Tag Archives | atlantic

The Coincidence at the Heart of the Russia Hacking Scandal

By David A. Graham

The broad outlines of Friday’s indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, charging 12 Russians with conspiracy, identity theft, and money laundering in connection with hacking during the 2016 presidential election, are not surprising. The hacking of the Democratic National Committee has been public knowledge since July 2016, and even then, the authorities publicly stated that the perpetrators were Russian government officials. Other details, such as the apparent involvement of WikiLeaks and Trump adviser Roger Stone, were also known. Some of the details, however, are striking.

On July 27, 2016, at a Trump press conference in Florida, the candidate referred to 33,000 emails that an aide to Hillary Clinton had deleted from the former secretary of state’s personal email server. The DNC had recently announced the Russian intrusion, and Trump speculated that if Russia broke into the DNC, it would have accessed Clinton’s emails, too.

“By the way, if they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails,” Trump said. “I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted. Because you’d see some beauties there.”

That was perhaps irresponsible speculation, but it wasn’t crazy. There were widespread questions about Clinton’s information security, and whether she might have compromised government secrets. But a few minutes later Trump said something much stranger.

“I will tell you this: Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

The president was encouraging a foreign adversary to illegally hack into messages by a former secretary of state that might contain sensitive information, then release them publicly.

Trump had good reason to believe that Russia was listening. The previous month, his son, Donald Jr.; son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, had a meeting …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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The Russians Who Hacked the 2016 Election

By David A. Graham

A grand jury in Washington, D.C., on Friday indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers, charging them with hacking intended to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

The indictment, sought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, charge the defendants with hacking into computers and email systems of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. The hackers also allegedly broke into computer systems of an unidentified state board of elections, stealing personal information for 500,000 voters.

Friday’s indictment is important because the hacking of the DNC was the origin story for the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The DNC announced in June 2016 that its computer networks had been infiltrated, and security experts quickly concluded that Russia was behind the break-in. Further investigation by multiple American intelligence committees reached the same conclusion. Since then, there have been new allegations and revelations about Russian interference, ranging from the “troll farm” that was the target of Mueller indictments earlier this year to allegations of coordination and collusion between Russians and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

President Trump has repeatedly derided Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt,” even as it produces indictments, guilty pleas, and a pile of new, detailed information about how Russian interfered. The hacks are an especially important part of this case: Unlike claims of collusion or obstruction of justice, the hacking clearly constituted a crime, and there was a clear culprit. As a result, the fact that Mueller hadn’t charged anyone in connection with the crime until how had become conspicuous.

That curious silence ended on Friday. The defendants are charged with conspiracy against the United States, identity theft, and money laundering.

“The object of the conspiracy was to hack into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Steve Bannon’s British Sideshow

By Rosie Gray

When President Trump made his first visit abroad last year, Steve Bannon was still at the heart of everything.

A year later, Bannon is no longer by the president’s side as Trump visits the United Kingdom, after a precipitous political fall from grace earlier this year. But he’s still shown up on the edges of the trip, camping out in the U.K. and supporting Trump through media appearances as an unofficial surrogate.

As the president struggles through a hurricane of negative coverage and protests in Britain, Bannon turning up as a support act and surrounding himself with Trump-friendly actors could be interpreted on some level as a strategic play: to show his former boss he’s still useful, still loyal, and still the man who can flip a narrative—and maybe even flip out of office all the pesky European allies who irritate Trump so.

Bannon is “the best surrogate the president has,” said a former White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely. And Bannon may stand to benefit from the president’s compulsive TV-watching, the source said: “The more Steve goes on TV and the president sees him doing a great job defending him, the more likely we will see a detente and even an eventual reunion between the two.”

Bannon isn’t being shy about his movements in the United Kingdom. “I’m here to be a surrogate on British media,” Bannon told Politico, and as recently as Friday morning he appeared on Piers Morgan’s “Good Morning Britain.” This week, Bannon has also been taking meetings in a hotel room in London with key figures in the European and British right, including his ally Nigel Farage, the former United Kingdom Independence Party leader, and Louis Aliot, a top official in France’s Front National and …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Yale Law Fails the Kavanaugh Test

By Conor Friedersdorf

Each Supreme Court vacancy renews the perennial debate about the best way forward for constitutional law. Law-school graduates have a special obligation to inform that discussion.

But this week, as Americans confronted Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Yale’s legal community twice failed to responsibly discharge its civic duty. A statement published by Yale Law School was strike one. A response signed by dozens of Yale Law students, alumni, and educators was strike two. Together they’re a case study in ways that self-indulgence from elites can dumb down civic life, though I should be clear that not all Yalies are implicated.


Few issues in American civics are as complex as a Supreme Court nomination. Even the most conscientiously informed citizen can be forgiven for meeting a nomination with uncertainty.

Supreme Court justices interpret the most contentious passages in the U.S. Constitution, often rendering judgment in precisely those cases where educated people of goodwill are in sustained conflict about the proper outcome. That job would be hugely difficult even if everyone accurately anticipated all the controversies that would underpin future cases and agreed as to the optimal jurisprudential philosophy that should guide high-court jurists.

Yet many important matters that the court will confront are unknowable, and how best to confront them is contested—even principled experts who’ve staked out internally consistent approaches find themselves in abiding disagreements with one another, while most Americans are conflicted and inconsistent on questions like the degree of deference the judicial branch owes to legislators, how strictly judges should adhere to what the words of the Constitution meant when it was ratified, whether adherence to the law or a just outcome is paramount, and the degree of deference that bygone Supreme Court decisions are owed.

What’s more, many partisans and interest groups …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Emmett Till and the Ghosts of the Mississippi Delta

By Vann R. Newkirk II

JACKSON, Miss.—If there is a fight to be had for the future of America, it will be waged in the Delta. The great alluvial plain to the west and north of here, stretching from Vicksburg on up to Memphis, and expanding out like a fan from the mighty Mississippi River, is a storied home to movement, and is the proving ground of the laws and legends that make the country what it is today. Past the soybean farms and pine stands, the cotton plantations and catfish ponds, there’s a political significance to this agricultural expanse. The Mississippi Delta is a reservoir of demographic strength—the blackest part of the blackest state in the country. But it is also one of the poorest places in America, and a region where the struggle for basic human rights is not yet settled.

At the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, it is made clear just how the Mississippi of before begat the Mississippi of today. The state was built on ethnic cleansing, land theft, and terror; and it was maintained even after slavery through terrorism. It’s because of the blackness of the region that the version of Jim Crow implemented there was the zenith—or the nadir—of the form, a roiling campaign of theft and intimidation that over the course of a century watered the fertile soil of the Delta with somewhere near 600 lynchings. There at the museum, the names of Mississippi martyrs like Medgar Evers and Reverend George Lee are raised in honor. Chief among them is Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy whose lynching proved a horror too far.

I was touring the museum, exiting an exhibit on the life and assassination of Evers, the former state NAACP field secretary, when I received a curious news alert. The Associated Press reported that the Department …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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The ‘To Be Sure’ Conservatives

By Peter Beinart

Donald Trump’s brazen violation of principles American conservatives were once thought to cherish—from free trade to family values to a hard line against America’s foes—has split right-leaning pundits into three camps. At one extreme are the pure sycophants. For them, conservatism is whatever Trump says it is. Many, like Sebastian Gorka, were unknown until Trump’s presidency, which means they can applaud whatever he does without worrying that people will notice they’ve abandoned principles they formerly held. At the other extreme are anti-Trump conservatives like George Will, Bret Stephens, and David Frum, who frankly acknowledge that Trump has desecrated conservative principles—along with liberal democratic ones—and as a result denounce him in the harshest of terms.

Then there’s the middle group: The “to be sure” conservatives. They want to remain faithful to principles they once championed. But they also want to be as faithful as possible to a president who enjoys near 90 percent approval among Republican voters. Thus, their writing includes “to be sure” paragraphs that breeze by Trump’s blatant assaults on long-held conservative values in their rush to find something, anything, to congratulate him for.

The reaction to Trump’s performance at this week’s NATO summit nicely illustrates the phenomenon. Perhaps the most common conservative critique of Barack Obama’s foreign policy was that he bashed America’s allies (Israel, in particular, but also countries in Eastern Europe) and appeased America’s foes (Iran, in particular, but also Russia). “Obama has been hell on allies,” wrote the National Review editor Rich Lowry in 2009. “The more pro-U.S. a country is, the more it can expect scolding or neglect from the president of the United States. It’s our enemies and the authoritarian big powers that Obama wants to woo.” In his book, How The Obama Administration Threatens our National Security, the National Review …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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FBI Investigator Rejects Accusations of Anti-Trump Bias

By Natasha Bertrand

Republicans hammered FBI Agent Peter Strzok over several hours of testimony Thursday, seeking to discredit the long-running federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and portray Strzok as a symbol of an agency hopelessly tainted by bias against President Trump. The hearing quickly descended into a partisan spectacle that Strzok warned would be “another victory notch” in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s belt. Through it all, Strzok maintained that he had never compromised his duties, and that the investigation was both justified and being carried out with the highest integrity.

“The fact is, after months of investigations, there is simply no evidence of bias in my professional actions,” Strzok said. “There is, however, one extraordinarily important piece of evidence supporting my integrity, the integrity of the FBI, and our lack of bias. In the summer of 2016, I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with members of the Trump campaign. This information had the potential to derail and quite possibly defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of expressing that or exposing that information never crossed my mind.”

Strzok, who headed the FBI’s counterespionage division in 2016, and was one of the top officials overseeing the criminal investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information while she was secretary of state, has become a lightning rod for efforts to undermine the Russia investigation due to text messages he sent to Lisa Page, a former FBI attorney with whom he was having an affair, that were deeply critical of Trump during a period in which the FBI was investigating his campaign.

Over the course of the hearing, GOP lawmaker Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, threatened Strzok with contempt for not revealing details related to …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Strzok in the Middle

By Elaine Godfrey

-Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)

Today in 5 Lines

  • During a contentious hearing before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok denied accusations that his private political views influenced his official duties overseeing the Russia investigation.
  • President Trump released a letter he received from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in which Kim praised Trump’s leadership. “Great progress being made!” Trump tweeted.

  • Trump arrived in the U.K., where he met with Prime Minister Theresa May and attended a black-tie dinner. He’s expected to have tea with Queen Elizabeth II on Friday at Windsor Castle.

  • The Trump administration said that they have reunited 57 of the 103 children under the age of 5 who had been separated from their parents at the U.S. border. The 46 remaining children have been deemed “ineligible” for return.

  • The federal government reopened the investigation into the death of 14-year-old Emmett Till, 63 years after his murder.


Today on The Atlantic

  • The Nats’ Biggest Fan: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh reportedly racked up between $60,000 and $200,000 in debt buying baseball tickets. How did he do it—and how did he pay it off so quickly? (David A. Graham)
  • ‘A Policy of Malign Neglect’: The Trump administration has turned its back on one of America’s greatest allies when it’s most in need of U.S. help, argues David Frum.
  • Enough With ‘Abolish ICE’: Conor Friedersdorf lays out an immigration message that Democrats can win on.
  • Make America Weak Again: America’s strength on the world stage rests in five different areas, writes Amy Zegart, and President Trump is weakening all of them except one.

Snapshot

FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok testifies before a House Judiciary Committee joint hearing on “oversight of FBI and Department of Justice actions surrounding the 2016 election” …read more

Via:: <a href=http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AtlanticPoliticsChannel/~3/sBpBp1YPp-A/ class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Strzok in the Middle” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic

      

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The Trade War Will Make Everything More Expensive

By Sophia Myszkowski

With the onset of Trump’s trade war, diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China—the world’s largest and second-largest economies, respectively—have reached a crisis point. Yasheng Huang, a political economist, MIT professor, and the author of Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics, argues that “a trade war would negatively affect the interest of U.S. consumers, companies, and the financial system of the United States.”


Speaking at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival, Huang goes on to explain how the newly-imposed tariffs on Chinese goods will raise domestic prices. He also reveals how the U.S. and China can coexist “peacefully and profitably”—and why the onus is on America to bring that to fruition.

…read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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The Mystery of Brett Kavanaugh’s Baseball-Ticket Debt

By David A. Graham

During his confirmation hearings in 2005, Chief Justice John Roberts told senators that he saw his job as a judge as a matter of calling balls and strikes. Brett Kavanaugh, whom President Trump has nominated to sit alongside Roberts on the Supreme Court, has apparently spent a great deal of time and money on observing literal balls and strikes being thrown.

According to financial disclosures, Kavanaugh had between $60,000 and $200,000 in debt, spread across three credit cards and a loan. (Federal rules require individuals to disclose ranges of debts, rather than specific figures, so the actual numbers are unknown.) As The Washington Post first reported, the White House has an explanation for the debts: Kavanaugh spent big on tickets to see the Washington Nationals, a team he’s known to back.

Raj Shah, a White House spokesman leading the communications push for Kavanaugh’s nomination, said that Kavanaugh had purchased Nats season tickets and playoff seats for himself and a handful of friends. Each credit card had between $15,000 and $50,000 of debt, as did the personal loan. By the time of his 2017 disclosure, the debts were gone, and Shah said that Kavanaugh’s only current debt is a home mortgage.

The eye-popping figures—tens of thousands on baseball tickets!—not only show how pricey America’s pastime has become. They also spotlight Kavanaugh’s own financial situation and the bruising contours of a high-stakes confirmation fight, and the raise the question of how he paid the debt off so quickly.

The more important, and curious, question is not how Kavanaugh accrued the debts attributed to the baseball tickets, but how he paid them down. It’s strange to imagine that a man of comparatively modest means would put tens of thousands of dollars on credit cards to buy baseball tickets, but even stranger that they would have been …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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