Friday, November 3, 2017

Last Call For Russian To Judgment

The Russian operation to destroy Hillary Clinton and put Trump in the White House was a master class in propaganda and media manipulation, and America was uniquely vulnerable to Putin's attacks.  But they had help: good ol' fashioned phishing for information that yielded Clinton campaign emails and the mother lode of inside info.

An Associated Press investigation into the digital break-ins that disrupted the U.S. presidential contest has sketched out an anatomy of the hack that led to months of damaging disclosures about the Democratic Party’s nominee. It wasn’t just a few aides that the hackers went after; it was an all-out blitz across the Democratic Party. They tried to compromise Clinton’s inner circle and more than 130 party employees, supporters and contractors. 
While U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind the email thefts, the AP drew on forensic data to report Thursday that the hackers known as Fancy Bear were closely aligned with the interests of the Russian government. 
The AP’s reconstruction— based on a database of 19,000 malicious links recently shared by cybersecurity firm Secureworks — shows how the hackers worked their way around the Clinton campaign’s top-of-the-line digital security to steal chairman John Podesta’s emails in March 2016. 
It also helps explain how a Russian-linked intermediary could boast to a Trump policy adviser, a month later, that the Kremlin had “thousands of emails” worth of dirt on Clinton.

The Fancy Bear job remains the key to how the Russians were able to bog Clinton down for months but hitting her campaign and the DNC's email servers as well.  But once they had the raw data, they needed to distribute it for maximum damage, and that's where Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks came in.

Guccifer 2.0 acted as a kind of master of ceremonies during the summer of leaks, proclaiming that the DNC’s stolen documents were in WikiLeaks’ hands, publishing a selection of the material himself and constantly chatting up journalists over Twitter in a bid to keep the story in the press. 
He appeared particularly excited to hear on June 24 that his leaks had sparked a lawsuit against the DNC by disgruntled supporters of Clinton rival Bernie Sanders. 
“Can it influence the election in any how?” he asked a journalist with Russia’s Sputnik News, in uneven English. 
Later that month Guccifer 2.0 began directing reporters to the newly launched DCLeaks site, which was also dribbling out stolen material on Democrats. When WikiLeaks joined the fray on July 22 with its own disclosures the leaks metastasized into a crisis, triggering intraparty feuding that forced the resignation of the DNC’s chairwoman and drew angry protests at the Democratic National Convention. 
Guccifer 2.0, WikiLeaks and DCLeaks ultimately published more than 150,000 emails stolen from more than a dozen Democrats, according to an AP count. 
The AP has since found that each of one of those Democrats had previously been targeted by Fancy Bear, either at their personal Gmail addresses or via the DNC, a finding established by running targets’ emails against the Secureworks’ list.

There's no doubt that the DC Leaks emails were bait for hungry journalists who were more than happy to print whatever would hurt the hated Hillary Clinton, the woman that the DC media had been trying to bring down for 25 years.

And now they would.

All three leak-branded sites have distanced themselves from Moscow. DCLeaks claimed to be run by American hacktivists. WikiLeaks said Russia wasn’t its source. Guccifer 2.0 claimed to be Romanian.

But there were signs of dishonesty from the start. The first document Guccifer 2.0 published on June 15 came not from the DNC as advertised but from Podesta’s inbox, according to a former DNC official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. 
The official said the word “CONFIDENTIAL” was not in the original document. 
Guccifer 2.0 had airbrushed it to catch reporters’ attention.

Of course the emails were doctored.  Enough real email data was included to assure the veracity of the sources, but the flashing lights and bells and whistles were tailor-made to attract DC media sharks.

They took the bait.

Within hours of the devastating Trump Access Hollywood tape being released, Guccifer and friends had flooded the airwaves with SCANDALOUS CLINTON EMAIL LEAKS, edited for consumption, and the Trump rape story was forgotten.

It was exactly what Trump needed to stay in the race, and it was planned for months, if not years.  The Russians owned us on this and are happy to destroy us with Trump and the GOP.

Soon, we may not be able to stop them from doing so any longer.

Running Government As His Corporation

Trump once again took to Twitter today to demand investigation and prosecution of his political foes in his usual whine.

Josh Marshall dissects Trump's increasingly broken mentality as CEO of America, Inc. and his repeated calls for the FBI to prosecute Hillary Clinton.

What is most striking to me about these comments is how natural it all seems to him, how frank he is about it. It seems like the most logical thing in the world to him that he should be able to tell the FBI who to ‘go after’ Secretary Clinton. And I think he’s being very genuine about this. It’s both childish and childlike, in addition to being profoundly predatory. 
That’s why he fired James Comey. At the most basic level he sees the US government as his company. It goes without saying that Trump would fire an employee who wasn’t following direction or wasn’t loyal, let alone one who he believed might be working against him. They’re “my generals”, remember

This is precisely true, and very disturbing.  Trump's proto-fascist impulses are based on him being The Boss, and people do what The Boss says or he fires them.  Trump believes being able to do this is a vital part of how he should run the executive branch.  Not even Bush and Cheney went this far. But he won't stop, and Marshall doesn't believe he'll stop either.

Here is my sense of where we are. After James Comey was fired and they brought in reasonably professional lawyers, it’s been made clear to President Trump that he can’t be directly interfering with the investigation or using the DOJ as his personal police force. Kelly is likely a key part of this imperative as well. At the moment at least he’s following this advice. Thus his frustration. But he’s also being pushed by the Roger Stones and Steve Bannon types to go to war with Mueller, perhaps fire him
I was on TV this evening with Sam Nunberg, one of a number of Trumpers who was fired during the campaign but is still a total loyalist and seems to be in league with Bannon or at least in agreement with him. He was saying Trump must fire Ty Cobb, the lawyer who’s managing the Russia probe for the President. Cobb seems to be a bit of a clown himself. But he is a real white collar defense lawyer – not one of Trump’s goon lawyers from New York City. He is sticking to the quaint idea that you shouldn’t try to obstruct justice or otherwise interfere with the investigation. At least his stated aim as of now – and this is backed up by some reporting – is to be as cooperative as possible in the hopes of getting Mueller to complete his investigation and give the President a clean bill of health. 
That may be a good strategy out of the options the President has available to him. But it is certainly not at all in line with President Trump’s core impulses. He has a lot of friends, who he seems to be talking to regularly, telling him to go with those impulses. We shouldn’t be surprised if, feeling endangered and enraged, he gives into those impulses.

Trump's pathology is very predictable.  The only question is when he tries to fire Mueller, and what the GOP in Congress will do about it.

My guess remains "nothing".  And then we will find ourselves in a real constitutional crisis, and perhaps worse.  Who is going to stop Trump?  Nobody stepped up so far.  Why should we believe anyone will in the future?

What would be the bridge too far?  We don't know, because nobody seems to give a damn in the other two branches of government as of yet.

We'll see.

Meanwhile In Bevinstan...

GOP Gov. Matt Bevin's plan to screw Kentucky state employees out of pension benefits has hit a pair of rather fatal snags: one, he doesn't have the votes, and two, Kentucky's GOP House Speaker Jeff Hoover is facing sexual harassment claims that are threatening to blow up his career.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s draft bill to reshape Kentucky’s retirement systems has run aground in the state House, where growing concerns for the financial security of school teachers and public employees were joined Thursday by sexual harassment allegations that put House Speaker Jeff Hoover’s political future in doubt. 
Hoover, R-Jamestown, stood alongside Bevin and Senate President Robert Stivers last month to unveil the framework of controversial pension changes that Kentucky’s Republican leaders are promoting. His role could be threatened by a news report that said Hoover — who is married with three daughters — has settled a sexual harassment claim made by a woman employed in his House office
Even without Hoover’s troubles as a distraction, “the votes aren’t here for this bill is what I’m hearing,” said state Rep. Brian Linder, R-Dry Ridge, co-chairman of the Public Pension Oversight Board. Various changes would have to be made to satisfy different interest groups raising objections and win the necessary House votes, Linder said. 
“I’m kind of a compromiser,” Linder said. “I’ve always worked in my life to try and get people to common ground.” 
As for Hoover, Linder said, “as speaker, he plays an important role in all of this.”

“I haven’t really had a chance to talk to anybody about this yet,” Linder said. “I came in late this morning, so I haven’t really had a chance to gauge anybody’s feelings about this. But he’s obviously been a big part of this, so I don’t know how this is going to go forward.” 
Another lawmaker was more blunt. State Rep. C. Wesley Morgan, R-Richmond, said the allegations against Hoover are serious enough, if true, to derail the pension debate for the present. 
“It would absolutely be a disaster for any immediate special session,” said Morgan, who opposes the draft pension bill that Bevin made public last Friday. 
State Rep. James Kay, D-Versailles, said it’s time to pause the pension debate, anyway, regardless of “Speaker Hoover’s issues.” 
It’s never helpful to be discussing those type of things,” said Kay, who is also a member of the pension oversight panel.

Kentucky's House GOP I think wasn't prepared for how awful Bevin has been at trying to sell this plan, especially in smaller rural counties where the government is one of the largest employers in GOP communities.  People around here like teachers and county clerks and game wardens and the nice lady at the DMV, they know them personally, they go to church with them and see them at their kids' ball games and 4-H and ROTC.

It was cool when they could blame Bevin for across-the-board cuts.  But going after teachers and other state employees like this when Bevin is trying to force them to take their share of the burden only pisses everyone off.

So now, Hoover's sexual harassment settlement is a pretty good excuse for the KY GOP to run for the hills, and they will.



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