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Daily Reads: Leaked NSA Doc Shows The Russian Government May Have Hacked Our Election; Fiscal Cliff Coming Soon

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The Russian Government May Have Hacked Our Election

An employee walks inside the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland outside Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

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Yes, the Russians may well have hacked our election –> At The Intercept, Matthew Cole, Richard Esposito, Sam Biddle and Ryan Grim dropped a big scoop last night. “Russian Military Intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept.” The report is based on an NSA intercept. The document “indicates that Russian hacking may have penetrated further into US voting systems than was previously understood. It states unequivocally in its summary statement that it was Russian military intelligence, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, that conducted the cyber attacks.” The reporters caution that the analysis “does not draw conclusions about whether the interference had any effect on the election’s outcome.”

Almost immediately following the publication of the report, the Department of Justice announced that federal agents had arrested a contractor working for the NSA at a facility in Georgia, and charged her with removing classified information and sending it to an “online news publication.” Buzzfeed later confirmed that the accused, Reality Leigh Winner, was The Intercept’s source.

And depending on how one reads this Atlantic piece by McKay Coppins, either “there is growing concern in the White House about what skeletons may emerge as investigators comb through a coterie of aides, past and present, who would have done virtually anything to win favor with Trump,” or they’re preparing to mount a defense of all those contacts between Trump’s inner circle and the Russians based on the inexperience, or stupidity, as one anonymous source put it, of “the motley, freewheeling crew of lieutenants and loyalists who have long populated his entourage.”

Meanwhile, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman report for The New York Times that Trump has increasingly come to blame Attorney General Jeff Sessions for what he calls the “Russia thing,” believing that Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the probe into Russian meddling in the election allowed the issue to get out of control.

Probably related –> “The White House explored unilaterally easing sanctions on Russia’s oil industry as recently as late March, arguing that decreased Russian oil production could harm the American economy,” according to Kimberly Dozier at The Daily Beast. Career foreign officers at the State Department managed to block the effort. “In one email exchange,” writes Dozier, “a State Department official feels the need to explain that lowering punitive sanctions on the Russian oil industry would be rewarding Moscow — without getting anything from the Kremlin in return.”

Fingerprints –> At The New Yorker, Jane Mayer writes that the Koch brothers’ fingerprints are all over Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate deal, calling it “the most astounding example of influence-buying in modern American political history.”

And Mark Landler reports for The New York Times that David Rank, the chargé d’affaires at the American Embassy in Beijing, “announced his resignation after telling his staff he could not defend the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.” Landler writes that the resignation is the latest example of “what amounts to a quiet revolt by a cadre of public servants known for their professional discretion.”

Speaking of influence campaigns –> Byron Tau and Rebecca Ballhaus report for The Wall Street Journal that “Trump’s Washington hotel received roughly $270,000 in payments linked to Saudi Arabia as part of a lobbying campaign by the Gulf kingdom against controversial terrorism legislation last year.” The Saudis do not want the US to pass a law that would allow survivors of the 9/11 attacks to sue those accused of financing terror. ‘“This is a textbook example of a foreign government paying directly into the president’s pocketbook while pursuing its own policy goals,'” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the oversight committee, in a statement.”

Hold onto your wallet –> At Rewire, Jessica Mason Pieklo explains how a Supreme Court ruling handed down on Monday “means Catholic hospitals, which employ tens of thousands of low- to middle-income workers, can now generally avoid the pension and health insurance protections required by federal law.”

Public lands in the crosshairs –> “A coalition of influential officials in Arizona and Utah is urging the Trump administration to consider rolling back Obama-era environmental protections that ban new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon,” writes Joanna Walters at The Guardian. “The battle to restore mining activity near the Grand Canyon is part of broader push by conservatives to roll back protections on America’s 640m acres of public land,” according to Walters. Past operations to extract uranium resulted in “devastating health impacts of mining on Arizona’s Navajo population.”

Cliff ahead –> Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim report for Politico that with GOP attempting to legislate without any input from Dems, and the Dems fighting them at every step, “Congress may be headed toward the economic and political disaster of a debt default and a government shutdown later this year. And the chamber most likely to get Congress out of the jam — the Senate — is failing to live up to its moniker as the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

At New York magazine, Ed Kilgore writes that Democrats are considering taking a page from the GOP playbook during the Obama years by demanding concessions in order to raise the ceiling. But rather than demanding the sky — Republicans wanted Obama to repeal his signature health care law among other things — Democrats are thinking about insisting that Republicans keep their campaign pledge that any tax reform effort would maintain current revenue levels.

Showmanship –> On returning from his first foreign trip, Donald Trump touted the $110 billion weapons deal he’d cut with the Saudi government. But Bruce Riedel, director of the Brookings Intelligence Project, writes that “there is no deal. It’s fake news.” According to Riedel, “there are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts. Many are offers that the defense industry thinks the Saudis will be interested in someday. So far nothing has been notified to the Senate for review.” And in keeping with Trump’s penchant for taking credit where it isn’t due, “none of the deals identified so far are new, all began in the Obama administration.”

Theft –> At The American Prospect, Eric Cortellessa writes that undocumented immigrants “who are victims of wage theft are increasingly afraid to pursue legal remedies” because employers threaten to retaliate against them for any complaints by calling ICE on them.

Sad Trombone –>  Apparently “pro-Trump Canadian” is a thing that exists, and according to Ben Collins at The Daily Beast, a bunch of them held a “Million Canadian Deplorables March” in Ottawa last night “to protest Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and to show favor for Donald Trump, whom protest organizer Mike Waine called a ‘smart man.’” A million is a tall order, and the conservative media here in the US — including both The Daily Caller and Breitbart — claimed that about 5,000 people showed up. But Ottawa cops say it was more like 100.

Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.



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