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  1. We know Russia likes to put agents of influence in high places (, and, most of the time, they're not so hard to spot if you know to look. One likely such agent is former Bush legal advisor Jack Goldsmith.
  3. Goldsmith has an interesting habit--whenever Russia is accused of doing something nefarious, Goldsmith likes to point out that the U.S. does the same:
  7.     How often do you think America engages in this kind of thing?
  9.     Jack Goldsmith: It depends on what you mean by “this kind of thing.” One of the first ever CIA covert operations was designed to influence the Italian elections of 1948 to ensure that the Communists did not win, and there are several now-public examples of U.S. covert operations to influence foreign elections over the years. The United States is also a global leader in espionage and data theft in foreign governmental networks. And all major powers, including the United States, engage in information operations in various contexts. Note that a few months ago Putin attributed the Panama Papers disclosures to the United States: “We now know from WikiLeaks that officials and state agencies in the United States are behind all this.”
  13.     By Jack Goldsmith
  15.     The first step to understanding here, I think, is to try to put oneself in the skin of the adversary, to understand how it sees the world and why it acts the way it does. The United States is angry because of the consequential Russian intervention in the election. But it is important to understand that the United States is widely perceived by Russia to intervene in Russian domestic affairs in ways that are just as offensive and threatening, at least to the leadership in Russia, and just as violative of Russian sovereignty.
  17.     For example: Putin attributes the embarrassing and destabilizing protests that began in Russia after the December 2011 legislative election to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s charges of voter fraud in the election and the “signal” her State Department sent to opposition leaders in Russia. He also claimed that the United States was responsible for the Panama Papers, which he described as and “attempt to destabilize the internal situation” in Russia. NATO’s enlargement to many former Soviet states, especially to the Baltic States in 2004, when Putin was President of Russia, was not an intervention in Russia’s domestic affairs per se, but it was an embarrassing and threatening intrusion into Russia’s sphere of influence. So too was the extension of missile defense systems to eastern Europe.
  22.     By Jack Goldsmith
  24.     There is nothing new in one nation’s intelligence services using stealthy techniques to influence an election in another. According to William Daugherty’s Executive Secrets: Covert Action and the Presidency, the United States by covert action:
  26.     - Attempted to “forestall a Communist government” in Indonesia in 1957
  28.     - Intervened “in Italian political processes to prevent the Italian Communist Party (PCI) from winning elections between 1948 and the late 1960s.”
  30.     - Used “extensive propaganda and political action programs in election campaigns” in Chile during the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations.
  32.     - Provided “funds, desktop publishing materials, and other means of support to the banned trade union Solidarity following the imposition of martial law in Poland after 1981”
  36.     By Jack Goldsmith
  38.     When the Obama administration invoked the 1999 Kosovo intervention as a precedent in the run-up to the planned Syria invasion, I wrote a post that argued that Kosovo was not a precedent for lawful international action. The Kosovo intervention violated the U.N. Charter, but the West was less concerned with that fact than with limiting the intervention’s precedential value. Mike Matheson of the State Department famously said that NATO tried to justify the action in a way that would “not weaken international legal constraints on the use of force” …The United States also tried to limit the future impact of its recognition of Kosovo as an independent State in 2008, explaining that “[t]he United States considers Kosovo to be a special case that should not be seen as a precedent for other situations” (emphasis added).
  40.     Russia has always hated the Kosovo intervention and Kosovo’s independence, and probably doubly abhorred the Obama administration’s proposed reliance on the Kosovo non-precedent precedent as a justification for its (almost) invasion of Syria. But Russia is now invoking Kosovo — -both the 1999 intervention, and Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence — -in support of Crimea’s independence movement. Last week Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proclaimed (at just before the 10-minute mark): “If Kosovo is a special case then Crimea is a special case; it’s just equally special.”
  44.     By Jack Goldsmith
  46.     John Schindler explains well why China’s spies hit the “blackmail jackpot,” and why the “disaster … will take decades to set right.”
  48.     Why such a weak and hesitant response to such a colossal intelligence disaster? I can think of two reasons.
  50.     One, as Marcy Wheeler noted a week ago, this is almost certainly the type of collection we are trying to do, and probably succeeding in doing, against China’s government officials. This is not IP theft; it is government espionage. (Note the difference in tone toward China in this context compared to the IP context.) We can hardly go ballistic if we are doing the same thing.
  54.     1/ In assessing the DNC hack, remember that USG is no innocent when it comes to infiltrating foreign computer networks.
  56.     2/ The cyber-attack on Iranian nuclear centrifuges was one of the most consequential in history.
  58.     3/ USG openly & aggressively supports technologies that weaken foreign gov’t control over networks.
  60.     4/ The Snowden docs reveal that the U.S. penetrates an unfathomable number of networks worldwide.
  62.     5/ These are but some of many reasons why the USG is widely viewed as most aggressive nation for cyber ops.
  64.     6/ It’s also well known that US has in past used covert ops to influence foreign elections.
  66.     7/ Current U.S. cyber-espionage almost certainly extends to political organizations in adversary states.
  68.     8/ The difference w the Russian DNC op, if true, is that Kremlin published the stolen data. Otherwise it’s ordinary state espionage.
  70.     9/ The point is not that US is hypocritical if it complains about Kremlin op in USG/DNC networks.
  72.     10/ Nor is the point to defend Russia (or whoever is responsible), obviously.
  75. Some might recognize this as the pernicious "tu quoque" fallacy Russian propagandists are famous for. Although Goldsmith thinks its the "tue quoquo" principle:
  79.     By Jack Goldsmith
  81.     The emerging controversy about the USG spying on European allies brings to mind the ECHELON controversy a dozen years ago.
  83.     …And yet this time may be different. Collection capacities and techniques have grown enormously since the ECHELON controversy, and the laws and norms governing these activities have changed. Moreover, we will likely learn much more official detail about the contemporary signals intelligence capabilities of the USG and other countries than we knew about the program(s) called ECHELON, and that greater detail will bring greater controversy. It is unclear whether or how the “Tu Quoque” principle will operate in this context.
  86. Apparently, while "tu quoque" is a principle for Goldsmith, promoting free speech is not:
  90.     By Jack Goldsmith
  92.     But I am increasingly of the view that the only way that the United States can get relief from damaging foreign cyberoperations is to significantly restrain its own cyberactivities abroad.
  94.     …But perhaps nothing is as threatening as the pledges and activities associated with the U.S. “Internet Freedom” initiative, which (among other things) involves funding and technical support to empower citizens in authoritarian states to circumvent censorship and promote speech there. Russia views this initiative as “a U.S. strategy to intervene in [its] domestic politics through cyber means,” as David Fidler notes. To get a sense of the extent to which the Russian (and Chinese) governments are threatened by the core elements of the U.S. Internet Freedom initiative, and (relatedly) of the social media and related tools of the U.S. internet technology industries, consider four of the six “main threats in the field of international information security” listed in the 2015 Russia-PRC Cyber pact
  97. Goldsmith's principles are hard to figure out--sometimes he contradicts himself:
  101.     By Jack Goldsmith
  103.     The Justice Department is a deeply political institution, and so it should remain.
  105.     …Let’s allow the Congress, the press, and the people to be the check here. Let them determine whether and when the line between politics as usual and improper politicization has been crossed.
  109.     By Jack Goldsmith
  111.     These worries are understandable but misplaced. There might be a time when an independent investigation becomes necessary, but we are not nearly there yet. For now, our constitutional system is working well to ferret out the truth and to hold Mr. Trump and his subordinates accountable.
  113.     The most important checks on the Trump presidency come from inside it.
  115.     …investigations will now be supervised by Rod J. Rosenstein, soon to be the deputy attorney general, who is a career prosecutor of undoubted independence and an expert on national security and public corruption.
  118. He wrote the latter article while I using a computer that had been hacked by Russian intelligence to spam a letter on how Americans need to protest for an independent investigation (it could just be a coincidence, honestly, but I thought that was kindof weird...)
  121. Goldsmith and Benjamin Whittes et. al. also joined in for the suspicious media-beatdown of H.R. McMaster ( with this detailed quasi-hitpiece:
  125.     By Jack Goldsmith, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Matthew Kahn, Benjamin Wittes, Elishe Julian Wittes
  127.     In a hastily-convened press conference outside the White House, McMaster further stated:
  129.         The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false. The president and foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries including threats to civil aviation. At no time … were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not publicly known … I was in the room, it didn’t happen.
  131.     Again, this statement is carefully worded. The declaration that the story “as reported” is untrue leaves plenty of room for the administration to pinpoint discrepancies in the Post story without denying the substance. And once again, McMaster does not deny that an egregious breach of national security information was revealed, merely that “intelligence sources or methods [were] discussed” and that the President “disclose[d] any military operations that were not publicly known.”
  135.     McMaster: There's nothing that the president takes more seriously than the security of the American people. The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false.
  139.     The Post’s Greg Miller, one of the two reporters who broke the story, accused the White House of “playing word games” in response to McMaster’s press conference. And indeed, if McMaster meant to be denying that anything harmful was said in the Oval Office, then it is hard to understand why (as the Post reports) “senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency,” or why the Post agreed not to publish certain details of the plot discussed in the Oval Office after “officials” warned that doing so would “jeopardize important intelligence capabilities."
  143.     By Greg Miller and Philip P. Pan
  145.     ...exposing what U.S. intelligence experts described as Moscow's ongoing commitment to aggressive espionage operations, as well its fondness for spycraft techniques that haven't advanced since the KGB was dissolved.
  147.     ..."I think it's nutty," Hitz said. "It looks as if it got going at the end of the Soviet era and just continued, even though it wasn't clear what the immediate goals of these people were."
  149.     ...The targets, and the methods employed, struck some as a sign that Russia's once vaunted spy service has struggled to evolve.
  151.     "What a feckless operation," said Mark Lowenthal, a former senior CIA official. "So many of the things they seemed to be after you can find out by listening to the right radio station or reading the right newspaper. . . . It doesn't say a lot about the smarts of the SVR." The letters refer to Russia's foreign intelligence service, one of the successor agencies to the KGB.
  153.     The tradecraft employed was also spotty, experts said. Records depict scenes in which alleged spies arrived at a coffee shop and opened a laptop specially equipped to send secret transmissions at the precise moment that a vehicle driven by a known Russian official pulled up outside.
  155.     ...U.S. officials said Russia remains a significant espionage target for American spy agencies but falls much lower on the priority list than places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The CIA probably has dozens of case officers in Russia, former officials said, but bases nearly all of them in the U.S. Embassy, where they could claim diplomatic immunity if caught.
  159.     There may be disclosures yet to come. According to one current U.S. official quoted in Buzzfeed, the situation is “far worse than what has already been reported.” The New York Times writes that “sharing the information without the express permission of the ally who provided it ... could jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship.”
  162. (You have to wonder why they didn't just wait for McMaster's press conference the next day...)
  165. Anyway, Goldsmith looks like another one of the Russian agents of influence. He even admits he sounds like one:
  169.     By Jack Goldsmith
  171.     In response to this history, I hear many people say some version of: “But the United States has never doxed another country covertly in the middle of a democratic election.” We don’t actually know that, but we do know this: The United States has covertly stolen information from foreign political parties, it has weaponized information, and it has influenced foreign elections. Perhaps the United States has not done these three things together, at least on the scale of the Russia operation. But the precise contours of U.S. action abroad do not define lawful or appropriate behavior, such that our adversaries feel compelled to do to us only what we do to them. The main point is that the United States is widely seen to engage in activities in other countries, including Russia, that are analogous to the DNC hack and that are viewed to threaten core sovereign interests abroad.
  173.     I should be clear, in a probably futile effort deflect charges of Russophilia (or worse), that I am not making a normative judgment here.
  177. The problem with this is that Comey and Goldsmith are close (Benjamin Wittes, who helped with the McMaster hitpeice, is also said to be a friend of Comey
  181.     Senator WHITEHOUSE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have two questions, Mr. Goldsmith. One relates to the famous, or infamous, night at the hospital that Senator Schumer has brought to the world’s attention through the testimony of Deputy Attorney General Comey. It has to do with some of the individuals who were involved that night and how they reacted. You’ve described, in your book, Deputy Attorney General Comey as a ‘‘seasoned prosecutor who thinks clearly in times of crisis, who possesses a keen sense of proportion that is the mark of good judgment’’, and who was, you said, ‘‘the most level-headed person I knew in government.’’
  183.     Mr. GOLDSMITH. Yes, sir. That’s my belief.
  187.     When Goldsmith begins his legal review, the White House initially refuses to brief Deputy Attorney General James Comey about it.
  189.     ...Quiet opposition builds within the Justice Department against the White House’s attacks on civil liberties and governmental process in the name of national security. The opposition is led by James Comey, the deputy attorney general under John Ashcroft, and includes the chief of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, and other like-minded Justice Department lawyers and officials. Comey, Goldsmith, and many of their colleagues will resign from their posts, some perhaps pressured by the White House to get out without making a fuss (see June 17, 2004). Comey and Goldsmith are the point men of this opposition group, though they will speak little in public about their experiences until they testify before the Senate in 2007 (see May 15, 2007 and October 2, 2007).
  191.     Outside experts will later speculate that Comey and Goldsmith had constrained the program’s scope by imposing stricter controls on who can be monitored without a warrant. Some will decide that the program now monitors only communications specifically suspected to have a connection to al-Qaeda, not the more general “suspected terrorism” communications.
  194. Goldsmith covers for Comey and has helped his career:
  198.     WASHINGTON — If it were not for a now famous scene in a hospital just blocks away from the White House, it is unlikely that James B. Comey would have been standing in the Rose Garden on Friday to be introduced as President Obama’s nominee for the director of the F.B.I.
  200.     ...In January 2004, at Mr. Goldsmith’s request, Mr. Comey was given access to the secret N.S.A. surveillance programs, and he agreed with Mr. Goldsmith’s legal reasoning.
  204.     Jack Goldsmith: Comey's Announcement Signals Max FBI Independence
  206.     Some will say that Comey proclaimed too much independence from prosecutors and effectively pre-judged their case.
  210.     Mr. COMEY. I knew that once I made public the FBI’s view that this wasn’t a prosecutable case that there was virtually zero chance that the Department of Justice was going to go in a different direction. But part of my decision was based on my prediction that there was no way the Department of Justice would prosecute on these facts in any event.
  214.     ...By conveying the advice publicly and in advance, Comey formally tied DOJ’s hands no more or less than if he had conveyed it privately. He simply took a few extra daggers of responsibility for himself in exchange for attenuating the conflict of interest charges that would have swirled much more violently if he had not publicly announced his views in advance of the Justice Department’s ultimate decision.
  217. The reason to point this out now: Comey acted in strange ways during the election, and his actions have mostly helped Russia. But in hearing today, Comey will be testifying about his interactions with Trump that some say show an intent to obstruct justice.
  219. But any case for intent to obstruct justice based on Comey's testimony or notes would ultimately come down to Comey's word versus Trump's. But if Comey, for whatever reason, has been acting to help Russia, this could spell trouble. You could end up with a case built up on falsehoods or half-truths that Russia would know about and could exploit. They could make it a very messy and polarizing impeachment process, have Comey lie to discredit the intelligence community, or discredit an impeachment case against Trump to keep him in power.
  221. Whatever they hope to do or can do, you should know what's going on with Comey.
  223. For a starter: Comey hasn't done a very good job at all of informing the public about what the Russians are up to. Everyone agrees it's necessary, maybe the "most important" thing the U.S. government can do:
  227.     GRASSLEY: Do you two believe that the government's response, so far, has been enough to deter future attacks of this kind? And if not, what else would you think we should be doing?
  229.     Miss Yates, would you start out, please?
  231.     YATES: I think they're coming back, and we have to do a whole lot more, both to harden our election systems, our state election systems, to ensure that folks out there know when they're looking at news feeds, that it may not be real news that they're reading.
  233.     I think that we have to do more to deter the Russians, and it wouldn't hurt to prosecute a few folks, but I don't think we should kid ourselves, that we'll be able to prosecute our way out of this problem.
  235.     GRASSLEY: OK, Mr. Clapper.
  237.     CLAPPER: Well, as much as I love Congressional Hearings, I think there is a useful purpose served. Because I think the most important thing that needs to be done here, is educate the electorate as to what the Russians' objective is, and the tactics and techniques, and procedures that they've employed and will continue to employ, and I predict it will be against all the parties.
  239.     And so, I think education of the public is the most important thing we can do in this hearing, grudgingly though, I admit it, serves that purpose to the extent that this can be shared openly.
  243.     Had there been public notice that there was renewed investigation into both campaigns, I think the impact would have been different, would you agree?
  245.     COMEY: No. I thought a lot about this and my judgment was a counter -- we have to separate two things. I thought it was very important to call out what the Russians were trying to do with our election. And I offered in August myself to be a voice for that in a public piece calling it out. The Obama administration didn't take advantage of that August. They did it in October, but I thought that was very important to call out.
  248. Comey might be referring to reports that he asked Obama to write an op-ed on Russia's activities, which got shot down by the administration:
  252.     He proposed writing an op-ed piece to appear in The Times or The Washington Post, and showed the White House a draft his staff had prepared, according to two former officials. (After the Times story was published online on Saturday, a former White House official said the text of the op-ed had not been given to the White House.) The op-ed did not mention the investigation of the Trump campaign, but it laid out how Russia was trying to undermine the vote.
  254.     The president replied that going public would play right into Russia’s hands by sowing doubts about the election’s legitimacy. Mr. Trump was already saying the system was “rigged,” and if the Obama administration accused Russia of interference, Republicans could accuse the White House of stoking national security fears to help Mrs. Clinton.
  256.     Mr. Comey argued that he had unique credibility to call out the Russians and avoid that criticism. After all, he said, he had just chastised Mrs. Clinton at his news conference.
  258.     The White House decided it would be odd for Mr. Comey to make such an accusation on his own, in a newspaper, before American security agencies had produced a formal intelligence assessment. The op-ed idea was quashed. When the administration had something to say about Russia, it would do so in one voice, through the proper channels.
  261. If Comey wanted to educate the public on Russia's activities (a great public service if I do say so myself...), he had the perfect chance at a hearing a month later, when he was asked to do exactly that:
  265.     SEPTEMBER 28, 2016
  267.     Mr. COMEY. ...And, obviously, as you know, we are doing an awful lot of work through our counterintelligence investigators to understand just what mischief is Russia up to in connection with our election. That is work that goes on all day every day, about which I am limited in terms of answering questions. But I wanted you to know that is a part of our work we don’t talk about an awful lot but it is at the core of the FBI.
  269.     ...Mr. JOHNSON. On Monday, the Ranking Members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Adam Schiff, issued a joint statement setting forth the current status of this investigation. It said this: ‘‘Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. Election.’’ They work closely with intelligence community individuals to be able to put that statement out to the American public. Director Comey, I don’t want to ask you about any classified information, but is their statement accurate?
  271.     Mr. COMEY. I don’t—I can’t comment on that in this forum. As I said in my opening, we are investigating to try to understand exactly what mischief the Russians might be up to in connection with our political institutions and the election system more broadly. But I don’t want to comment on that at this point.
  274. But Comey says he "doesn't want to comment on that at this point." (but he did a month ago... and is he calling active measures "mischief?")
  277. Comey never had problems bucking leadership before--he famously threatened to resign over Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, and reportedly, he fought with the Justice department before sending his infamous Oct 28 letter (
  280. This is a recurring theme with Comey--he is said to be a very principled man, and he often cites his principles (such as "radical transparency") when justifying his actions. But more often than not, Comey's actions and explanations have people scratching their heads trying to figure out just what exactly was going on in his head:
  284.     COMEY: ..That when the Anthony Weiner thing landed on me on October 27 and there was a huge -- this is what people forget -- new step to be taken, we may be finding the golden missing e-mails that would change this case. If I were not to speak about that, it would be a disastrous, catastrophic concealment.
  286.     ...And that I wasn't seeking transparency. In October, I sent that letter only to the chairs and rankings. Yes, did I know they really going to leak it? Of course, I know how Congress works, but I did not make an announcement at that point.
  289. So, from Comey's sworn testimony: he believes in transparency, independence and challenging his bosses, educating the public on Russia's activities--so why nothing on Russia?
  291. Actually, Comey makes some odd choices about what he does and doesn't want to say:
  295.     FBI director James Comey revealed during the Center for Strategic and International Studies conference that he knew he was mocked for admitting that he tapes over his webcam. But that didn't stop him from recommending that other people do the same. "There's some sensible things you should be doing, and that's one of them," he said at the event. He likened it to locking cars and doors at night, as well as setting up alarm systems for your own safety and security. He added: "You go into any government office and we all have the little camera things that sit on top of the screen. They all have a little lid that closes down on them. You do that so that people who don't have authority don't look at you. I think that's a good thing."
  299.     Comey: 'There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America'
  301.     FBI Director James Comey warned Wednesday that Americans should not have expectations of "absolute privacy," adding that he planned to finish his term leading the FBI.
  303.     "There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America; there is no place outside of judicial reach," Comey said at a Boston College conference on cybersecurity.
  307.     GRAHAM: OK. The Chairman mentioned that fusion -- are you familiar with fusion?
  309.     COMEY: I know the name.
  311.     GRAHAM: OK. Are they part of the Russian intelligence apparatus?
  313.     COMEY: I can't say.
  315.     GRAHAM: Do you agree with me that a fusion was involved in preparing the dossier against Donald Trump? That would be interfering in our election by the Russians?
  317.     COMEY: I don't want to say.
  321.     FBI Director James Comey briefed President-elect Donald Trump on a two-page summary of an unverified dossier claiming Russia had compromising information on the real estate mogul, CNN reported Thursday.
  325.     Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that top intelligence leaders told him and President Barack Obama they felt obligated to inform them about uncorroborated allegations about President-elect Donald Trump out of concern the information would become public and catch them off-guard.
  327.     In an interview, Biden said neither he nor Obama asked U.S. intelligence agencies to try to corroborate the unverified claims that Russia had obtained compromising sexual and financial allegations about Trump.
  329.     “I think it’s something that obviously the agency thinks they have to track down,” Biden said. He added later, “It surprised me in that it made it to the point where the agency, the FBI thought they had to pursue it.”
  331.     ...“As a matter of fact, the president was like, ’What does this have anything to do with anything?’” Biden said. He said intelligence leaders responded by saying “Well, we feel obliged to tell you, Mr. President, because you may hear about it. We’re going to tell him,” referring to Trump.
  333.     Biden said intelligence leaders told him and Obama that they couldn’t say whether or not the allegations were true or untrue. He said there was “hardly any discussion” about the allegations in the briefing.
  336. Comey decided to brief Trump on the dossier by Fusion GPS, which alleged that Russia had blackmail on Trump. But consider: if Russia did have blackmail on Trump, how would they deliver it to him? If they sent an official ambassador to let him know, well, now Trump (and anyone listening) knows for sure that Russia is trying something dirty--they would, effectively, be handing the U.S. Government blackmail over themselves. But if they can have a third party deliver the message, they can leverage their kompromat in a plausibly deniable way (Comey claims he "knew" the dossier would leak and he had to give a "defensive briefing," which raises questions like: how did you know for sure? why is a "defensive briefing" even necessary? and did you really have to talk about the blackmail material in detail?) (also, why does it seem like Comey is implying Russia can get kompromat on everybody?)
  338. Comey has an almost-habit of delivering messages that end up being a downer for everybody except Russia:
  342.     SEPTEMBER 28, 2016
  344.     Director Comey, since these flash alerts and warnings went out over this summer, I would appreciate you letting us know whether or not there have been any additional attacks on State operations or databases since June.
  346.     Mr. COMEY. There have been a variety of scanning activities, which is a preamble for potential intrusion activities, as well as some attempted intrusions at voter registration databases beyond those we knew about in July and August. We are urging the States just to make sure that their dead bolts are thrown and their locks are on, and to get the best information they can from DHS just to make sure their systems are secure. And again, these are the voter registration systems. This is very different than the vote system in the United States, which is very, very hard for someone to hack into, because it is so clunky and dispersed. It is Mary and Fred putting a machine under the basketball hoop at the gym. Those things are not connected to the Internet. But the voter registration systems are. So we urge the States to make sure you have the most current information and your systems are tight. Because there is no doubt that some bad actors have been poking around.
  350.     May 3, 2017
  352.     COMEY: I agree that -- I very much we found no indication of any change in vote tallies. There was efforts aimed at voter registration systems, but I suppose in theory, part of the United States, the -- the beauty of our system is it's a bit of a hairball. And all different kinds of systems and -- and you know...
  354.     GRAHAM: Have they done this in other countries where they actually tampered with the vote?
  356.     COMEY: My -- my understanding is they have attempted it in other countries.
  358.     GRAHAM: And there's no reason they won't attempted here if we don't stop them over time?
  360.     COMEY: I think that's fair.
  362.     GRAHAM: Thank you.
  366.     Election hacks raise fears of Russian influence
  368.     BY Deb Riechmann, Associated Press  September 10, 2016
  370.     Federal officials already are investigating cyberattacks at the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, believed to be the work of hackers tied to the Russian government. Trolling a private organization’s emails is one thing, cyberexperts say, but breaching state election systems to undermine the integrity of the November ballot would be quite another.
  372.     “The mere access to those systems is incredibly concerning to me,” said Sean Kanuck, former national intelligence officer for cyber issues at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “I think that the manipulation of election data or voting systems would warrant a national security response.”
  375.     The offensive capabilities of adversaries will continue to have an advantage over the defense, Rogers said, "which is why the ideas of deterrence are so important here -- how do we shape and change an opponent's behavior?"
  379.     The FBI is investigating whether it can indict suspected Russian hackers behind the attacks against the Democratic National Committee, think tanks and other political entities, Reuters reports.
  381.     Though Russian hackers would likely be beyond the jurisdiction of the United States and protected by the Putin government, the “name and shame” approach of indicting foreign agents would not be unprecedented.
  385.     By the time Obama and Putin met face-to-face, the Russian cyberattack against the Democratic National Committee had already occurred. Obama said that in speaking with his Russian counterpart, his goal was to prevent any attacks against actual election infrastructure.
  387.     “What I was concerned about in particular was making sure [the DNC hack] wasn't compounded by potential hacking that could hamper vote counting, affect the actual election process itself,” the president said at his end-of-year press conference. “So in early September when I saw president Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn't happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out and there were going to be serious consequences if he didn't.
  391.     Oct 14 2016, 8:30 pm ET
  392.     CIA Prepping for Possible Cyber Strike Against Russia
  394.     The Obama administration is contemplating an unprecedented cyber covert action against Russia in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the American presidential election, U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.
  396.     ...The covert action plan is designed to protect the U.S. election system and insure that Russian hackers can't interfere with the November vote, officials say. Another goal is to send a message to Russia that it has crossed a line, officials say.
  399. The U.S. administration was in the middle of a cyber-standoff, trying to deter Russia from hacking our vote counting and dishing-out public warnings. Knowing that the Russians put a premium on plausible deniability, a public warning makes plenty of sense--if the vote gets hacked, people would know it was the Russians. But Comey comes along and testifies under oath that that vote hacking is "very very hard" and nothing to worry about--throwing Russia some free plausible deniability (Comey says Russia's goal was to sew doubt in the electoral process, but what better way sew doubt than rig the election?).
  401. Actually, Comey has given some confusing testimony on Russia's goals:
  405.     COMEY: Correct, that they wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her, help him. I think all three we were confident in, at least as early as December.
  407.     CONAWAY: OK. The -- the paragraph that gives me a little concern there, in terms of just the timing of when all of that occurred because I'm not sure if we went back and got that exact same January assessment six months earlier, it would've looked the same. Because, you say, when we further assessed Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.
  409.     Any idea when that clear preference in the analysis, when did that get into the lexicon of whether you talk back and forth among yourselves on a -- on a classified basis?
  411.     COMEY: I don't know for sure, but I think that was a fairly easy judgment for the community. He -- Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much, that the flipside of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.
  413.     CONAWAY: Yeah and that and that my work on Saturday afternoon when the -- my wife's Red Raiders are playing the Texas Longhorns. She really likes the Red Raiders. But all the rest of the time, I mean the logic is that because he really didn't like president -- the Candidate Clinton, that he automatically liked Trump. That assessment's based on what?
  415.     COMEY: Well, it's based on more than that. But part of it is and we're not getting into the details of it here, but part of it is the logic. Whoever the Red Raiders are playing, you want the Red Raiders to win, by definition, you want their opponent to lose.
  417.     CONAWAY: I know, but this says that -- that you wanted both of them -- you wanted her to lose and wanted him to win. Is that what you were saying?
  419.     COMEY: Right, they're inseparable -- right, it's a two -- it's a two person...
  421.     CONAWAY: Right, right.
  423.     COMEY: ... event.
  425.     CONAWAY: I got you. So I'm just wondering when you decided you wanted him to win?
  427.     COMEY: Well, logically when he wanted her to lose, wanted...
  430. According to Comey, Putin wanted Trump to win because he wanted Hillary to lose because he "hated her so much." I don't know if Putin especially hates Clinton or not (I figure he hates all of us), but Comey's explanation doesn't make sense.
  432. The Russian's didn't just spread fake news and propaganda during the general election--they targeted the primaries too, which is easy enough to verify yourself:
  436.     God Says Donald Trump is America’s Last Hope!
  437.     Friday, March 11, 2016 11:18
  441.     Clinton Is Spending $500k A Day On TV Ads While Trump Spends Nothing
  442.     by Tyler Durden
  443.     Jul 1, 2016 8:30 PM
  447.     Trump is Winning
  448.     Massive gains for Trump as Hillary and third party movements lose steam.
  449.     Steve Watson | - May 19, 2016
  453. (and this includes a pro-Trump article from a confirmed Russian spy:
  456. It does look like Russia's propaganda sites (and convicted spies) wanted Trump to win the RNC primary. But what's really interesting is that Russian propaganda targeted the DNC primary too, albeit in interesting ways. The greatest threat to Clinton's nomination wasn't Sanders (and certainly not Martin O'Malley)--it was Biden. But even while Biden was grieving over his son and deciding on whether or not to run, Russian propaganda was pulling Biden scandals out of thin air and chipping away at his poll numbers:
  461. (all of the sites below are taken from PropOrNot's list)
  465.     Joe Biden: Godfather Of American Tyranny
  466.     Creepy VP may give Hillary a challenge
  467.     Jon Bowne | - August 7, 2015
  471.     Creepy: Little Girl Narrowly Escapes Kiss from Vice President Biden
  472.     VP awkwardly goes in for smooch after whispering in child's ear
  474.     Adan Salazar | - January 7, 2015
  478.     Published on Thursday, March 19, 2015 by The Hill
  479.     Vice President Biden, More of the Same Won't Work in Central America
  480.     by Alexander Main
  484.     Published on Monday, March 02, 2015 by NACLA
  485.     Will Biden's Billion Dollar Plan Help Central America?
  487.     Militarizing security, deregulating markets, and dismantling labor rights isn’t the solution.
  488.     by Alex Main
  492.     Not Quite All Things Considered: Why the Mainstream Media Discounts Bernie Sanders
  493.     by John Atcheson
  495.     So here, Ms Liasson, MSM, and Mr. Jones is what’s happening.  For the first time since Reagan, a Democrat—well, actually an Independent—is running on progressive policies and giving people a real choice.  And the likes of Hillary Clinton and even Joe Biden, are going to get their heads handed to them.
  499.     Creepy Veep: Joe Biden chalks up another sensational ‘snuggle’
  500.     Published time: 18 Feb, 2015 09:27
  504.     Joe Biden perves on minor As Bill Clinton Identified In Epstein Lawsuit ?!?_MaKaElectric
  505.     Wednesday, January 7, 2015 8:26
  509.     VIDEO: The worst of creepy Joe Biden
  510.     Published: February 20, 2015
  514.     Creepy Video Of Joe Biden Slobbering All Over Senator’s Granddaughter Shown Live On C-Span2
  515.     Thursday, January 8, 2015 14:25
  519.     Video: Joe Biden Is That Creepy Uncle You Avoided at Family Reunions as a Kid
  520.     Posted on January 15, 2015 by Melissa Dykes  
  524.     Jew Media Officially Promoting The Feeler Over Hillary
  526.     Andrew Anglin
  527.     Daily Stormer
  528.     September 29, 2015
  532.     Vote For A Genuine Scumbag: Joe Biden For Prez
  533.     Dems rally behind the Creep Veep
  534.     Jon Bowne | - March 7, 2015
  538.     Great: President Obama Gives Creepy Uncle Joe Biden “Blessing” to Run for POTUS
  539.     August 25, 2015 | Melissa Dykes | The Daily Sheeple | 1,316 views
  541.     As if the bread and circuses which are our 2016 presidential elections didn’t already come complete with enough sideshow freaks, now Obama has officially given creepy uncle Joe his “blessing” to run.
  545.     From meme to reality: Joe Biden turns into Motivational Biden
  546.     Published time: 14 Mar, 2015 01:14
  548.     Vice President Joe Biden is known for being the punchline of jokes, thanks to his propensity for gaffes
  552.     February 13, 2015
  555.     Uncle Joe has done it again! While speaking in Iowa Biden pulled a… a BIDEN! Biden was on stage when he gave a shout out to and old friend- his old ‘BUTT-BUDDY!’
  557.     ...Let’s roll the tape, shall we?
  559.     Biden is known for his gaffes and this one is hilarious! Biden is good for one thing-a good laugh!
  563.     WSJ: Biden Inching Closer To Running For POTUS
  564.     Wednesday, August 12, 2015 19:11
  566.     Wednesday evening the Wall Street Journal is reporting the SCHMOTUS (Schmo of the United States) is giving the strongest signal yet that he is “actively considering making a third run at the presidency. He is asking political allies for advice and gauging the strength of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign as he weighs his options, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Biden is expected to announce his decision next month. “
  569. Russian propaganda seemed very aware that Biden was thinking about running and was very down on this possibility leading up to the primary. The convicted Russian spy Vicky Pelaez isn't a fan of Biden either:
  573.     After Cristina, Evo and Maduro came the turn to Dilma
  575.     Vicky Pelaez
  577.     In May 2013, US Vice President Joe Biden during his visit to Brazil tried to persuade President Rousseff in vain to let US energy corporations enter the Brazilian market. Curiously two months after his failed visit, the wave of protests against the government of the Workers' Party whose intensity is steadily increasing began.
  581.     Islamic State : the devilish creature of turn of the globalizadores
  583.     Vicky Pelaez
  585. is not surprising the support that North America, Israel, Great Britain and its other allies are offering to the Islamic State.
  587.     ...Earlier Vice President Joe Biden stated that "Turkey, Qatar Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates are determined to take Asad out of power and are delivering hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of arms to EIIS, al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Syrian opposition) ".
  590. Even more interesting, some of the same journalists who took part in the suspiciously pro-Russian McMaster media beatdown (see and and the disarming disinfo campaign on Russian spies ( took part in bashing Biden:
  594.     McMaster tests truth-telling reputation in Trump defense
  595.     H.R. McMaster's strong defense of Trump on Russia leak brings credibility — and sharp criticism.
  599.     Biden's 'no' on bin Laden raid could haunt him in 2016
  600.     The vice president has taken more dovish positions on foreign policy than his potential rival, Hillary Clinton.
  601.     By Michael Crowley
  605.     McMaster: Trump's Blabbing Was "Wholly Appropriate"
  606.     Kevin Drum  May 16
  609.     Perhaps We Should Retire the Idea That Joe Biden Is “Authentic”
  610.     Kevin Drum
  614.     H.R. McMaster Takes a Dive
  615.     The national security adviser’s fanboys are having a sad over his shilling for Baby Donald.
  618.     The Case for Covering Biden
  620.     He’s closer to being president than Hillary is.
  622.     By Jack Shafer
  624.     Biden gets a pass from reporters, but why? Vice President Dan Quayle, equally prone to the loopy comment and awkward gesture, and similarly a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, was punished for his gaffes. My colleague Timothy Noah grappled with this double standard three years ago, deciding that Biden gets the breaks Quayle didn’t because journalists understand that Biden is “not a stupid man. He’s a smart man who often says stupid things.”
  626.     ...As Glenn Thrush noted in 2014, while Biden still longs to be elected president, he’s realistic enough to know that running against Clinton would be futile.
  629. and some touted Clinton (or, at least, tried to cover for her):
  633.     Unsolicited Advice for Hillary Clinton
  635.     A media critic’s guide to winning the press in 14 easy steps.
  637.     By JACK SHAFER
  639.     ...Look, we all know the GOP wants to make hay with the issue of your..
  641.     ...Nobody is happier about your candidacy than Fox News, which delights at disparaging you at every turn. You can cripple Fox with engagement.
  645.     The 8 Coolest Things About The Alleged Russian Spy Ring
  647.     By Michael Scherer
  649.     A day after the Obama Administration arrested 10 people across the U.S. on charges of being Russian spies, the Russian Foreign Ministry has dismissed the roundup as “completely unfounded,” and alleged that the accusations have been made “in the spirit of cold war spy mania.” There is no doubt that the latter is true
  652.     Hillary Clinton's Trustworthy Trap
  653.     Michael Scherer
  654.     Jul 09, 2015
  656.     ...So one must be careful not to pass too harsh a judgement on Hillary Clinton, for whom polls reveal a real perception problem when it comes to being honest or trustworthy. CNN's national polling sample says 57% of Americans don't think she is either. ABC News and the Wall Street Journal put that number at 52%.
  660.     Dear Gen McMaster: You don't have to lie. Trump already changed his defense from denial to his right to give classified info to Russians.
  661.     Ted Lieu  May 16
  664.     I want to thank former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for meeting with CAPAC today.  Hillary has always been a champion for all families.  My fellow CAPAC members and I engaged in a robust discussion with Hillary and her staff on crucial issues ranging from immigration to veterans to higher education.  I also greatly appreciate Hillary’s attention to racial profiling and criminal justice reform, and was grateful to have the chance to discuss these vital issues with her.
  667. And the same goes for the very-likely Russian spy Maggie Haberman, if in a more measured way:
  671.     Campaign Clock Ticks on a Decision by Biden
  672.     By MAGGIE HABERMAN and PETER BAKER  OCT. 12, 2015
  674.     Even Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. seems to be getting a little tired of the Joe Biden Watch.
  676.     As he attended a granddaughter’s cross-country race in Wilmington, Del., last weekend, Mr. Biden brushed past a reporter who asked about his presidential plans. “Get out of my way, will you?” he said.
  678.     ...Some supporters said they hoped a decision would come soon, in part because donors concerned about Mrs. Clinton’s performance may lose interest.
  680.     One Democratic donor, who is considering supporting Mr. Biden and asked not to be identified in order to speak freely, said momentum for the vice president had stalled. “Back in September, there was all this excitement, and his poll numbers were going up,” the donor said. “Now, they’ve kind of leveled off.”
  682.     ...Mr. Biden has acknowledged that he may be waiting too long. “I just have to be comfortable that this will be good for the family,” he told America magazine last month. “It’s not quite there yet and it may not get there in time to make it feasible to be able to run and succeed, because there are certain windows that will close. But if that’s it, that’s it. But it’s not like I can rush it.”
  684.     Some of those windows begin to close within weeks as filing deadlines approach.
  686.     ...Mr. Biden has been through this himself once before. In 1984, he resisted supporters encouraging him to run, but an adviser urged him to sign papers to run in the New Hampshire primary just in case. “So I signed them, almost as a lark,” Mr. Biden wrote in his memoir, “Promises to Keep.” He gave the papers to his sister and close adviser, Valerie, to file if he opted to run.
  688.     Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, then went on vacation. By the time his plane landed, he had decided. He called his sister and told her not to file the papers.
  692.     What Is Hillary Clinton Afraid Of?
  694.     By Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman
  696.     May/June 2014
  698.     Over the 25 years Hillary Clinton has spent in the national spotlight, she’s been smeared and stereotyped, the subject of dozens of over-hyped or downright fictional stories and books alleging, among other things, that she is a lesbian, a Black Widow killer who offed Vincent Foster then led an unprecedented coverup, a pathological liar, a real estate swindler, a Commie, a harridan. Every aspect of her personal life has been ransacked; there’s no part of her 5-foot-7-inch body that hasn’t come under microscopic scrutiny, from her ankles to her neckline to her myopic blue eyes—not to mention the ever-changing parade of hairstyles that friends say reflects creative restlessness and enemies read as a symbol of somebody who doesn’t stand for anything.
  700.     Forget all that troubled history, and a Clinton run for president in 2016 seems like a no-brainer, an inevitable next step after the redemption of her past few years as a well-regarded, if not quite historic, secretary of state. But remember the record, and you’ll understand why Clinton, although rested, rich and seemingly ready, has yet to commit to a presidential race (people around her insist it’s not greater than a 50-50 proposition), even as she’s an overwhelming favorite.
  702.     If Clinton says yes, she’ll have access to a bottomless pool of Democratic political talent and cash to match all those hyperbolic pronouncements about her inevitability. If she doesn’t run, the single biggest factor holding her back will be the media, according to an informal survey of three dozen friends, allies and former aides interviewed for this article
  704.     ...Clinton isn’t insane, and she’s not stupid. “When you get beat up so often, you just get very cautious,” says Mike McCurry, her husband’s former press secretary, who joined the White House team to find a first lady traumatized by the coverage of her failed Hillarycare initiative. “She [has] had a very practical view of the media. … ‘I have to be careful, I’m playing with fire.’”
  707. Even more interesting: A lot of the suspicious pieces by Haberman also included ex-senior Politico staff writer Glenn Thrush (see:,,, including the harder to excuse McMaster bashing, casting suspicion that Thrush too is a Russian spy.
  709. But Thrush started acting, in his words, as a "hack" for Clinton:
  717.     ...Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries.
  723. ("OTR" stands for "off the record")
  728.     To:
  729.     Date: 2015-04-30 21:50
  730.     Subject: Re: sorry to bother...
  732.     OTR: No problems here
  733.     On Apr 30, 2015 3:00 PM, "Glenn Thrush" <> wrote:
  735.     > No worries
  736.     > Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains
  737.     > to u
  738.     > Please don't share or tell anyone I did this
  739.     > Tell me if I fucked up anything
  744.     To:
  745.     Date: 2016-02-09 19:00
  746.     Subject: Re: OTR
  748.     ...On Tuesday, February 9, 2016, Glenn Thrush <<>> wrote:
  750.     Saw your tweet
  751.     I think u know I wasn't fabricating you anything...
  752.     No need for a response, but I hope u understand that I take this stuff seriously and try to be sensitive to the human impact of these shitty stories
  753.     I take zero pleasure in them -- whether u folks believe me or not
  754.     Cheers and good luck today
  756.     Sent from my iPhone
  761.     To:
  762.     Date: 2015-11-24 16:49
  763.     Subject: Hope I'm not dead to you!
  765.     Working on a non-HRC story
  767.     Magazine opus about the 5 COSs under Obama and wanted to chat for a couple of minute OTR
  769.     sorry to bother
  771.     Thrush
  773.     Glenn Thrush
  774.     Chief Political Correspondent/POLITICO
  775.     Senior Staff Writer/POLITICO Magazine
  778. which might have included writing hit-pieces on Biden and fluff-pieces for Clinton:
  782.     Politico’s Glenn Thrush used anonymous sources to nail Biden story
  783.     By Erik Wemple
  785.     In a remarkably durable Aug. 26 piece titled “Behind the Biden hype,” Politico chief political correspondent Glenn Thrush relied on a number of anonymous sources: “Several people Biden has talked to in the past month”; “a longtime friend of Biden’s”; “a half-dozen people in his inner circle interviewed by POLITICO”; “one former aide who remains part of the extended Biden political family”; and so on.
  787.     What did those anonymous sources tell Thrush? That Biden isn’t “leaning one way or the other” (the “former aide”) and a number of other buzz-killing bits of information. Another reported that Biden was “hard to read.” A named source, Biden supporter Jim Kreindler, professed that he didn’t know what Biden would do. The information found its distillation in this paragraph:
  789.         Joe Biden wants to run — he always has. But that doesn’t mean he actually will, and those who have spoken with him say he seems far from making a decision. He’s playing the same wait-and-see game he’s played for the past 18 months, telling potential backers he’ll make a decision as late as early October. Since his 2012 reelection, Biden had opted for inaction over action — he opted not to create a leadership PAC for the 2014 midterms, he balked at forming a presidential super PAC, he didn’t seriously sound out donors until this summer.
  791.     Prescient stuff — a powerful antidote to the CNNs and Wall Street Journals and other outlets that the story was designed to rebut. And Politico itself this morning acknowledged that others had “pointed fingers” at Politico’s overall Biden coverage.
  793.     Maybe Thrush just had better anonymous sources than his competition. Or perhaps he had the same ones, but just asked better questions and poked more insistently. That would be a good question for Thrush, who didn’t respond to a request for a chat. Last night, this blog asked Politico Editor Susan Glasser and spokeswoman Sara Olson to clear an interview with Thrush; they haven’t responded, even though we sent a follow-up e-mail saying, “Would it change your thinking if I told you I thought his August piece on the VP’s deliberations was on the mark?” Apparently it didn’t.
  797.     Hillary and Me
  799.     By Glenn Thrush
  801.     May 11, 2014
  803.     [Page 3]
  805.     I didn’t take Clinton up on the offer—my son quickly recovered—and I didn’t think it would have been appropriate anyway. But the moment has stuck in my mind, and done as much to shape my perception of Clinton as all the cold shoulders, hard feelings and hard landings on ice. It was spontaneous and generous, a glimpse at the “Real Hillary” her staff so adores—and reporters so seldom see.
  808. So, to return to the original point: if Putin hated Hillary so much, as Comey says, why were his propagandists acting the way they did during the DNC primary? According to Comey's testimony, the Russians didn't think Trump could beat Clinton:
  812.     STEWART: And I tell you, if you were to tell me and I know you didn't but I'm just saying, if anyone were to tell me that they concluded Mr. Trump is going to win. I'd just say they're nuts, because there was no one in the world who thought that. Every media organization, every political organization, every government organization that I'm familiar with last fall thought that Secretary Clinton would be the next President of the United States.
  814.     COMEY: I think the Russians agreed.
  817. So why would they put out pro-Trump propaganda during the primary? Why discourage Hillary's greatest threat, Biden, from running? (One explanation for the Russians behavior: they were spying on Clinton and Podesta the whole time, and knew ahead of time they could use their emails to tip the general election to Trump).
  819. If the hearings tell us anything, Comey's explanation has made it easier for partisans to argue about Trump's affinity for Russia and declare the current investigations politically motivated (and not, say, motivated by national security). Once again, Comey is inserting his own special views in a way that happens to help the Russians (according to press leaks, at least, the CIA and others have said bluntly that Russia intended to install Trump).
  821. Probably the biggest and most confusing way Comey inserted himself into the 2016 election is his Oct. 28th letter saying that the investigation into Clinton's emails had re-opened. For a recap of events: Comey learned the FBI had found Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner's laptop on Oct 27, and sent this letter to Congress on the 28th, which was immediately leaked by Congress:
  825.     In previous congressional testimony, I referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton's personal email server. Due to recent developments, I am writing to supplement my previous testimony.
  827.     In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.
  829.     Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.
  831.     Sincerely yours,
  832.     James B. Comey
  835. Comey had authorized a search warrant to actually look at the emails the day he found out about them. On October 30th, the FBI obtained that warrant:
  839.     FBI Obtains Warrant To Search Emails That Renewed Look Into Clinton Server
  841.     ...Sources tell NPR that the emails appear to come from a laptop that Weiner and Abedin sometimes shared. The investigators' theory is that Abedin apparently used the laptop at home for some correspondence that could be related to State Department business, sources said.
  843.     It is not clear whether any of the newly discovered emails were sent or received by Clinton.
  845.     Another key question is whether the documents are copies of material already reviewed by the FBI during its yearlong investigation into Clinton's email server, or whether they are new — and whether they contain classified material.
  847.     ...A spate of new polls gauging the state of the race nationally and in key battleground states emerged Sunday.
  850. Meanwhile, all sorts chaos ensued:
  854.     Priebus: New Clinton Emails Must Be 'Serious' for FBI to Reopen Investigation
  856.     Oct 28, 2016
  860.     EXCLUSIVE: FBI Mutiny Reopened Clinton Investigation
  862.     Devastating new info causing internal struggle at FBI
  864. - October 29, 2016
  868.     Erik Prince: NYPD Ready to Make Arrests in Anthony Weiner Case
  869.     4 Nov 2016
  871.     Prince claimed he had insider knowledge of the investigation that could help explain why FBI Director James Comey had to announce he was reopening the investigation into Clinton’s email server last week.
  873.     “Because of Weinergate and the sexting scandal, the NYPD started investigating it. Through a subpoena, through a warrant, they searched his laptop, and sure enough, found those 650,000 emails. They found way more stuff than just more information pertaining to the inappropriate sexting the guy was doing,” Prince claimed.
  875.     “They found State Department emails. They found a lot of other really damning criminal information, including money laundering, including the fact that Hillary went to this sex island with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Bill Clinton went there more than 20 times. Hillary Clinton went there at least six times,” he said.
  879.     Trump surges in national poll amid renewed FBI probe
  881.     Hillary's huge advantage in surveys evaporates
  883.     Published: 10/31/2016 at 1:14 PM
  887.     By Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittes
  889.     12) Is Comey a political hack shilling for Trump?
  891.     Certainly not. ...the suggestion today that Comey is motivated by a desire to help a political candidate is silly. To the contrary, Comey’s motivation is almost certainly to avoid helping a candidate.
  893.     ...But while we are in this sense critical of Comey’s letter, two points warrant emphasis: The Weiner emails would necessarily impact the election, either before or after November 8; and there is zero reason to think that Comey did this in order to injure Clinton’s electoral chances or to advantage Trump in his candidacy...
  896. Eight days later, the FBI finished reviewing the Wiener laptop and found no new classified emails, which Comey announced. Comey testifies as much:
  900.     WHITEHOUSE: OK, thank you. And onto the Weiner laptop. As I understand it, you were informed by agents in the FBI office that there was potentially related or relevant information in Mr. Weiner's laptop. On the basis of that information, you then sent a letter to the members of Congress, before whom you had committed to answer if there were any changes in the status of things.
  902.     You also then authorized the agents to pursue a search warrant, which then gave them access to the content, which allowed them to do the search, that you then said came up with nothing so that you could then undo the letter and say, actually we took a look and there's nothing there. Is that the -- do I have the order correctly there?
  904.     COMEY: Right, they came to me, they briefed me on what they could see from the metadata, why it was significant. They thought they ought to seek a search warrant, wanted my approval to do that. I agreed, authorized it. So did the Department of Justice and then they reviewed -- I was just making sure I get the numbers right.
  906.     During the -- the following week, they reviewed 40,000 e-mails -- I understated how many they reviewed -- and found the 3,000 of them were work related and came from BlackBerry backups and a bunch of other things ...
  908.     WHITEHOUSE: My question ...
  910.     COMEY: And then 12 -- and then 12 of them were classified, but we'd seen them all before.
  914. Comey also testifies that the FBI agents only had to read 6,000 of the 49,000 emails:
  918.     COMEY: ...And so they found thousands of new emails and then called me the Saturday night before the election and said thanks to the wizardry of our technology, we've only had to personally read 6,000. We think we can finish tomorrow morning, Sunday.
  921. According to Comey's testimony and media reports, most of the emails were duplicates of Clinton emails the FBI had already reviewed, and the FBI has software that lets them filter out duplicate emails automatically:
  925.     A senior law enforcement official confirmed to NBC News that nearly all of the thousands of newly examined emails on Weiner's laptop were duplicates of emails already seen by the team investigating Clinton's server. Although some emails did forward documents previously identified as containing classified information, the review didn't change the total number of classified documents investigators found on the server.
  929.     "This is not rocket science," says Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensics expert who's consulted for law enforcement and worked as a systems administrator. "Eight days is more than enough time to pull this off in a responsible way."
  931.     One former FBI forensics expert even tells WIRED he's personally assessed far larger collections of data, far faster. "You can triage a dataset like this in a much shorter amount of time," says the former agent, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid any political backlash.
  933.     ...Next, the agents could filter out duplicate emails from those they'd already analyzed in their months-long investigation earlier this year. According to multiple media reports, the vast majority of emails the FBI examined over the last week were, in fact, duplicates. Those copies could be spotted by their message ID, points out Zdziarski, a unique alphanumeric identifier for each email. Or if any duplicate messages somehow had different message IDs---say, because they had been copied into replies or forwarded---the FBI agents could use a forensics tool like Encase or AccessData Forensics Tool Kit to make cryptographic "hashes" of full messages or chunks of them.
  935.     ...In fact, according to the former agent who spoke with WIRED, the FBI has tools to quickly identify indicators of classified documents in a large corpus of data. Zdziarski compares those tools to the software that checks for plagiarism, but instead checks for matches or near-matches in text with a collection of classified material.
  938. Before filtering out duplicate emails, the FBI would need to need a warrant to access them. But after filtering out duplicates (which would be quick--it's not a hard problem for computers to solve), the FBI would know how many emails they'd have the read manually.
  940. Which begs the question: why didn't Comey get a warrant before running to tell the world he found some Clinton emails on Weiner's laptop?
  942. Comey's excuse is that he was told there was "no way" the FBI could review the emails in time (they did):
  946.     WHITEHOUSE: So let me offer you this hypothetical. They come to you and say the metadata shows that we have potential information here that could be relevant and could cause us to reopen the information.
  948.     It would seem to me that it would be as sensible at that moment to say how quickly can you get a search warrant and how quickly can we get an answer that question because I made a promise to people in Congress that I would get back to them with this information.
  950.     And if there's anything real here, you need to get on that pronto so that I can answer that question, so that the search warrant precedes the letter rather than the letter preceding the search warrant, particularly in light of the widely adhered to policy the department not to disclose ongoing investigative materials. And their truly exceptional nature of disclosures. Why not the search warrant first?
  952.     COMEY: Well I pressed him very hard on that. And found credible their responses that there was no way -- no way they could review the volume of information they saw on the laptop in the time remaining.
  954.     WHITEHOUSE: Except that they did.
  956.     COMEY: Well they did, and -- because our wizards at our operational technology division came up with a way to de-dupe electronically -- that as I understand it involved writing a custom software program that's going to help us in lots of other areas. But investigative team said, sir we cannot finish this before the election.
  959. But at that point, without a warrant, Comey would have had had little idea how many emails the FBI would actually have to read, and didn't bother to find out before announcing Clinton's new (or not so new) emails.
  961. Actually, Comey might have been able to make a good guess that most of the emails were duplicates. Comey testifies that 3,000 emails came from "BlackBerry backups and a bunch of other things:"
  965.     During the -- the following week, they reviewed 40,000 e-mails -- I understated how many they reviewed -- and found the 3,000 of them were work related and came from BlackBerry backups and a bunch of other things
  968. Later, the FBI corrected Comey's testimony, saying most of the emails were backups:
  972.     ...the FBI believes it is reasonable to conclude that most of the emails found on Mr. Weiner's laptop computer related to the Clinton investigation occurred as a result of a backup of personal electronic devices, with a small number a result of manual forwarding by Mrs. Abedin to Mr. Weiner. Investigators identified approximately 49,000 e-mails which were potentially relevant to the investigation. All were reviewed with a particular focus on those containing classified information. Investigators ultimately determined that two e-mail chains containing classified information were manually forward to Mr. Wiener's account. Ten additional chains containing classified information also were found on the laptop computer as a result of backup activity. All twelve chains previously had been reviewed by investigators.
  975. But backups would largely (if not entirely) intersect with the emails the FBI had already reviewed. And before the warrant (, the FBI had access to the header information (e.g. to/from address) of the emails, which could have helped them guess how many emails might be backups and/or duplicates. But, for whatever reason, instead of getting a warrant, Comey--right then and there--made an epic personal decision to announce these emails to the world:
  979.     ...I just wanted to give you an opportunity to glue together, I think, the decision for your actions on July the 5th and -- and how think there's parallels between that and what you ultimately did on October the 28th and then November the 6th.
  981.     And I'll yield back the remaining of my time for the answer.
  983.     COMEY: And I -- I -- I've lived my whole life caring about the credibility and the integrity of the criminal justice process, that the American people believe it to be and that it be in fact fair, independent and honest. And so what I struggled with in the spring of last year was how do we credibly complete the investigation of Hillary Clinton's e-mails if we conclude there's no case there?
  985.     The normal way to do it would be to the Department of Justice announce it. And I struggled as we got closer to the end of it with the -- a number things had gone on, some of which I can't talk about yet, that made me worry that the department leadership could not credibly complete the investigation and declined prosecution without grievous damage to the American people's confidence in the -- in the justice system.
  987.     And then the capper was -- and I'm not picking on the -- the Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who I like very much -- but her meeting with President Clinton on that airplane was the capper for me. And I then said, you know what, the department cannot by itself credibly end this. The best chance we have as a justice system is if I do something I never imagined before, step away from them and tell the American people, look, here's what the FBI did, here's what we found, here's what we think. And that that offered us the best chance of the American people believing in the system, that it was done in a credible way.
  989.     That was a hard call for me to make to the call the attorney general that morning and say I'm about to do a press conference and I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to say. And I said to her, hope someday you'll understand why I think I have to do this. But look, I wasn't loving this.
  991.     I knew this would be disastrous for me personally, but I thought this is the best way to protect these institutions that we care so much about.
  994. (Comey made an earth-shattering announcement and walked it back a week later, shifting the odds in a high-stakes election and embarrassed himself and the FBI)
  997.     And having done that, and then having testified repeatedly under oath we're done, this was done in a credible way, there's no there there.
  999.     That when the Anthony Weiner thing landed on me on October 27 and there was a huge -- this is what people forget -- new step to be taken, we may be finding the golden missing e-mails that would change this case. If I were not to speak about that, it would be a disastrous, catastrophic concealment.
  1002. (Comey's letter is largely considered a historic disaster)
  1005.     It was an incredibly painful choice, but actually not all that hard between very bad and catastrophic. I had to tell Congress that we were taking these additional steps. I prayed to find a third door. I couldn't find it. Two actions speak or conceal. I don't think many reasonable people would do it differently than I did, no matter what they say today.
  1008. (one possible "third door": wait for a warrant)
  1011.     If you were standing there staring at that on October 28, would you really conceal that?
  1013.     So I spoke. Again, the design was to act credibly, independently and honestly so the American people know the system's not rigged in any way. And that's why I felt transparency was the best path in July.
  1015.     And that I wasn't seeking transparency. In October, I sent that letter only to the chairs and rankings. Yes, did I know they really going to leak it? Of course, I know how Congress works, but I did not make an announcement at that point.
  1017.     And then my amazing people moved heaven and earth to do what was impossible to get through those e-mails by working 24 hours a day and then said, honestly, sir, we found tons of new stuff doesn't change our view. And I said, are you sure, don't do it just because you're under pressure.
  1020. (why would you say that? publicly? now?)
  1023.     They said, we're sure, we don't believe there's a case against Hillary Clinton. I said, then by God, I got to tell Congress that and know I'm going to get a storm at me for that. But what I can promise you all along is I said to people, you may think we're idiots, we're honest people.
  1025.     We made judgments trying to do the right thing and I believe, even with hindsight, we made the right decisions. And I'm sorry for that long answer.
  1028. Comey seems to be saying that he sent the Oct 28 letter because he wanted Americans to know that the system isn't rigged. Whichever of Comey's principles or commitments lead him through this logic is hard to pin down.
  1031. Was it his commitment to updating Congress?
  1035.     COMEY: ...And so I met with them and they said we found a lot of new stuff. We did not find anything that changes our view of her intent. So we're in the same place we were in July. It hasn't changed our view and I asked them lots of questions and I said okay, if that's where you are, then I also have to tell Congress that we're done.
  1037.     ...I would not conceal that, on October 28, from the Congress. And I sent the letter to Congress, by the way, people forget this, I didn't make a public announcement. I sent a private letter to the chairs and the rankings of the oversight committees.
  1040. Was Comey certain the discovery of these emails was of compelling public interest?
  1044.     The investigation we now know that was ongoing into the Trump campaign and the investigation ongoing into Secretary Clinton. I'm concerned about what the future practice will be. How has the approach taken with regard to the Clinton investigation been memorialized and have you modified in any way, FBI or department procedures regarding disclosure of information concerning investigations particularly close to an election?
  1046.     COMEY: We have not. And the reason for that is, everything that we did -- that I did, was in my view consistent with existing Department of Justice policy. That is we don't confirm the existence of investigations except in unusual circumstances.
  1048.     We don't talk about closed -- we don't talk about investigations that don't result in criminal charges unless there is a compelling public interest. And so those principles should still govern. We also whenever humanly possible avoid any action that might have an impact on an election. I still believe that to be true and an incredibly important guiding principle. It's one that I labored under here.
  1052.     SEPTEMBER 28, 2016
  1054.     Mr. COMEY. Well, I am not confirming that we are investigating people associated with Mr. Trump. In the matter of the email investigation, it was our judgment— my judgment and the rest of the FBI’s judgment that those were exceptional circumstances where the public needed transparency.
  1057. Was Comey thinking about safeguarding our elections from foreign influence?
  1061.     Can you tell us what the FBI is doing to prepare for that 2018 and 2020 circumstance that you envision?
  1063.     COMEY: Without giving to much detail, we have a -- enormous part of the FBI in our counter intelligence division and in our cyber division that focuses on just that threat and making sure that we do everything that we can to understand how the bad guys might come at us. And as I talked about earlier to equip the civilian agencies that are responsible for hardening our infrastructure with all the information we have about how they're going to come at us.
  1066. Or was Comey doing his best to not consider "whose political fortunes will be affected" by his letter?
  1070.     And was there any conflict among your staff, people saying do it, people saying don't do it; as has been reported?
  1072.     COMEY: No, there was a great debate. I have a fabulous staff at all levels and one of my junior lawyers said, should you consider that what you're about to do may help elect Donald Trump president? And I said, thank you for raising that, not for a moment because down that path lies the death of the FBI as an independent institution in America. I can't consider for a second whose political fortunes will be affected in what way.
  1075. Whatever his thinking, if Comey wanted us to know the "system isn't rigged," he might not have done a good job--now we have to wonder if our system is rigged by Russia.
  1077. In some ways, maybe it is. Comey's opening statement makes it sound like Trump is being blackmailed by the Russians:
  1081.     I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump Tower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing, I remained alone with the President Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.
  1083.     The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified. the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.
  1085.     When the FBI develops reason to believe an American has been targeted for recruitment by a foreign power or is covertly acting as an agent of the foreign power, the FBI will "open an investigation" on that American and use legal authorities to try to learn more about the nature of any relationship with the foreign power so it can be disrupted.
  1087.     In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI's leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President Elect Trump's reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.
  1090. This colors the remainder of Comey's statement:
  1094.     During the dinner, the President returned to the salacious material I had briefed him about on January 6, and, as he had done previously, expressed his disgust for the allegations and strongly denied them. He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn't happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren't, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it.
  1096.     ...The President signaled the end of the briefing by thanking the group and telling them all that he wanted to speak to me alone. I stayed in my chair. As the participants started to leave the Oval Office, the Attorney General lingered by my chair, but the President thanked him and said he wanted to speak only with me.
  1098.     ...The President then made a long series of comments about the problem with leaks of classified information -- a concern I shared and still share. After he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and I could see a group of people waiting behind him. The President waved at him to close the door, saying he would be done shortly. The door closed.
  1100.     ...On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as "a cloud" that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to "lift the cloud." I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn't find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him.
  1102.     ...I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, "We need to get that fact out."
  1104.     ...He finished by stressing "the cloud" that was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn't being investigated. I told him I would see what we could do, and that we would do our investigative work well and as quickly as we could.
  1106.     ...On the morning of April 11, the President called me and asked what I had done about his request that I "get out" that he is not personally under investigation. I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back. He replied that "the cloud" was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General.
  1108.     ...He said he would do that and added, "Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know." I did not reply or ask him what he meant by "that thing." I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.
  1110.     That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.
  1113. What did Trump mean by "the cloud" that was making it harder for him to make deals? Did Trump want to obstruct the Russia investigation, or was he worried the Russians were blackmailing him and he wanted Comey's help? It is ambiguous. Making this even more complicated,  Russian intelligence-ties themselves can be used as blackmail, which is something the Russians are known to do:
  1117.     Whether a walk-in or a recruit, once an American begins spying for the Soviet Union it is unlikely he will find it easy to retire.
  1119.     In testimony before Congress in April, Christopher J. Boyce, who was convicted in 1977 of passing classified information about American satellites to Soviet officers, said, ''There is no exit from it.''
  1121.     Mr. Boyce described a 1976 meeting in which he told his Soviet contact he was going to retire. ''I told Boris I was going back to school,'' Mr. Boyce said. ''He thought it was a great idea.'' He said his Soviet contact told him to study international relations and then to get a job at the State Department.
  1123.      ''He was looking 10 or 20 years down the road, the same relationship going on and on,'' Mr. Boyce said.
  1125.     Once an American first commits espionage, Soviet agents act on the vulnerability to blackmail and may attempt to keep the agent working with threats.
  1127.     ''That's par for the course in the intelligence business,'' said David A. Phillips, a former C.I.A. official. ''You don't have so many candidates that you can afford to let them go. This isn't the Boy Scouts.''
  1129.     Mr. Crowley, who was a C.I.A. assistant deputy director for operations when he retired in 1980, said blackmail could begin after the first contact.
  1132. And, for whatever reason, Comey didn't tell anybody else about Trump's alleged attempts to influence the Flynn investigation, leaving it to a matter of Trump's word vs. Comey's:
  1136.     We also concluded that, given that it was a one-on-one conversation, there was nothing available to corroborate my account. We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations. (He did so two weeks later.) The Deputy Attorney General's role was then filled in an acting capacity by a United States Attorney, who would also not be long in the role. After discussing the matter, we decided to keep it very closely held, resolving to figure out what to do with it down the road as our investigation progressed. The investigation moved ahead at full speed, with none of the investigative team members -- or the Department of Justice lawyers supporting them -- aware of the President's request.
  1139. But at this point, we can't say for sure anymore if either of them are Russian agents, a problem.
  1141. This is part of why I had tried to draw attention Yates' firing as a potential abuse of power previously--the majority of the public wants to impeach Trump, but for whatever reason the media has been zeroing-in on Comey's memos as the key evidence for obstruction of justice (I had figured the Yates episode was more than enough).
  1143. And, I should add: I've mostly been very down on Trump, but after reading Comey's statement I kindof feel bad for him. In the off-chance that President Trump ever reads this (who knows!), I'd say to him: If the Russians are actually blackmailing you, consider releasing the blackmail yourself and telling Putin to go fuck himself. The public already expects the worst anyway. Besides, you'd go down in history with what might be the biggest comeback of all time and might literally save the world--something to think about!
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