Trump Administration Finally Sanctions Russian Hackers

After months of inaction, the Trump administration has begrudgingly imposed sanctions on Russian actors who worked to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

From The Washington Post:

The Trump administration on Thursday imposed fresh sanctions on Russian government hackers and spy agencies to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election and for a cyberattack against Ukraine and other countries last year that officials have characterized as “the most destructive and costly” in history.

Sanctions also were imposed on individuals known as “trolls” and the Russian organizations — including the Internet Research Agency — that supported their efforts to undermine the election. Additionally, the administration alerted the public that Russia is targeting the U.S. energy grid with computer malware that could sabotage its systems.

Taken together, the moves represent the administration’s most aggressive actions to date against Russia for its incursions against the United States, though analysts say their impact is mostly symbolic and noted that a number of the individuals and groups had already been subject to sanctions.

Nonetheless, officials hope the actions will help deter tampering with this year’s midterm elections while signaling to Russia that Washington will not allow its attacks to go unchallenged.

Most political experts are saying these sanctions will not any effect on any of the actual power players in Russia.

White House Lies: “The President Hasn’t Said That Russia Didn’t Meddle”

Proving that the White House staff lives in a bizarro/other dimension where up is down and down is up, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied that Donald Trump ever said Russia didn’t meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

Sanders told reporters at today’s press briefing:

“One of the places where you guys seem to get very confused––and it seems to happen regularly––the President hasn’t said that Russian didn’t meddle. What he’s saying is it didn’t have an impact and it certainly wasn’t with help from the Trump campaign. It’s also very clear that Russia meddled in the election. It’s also very clear it didn’t have an impact on the election, and it’s also very clear the Trump campaign didn’t collude with the Russians in any way.”

Watch Ms. Sanders literally lie through her teeth below.

Trump Lies: Obama “Did Nothing” To Stop Russian Meddling

Donald Trump, who has denied any Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election for over a year, is a sudden convert to the concept after Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian actors last Friday.

Trump thought the news of the indictments was good news for him. But, watching cable news over the weekend, Trump realizes most folks don’t see it that way.

The Donald has continually called the investigation into Russian meddling a “witch hunt.” And, as the New York Times noted, “has made little if any public effort to rally the nation to confront the Russians for their intrusion.”

The Trumpster’s latest tact is to blame President Obama who Trump claims “did nothing.”

That isn’t true though.

Obama directly addressed Vladimir Putin about the transgressions as well as issued sanctions on Russia while expelling dozens of Russian diplomats in the aftermath of the meddling.

Trump expressed his frustrations via Twitter (for a change):

Even Fox News called Trump out on his lies:

Rick Gates, Former Trump Aide, Will Plead Guilty To Fraud And Testify Against Paul Manafort

Former Trump aide Rick Gates has agreed to plead guilty to fraud-related charges and will testify against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort according to The LA Times:

The change of heart by Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, Richard W. Gates III, who had pleaded not guilty after being indicted in October on charges similar to Manafort’s, was described in interviews by people familiar with the case.

“Rick Gates is going to change his plea to guilty,” said a person with direct knowledge of the new developments, adding that the revised plea will be presented in federal court in Washington “within the next few days.”

Mueller is heading the prosecutions of Gates and Manafort as part of the wide-ranging investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump or his aides committed crimes before, during or since the campaign.

The imminent change of Gates’ plea follows negotiations over the last several weeks between Green and two of Mueller’s prosecutors – senior assistant special counsels Andrew Weissmann and Greg D. Andres.

According to a person familiar with those talks, Gates, a longtime political consultant, can expect “a substantial reduction in his sentence” if he fully cooperates with the investigation. He said that Gates is apt to serve about 18 months in prison.

The Kremlin/Jill Stein Connection

According to the recently released indictments by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, we know now Putin helped Jill Stein in an effort to siphon votes from Hillary Clinton.

Stein voters were targeted by the 13 Russian agents named in the indictment.

What was the Jill Stein/Putin effect on the 2016 election?

Looking at the three swing states that handed Trump the election (above), we know he won by a combined total of 79,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin & Pennsylvania.

Check out how those Stein votes align with Trump’s margin of victory in those three states.

#ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmm

Trump Twitter Rant: Sunday Edition

Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s “Executive Time” was spent this morning on a lengthy Twitter tirade wherein the Trumpster bounced from one lie to another.

In one tweet he blamed President Obama for doing “nothing” about the Russian meddling in our 2016 election. That would be the “meddling” Trump has not – until recently – even acknowledged happened.

In truth, Obama did react to the intelligence reports about election disruption: he addressed Putin; he invoked sanctions against Russians in the U.S. at the time, and he told Congressional leaders about the threat in later Summer 2016. It was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who refused to let the American people know about what was happening at the time.

Also, Congress passed new sanctions on Russia by huge margins last fall – the Senate vote was 98-2 – and Trump has not enforced those sanctions to date.

The Donald took time in two tweets to mock Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff for being a “leakin’ monster of no control.”

Schiff calmly slapped back during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” when he was asked whether he felt the indictments this week by Mueller proved Trump campaign officials had not colluded with Russia. “No, of course not,” Schiff answered. “But this is a president who claims vindication anytime someone sneezes.”

Trump also begged to be complimented on his campaign skills asking, “Wasn’t I a great candidate?”

And he seemed to close out the Twitter rant by acknowledging Russia is laughing at the U.S. thanks to the discord sown by the 13 indicted Russian actors this week.

But, in true Trump fashion, he diverted by pretending that Senate, House and FBI investigations are the problem, not the Russians.

#Wrong #Sad

At the end it all, the phrase that keeps popping up in my head – “The guilty dog barks the loudest.”

Donald Trump Finally Admits There Was An “Anti-US Campaign” By Russians During 2016 Election

Donald Trump

Donald Trump, who has never acknowledged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, finally did so today in light of the 13 Russian nationals indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Several hours after the news of the indictment, Trump took to Twitter to declare, “Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

Now, to be clear, the indictment did not address (yet) whether anyone on the Trump campaign knowingly collaborated with Russian actors.

But – at least he finally admitted there was an “anti-US campaign” by Russia.

The White House issued this statement:

“We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful. It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories, which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia, and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions. We must unite as Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections.”

John McCain: “We Are Doing Putin’s Job For Him”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

While Donald Trump continues to whine about “fake news” and “fake investigations,” and his followers all fall in behind him, Republican Sen. John McCain issued a statement that gets to the very heart of the Special Counsel’s investigation.

What’s important for Americans to understand is that our Intelligence agencies all agree Russia interfered in our 2016 election. Whether it was specifically to get Trump elected or not, the disruption that continues today was the point.

Russia is succeeding and Donald Trump is so busy screaming “no collusion” he’s not doing anything to protect future elections.

As McCain writes below, Trump’s continued protests against our own intel organizations only serves Putin’s interests.

Via press release:

“In 2016, the Russian government engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in an American election and undermine our democracy. Russia employed the same tactics it has used to influence elections around the world, from France and Germany to Ukraine, Montenegro, and beyond. Putin’s regime launched cyberattacks and spread disinformation with the goal of sowing chaos and weakening faith in our institutions. And while we have no evidence that these efforts affected the outcome of our election, I fear they succeeded in fueling political discord and dividing us from one another.

“The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

House Democrats Release Russia-Linked Facebook Ads From 2016 Election

The Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have shared some of the Facebook ads placed by Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential election.

From Talking Points Memo:

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee posted Wednesday a selection of the Facebook ads purchased by Russia-linked accounts as the committee’s hearing on how Russia exploited social media during the 2016 election got under way.

The committee Dems posted screenshots of the ads, as well as some of the the meta data associated with the ads, such as the amount of impressions the ads made and to which demographics the ads were targeted. Examples of Russia-purchased ads on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, were among the ads released.

Some of the ads released Wednesday did not mention presidential candidates by name, but rather weighed in on political issues, be it pushing anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiments, or mimicking the Black Lives Matters or LGBT rights movements.

Check out some of the ads below. More at the link above.

Yeah, I can see if these were targeted at folks on the fence about Hillary or Trump, these might have had some sway in folks decision-making on election day.