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Thread: The timing, the proof, the details: Takeaways from Mueller's new indictments

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    The timing, the proof, the details: Takeaways from Mueller's new indictments

    The timing, the proof, the details: Takeaways from Mueller's new indictments

    by Ken Dilanian / Jul.13.2018 / 5:59 PM ET

    1. The timing

    We knew this was coming, but the timing — on the eve of a summit between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin — was a shock.

    “It’s an enormous show of strength on the part of federal law enforcement,” said Ben Wittes, an MSNBC contributor and editor-in-chief of the Lawfare website, who noted that it also came the day after House Republicans spent nearly 10 hours berating an FBI agent who helped launch the investigation into Russian election interference.

    NBC News reported in March that special counsel Robert Mueller was assembling a case against the Russians who carried out the hacking and leaking operation aimed at Democrats. But it seemed like a poke in the eye to the president to announce it on the eve of a major summit between him and Putin. Especially since President Trump has continued to call the Russia investigation a hoax and a witch hunt, and expressed interest in improving relations with Putin.

    It’s a rare and major development for the Justice Department to indict officials of a foreign government. In almost every case, the president would have input into the decision, given the geopolitical implications. In this instance, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said he briefed Trump last week on the indictment. But he didn’t say he sought permission.

    2. The proof

    The indictment tells a familiar story. But it adds many layers of details, naming names, and minutely describing how the hacks were carried out through both basic and sophisticated techniques, some of which allowed the Russians to capture every keystroke on a user's machine.

    It also leaves out crucial information, including how the government would prove that these particular Russians did the things it alleges they did. The U.S. government already released a detailed intelligence assessment asserting that the Russian government, through its intelligence agencies, hacked, leaked and interfered in the 2016 election. NBC News reported in December that the U.S. has evidence Putin was personally involved and closely supervised aspects of the operation.

    But we still don't know how the government could prove in court that, for example, defendant Ivan Yemakov, a Russian military officer, stole thousands of emails from individuals affiliated with the Clinton campaign. One reason is that doing so would probably expose sensitive sources and methods the government would rather not put in the public domain, including the extent to which the National Security Agency intercepts the communications of Russia’s military intelligence agency.

    Since this case is unlikely to ever reach a court — the defendants are in Russia, out of reach — those details may never be known.

    3. The call

    The indictment puts a new spotlight on Trump’s extraordinary call for the Russians to find Hillary Clinton's deleted emails. He said it at a July 27 press conference in Florida: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” a reference to emails Clinton had deleted from the private account she had used when she was secretary of state. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," Trump said.

    NBC News’ Katy Tur asked him whether he was serious, and whether he had any qualms about asking a foreign adversary to do his bidding. He expressed no qualms.

    The indictment says that later that same day, Russian operatives ”attempted after-hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office,” referring to a tactic used to target computer users with fake emails containing malware.

    The Russians also began an effort that day to target 76 Clinton campaign email accounts, the indictment said.

    “That was an incredibly damning moment for the president when it happened, and it’s become only more damning in hindsight,” said Matthew Miller, an MSNBC legal analyst. “The Russian military intelligence service was essentially acting as Donald Trump’s personal concierge. He asked them to go get Hillary Clinton’s emails and they jumped to his call.”

    4. The contact

    The indictment doesn’t name any Americans, but it describes a person who appears to be Roger Stone, Trump's longtime associate, who it says was in communication with the Russian hackers. The Russian intelligence persona known as Guccifer 2.0 communicated with “a person who was in regular contact with senior members” of the Trump campaign, according to Mueller.

    "Please tell me if i can help u anyhow. it would be a great pleasure to me," Guccifer 2.0 said to the campaign contact, according to the indictment.

    In March 2017, the Smoking Gun website published an article that purported to include that message, in an exchange with Stone. He responded by releasing screen shots of his messages, confirming the exchange. But he downplayed the significance.

    “To reiterate, I myself had no contacts or communications with the Russian State, Russian Intelligence or anyone fronting for them or acting as intermediaries for them," Stone wrote in March of 2017. "None. Nada. Zilch. I am not in touch with any Russians, don’t have a Russian girlfriend, don’t like Russian dressing, and have stopped drinking Russian Vodka.”

    That statement has not aged well. In June of this year, Stone remembered that he in fact had a meeting with a Russian during the campaign who offered him damaging information about Hillary Clinton. He was also in communication with a person identified in the indictment as Russian intelligence operative.

    Stone did not respond to requests for comment, and his lawyer told NBC News he was not involved in any hacking.

    Sam Nunberg, a former political adviser to the Trump campaign and a longtime Stone associate, said Friday on MSNBC that he thinks Mueller’s team will go after Stone next because of his contact with Guccifer 2.0.

    He added that Stone did not believe Russia was behind Guccifer 2.0 or the email leak.

    “I thought he would face indictment possibly for some kind of financial issue," Nunberg said, "but it seems to me that what the Mueller team has done here, they now have shown that there is a conspiracy. They have indicted people on a conspiracy and perhaps they're next going to say that Roger, because of his contact with Guccifer, was part of that conspiracy.”
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    So it's just another conjecture story woven into an indictment against Russia with no proof that will never go to trial announced only to interrupt the coverage of Trump's beautiful meeting with the Queen of England and attempt to disrupt Trump's meeting with Putin in Helsinki on Monday.


    Foreign intelligence operations are laughing their butts off.
    Last edited by Judy; 07-13-2018 at 06:51 PM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Trump faults Obama for US response to Russian hacking

    ,Associated PressJuly 14, 2018

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Saturday scolded the Obama administration for not responding aggressively enough to Russian hacking of Democratic targets in the 2016 U.S. election — cyberattacks underpinning the indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers.

    Trump's first response to special counsel Robert Mueller's initial charges against Russian government officials for interfering in American politics came in tweets the president posted while at his golf resort in Scotland, two days before a high-stakes summit in Finland with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

    "The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration," Trump tweeted. "Why didn't they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?

    The indictment announced Friday said the Russians hacked into Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic Party and released tens of thousands of private communications as part of a broad conspiracy by the Kremlin to meddle in an American election that ended up putting Trump in the White House.

    U.S. intelligence agencies have said Moscow was aiming to help the Trump campaign and harm Clinton's bid.

    Trump said this past week during his trip to Europe that he would "absolutely, firmly" raise the election-meddling issue with Putin at their meeting, though he added, "I don't think you'll have any 'Gee, I did it, I did it. You got me!'"

    Leading Democratic senators asked Trump in a letter Saturday to scrap the summit "if you are not prepared to make Russia's attack on our election the top issue you will discuss."

    Trump's secretary of state, former CIA Director Mike Pompeo, said he was confident the meeting "will put America in a better place. It's very important that they meet."

    The 29-page indictment lays out how, months before Americans voted in November 2016, Russians schemed to break into key Democratic email accounts, including those belonging to Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

    Stolen emails, many politically damaging for Clinton, appeared on WikiLeaks in the campaign's final stretch.

    The charges say the Russian defendants, using a persona known as Guccifer 2.0, in August 2016 contacted a person in touch with the Trump campaign to offer help. And they say that on the same day Trump, in a speech, urged Russia to find Clinton's missing emails, Russian hackers tried for the first time to break into email accounts used by her personal office.

    Mueller did not allege that Trump campaign associates were involved in the hacking effort, that Americans were knowingly in touch with Russian intelligence officers or that any vote tallies were altered by hacking.

    The White House seized on those points in a statement that offered no condemnation of Russian election interference.

    Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism about Russian involvement in the hacking while being accused by Democrats of cozying up to Putin. Trump, hours before the indictment was made public, complained about the Russia investigation hours, saying the "stupidity" was making it "very hard to do something with Russia."

    The Kremlin denied anew that it tried to sway the election. "The Russian state has never interfered and has no intention of interfering in the U.S. elections," said Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov.

    The indictment identifies the defendants as officers with Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, also known as GRU. If that link is established, it would shatter the Kremlin denials of the Russian state's involvement in the U.S. elections, given that the GRU is part of the state machine.

    The Russian defendants are not in custody, and it is not clear they will ever appear in an American court.

    The indictment accuses the Russian hackers, starting in March 2016, of covertly monitoring the computers of dozens of Democratic officials and volunteers, implanting malicious computer code known as malware to explore the networks and steal data, and sending phishing emails to gain access to accounts.

    One attempt at interference came hours after Trump, in a July 27, 2016, speech, suggested Russians look for emails that Clinton said she had deleted from her tenure as secretary of state.

    "Russia, if you're listening," Trump said, "I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing."

    That evening, the indictment says, the Russians attempted to break into email accounts used by Clinton's personal office, along with 76 Clinton campaign email addresses.

    By June 2016, the defendants, relying on fictional personas such as DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, began planning the release of tens of thousands of stolen emails, the indictment alleges.

    The Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks displayed the campaign's private communications, including deliberations about messaging that played into attacks that Clinton was calculating and a political flip-flopper.

    Private speeches she gave to financial industry firms were particularly damaging within the left wing of the Democratic party and among independents frustrated with the influence of Wall Street in politics.

    The indictment alleges that Guccifer 2.0 was in touch with multiple Americans in the summer of 2016 about the pilfered material, including an unidentified congressional candidate who requested and then received stolen information.

    On Aug. 15, 2016, the indictment says, Guccifer 2.0 reached out to someone in contact with the Trump campaign and asked the person if they had seen anything "interesting in the docs I posted?" Guccifer 2.0 said it would be a "great pleasure" to help.

    Prosecutors say weeks later, Guccifer 2.0 referred to a stolen DCCC document posted online and asked the person, "what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign." The person responded, "(p)retty standard."

    The indictment doesn't identify the person, though longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone acknowledged Friday, through his lawyer, a "24-word exchange with someone on Twitter claiming to be Guccifer 2.0."

    "This exchange is now entirely public and provides no evidence of collaboration or collusion with Guccifer 2.0 or anyone else in the alleged hacking of the DNC emails," said lawyer Grant Smith.

    The charges come as Mueller continues to investigate potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. Before Friday, 20 people and three companies had been charged in the investigation.

    Defendants include four former Trump campaign and White House aides, three of whom have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate, and 13 Russians accused in a powerful social media campaign to sway U.S. public opinion in 2016.

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