Tag Archives: Russian interference

Facebook steps into election interference maelstrom

The social media platform known as Facebook has taken its share of hits regarding whether it has done enough to protect subscribers’ privacy.

So now we hear from Facebook that it has uncovered a widespread attack on our nation’s electoral process in advance of the 2018 midterm election.

The Hill reports: Facebook said in its post on Tuesday that “whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past.”

The IRA has gotten involved in this year’s election and Facebook is seeking to act as an Internet whistleblower.

The Hill continued: The social media company did say that while it lacked the “technical evidence” to attribute blame directly, it found that misinformation strategies carried the hallmarks of the IRA’s previous efforts.

“Some of the activity is consistent with what we saw from the IRA before and after the 2016 elections. And we’ve found evidence of some connections between these accounts and IRA accounts we disabled last year,” Facebook said explaining one case in which one of the inauthentic pages briefly had an admin who was also an admin in IRA page from 2016.

On a conference call with reporters, Facebook said that it used a “range of leads” similar to this to detect inauthentic accounts.

I understand fully that we are talking about a tremendously complicated process that requires equally tremendous sophistication to prevent. How does the world’s most sophisticated nation remain so vulnerable to this kind of cyber assault?

I fear we are heading for a new kind of war against forces and interests that are intent on disrupting our democratic process. As elusive as the enemy has been in our “international war on terror,” the cyber foes that have declared war on us are going to take this fight into an entirely new realm.

‘Not a crime,’ but yes, it does matter, Mr. POTUS

Donald J. Trump’s got a million of ’em, idiotic tweets and assorted proclamations, that is.

He said this via Twitter early today, for example: Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!

Whoa! Mr. President, it damn sure does matter.

Robert Mueller’s team of legal eagles is examining whether the president’s campaign “colluded” with the Russians who hacked into our electoral system and launched an attack on our democratic process. I get that there isn’t a statute that covers such activity; absent a statute, there can be no crime.

Is it right? Is it normal? Does this kind of activity keep faith with the notion that our system should be immune from this kind of interference?

Collusion not a crime

And what about the very idea that a hostile foreign power would seek to influence a presidential outcome?

The notion that a major-party political campaign could have accepted, if not solicited, this kind of foreign intervention in a presidential election should send chills up the spines of those of us who want our electoral system protected from such activity.

Does it matter, then, that the Russians attacked us? Absolutely.

Does it also matter that there might be evidence that the Trump campaign cooperated with the attackers? Without question … yes!

Welcome aboard the ‘anti-meddling’ bandwagon

“Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd is a man after my own heart.

He, too, says “meddling” is too mild a term to describe what the Russians did in 2016. That is, he says the Russians didn’t merely “meddle” in our presidential election.

Todd pointed out that “meddle” defines when someone takes an interest in something that is not their concern. Yep, that’s meddling. My American Heritage Dictionary says meddling is “to intrude into others’ affairs.”

Todd wants to know what term to use to describe what the Russians did. Interfere? Attack?

I prefer “attack.” It was a direct assault on our democratic process. They intended, according to U.S. intelligence analysts, to swing the election in Donald John Trump’s favor. Whether they had a tangible impact on the election result, of course, remains a wide-open question.

But I agree with Todd. “Meddling” doesn’t cut it as a term to define what the Russians did.

Obama, Hillary … it’s all their fault?

Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump Sr. fired off yet another in an infinite string of idiotic tweets.

This came out earlier today: So President Obama knew about Russia before the Election. Why didn’t he do something about it? Why didn’t he tell our campaign? Because it is all a big hoax, that’s why, and he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win!!!

A big hoax. There you have it.

Why, then, is the president making such a big deal out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian goons who attacked our democratic process?

Because … it’s not a hoax.

It’s real. Trump knows it. His team knows it. He is diverting attention from it.

Let’s stay tuned and hang on with both hands.

Oh, those doggone tax returns

Pardon me for gloating for just a moment.

I have kept yapping about those income tax returns that Donald J. Trump has refused to release for public viewing. He has broken with a 40-year tradition laid out by presidential candidates of both major parties.

Now he has had that hideous press conference this past week with Vladimir Putin, calling into question yet again whether the Russians — and their president — have something, anything on Trump’s business dealings that the U.S. president might not want known to the public.

Thus, the tax return issue has returned. It’s back. Hey, it won’t go away.

The Hill reported this: The issue of Trump’s tax returns had become less prominent in recent months. But that changed following last week’s joint press conference with Putin in Helsinki when Trump questioned the findings of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump continues to hide behind the lie that an Internal Revenue Service audit prevents the tax returns release. The IRS — which hasn’t commented on whether it is auditing Trump’s taxes — says no such audit would prevent the release of tax returns to the public.

For that matter, Trump hasn’t even produced a letter saying that the IRS is auditing him.

The questions and suspicion about Trump’s refusal to condemn the Russian attack on our election are valid. Does it have anything to do with Trump’s business dealings in Russia? Do the Russians have the “goods” on the president? If they do, what do those “goods” constitute?

I am happy to realize that others have suggested what some of us have been saying all along: Release those tax returns. The public needs to know what they contain. Do it! Now!

Now it’s a hoax, Mr. President?

Which is it today, Mr. President?

You said just the other day that the Russian attack on our electoral system in 2016 occurred. You accepted finally the U.S. intelligence agencies’ view that the Russians did it.

Then you send a message out today that calls it a “hoax”?

Let’s look back for a moment.

All of our nation’s intelligence bosses — FBI, CIA, director of national intelligence, National Security Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff — have been singing off the same hymnal page. The Russians did it! They acted alone!

You have denigrated their work. You have stood next to the Russian president and accepted his lying, prevaricating denial.

Then you backed off of that and said you now believe the U.S. spooks.

Now you call it a hoax.

Man, oh man. I am getting confused, Mr. President. You’re making my ears bleed. My head is spinning. I need smelling salts. I’m getting a case of rhetorical vertigo.

You won’t listen to me. I mean, you don’t listen to DNI Director Dan Coats, or CIA Director Gina Haspel, or anyone for that matter on anything!

I’ll offer this bit of unsolicited advice: Why don’t you just keep your unpresidential trap shut, let the special counsel, Robert Mueller, finish his job and then let the chips fall where they will fall?

Trump aides should ‘reevaluate’ their role? Do you think?

Trey Gowdy, the lame-duck South Carolina congressman who recently worked over FBI agent Peter Strzok over his conduct in the Russia interference investigation, has taken the gloves off — more or less — with members of the Trump administration.

Gowdy made an appearance today on “Fox News Sunday” and said that members of the administration should consider quitting if Donald Trump continues to ignore their best advice on how to handle Russia and other matters.

According to The Hill: “It can be proven beyond any evidentiary burden that Russia is not our friend and they tried to attack us in 2016,” Gowdy told host Bret Baier. “So the president either needs to rely on the people that he has chosen to advise him, or those advisers need to reevaluate whether or not they can serve in this administration. But the disconnect cannot continue.”

“Need to reevaluate whether or not they can serve … “?

I’d be willing to bet real American money that those advisers already are reevaluating their future with the Trump administration. They are likely doing it privately, swearing loved ones to secrecy.

The true shocker would occur if some of them actually turned in their West Wing security badges and walked out the door.

Indeed, the president has demonstrated an astonishing capacity to ignore the advice he gets from the “best people” who are equipped with the “best minds” with whom he has surrounded himself.

Moreover, he has shown a mind-boggling willingness to blindside those advisers with tweets and other pronouncements that one might expect to have been done only with close consultation with those experts.

Exhibit A: The amazing reaction from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to news that Trump had invited Vladimir Putin to the White House for a second summit later this year. “OK,” Coats said with a tone of exasperation. “That’s going to be special.”

How can someone as accomplished and serious as Coats — a two-time Republican U.S. senator from Indiana — actually avoid “reevaluating” whether he should remain as part of the Trump national security team?

Chaos and confusion continue to reign supreme in the Trump administration.

Where are the ‘best words’?

Donald Trump’s amazingly clumsy “clarification” of what he said in Helsinki brings to mind a stellar campaign promise he made while running for president in 2016.

The told us he would surround himself with the “best people” and he would speak to us using the “best words.”

Zero for two?

Yes, he has some good folks in key places. Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis is a good one; so is Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; I’ll put United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley in that crowd, too. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has possibilities.

Many of the rest of them? Not the “best.” Not by a long shot.

How about those “best words” Trump pledged? Let’s turn our attention to that Helsinki clown show that unfolded before the entire world at the beginning of the week.

There was Donald Trump standing alongside Vladimir Putin, the former KGB chief spook who serves as Russia’s president.

A reporter asked the president whether he doubted U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia attacked our democratic process. Trump said he spoke with Dan Coats, that he accepts the intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia interfered in our election, but that Putin had offered a “strong and powerful denial.”

Then he said, “I don’t know why they (the Russians) would” interfere.

To borrow a phrase: Oops!

More than 24 hours later, Trump convened a Cabinet meeting and declared he meant to say “wouldn’t” instead of “would.” He then made the term “double negative” famous around the world.

I’ll inject here that Donald J. Trump made sure reporters heard him praise Putin’s “powerful” denial of election interference during that joint appearance in Helsinki.

That is how the president “misspoke”? I do not think so.

Nor do I believe he uses the “best words” to convey whatever message he wants heard.

‘Your favorite President did nothing wrong’?

I cannot let this Twitter message pass without a brief rejoinder.

Donald John Trump wrote this: Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!

It’s the final sentence that is worth a comment.

“Your favorite President did nothing wrong,” Trump writes.

By golly, he’s right. Barack Obama didn’t shame himself in front of the world while kowtowing to Vladimir Putin. Nor did he refuse to acknowledge the Russian attack on our electoral system. Or denigrate the U.S. intelligence agencies’ capabilities. Or try to take it all back with a clumsy and inarticulate reference to “double negatives.”

My “favorite president” is doing just fine, thank you very much.

As for the current president, well, I’m anxiously awaiting the findings of the special counsel to settle matters.

It wasn’t mere ‘meddling,’ it was an attack

I have just made a command decision as the publisher of High Plains Blogger.

No longer will I refer to the Russian attack on our electoral system, on our democratic process merely as an act of “meddling.”

It was a full-frontal assault on our electoral process. It was an attack on our way of life.

I got the idea from a letter to the editor I saw this morning on Twitter. I think the letter was from the New York Times. The writer compared “meddling” to the butting in by nosy relatives on the business of family members.

I thought, “Wow! I get that.” Not the nosy relatives thing, but the notion that “meddling” is far too mild a term to describe what the Russians did during our 2016 presidential election.

Thus, I made the decision to henceforth refer to that act using terminology that more aptly describes its impact.

Am I going to assert that the Russian attack actually produced a Donald Trump victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton? I won’t go there. At least not just yet. I will await the results from Robert Mueller’s exhaustive probe into potential “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian goons ordered by Vladimir Putin to launch their attack on our system.

In the future, though, do not look for the word “meddling” from this blog to describe what I consider to be damn near an act of war on our democratic process by a hostile nation.