9:19 AM 10/27/2017 – How Facebook, Google and Twitter ’embeds’ helped Trump…

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Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, and its vice-president of global communications and public policy, Elliot Schrage, on Capitol Hill. Photograph: James Lawler Duggan/Reuters – How Russia used social media to divide Americans – The Guardian 

“We as a campaign made the choice to rely on the voter data of the Republican National Committee to help elect President Donald J. Trump,” Michael Glassner, executive director of Donald Trump for President, said. “Any claims that voter data from any other source played a key role in the victory are false.”

But campaign filings show that the campaign paid Cambridge Analytica $5.9 million for data management services between 2015 and 2016.

A former GOP source said that Cambridge Analytica primarily fit into the digital operations of the campaign and used data produced by the RNC for marketing on social media and other platforms. 

“[The RNC] provided the data to Cambridge, and they used that for marketing,” the source said, adding that the company had roughly 12 to 15 employees on the ground in San Antonio, where Trump digital director Brad Parscale’s company is located. 

Parscale met with members of the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Tuesday as part of its Russia probe. – Scrutiny mounts for Trump digital operation – The Hill

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How Facebook, Google and Twitter ’embeds’ helped Trump in 2016 – POLITICO

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“The extent to which they were helping candidates online was a surprise to us,” said co-author Daniel Kreiss, from UNC Chapel Hill. He called the assistance “a form of subsidy from technology firms to political candidates.”

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The study was published Thursday in the journal Political Communication.

Kreiss and the University of Utah’s Shannon McGregor interviewed tech company liaisons to the Trump and Clinton operations as well as officials from a range of campaigns, including those of former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sens. Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

The researchers’ findings add to the many questions surrounding the part that the country’s biggest tech companies played in the 2016 election. Facebook, Google and Twitter already face heavy criticism for allowing the spread of disinformation, “fake news” and divisive advertising during the campaign — much of which targeted Clinton. All three companies are set to testify at congressional hearings beginning next week on Russian use of their platforms to interfere with the election.

The idea that the tech companies were so deeply enmeshed in the efforts to elect Trump in particular could also complicate the companies’ reputations as political actors. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is among those in liberal-leaning Silicon Valley who have roundly condemned Trump’s actions as president on topics like LGBT issues and immigration.

As Trump emerged as the likely Republican nominee, staffers from each of the three companies set up shop in a strip-mall office rented by the Trump campaign in San Antonio, Texas, home to the campaign’s lead digital strategist, Brad Parscale, the study reports. It attributes that information to Nu Wexler, a Twitter communications official at the time, who is explicit about the value of the arrangement for Trump.

“One, they found that they were getting solid advice, and two, it’s cheaper. It’s free labor,” Wexler said in the study.

While the paper does not detail the specific tasks Facebook carried out for Trump, it describes the sort of work the company did generally for 2016 candidates, including coordinating so-called dark posts that would appear only to selected users and identifying the kinds of photos that perform best on Facebook-owned Instagram. Twitter, meanwhile, would help candidates analyze the performances of their tweet-based fundraising pushes to recommend what moves the campaigns should make next. Google kept tabs on candidates’ travels to recommend geographically targeted advertisements.

Digital experts interviewed by the researchers concluded that the tech company employees, who would work in San Antonio for days at a time, helped Trump close his staffing gap with Clinton.

The White House referred questions to the Trump campaign, and Parscale did not respond to requests for comment. Parscale said in an Oct. 8 episode of “60 Minutes” that he actively solicited the companies’ support, saying that he told them: “I wanna know everything you would tell Hillary’s campaign plus some. And I want your people here to teach me how to use it.”

A source close to the Clinton campaign rejected the notion that her team failed to take advantage of a valuable resource, arguing that her operation was in regular contact with the tech companies to tap their expertise. The source, who would only speak anonymously because of the sensitivity around attributing causes of Clinton’s defeat, said there would have been no advantage to having tech company employees sitting at desks at Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters.

One unnamed tech company staffer is quoted in the study as saying, “Clinton viewed us as vendors rather than consultants.”

Story Continued Below

Asked about the arrangement with Trump, the tech companies were quick to point out that they make their services available to all political players regardless of party.

“Facebook offers identical levels of support to candidates and campaigns across the political spectrum, whether by Facebook’s politics and government or ad sales teams,” a spokesperson for the social network said in a statement.

That sentiment was echoed by Twitter, which said it offered help to both the Clinton and Trump campaigns, and by Google, which stressed that it is up to each candidate to determine how extensively to work with the company. During the primary season, Google made available to each candidate an eight-hour session with the company’s creative teams, but only Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s campaign took them up on it, according to the study.

But at least one tech veteran said he can see how it would raise alarms that the bulk of Silicon Valley’s hands-on campaign support went to Trump rather than to Clinton.

“It can be confusing from the outside looking in when it appears one campaign or another is getting more support,” Adam Sharp, a former Twitter executive who led the company’s elections team from 2010 to 2016, said in an interview. But while the companies strive to be balanced, they cannot inform voters “when a candidate doesn’t heed the help,” he said.

An intimate relationship between tech companies and candidates has considerable upside for both. The campaign gets high-quality advice and advance notice on cutting-edge products. The company gets national exposure for its products and builds relationships with politicians who might be in a position to regulate it once they get to Washington.

Silicon Valley had additional considerations during the 2016 campaign. The big tech companies were eager to fight the perception they were unfair to conservatives — and few in the liberal-leaning industry expected Trump to win, with or without their assistance.

Kreiss and McGregor recount one interview in which a pair of Facebook reps struggled to come up with a shorthand way of describing the support they provide candidates. Katie Harbath, head of Facebook’s elections team, suggested “customer service plus.” Ali-Jae Henke, who as an account executive at Google worked with Republican campaigns, including Trump’s, described the role as “serving in an advisory capacity.”

The history of the tech companies’ campaign outreach dates back to the 2008 presidential contest. That year, Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook’s CEO, traveled to both the Democratic and Republican conventions to pitch the political utility of the then-4-year-old social network. Around that same time, the company began offering congressional offices one-on-one guidance on how to use Facebook.

The outreach didn’t always work at first. “I was, like, begging people to meet with us,” Randi Zuckerberg said of the GOP’s 2008 convention. But as political spending on Facebook’s ad products and elected leaders’ dependence on the platform skyrocketed over the years, so too did the company’s close work with politicians.

One constant in the dynamic: The companies break down their political outreach teams along party lines. Facebook’s point of contact to Clinton’s 2016 White House run, Crystal Patterson, was a veteran of Democratic politics, and Henke — Google’s liaison to the Trump operation and other 2016 Republican bids — was once the director of operations for the Western Republican Leadership Conference.

That partisan matching is needed, company representatives say, to allow all involved to speak freely when providing advice. Caroline McCain, social media manager for Rubio’s White House bid, is quoted in the paper saying that when tech company staffers have a similar political background as the campaign they’re assigned to, it raises the campaign’s comfort level in working with them.

“When you realize, ‘Oh yeah, the person I’m working with at Google, they actually worked on Romney back in 2012,’ like, ‘Oh, okay, they actually might have our best interest at heart,’” McCain said. After the campaign, McCain took a position at Facebook.

Kreiss, the paper’s co-author, said the symbiotic relationship between Silicon Valley and political campaigns demands further examination.

“It raises the larger question of what should be the transparency around this, given that it’s taking place in the context of a democratic election,” he said.

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social media reps in trump campaign – Google Search

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Scrutiny mounts for Trump digital operation

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Cambridge Analytica tried to reach out to WikiLeaks – Google Search

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Trump Data Guru: I Tried to Team Up With Julian Assange

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7:25 AM 10/27/2017 – News Review: Papers May Shed Light on JFK Assassination – Trump Investigations Report

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Trump Administration To Declare Opioid Crisis A Public Health Emergency – NPR

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Palmer Report: Expert: Robert Mueller to drop the hammer on Donald Trump within weeks 

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This week Donald Trump and the Republican Party have gone into all out panic mode, inventing one absurd phony scandal about Hillary Clinton and President Obama after another, in an attempt to distract from what they seem to think is coming. Now one respected national security expert says that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is mere weeks away from dropping the hammer on Trump and his co-conspirators.

Juliette Kayyem is a national security expert who regularly appears on cable news. This time around she appeared on Boston public radio (link) to discuss the Trump Russia scandal. Here’s what she had to say: “I think it is safe to say that before Thanksgiving … something’s going to drop with Mueller. The pace is too much right now. Every 12 hours we’re now dealing with a piece of this story at a pace we haven’t seen.”

Thanksgiving is just four weeks away from today, so she’s talking about Mueller being weeks away from the kind of breakthrough that will turn the Trump Russia scandal on its head and shatter the Trump administration. Some have misinterpreted her words to mean that the Mueller investigation will be finished by Thanksgiving. But that’s not remotely possible, because Mueller’s plan is to bring indictments against nearly everyone involved in order to pressure them to flip on Trump.

So what we’re talking about by Thanksgiving is the kind of indictment or indictments, or deals cut with Trump co-conspirators, that will bust the scandal open and leave Donald Trump in an impossible position. It’s why Trump and the Republicans in Congress are suddenly scrambling in such buffoonish fashion to try to distract from what they know is coming. They know Trump will be taken down by this; they’re just trying to prop him up long enough try to ram through some toxic legislation in the meantime.

The post Expert: Robert Mueller to drop the hammer on Donald Trump within weeks appeared first on Palmer Report.

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Trump declares opioid crisis a public health emergency

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US President Donald Trump has declared the nation’s painkiller-addiction crisis a public health emergency.

Calling the epidemic “a national shame”, Mr Trump announced a plan to target the abuse of opioids, which kill more than 140 Americans each day.

The president has previously promised to declare a national emergency, which would have triggered federal funding to help states combat the drug scourge.

The move instead redirects grant money to be used in dealing with the crisis.

Mr Trump said on Thursday at the White House: “More people are dying from drug overdoses today than from gun homicides and motor vehicles combined.

“These overdoses are driven by a massive increase in addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin and other opioids.”

He added: “The United States is by far the largest consumer of these drugs using more opioid pills per person than any other country by far in the world.”

Mr Trump is signing a presidential memorandum directing his acting health secretary to declare a nationwide public health emergency and ordering all federal agencies to take measures to reduce the number of opioid deaths, according to senior White House officials.

The order will also ease some regulations to allow states more latitude in how they use federal funds to tackle the problem.

But the White House plans to fund the effort through the Public Health Emergency Fund, which reportedly only contains $57,000 (£43,000).

The Trump administration will then work with Congress to approve additional funding in a year-end spending package, senior officials said.

Other elements of the directive include:

  • Allow patients further access to “telemedicine” so they can receive prescriptions without seeing a doctor
  • Make grants available to those who have had trouble finding work due to addiction
  • The Department of Health and Human Services will hire more people to address the crisis, particularly in rural areas
  • Allows states to shift federal funds from HIV treatments to opioids, since the two are linked as drug users often share infected needles

Proponents suggest Mr Trump’s announcement is a critical step in raising awareness about the nationwide epidemic, while some critics argue the move does not go far enough.

“The lack of resources is concerning to us since the opioid epidemic presenting lots of challenges for states’ budgets,” Michael Fraser, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told Politico.

“My hope is people will realise with no new money the ball is going to be in Congress’s court,” he added.


Taking the first step

Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC News, Washington

Addiction to painkillers and heroin has blighted so many communities across the US – both urban and rural.

As I travelled the country reporting on last year’s election, I remember the hairdresser in Arkansas whose ex-husband died from medicines he’d been given for his bad back, the family in New Hampshire who’d lost a teenage daughter to an overdose and heard stories of doctors who’d become hooked on the very pills they’d prescribed.

President Trump has stopped short of declaring this crisis a national emergency, despite earlier indications he would.

Instead his public health emergency is more of a short-term measure which doesn’t allocate as much funding. Recovering addicts and charities I’ve talked to say more investment in round-the-clock rehab and treatment is what is needed to make a difference.

But while today’s announcement is welcome, many will now be looking to Congress to take more action and secure more money to deal with this crisis.


Since 1999, the number of deaths involving opioids have quadrupled, reaching 33,000 deaths in 2015, according to the Presidential Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, citing data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC first declared opioids, a class of pain medications as well as some street drugs, to be an “epidemic” in 2011.

Mr Trump first announced his intention to declare opioid abuse a “national emergency” in August.

“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially right now: It is an emergency. It’s a national emergency,” he said at the time.

Experts had urged Mr Trump to use his presidential power under the Stafford Act to declare a national emergency, which would have given states access to money from the federal Disaster Relief Fund.

States would have had immediate access to funding, much like they would after a natural disaster.

But senior officials told reporters that declaring that sort of emergency was not a good fit for an ongoing crisis.

The announcement comes after Mr Trump’s pick for drug czar withdrew his nomination following a report that he helped neuter government attempts to tackle the opioid crisis.

Pennsylvania congressman Tom Marino pushed a bill that reportedly stripped a federal agency of the ability to freeze suspicious painkiller shipments.

Health Secretary Tom Price also resigned last month after it was revealed he was using expensive private planes for official business.

As a candidate, Mr Trump frequently pledged to tackle the drug crisis, and often campaigned in the hardest-hit states.


More on the US opioid crisis

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Expert: Robert Mueller to drop the hammer on Donald Trump within weeks

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This week Donald Trump and the Republican Party have gone into all out panic mode, inventing one absurd phony scandal about Hillary Clinton and President Obama after another, in an attempt to distract from what they seem to think is coming. Now one respected national security expert says that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is mere weeks away from dropping the hammer on Trump and his co-conspirators.

Juliette Kayyem is a national security expert who regularly appears on cable news. This time around she appeared on Boston public radio (link) to discuss the Trump Russia scandal. Here’s what she had to say: “I think it is safe to say that before Thanksgiving … something’s going to drop with Mueller. The pace is too much right now. Every 12 hours we’re now dealing with a piece of this story at a pace we haven’t seen.”

Thanksgiving is just four weeks away from today, so she’s talking about Mueller being weeks away from the kind of breakthrough that will turn the Trump Russia scandal on its head and shatter the Trump administration. Some have misinterpreted her words to mean that the Mueller investigation will be finished by Thanksgiving. But that’s not remotely possible, because Mueller’s plan is to bring indictments against nearly everyone involved in order to pressure them to flip on Trump.

So what we’re talking about by Thanksgiving is the kind of indictment or indictments, or deals cut with Trump co-conspirators, that will bust the scandal open and leave Donald Trump in an impossible position. It’s why Trump and the Republicans in Congress are suddenly scrambling in such buffoonish fashion to try to distract from what they know is coming. They know Trump will be taken down by this; they’re just trying to prop him up long enough try to ram through some toxic legislation in the meantime.

 

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Trump to Declare Opioid Crisis a ‘Public Health Emergency’

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The officials argued that a national emergency declaration was not necessary or helpful in the case of the opioid crisis, and that the powers …

Russian Facebook ads made no difference in the election

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The Kremlin knows a bargain when it sees it.

We are supposed to believe that it bought the American presidential election last year with $100,000 in Facebook ads and some other digital activity. Frankly, if American democracy can be purchased this cheap — a tiny fraction of the $7.2 million William Seward paid to buy Alaska from the Russians back in 1867 — it’s probably not worth having.

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The latest obsession in the Russian collusion story, the Kremlin’s digital activity has generated headlines and put Facebook and all of Silicon Valley on the defensive, although this looks to be one of the most overhyped stories of the year.

The Russians, as far as we know, bought more than $100,000 in Facebook ads between June 2015 and May 2017. A little more than half was spent after last November, when, obviously, Donald Trump had already won.

The scale here is singularly unimpressive. A serious House campaign might spend $100,000 on digital. In a presidential campaign, the amount is a rounding error. The Trump campaign spent around $90 million on digital in 2016. Hillary Clinton employed a considerable digital staff, and announced she was spending $30 million on digital the last month of the campaign alone.

If tens of thousands of dollars was decisive amid this tsunami of tens of millions, the Russian trolls working somewhere in St. Petersburg should strike out on their own and start a political consultancy or an internet publishing company. They are geniuses.

It doesn’t appear that much of the Russian material was explicitly advocating for Trump’s election, and some of it wasn’t even right-wing. One Russian Facebook page highlighted discrimination against Muslims. Another promoted anti-police videos for a Black Lives Matter audience. A pro-gay-rights page was called LGBT United.

Other pages were on the right and supportive of Trump. But much of the Russian Facebook activity was peddling online tripe indistinguishable from indigenous American online tripe — in fact, it was ripped off from content produced by Americans. If the Russians are going to decide our elections on social media, one assumes it will require at least a little originality.

One suspicion has been that the Trump campaign helped direct the Russian online effort. What we know about the Russian activity so far makes that doubtful. Why, if the Trump campaign was running its own digital campaign that was magnitudes larger, would it bother with a tiny Russian effort that wasn’t always focused on Trump or his message?

The Daily Beast ran a story last week with the headline “Trump Campaign Staffers Pushed Russian Propaganda Days Before the Election.” This referred to Kellyanne Conway and others associated with the Trump campaign retweeting posts from a Twitter account that masqueraded as a project of the Tennessee Republican Party, when it was really operated by Russian trolls. Conway tweeted a post from the account once, according to the story. And the report adduces no evidence that the Trump supporters knew the origin of the account.

It is outrageous that Russians meddled in our democracy at all, and if there are ways to lock them out of our social media going forward, we should do it. Let’s not pretend, though, that the Russian online activity was the key to the election. This is classic conspiracy thinking — that some small secret cabal is responsible for a world-historical outcome that had much more obvious causes (Hillary Clinton’s poor campaign, for one).

There may yet be truly damaging Russia revelations. Trump’s campaign manager during a decisive phase of the primary campaign, Paul Manafort, worked with shady characters from that part of the world. The notorious Don Trump Jr. meeting with Russians promising oppo on Clinton spoke of a willingness to cooperate with anyone who might be useful. The Trump family’s business dealings could always produce a nasty surprise.

But all the focus on Facebook serves, for now, as a substitute for a smoking gun in the absence of a real one.

Rich Lowry is editor of National Review. Twitter: @RichLowry.

(c) 2017, King Features Syndicate

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Putin and the Russian Mafia – Google News: Ignatius: Russia’s worrisome push to rewrite cyberspace rules – The Daily Herald

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Business Recorder
Ignatius: Russia’s worrisome push to rewrite cyberspace rules
The Daily Herald
Russia’s bid to rewrite global rules through the U.N. was matched by a personal pitch on cybercooperation in July from President Vladimir Putin to President Trump at the G-20 summit in Hamburg. Putin “vehemently denied” to Trump that Russia had 
David Ignatius: Russia’s worrisome push to control cyberspaceWinston-Salem Journalall 109 news articles »

 Putin and the Russian Mafia – Google News

Trump Investigations Report: 9:49 AM 10/26/2017 – More than 2 months after declaring an opioid crisis, Trump appears to have decided how to proceed – Mic 

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More than 2 months after declaring an opioid crisis, Trump appears to have decided how to proceed Thursday October 26th, 2017 at 9:52 AM 1 Share Welcome to Mic’s daily read on Donald Trump’s America. Want to receive this as a daily email in your inbox? Subscribe here. Every day, we bring you a different dispatch on Trump’s … Continue reading “9:49 AM 10/26/2017 – More than 2 months after declaring an opioid crisis, Trump appears to have decided how to proceed – Mic”

 Trump Investigations Report

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Donald Trump: Donald Trump Throws U.S. Generals Under The Bus In Regard To Niger Attack

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And that’s not presidential, experts say.

 Donald Trump

Trump Investigations Report: 11:06 AM 10/26/2017 – The Recruitables: Why Trump’s Team Was Easy Prey for Putin – Politico 

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Saved Stories – Trump Investigations Saved Stories – Trump Investigations Donald Trump: Stephen Colbert Imagines The Outcome Had Obama Given Press Conferences Like Trump roger stone – Google News: Trump ally Roger Stone denies collusion with Russia – TRT World Donald Trump: Seth Meyers Slams GOP For Being Engulfed In A Civil War Of Its … Continue reading “11:06 AM 10/26/2017 – The Recruitables: Why Trump’s Team Was Easy Prey for Putin – Politico”

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11:25 AM 10/26/2017 – The Recruitables: Why Trumps Team Was Easy Prey for Putin 

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks The Recruitables: Why Trumps Team Was Easy Prey for Putin Donald Trump: Stephen Colbert Imagines The Outcome Had Obama Given Press Conferences Like Trump 1. Trump Circles: Elections from mikenova (16 sites): felix sater – Google News: The Recruitables: Why Trump’s Team Was Easy Prey for Putin – Politico felix sater … Continue reading “11:25 AM 10/26/2017 – The Recruitables: Why Trumps Team Was Easy Prey for Putin”

Google Avoids Spotlight During Russia Investigation – Newsmax

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Google Avoids Spotlight During Russia Investigation
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Google has done its best to avoid getting involved in Congress’ ongoing investigation into Russia’s actions during the 2016 presidential election, Axios reports. Facebook and Twitter have been very public in their response to the reports that Russian …and more »

donald trump racketeering – Google News: Founder of opioid maker Insys indicted for fraud, racketeering – Financial Times

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Founder of opioid maker Insys indicted for fraud, racketeering
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The billionaire founder of Insys, which makes a controversial opioid-based drug, has been indicated on racketeering and fraud charges, sending shares in the group 4 per cent lower. John Kapoor, who stepped down as Insys chief executive in January, …
John Kapoor, Founder Of Insys, Indicted On Charges Of Bribing Doctors To Overprescribe OpioidsBenzingaall 11 news articles »

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Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Today’s Headlines and Commentary 

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On Wednesday, Wikileaks leader Julian Assange confirmed that the head of a data analytics firm working with Trump’s campaign contacted Assange last year, the Daily Beast reports. Alexander Nix, the head of Cambridge Analytica, admitted that he sent an email to Assange seeking to assist Wikileaks in finding and releasing Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails. According to unnamed sources, Assange declined the request. This connection is the closest reported between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign during a time when Trump fervently admonished Clinton and publicly requested Russia’s help to recover Clinton’s lost emails.

Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,  articulated his frustration with the Trump administration on Wednesday over the administration missing its Oct. 1 deadline to implement Russia sanctions, according to Politico. Trump signed the bipartisan sanctions bill in August, but his administration has yet to penalize certain Russian entities. Sens. John McCain and Ben Cardin have also expressed concern over the sanctions delay. Corker notably did not accuse the administration of purposeful delay, but intends to “check into it.”

Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Seoul on Thursday for his annual meeting with South Korean military officials, the Washington Post reports. Dunford will discuss, among other things, improving South Korea’s ballistic missiles and upgrading their military networks. Defense Secretary James Mattis will head to Seoul next week following Dunford’s departure.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s sentencing proceedings continued yesterday with emotional testimony from James Hatch, a former Navy SEAL whose military service dog was killed in a mission to retrieve Bergdahl, according to the Washington Post. Hatch’s testimony is part of an ongoing process to determine whether the consequences, often deadly, that followed Bergdahl’s abandonment of his post should factor into the sergeant’s punishment. Hatch, who suffered career-ending injuries during the mission, delivered the tattered harness of his deceased military dog as evidence in the sentencing proceedings.

In an interview with several U.S. publications, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged the U.S. and Iran not to involve Iraq in growing conflicts over the nuclear deal and U.S. sanctions, the Wall Street Journal reports. Abadi reiterated his support for U.S. forces in Iraq fighting the Islamic State group, but that any attacks on coalition forces in Iraq, including those that U.S. officials believe are Iran proxies, would be considered “an attack on Iraq, on the sovereignty of Iraq, the sovereignty of the state.”

President Donald Trump admitted that he did not authorize the mission in Niger resulting in the deaths of four U.S. special forces members, according to the Hill. Trump stated that his generals had the authority, clarifying that he “gave them authority to do what’s right so that we win.” On Monday, Gen. Dunford said that the soldiers were on a reconnaissance mission that did not require the president’s authority.

 

ICYMI, Yesterday on Lawfare

Ashley Deeks, Sabrina McCubbin and Cody Poplin considered what the U.S. could learn from Cold War anti-propaganda strategies.

Ian Hurd discussed why both liberal and realist theorists incorrectly interpret the international  laws of war.

The Lawfare Editors flagged the next Hoover Book Soiree with Susan Landau on Nov. 1.

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck posted this week’s National Security Law podcast.

Garrett Hinck summarized the European Commission’s privacy shield review.

Matthew Kahn posted the live stream of a House hearing on the risk that Kaspersky Labs products pose to the federal government.

Kahn also posted the Oct. 24 executive order to resume the U.S. refugee admissions program.

 

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

 Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices

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12:22 PM 10/26/2017 – Trump appears to have decided how to proceed… 

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Posts on G+ from mikenova (2 sites) Public RSS-Feed of Mike Nova. Created with the PIXELMECHANICS ‘GPlusRSS-Webtool’ at http://gplusrss.com: 9:49 AM 10/26/2017 More than 2 months after declaring an opioid crisis, Trump appears to have decided…   9:49 AM 10/26/2017 More than 2 months after declaring an opioid crisis, Trump appears to have decided how … Continue reading “12:22 PM 10/26/2017 – Trump appears to have decided how to proceed…”

The Recruitables: Why Trump’s Team Was Easy Prey for Putin

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By now, it should be clear to anyone following the news that Russian intelligence made a formidable effort to approach the Trump campaign and assess the potential to manipulate its members. As a former officer of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, I can tell you that Russian security services would have been derelict not to evaluate the possibility of turning someone close to Trump. While the question of collusion remains open, it’s beyond dispute that Russia tried to get people around the president to cooperate. The June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower is indication enough, but other encounters bolster the argument.

How do you get someone to do something they should not do?

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Generally, an intelligence officer looks for a person’s vulnerabilities and explores ways to exploit them. It usually comes down to four things, which—in true government style—the CIA has encompassed in an acronym, MICE: Money, Ideology, Coercion, Ego. Want to get someone to betray his country? Figure out which of these four motivators drives the person and exploit the hell out of it.

It is important to note, too, that a person might not know he is doing something he shouldn’t do. As former CIA Director John Brennan testified in May, “Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late.” Sometimes, such people make the best assets. They are so sure in their convictions that they are acting in their own best interest or in the best interest of their country that they have no idea they are being completely manipulated.

The Russians know all this, too.

From an intelligence point of view, the people surrounding Trump, and Trump himself, make easy targets for recruitment. This is not to say these people have definitely been recruited by Russian intelligence—and they’ve all denied it repeatedly—but you can be sure that Russia’s intelligence services took these factors into consideration when they approached the campaign.

So, what pressure points might Russian intelligence officers have used to get their desired outcome with Trump’s Recruitables?

Paul Manafort: Money
Anyone who has lobbied on behalf of leaders ranging from Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko to the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos to Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang likely has no set ideology or moral compass and is motivated primarily by making money. People like this make very good targets. There is no emotion involved. Getting the person to do something is a fairly straightforward transaction. For example, getting someone to buy real estate to help launder Russian funds, in return for a handsome fee, would be a pretty simple transaction. As soon as the person has done it one time, it is much easier to get them to do something else for you.

A real opportunity came when Manafort went to work on the campaign of Viktor Yanukovych for president of Ukraine. Yanukovych was close to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and was corrupt. By being willing to play in these circles, Manafort signaled his willingness to look the other way as long as the payoff was right. A ledger found in Yanukovych’s abandoned palace showed he was paid $12 million (Manafort denied taking such payments, but the AP has confirmed that two of his companies did indeed receive part of this money). Putin pal Oleg Deripaska reportedly paid him $10 million a year to push Putin’s agenda. Press reports also state he received loans of up to $60 million from Deripaska.

Was he in debt, which made him vulnerable to coercion? Or were these loans not actually loans, but payments that Manafort was never expected to pay back? Either way, money was clearly Manafort’s weakness, and Russian intelligence would have known that, given his demonstrated willingness to work for just about anyone with deep pockets.

Michael Flynn: Money, Ideology, Ego
Flynn was at the top of his game as director of intelligence at JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command. During his tenure, JSOC became a lean fighting machine, able to execute a hit on a target in a war zone and immediately process any actionable intelligence in order to hit the next target immediately, before the bad guys could move on. He moved up the intelligence ladder and landed the top spot at the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012. Here, the Peter Principle quickly set in. Castigated for his lack of vision for the agency, his inability to manage a large organization, his unconventional approach to counterterrorism, and his “Flynn facts,” it became evident in Washington circles that Flynn was over his head. President Barack Obama fired him.

Oh, how the mighty had fallen.

A top military figure, with a large ego, who felt slighted by Obama, the intelligence community and the military, Flynn was down. From the heights of JSOC to being fired—wrongly fired, no less, in his view—Flynn at this point would have made any foreign intelligence officer salivate. The man was vulnerable on several levels. His ego had taken a massive, public blow. He also firmly believed he was right, that he knew better than the president how to save the country from Islamic terrorists. Add to the mix that so many other military men had gone on to make millions in the private sector, cashing in on their military careers, their time in war zones, their connections to people both in government and in large defense companies. Flynn launched his own security consulting company and certainly might have thought: Where is mine?

This would have been a good moment for the Russians to send in a clever operative, stroke his ego, and tell Flynn how smart he was and how ridiculous Obama was for firing him. We’ve got a lot of people at RT who agree with you, the person might have added, while making it clear, “Our president agrees with you.” Payments, made through speaking fees and consulting contracts, would have helped smooth the deal.

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Does this mean Flynn was recruited as a traditional asset, fully under Russian control? No. The Russians are concerned with being able to influence people only as much as they need to. And with Flynn, who reportedly developed an obsession with collaborating with the Russians against ISIS and even defended RT as no different than CNN, had readily demonstrated his willingness to follow and promote the Kremlin’s agenda in return for a certain amount of ego stroking (which, in turn, might have helped him actually believe what he was saying).

Felix Sater: Money, Coercion, Ego
In an article in the Atlantic, titled “Why Didn’t Trump Build Anything In Russia?” Julie Ioffe painted a picture of Trump’s former real estate partner as someone who really wanted to be part of the rich Moscow club but who lacked krysha, or “roof”—the political protection, Ioffe explains, to act as insurance should a deal go wrong—to be able to do it. “He tries to create the impression of someone who is extremely well-connected and very busy,” a source who had worked with Sater told Ioffe. Sater made a few forays into Moscow business circles but could never convert and was unable to win the trust of anyone who would have mattered. As Ioffe wrote, Sater was worried about his image. So worried, in fact, he looked into hiring a PR firm to help build up his reputation. He was, in the end, an outsider who really wanted to be an insider.

Give this person the chance to say he is wheeling and dealing with Very Important People, and he will bend to your will. Russian security services could offer at least the appearance of “roof,” even if they never intended to help Sater make money. His increased cachet would have been worth it to someone so image-conscious.

Jared Kushner: Money, Coercion
Kushner had a rocky entrée into Manhattan real estate. His purchase of 666 Fifth Ave. at $1.8 billion in 2007—that is, just before the market tanked—was perhaps not the strongest display of business acumen. And now, with payments due and business going badly, he was in a pickle. Perhaps the Russians had a great way for him to get out of that pickle. So they introduced him in December 2016 to Sergey Gorkov, the head of the Russian state investment bank Vnesheconombank, or VEB, who would have made it clear that he was in a position to help.

Donald Trump Jr.: Money, Ego
Junior is a lot like dad in his need to feel important. He was certainly a target because he manages access to his father, and his arrogance makes him easy to read. There is probably quite a bit of insecurity behind the smugness. Sure, he’s done a few international deals, but it’s going to take more than that to please daddy (Junior certainly could see that his dad never really pleased his father; Junior didn’t want to repeat that). Access to deals and money would certainly be a way to manipulate him, but mostly it would be stroking the Trump ego. The most important thing for Junior was that daddy win, at any cost. The perks and business deals would be a nice bonus, but I don’t think Junior even equated those perks with aid to his father’s campaign. Why wouldn’t he accept help for his father’s campaign? He likely didn’t even realize there was anything wrong with a foreign adversary lending a hand. As he wrote when approached with derogatory information on daddy’s opponent, “I love it.”

Donald Trump: Ego
A lot has been made of the possible existence of a peepee tape that Putin could lord over Trump to make him do Putin’s bidding. (Trump denies it.) But the president has been revealed time and again as a deadbeat who does not pay his bills, a serial philanderer and a confessed sexual predator. He has bragged about walking in on women at the Miss America contest and grabbing women “by the pussy” whenever he likes. Would anyone really be surprised or shocked by such a tape? This is not to say such a tape does not exist, only that its role as kompromat is limited.

Ego is clearly the best way to get Trump to do anything. The Saudis certainly understood this, feting him with gold and orbs and displaying his enormous portrait on the side of a hotel, right next to the king’s portrait. The Saudis had this man in the palm of their hands, hence Trump’s pro-Saudi stancesince the trip, despite his campaign rhetoric shouting down the kingdom.

Trump’s ego wanted to win and, he figured, everyone else wanted him to win, too. He was under the impression that everyone loved him and appreciated his greatness. Of course everyone wanted to help him win. If he accepted help from Russia, it’s possible he didn’t realize there was anything wrong with doing so. Why wouldn’t they help him win, he might have thought, and why shouldn’t he accept that help? For an experienced chekist like Putin, manipulating his ego is almost too easy.

Alex Finley is the pen name of a former CIA officer and author of Victor in the Rubble, a satire of the CIA and the war on terror. Follow her on Twitter: @alexzfinley.

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Donald Trump: Stephen Colbert Imagines The Outcome Had Obama Given Press Conferences Like Trump

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“Remember when Barack Obama would go on TV to brag about being able to read a name off a chart?”

 Donald Trump

1. Trump Circles: Elections from mikenova (16 sites): felix sater – Google News: The Recruitables: Why Trump’s Team Was Easy Prey for Putin – Politico

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Politico
The Recruitables: Why Trump’s Team Was Easy Prey for Putin
Politico
“He tries to create the impression of someone who is extremely well-connected and very busy,” a source who had worked with Sater told Ioffe. Sater made a few forays into Moscow business circles, but could never convert and was unable to win the trust 

 felix sater – Google News

 1. Trump Circles: Elections from mikenova (16 sites)

felix sater – Google News: The Recruitables: Why Trump’s Team Was Easy Prey for Putin – Politico

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Politico
The Recruitables: Why Trump’s Team Was Easy Prey for Putin
Politico
“He tries to create the impression of someone who is extremely well-connected and very busy,” a source who had worked with Sater told Ioffe. Sater made a few forays into Moscow business circles, but could never convert and was unable to win the trust 

 felix sater – Google News

The FBI Is Facing A Credibility Crisis

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More than a year after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seized on the Russia collusion narrative, the agency has still found nothing of consequence.

That’s right: Despite the liberal media fanning the flames, there is still no evidence for the oft-repeated claim that President Trump and the Russian government somehow colluded to win the 2016 election. It comes as no surprise to the nearly 63 million people who voted for the president, despite the Left’s insistence they were somehow influenced by the Kremlin. But the FBI’s lack of progress speaks volumes nonetheless.

Recent weeks have raised, however, serious questions about the FBI’s own credibility. It starts at the top, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Look closer at Mueller’s probe and you’ll find a purely partisan witch hunt. Several members of Mueller’s team have ties to the Democratic Party. Not only did Jeannie Rhee donate to a Hillary Clinton super PAC, but she also represented the Clinton Foundation in a 2015 racketeering case and Clinton herself in a lawsuit seeking access to her emails. Andrew Weissmann donated six times to Obama-affiliated groups. James Quarles gave to more than a dozen Democratic PACs since the 1980s.

As Sidney Powell, a longtime federal prosecutor who served both political parties, recently explained: “The Mueller investigation has become an all-out assault to find crimes to pin on [the president]—and it won’t matter if there are no crimes to be found.”

Even worse, the FBI’s diminishing credibility transcends the current Trump probe. Earlier this month, government documents and interviews revealed the FBI had knowledge of Russian misconduct long before the Obama administration—and one Hillary Rodham Clinton—approved the controversial 2010 uranium deal. Before the Obama-Clinton team agreed to give Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had already gathered substantial evidence linking Russian nuclear industry officials to bribery, kickbacks, extortion, and money laundering—all in an attempt to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business on our soil.

Moreover, the FBI found out the Russian officials had routed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation during the time then-Secretary of State Clinton signed off on the uranium deal.

And the agency still did nothing. Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years. In other words, the DOJ sat on the information for political reasons. This essentially left Congress and the American people in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil.

And we’re now trusting federal prosecutors to probe the Trump administration fairly? Mueller’s vendetta resembles anything but “justice.”

Perhaps the FBI should focus on its Las Vegas investigation, which has yielded no real insight into the shooter’s motives or the sequence of events. The agency refuses to release any information concerning the investigation of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history—which tragically claimed 58 innocent lives—even as evidence is continually released and then changed within days. The liberal media, meanwhile, has moved on from the Las Vegas shooting to undermine the Trump agenda at every turn. Coverage of the FBI’s investigation has largely subsided, even though countless Americans demand answers.

In lieu of an explanation, Robert Mueller will give them more of the same anti-Trump witch hunt. Don’t buy any of it.

Given the FBI’s history of corruption and cover-up, there’s no reason to trust Mueller or his liberal accomplices. Don’t be fooled by a crooked cop playing a good guy.

Ted Harvey is chairman of the Committee to Defend the President.


Views expressed in op-eds are not the views of The Daily Caller.

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