June 06, 2017

Trump encouraged Russian hacking during Doral speech less than a year ago

TRUMP0728 PRESS1 CTJ

@alextdaugherty 

Over the weekend, the FBI arrested a suspected leaker for turning over classified documents that outlined the extent of Russian hacking efforts on voting systems, including an attempted hack on Florida officials, during the 2016 election. 

But less than 12 months ago President Donald Trump encouraged the Russians to hack into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's emails during a press conference at his golf resort in Doral.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said to a room full of TV cameras at Trump National Doral in July 2016. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Since assuming the presidency, Trump has railed against "leakers" who provide anonymous information to news media outlets, arguing they undermine his ability to lead, after repeatedly promoting information from WikiLeaks during the campaign that was obtained through leaks.  

During a rollicking hour of back-and-forth round of questioning from the press in Doral, Trump flippantly promoted the idea of Russian involvement in Clinton's email server. 

“They probably have her 33,000 e-mails that she lost and deleted because you'd see some beauties there,” he said. “So let's see.”

Trump surrogates characterized his comments as a joke after the speech. 

Jason Miller, Trump's communications adviser at the time, said Trump was not calling for Russia to hack Clinton but to hand over emails to the FBI if they had them.

“To be clear, Mr. Trump did not call on, or invite, Russia or anyone else to hack Hillary Clinton’s e-mails today,” Miller said on Twitter. “Trump was clearly saying that if Russia or others have Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, they should share them.”

But in order for Russia to have the emails, the government would have likely needed to engage in hacking if Clinton declined to hand them over on her own free will. 

The arrest of Reality Winner, a 25-year-old intelligence contractor, is the first leak case that led to an arrest under President Trump. The FBI said Monday that Winner had contact with a news outlet and the FBI announced Winner's arrest, which occurred last weekend, about an hour after national security website The Intercept published a story based on classified documents. The documents, which were partially redacted, outlined the ways in which Russian hackers attempted to obtain voting information using emails. 

A Herald/Times story from September 2016 said the FBI was investigating a "malicious act" against election supervisors throughout Florida. There is currently no evidence that Russian hacking efforts altered votes in the 2016 election. 

Barack Obama brought nine or 10 leak-related prosecutions during his eight years in office, about twice as many that were brought under every previous presidency. 

 

Detzner's office says there is no sign of hacking in Florida's voting systems

Voting in Miami David Santiago elneuvoheraldFlorida’s online elections databases and voting systems remained secure in 2016, a spokesperson for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said Tuesday, despite what appears to be confirmation that a phishing email was sent to state elections offices  and news reports indicate that federal officials believe the Russians were behind it.

"The Florida Department of State participated in an informational call with the FBI related to elections security at the end of September 2016, said Sarah Revell, spokesperson for the agency that oversees Florida's elections system. "But there was no indication of a Florida-specific issue."

She denied there were any successful hacking attempts from the phishing emails investigated by the National Security Administration. The investigation was first reported by The Intercept, an online national security news outlet that said it obtained a copy of the NSA’s classified intelligence report, dated May 5.

"There are multiple safeguards in place to protect against elections fraud and prevent any possible hacking attempts from being successful,'' Revell said. "The Florida Voter Registration System (FVRS) database is secure and we have no indication that any unauthorized access occurred. Steps taken to secure databases include implementing software, hardware and firewalls to protect information."

In Florida, voter registration data and the software used to count votes are on two separate electronic systems, as Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel emphasized on his Facebook page.

“Important: Even if the bad guys would have accessed our local registration files (which they didn’t), those files are in no way connected to vote counting,” Ertel wrote on Facebook. “I’ve said it hundreds of times: ‘You can’t hack paper.’ Seminole County votes on trusted paper ballots.”

Revell noted that because all voting in Florida is done on paper ballots, there is an opportunity to double-check the final vote with the original record.

"The only exception in law permits voters with disabilities to vote on accessible equipment that meetings voting system accessibility requirements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act,'' she said. "Additionally, voting machines are not connected to the internet."

READ MORE: At least 2 Florida counties targeted by Russian hacking attempt

 

May 25, 2017

Florida Republican operative asked alleged Russian hacker for documents to hurt Democrats

From the Wall Street Journal:

The hacking spree that upended the presidential election wasn’t limited to Democratic National Committee memos and Clinton-aide emails posted on websites. The hacker also privately sent Democratic voter-turnout analyses to a Republican political operative in Florida named Aaron Nevins.

Learning that hacker “Guccifer 2.0” had tapped into a Democratic committee that helps House candidates, Mr. Nevins wrote to the hacker to say: “Feel free to send any Florida based information.”

Ten days later, Mr. Nevins received 2.5 gigabytes of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee documents, some of which he posted on a blog called HelloFLA.com that he ran using a pseudonym.

Soon after, the hacker sent a link to the blog article to Roger Stone, a longtime informal adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump, along with Mr. Nevins’ analysis of the hacked data.

Mr. Nevins confirmed his exchanges after The Wall Street Journal identified him first as the operator of the HelloFLA blog and then as the recipient of the stolen DCCC data. The Journal also reviewed copies of exchanges between the hacker and Mr. Nevins. That the obscure blog had received hacked Democratic documents was previously known, but not the extent of the trove or the blogger’s identity.

More here.

May 17, 2017

Legislature's budget includes requirement for Constitution Commission to vote on Beruff's hires

CRC Don Gaetz 51717

Members of the Constitution Revision Commission Wednesday agreed to follow a new directive from the Florida Legislature that the panel adopt a detailed budget, get approval of two-thirds of the membership for the budget, and require commission Chair Carlos Beruff to get approval before hiring employees. 

The Legislature allocated $2 million to pay expenses of the 37-member board which is expected to meet for the next year in its quest to propose constitutional amendments to the November 2018 ballot and included in the allocation proviso language that set some guidelines. 

At the recommendation of Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, appointed to the board by Senate President Joe Negron, the CRC's Rule Committee on Wednesday agreed to follow the requirements in the proviso if the budget becomes law. Beruff, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to head the commission, has hired three people to staff the commission so far -- all of whom have worked for Scott: Jeff Woodburn, executive director, William N. Spicola, general counsel, and Meredith Beatrice, director of external affairs. 

The CRC's Rules Committee is meeting today to discuss its controversial rules and after a morning discussion the fault lines are clear: the Legislature's faction is not quite on board with the governor's. 

Here's the proviso inserted into the budget by the Legislature: 

1986A  SPECIAL CATEGORIES
       CONSTITUTION REVISION COMMISSION
        FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND  . . . . .        2,000,000

   From  the  funds in Specific Appropriation 1986A, $2,000,000 is provided
   to  fund  the Constitution Revision Commission. No other state funds may
   be  used to pay for expenses of the commission. Funds expended from this
   appropriation  for travel and per diem may not exceed the rates provided
   in  s. 112.061 F.S. The commission shall adopt a detailed budget for the
   2017-2018  fiscal  year  which must be approved by 2/3 of the members of
   the  commission.  Unless  otherwise  provided  in  rules  adopted by the
   commission, a majority of the members of the commission must approve the
   hiring of employees of the commission.

 

April 24, 2017

In new book, Kasich says he ran for president because of lack of enthusiasm about Bush

via @learyreports

John Kasich's new book contains "little digs" toward Jeb Bush, per the Cincinnati Enquirer:

They respected his money, all right, and the fact that he was theoretically competing with Kasich for people who were drawn to an establishment governor. But the book has little digs toward Bush.

On Kasich's first trip to New Hampshire, early in 2015, former New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu told him: "Bush can't win here in New Hampshire."

"For whatever reason," Kasich explains, "people weren't excited about Jeb's candidacy." That helped push Kasich into the race.

When Bush dropped out, after the South Carolina primary, Kasich says: "Voters just hadn't responded to his message." It's clear Kasich views his campaign differently.

More here.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

April 07, 2017

Curbelo may be the most endangered Republican in Congress, report suggests

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@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo better get used to that political target on his back.

The sophomore congressman might be the single most vulnerable Republican in the country going into the 2018 election, according to a new analysis of partisanship in congressional districts.

The Cook Political Report, which has been publishing its Partisan Voting Index since 1997, found that Curbelo represents the most Democratic of districts held by Republican members of Congress.

Florida’s 26th district, which extends from Westchester to Key West, performed an average of 6 percentage points more Democratic than the nation did as a whole between the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, Cook Report editor David Wasserman found in his report, released Friday.

“In the modern era, it takes considerable personal appeal to win a House election in a district that fundamentally favors the opposite party,” Wasserman wrote. “There are several members on both sides who have successfully run ‘against the grain.’ However, these members are also likeliest to be among the top targets for the opposite party in 2018 and beyond.”

No. 3 on the list of the 10 Republicans in the most Democratic districts is Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose 27th district — a stretch of coastal southeastern Miami-Dade County — performed on average 5 points more Democratic at the presidential level than the rest of the country.

More here.

Photo credit: Jose A. Iglesias, el Nuevo Herald

March 30, 2017

Russian hackers tried to get into email of Rubio presidential campaign aides

Trump Russia Probe
@PatriciaMazzei

Sen. Marco Rubio revealed Thursday that unknown Russian hackers tried unsuccessfully to access the email accounts of some of the top aides to his 2016 presidential campaign.

Rubio acknowledged the attempted breach in Senate Intelligence Committee meeting, after an expert in Russian influence operations testified that Rubio "anecdotally suffered" from Russian efforts to discredit him during the Republican primary. A similar campaign was under way on social media over the past week against House Speaker Paul Ryan, added Clint Watts of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. 

Watts later said Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham were also Russian targets.

Later in the hearing, Rubio said his aides' emails were targeted by Russian IP addresses in July 2016, shortly after he announced he'd seek reelection to the Senate.

"Within the last 24 hours -- at 10:45 a.m. yesterday -- a second attempt was made again against former members of my presidential campaign team who had access to our internal campaign information," Rubio said. "That effort was also unsuccessful." 

 

Photo credit: Susan Walsh, Associated Press

March 26, 2017

Jeb Bush: Trump should 'stop saying things that aren't true'

GOP 2016 Bush(24) (1)
@PatriciaMazzei

Jeb Bush has a little unsolicited advice for President Donald Trump, his former primary rival.

"He should stop saying things that aren't true, that are distractions from the task at hand," Bush told Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4 in an interview that aired Sunday on "Facing South Florida."

In his first in-depth local interview since dropping out of the presidential race more than a year ago, Bush offered a mixed assessment of Trump's first 60 or so days in office. He praised several of Trump's Cabinet secretaries, including Betsy DeVos for education, John Kelly for homeland security and Rex Tillerson for state.

"The president made some really good appointments," Bush said. "He's acted decisively on some areas I think are important, particularly on the regulatory side."

But Bush said Trump "hasn't shifted to being president in the way that people are used to, and I think that's the problem."

"He's a distraction in and of himself," Bush said. "He's got a lot of work to do, and some of these things -- the wiretapping and all of this stuff -- is a complete distraction that makes it harder to accomplish the things I know he wants to do."

Asked host Jim DeFede: Does that diminish the office of the president? "A little bit," said Bush, who said he hasn't spoken to Trump since the inauguration.

Reflecting on his failed presidential campaign, Bush said he didn't regret running but acknowledged his personality and style didn't work for the electorate.

"Reasoning, in this environment where people are angry, is hard, and I wasn't capable of giving them a sense that there is a better path," he said. "They wanted to have their anger remediated -- more than a five-point plan.... President Trump's great skill was to understand that."

Bush also said he learned "something unusual": "People customize their news to validate what they believe, and it makes them increasingly less tolerant of other people's views that rely on another set of facts," he said. "That is dangerous for our democracy."

He said his top concern for the country is restoring "some sense of what it is to be an American citizen again, and have it be a unifying theme."

While Bush wouldn't rule out another political run -- "I don't rule out anything" -- he sounded content to be a private citizen again in Coral Gables.

"I sleep at night at home more often than not, and I've got my life organized pretty nicely," he said. "My church, my gym, my golf course. My office is less than a mile from my home, and it's two stop signs away. You can't beat that, man."

Bush also shied away from handicapping the big 2018 Florida governor and U.S. Senate races, though he noted that Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has "never been knocked off as a candidate for Senate."

"You gotta assume that incumbents have a certain advantage, if they've won two or three times," Bush said. "But on the other hand,t he person who's likely to run against him is also an incumbent -- so that'll be a good race for sure."

He was referring -- without mentioning him -- to Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Photo credit: Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

March 24, 2017

Roger Stone: 'Don't confuse me with the character I sometimes play'

Stone for glenn
via @glenngarvin

Roger Stone, the legendarily hardball Republican operative who for years has lustily embraced such media epithets as the dapper don of dirty deeds and the undisputed master of the black arts of electioneering, now finds himself on the receiving end of what he calls a political dirty trick –– allegations that he helped mastermind Russian leaks of hacked Democratic Party emails –– and he’s not liking it much.

“You just wake up one day and a bunch of congressmen are kicking your balls across the field,” Stone said reflectively. “Based on nothing more than a Hillary Clinton campaign meme.... I understand. It’s politics. It’s the democratic process. All I want is the same open forum to respond.”

A steady drumbeat of accusations against Stone that had been building for months –– since a Jan. 19 story in The New York Times identified him as one of three associates of President Donald Trump under FBI investigation for links between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia –– reached a crescendo this week, when Stone’s name was mentioned 19 times during a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee.

None of the references to Stone were flattering. And most ran along the lines of an attack by Rep. Denny Heck, D-Washington, who included Stone among a “rogues’ gallery” of Trump operatives “who fall somewhere on that spectrum from mere naivete ... to unwitting Russian dupes, to willing blindness, to active coordination.”

Since then, the Senate Intelligence Committee has warned Stone not to destroy any written records that could pertain to the investigation. And it’s scarcely been possible to turn on a TV set without hearing calls for Stone to be politically tarred and feathered, or at least subpoenaed.

The latter would be fine with Stone, who would love a nationally televised forum to counterattack accusations that he labels acts of fact-free political vengeance by enemies he helped whip in the election. The only thing he’s guilty of, he says, is “political showmanship.”

“Don’t confuse me with the character I sometimes play, Roger Stone,” he said. “Millions of people buy my books and watch me on [right-wing radio and streaming-video show] Info Wars. They like my style, and yeah, there’s a certain element of over-the-top to my style. But in today’s rapid-cycle media universe, if you don’t have some political flamboyance, you’re nowhere, you’re left behind.”

More here.

Photo credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald staff

March 21, 2017

Florida Senate passes redistricting push back: Court told us what to do, so now we'll tell it what to do

RedistrictOldNewAfter four years of bitter legal battles over Florida redistricting, Republicans in the Florida Senate Tuesday passed a bill that makes new demands on the court in future map wars, and sets new standards about which maps take effect and when.

The bill, SB 352 by Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton, passed the Senate 24-14, on a party line vote. It locks maps in place on qualifying day and requires that if a map is challenged 71 days before the primary election, the existing map in force will be the one that applies for the election. If the court orders revised the boundaries after that, the new boundaries will take effect in the next election cycle.

Those changes essentially codify the ruling of Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis in 2015, but the bill also trods new legal ground by also "encouraging" the court to act as if it were a legislative body. Before resolving a redistricting dispute, the Senate bill wants the court to conduct public hearings, record and maintain public records and accept public submissions of draft maps.

"The courts are now passing law,'' Hutson explained. "All I'm doing is what they encouraged us to do. There are things the public should know, how they're coming to these conclusions so we know where their heads are at."

The proposal is a response to the legal wrangling that snagged the Florida Senate and embarrassed its leaders in the last election cycle. After voters approved the Fair Districts gerrymandering standards in 2010, courts struck down congressional and Senate district maps approved by the Legislature and the grounds that the maps violated the Fair District provisions that prohibited favoring incumbents or political parties. 

During debate on the bill last week, Hutson defended that changes as necessary to ensure transparency in the redistricting process and provide certainty for voters and elections supervisors. But Democrats argued that the bill appeared to be intended as retribution against the judicial branch.

Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, offered an amendment to remove the section of the bill that imposes the new legislative standards on the court, saying "it also just doesn't work. I don't know what a court would do with this kind of language." 

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, argued against the amendment, saying the changes were needed to stop what he considered the "arrogance" of the courts, which ordered lawmakers to keep a record of the redistricting deliberations in order to establish whether they were adhering to the provision that prevents them from "intentionally" favoring incumbents or parties.

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