Push for 2020 Election SecurityTop Official Was WarnedDon’t Tell …

See:

See Mother Jones article: Mueller Report Bolsters Claims That Russia Penetrated Election …

See ABC News report:  Ex-DHS chief wanted cabinet-level election threat meetings, White …

8 comments

  1. Gday mate, it would seem that the systems regards voting in USA have been flawed for years, however, that was when the manipulation was internal. Corruption of American voting systems by Americans is or would be close held secrets, but now the corruption has opened doors that would best be kept shut. The democratic experiment that is the USA now has a window of opportunity to resolve such issues. If the persons on both sides of the aisle have the integrity and will to preserve a greatness or to dissolve individually into partisan power grabs. How Andy Warhol your politicians seem, anything for 15 minutes of fame, write book, go fish…
    Please forgive my ignorance, but it seems either the corruption that has become politics must be admitted to and cleaned up, or you simply need better people in politics. No one, no president, could have been president without back room deals with the devil, that is how hard you guys play. Although there are several outstanding persons on the Democratic ticket to date. Americas pride should be of self awareness, of the role that a good and great hearted America is of such positive benefit to the world, and the capitalist/social/ paradigm. It must be embarrassing to know that the world now sees an empire without clothes… allowing an anomaly to become President, perhaps you guys should shut down twitter, stop watching tv news and look into your hearts, because that is where history and the hardships you have experienced as a nation made America great. Hugs mate.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Gary J.,

      We have been through tough periods, numerous times in our past but Americans are a resilient lot. This has been a wake up call to not take for granted what we had and what we need to fight to preserve.

      The vast majority of Americans are decent, generous, hard working and they don’t approve of President Trump and his ilk. He’s certainly testing the limits of our democracy. But eventually he’ll be history and there will many books telling about this insane historical chapter in US history.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It seems to me that if a politician performs at a C- level this is the best that can be expected.

    US policy under trump is make trump feel good and for members of the trump administration and other “political appointees ” such Kavanaugh, as long as you make trump feel good and stay out of controversial headlines (do not get caught) you can do as you please.

    For over 25 years the Kremlin and Russia have been meddling in the affairs of other countries by attempting to delegitimize their institutions and seriously divide their countries. The behaviour of trump as president is to delegitimize our institutions and seriously divide our country. Collusion or no collusion the behaviour of trump is as if he is a Russian agent acting in the established interests of Russia.

    This strikes me as being far far below a C- grade.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Steve Naegele,

      You are much too generous. President Trump and his GOP cronies in the US Congress and in the White House have been acting counter to the interests of the American peoples, their own oaths of office and the US Constitution. They are failing to protect this country’s national security interests. Like you said, as long as they keep President Trump happy, the status quo is just fine.

      This is why I’m wanting to US House Democrats to gain access to the president’s financial records. If congressional subpoenas don’t work, then it’s time for Democrats to invoke ‘articles of impeachment.’

      Like the tapes were to President Nixon’s impeachment, President Trump’s financial records will be the his downfall. This is where we can see how compromised he is because of his financial dealings with Russia and Saudi Arabia. President Nixon fought hard to protect his tapes and President Trump will do likewise with his financial records.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Like

  3. Gronda, this confirms it. Donald Trump is the Queen of Hearts. I guess that makes us citizens Alice. McConnell is the Mad Hatter and Graham is the March Hare. Pence is the milktoast husband of the Queen.

    Queen Donald does not want to fix the Russian problem as he wants their help in 2020. Plus, if he loses, they will help him claim election fraud.

    Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Keith,

      The president and his GOP cronies get that they can’t win in 2020 without cheating. If they can get away with doing nothing to protect the US elections infrastructure from outside manipulations, that’s what they’ll do.

      It’s up to the rest of us not to let this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ GOP crowd get away with making our US voting systems vulnerable to attacks from foreign adversarial countries.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Like

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