The FBI threw together a hasty press conference tonight to announce that both Iran and Russia have US voter registration information in hand, and that they are using it to run disinformation operations against US voters. Iran in particular was running an operation where Democratic voters in states like Florida and Alaska received emails from a group purporting to be white supremacist terrorist group Proud Boys, stating that if they did not vote for Trump, that the group would "come after" them.
The U.S. government has concluded that Iran is behind a series of threatening emails arriving this week in the inboxes of Democratic voters, according to two U.S. officials.
Department of Homeland Security officials told state and local election administrators on a call Wednesday that a foreign government was responsible for the online barrage, according to the U.S. officials and state and local authorities who participated in the call, all speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity. A DHS officials also said they had detected holes in state and local election websites and instructed those participating to patch their online services.
The emails claimed to be from the Proud Boys, a far-right group supportive of President Trump, but appeared instead to be a deceptive campaign making use of a vulnerability in the organization’s online network.
First identified on Tuesday by local law enforcement and elections officials in Florida and Alaska, the emails were soon turned over to federal authorities, according to U.S. officials.
The messages appeared to target Democrats using data from digital databases known as “voter files,” some of which are commercially available. They told recipients the Proud Boys were “in possession of all your information” and instructed voters to change their party registration and cast their ballots for Trump.
By suggesting the group had gained access to privileged data, and also possibly penetrated electronic systems to detect how people were voting, the emails seemed designed to create the appearance of an election breach, said cybersecurity researchers. Such a move may serve to undermine confidence in the integrity of the democratic process without posing a genuine risk to the election, these researchers said.
“You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you,” warned the emails, which by Tuesday night were said to have reached voters in as many as four states, three of them hotly contested swing states in the coming presidential election.
The domain enlisted for the misleading operation, officialproudboys.com, was recently dropped by a hosting company that uses Google Cloud services, according to Google Cloud spokesman Ted Ladd. Without a secure host, the domain stood vulnerable to exploitation, cybersecurity experts said. Voters using Comcast, Yahoo and Gmail accounts were affected.
In addition to reports from Florida and Alaska, a voter in Pennsylvania told The Washington Post she had received one such email, though she suspected it may have been linked to her previous registration in Alaska. The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office had not received reports about the messages, a spokesman, Mark Shade, said Wednesday.
In the worlds of the great Peter Falk as Detective Columbo, "Just one more thing..."
And that thing is this: acting Director of National Intelligence John Ratliffe actually spent the press conference seemingly trying to both clear the "good name" of the Proud Boys and to pin the email attacks on Iran as targeting Trump, when Democratic voters were the ones targeted.
That seems wildly fishy to me. FBI Director Chris Wray followed up at the press conference with news that Russia also was running operations to "influence public opinion" as he put it. Now, Russia would greatly benefit from, say, hacking the Proud Boys domain and sending out these emails to 1) hurt Democrats and 2) allow the Trump regime to pin the blame on Iran.
I don't trust either Ratliffe or Wray. Ratliffe is a known liar, and Wray, in case we've all forgotten, was Chris Christie's lawyer on BridgeGate.
No, this all reeks to high heaven. Keep a weather eye out for the rest of this story. It involves Russia and the Proud Boys, I'm sure of it.
President Trump and his advisers have repeatedly discussed whether to fire FBI Director Christopher Wray after Election Day — a scenario that also could imperil the tenure of Attorney General William Barr as the president grows increasingly frustrated that federal law enforcement has not delivered his campaign the kind of last-minute boost that the FBI provided in 2016.
The conversations among the president and senior aides stem in part from their disappointment that Wray in particular but Barr as well have not done what Trump had hoped — indicate that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, or other Biden associates are under investigation.
Wray won't pull a Comey, Barr was completely AWOL from this conference, and he's vanished for weeks actually, ever since Trump contracted COVID-19 earlier this month. The next two weeks could be as fateful in American history as they come.