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“FAKE NEWS” shreaked Donald J. Trump …… over and over again…

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Author Topic: “FAKE NEWS” shreaked Donald J. Trump …… over and over again…  (Read 154 times)
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« on: February 18, 2018, 02:48:53 pm »

from The New York Times....

13 Russians Indicted as Mueller Reveals Effort to Aid Trump Campaign

The indictment does not allege collusion but reveals in painstaking detail
how Russians posed as American activists to boost Mr. Trump's campaign.

By MATT APUZZO and SHARON LaFRANIERE | Friday, February 16, 2018

Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, at the Capitol in June. — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.
Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, at the Capitol in June. — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department charged 13 Russians and three companies on Friday in a sprawling indictment that unveiled a sophisticated network designed to subvert the 2016 election and to support the Trump campaign. It stretched from an office in St. Petersburg, Russia, into the social feeds of Americans and ultimately reached the streets of election battleground states.

The Russians stole the identities of American citizens, posed as political activists and used the flash points of immigration, religion and race to manipulate a campaign in which those issues were already particularly divisive, prosecutors said.

Some of the Russians were also in contact with “unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign,” according to court papers. Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel leading the investigation, made no accusation that President Trump or his associates were knowingly part of the conspiracy.

“The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy,” Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the inquiry, said in a brief news conference. “We must not allow them to succeed.”

The 37-page indictment — handed up by a federal grand jury in Washington — amounted to a detailed rebuttal of Mr. Trump, who has sowed doubts that Russia interfered in the election and dismissed questions about its meddling as “fake news.”

The Justice Department said Mr. Mueller's work was not complete. The indictment does not address the hacking of Democratic email systems or whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the F.B.I. investigation into Russian interference. Mr. Mueller is negotiating with the president's lawyers over the terms of a possible interview.

The Russian operation began four years ago, well before Mr. Trump entered the presidential race, a fact that he quickly seized on in his defense. “Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President,” he wrote on Twitter. “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion!”

But Mr. Trump’s statement ignored the government's conclusion that, by 2016, the Russians were “supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump” and disparaging Hillary Clinton, his opponent. Working out of the office in St. Petersburg, the Russians described waging “information warfare against the United States of America,” according to court documents.

Mr. Mueller has gathered extensive evidence of contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign: Mr. Trump's eldest son met with a Russian lawyer in hopes of receiving political dirt on Mrs. Clinton; one adviser has admitted being tipped off in advance to Russian hacking of Democratic emails; another was in contact with a Twitter account used by Russian hackers; a federal judge found probable cause that a third adviser was an unlawful Russian agent. And the Trump campaign repeatedly and falsely denied any contacts with Russia.

Whether any of that violated federal law is the weightiest question facing Mr. Mueller, and Friday's indictment did not answer it. But it painted a picture of a Russian operation that was multi-pronged, well financed and relentless.

Russian operatives traveled across the United States to gather intelligence and foment political discord. They worked with an unidentified American who advised them to focus their efforts on what they viewed as “purple” election battleground states, including Colorado, Virginia and Florida, the indictment said.

In August 2016, prosecutors said, Russians posed as Americans and coordinated with Trump campaign staff to organize rallies in Florida.

Such anecdotes are rare examples of how intelligence agencies work covertly to influence political outcomes abroad. The C.I.A. has conducted such operations for decades, but both Mr. Mueller's indictment and an intelligence assessment last year present a startling example — unprecedented in its scope and audacity — of a foreign government working to help elect an American president.

The indictment does not explicitly say the Russian government sponsored the effort, but American intelligence officials have publicly said that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed and oversaw it. The indictment notes that two of the Russian firms involved hold Russian government contracts.

“This is clearly a message document,” Robert S. Litt, the former general counsel to the director of national intelligence, said of the indictment. “Mueller wants to end the debate over whether there was Russian interference in the election.”

The Russian nationals were accused of working with the Internet Research Agency, which had a budget of millions of dollars and was designed to reach millions of Americans. The defendants were charged with carrying out a massive fraud against the American government and conspiring to obstruct enforcement of federal laws.

None of the defendants were arrested — Russia does not generally extradite its citizens to the United States. But prosecutors use such indictments to name and shame operatives, making it harder for them to work undetected in the future. If they travel abroad, they risk capture and extradition.

Russian computer specialists, divided into day teams and night teams, created hundreds of social media accounts that eventually attracted hundreds of thousands of online followers. They posed as Christian activists, anti-immigration groups and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. One account posed as the Tennessee Republican Party and generated hundreds of thousands of followers, prosecutors said.

Separate divisions of the Internet Research Agency were in charge of graphics, data analysis and information technology, according to the indictment.

“I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people,” one of the Russians, Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina, wrote as the operation was being unmasked.

Their tasks included undermining Mrs. Clinton by supporting her Democratic primary campaign rival, Bernie Sanders, prosecutors said. Those instructions were detailed in internal documents: “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump — we support them).” Mr. Mueller identified 13 digital advertisements paid for by the Russian operation. All of them attacked Mrs. Clinton or promoted Mr. Trump.

“Hillary is a Satan, and her crimes and lies had proved just how evil she is,” one advertisement stated.

In summer 2016, as Mrs. Clinton appeared headed for a decisive general election victory, Russian operatives promoted allegations of Democratic voter fraud. That echoed Mr. Trump's own message that he was the victim of a rigged political system.

After the election, the Russians kept up their efforts to foment dissent. In November, they staged two rallies in New York on the same day. One had the theme, “Show your support for President-Elect Trump.” The other was called, “Trump is NOT my President.”

The indictment does not say that Russia changed the outcome of the election, a fact that Mr. Rosenstein noted repeatedly. American intelligence officials have said they have no way of calculating the effect of the Russian influence.

The Federal Election Commission started its own inquiry into the Internet Research Agency last year, according to documents obtained by The New York Times, after Facebook revealed that the firm had paid more than $100,000 for politically themed ads, including ones promoting “Down With Hillary” rallies.

The commission's inquiry was prompted by a complaint filed by the government watchdog group Common Cause that claimed that the Facebook ads violated the prohibition on foreign spending, as well as requirements mandating the disclosure of campaign spending.

The Kremlin's spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told the RBC news website that Russian officials have not familiarized themselves with the document yet.

Mr. Mueller also revealed Friday that Richard Pinedo, of Santa Paula, California, had pleaded guilty to identity fraud in a case involving the sale of bank accounts over the internet. According to court papers, some of Mr. Pinedo's customers are foreigners who are targets of Mr. Mueller's inquiry. Mr. Pinedo has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mr. Mueller, court documents show.


Scott Shane and Kenneth P. Vogel contributed reporting from Washington, Michael Schwirtz from New York, and Ivan Nechepurenko from Moscow.

• Matt Apuzzo is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter based in Washington. He has covered law enforcement and security matters for more than a decade and is the co-author of the book Enemies Within. A graduate of Colby College, he joined The New York Times in 2014 after 11 years with the Associated Press. He teaches journalism at Georgetown University and once successfully argued a motion from the audience in federal court.

• Sharon LaFraniere is an investigative reporter at The New York Times. Ms. LaFraniere began writing for The Times in 2003, covering southern Africa for the international department. She moved from Johannesburg to Beijing in early 2008 to report on China. For the past four years, she has been based in New York. Before joining The N.Y. Times, Ms. LaFraniere was a reporter and editor at The Washington Post for 20 years. Her last assignment was at its Moscow bureau, where from 1998 to 2003 she covered the Russian region, including war zones in Chechnya and Afghanistan. Ms. LaFraniere received The Gerald Loeb Award in 2013 for international reporting, the Michael Kelly Award in 2006 for her coverage of women in sub-Saharan Africa and the Overseas Press Club Award for business reporting in 1999. Born in Detroit, she received a bachelor's degree from Brown University and a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Ms. LaFraniere is married with three children and resides in the New York area.

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« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2018, 02:50:11 pm »

……so special counsellor Robert S. Mueller III filed the PROOF that it wasn't “fake news” in court.
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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2018, 02:54:42 pm »

from The New York Times....

Indictment Makes Trump's Hoax Claim Harder to Sell

By laying out in excruciating detail the evidence of Russian meddling spanning the last
four years, the special counsel instantly created a new political reality for President Trump.

By MARK LANDLER and MICHAEL D. SHEAR | Friday, February 16, 2018

President Trump has repeatedly called Russian meddling “a hoax” and condemned those who said they believed it had happened, including members of his own intelligence community. — Photograph: Tom Brenner/The New York Times.
President Trump has repeatedly called Russian meddling “a hoax” and condemned those who said they believed it had happened,
including members of his own intelligence community. — Photograph: Tom Brenner/The New York Times.

WASHINGTON — He brushed it off as a hoax. He mused that it might be China, or a guy from New Jersey, or “somebody sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds.” He said President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had assured him it wasn't true. And, he added, “I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”

President Trump has never stopped belittling the charge that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. But on Friday, with the indictment of 13 Russians for orchestrating a vast, well-funded operation to interfere in the election, those denials collided with a mountain of evidence arrayed by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

For Mr. Trump, who has tried to discredit Mr. Mueller's investigation as a politically motivated witch hunt, it was a direct assault on the version of reality that he has sought tirelessly to create.

By laying out a meticulous case for how Russia tried to tip the electoral scales toward Mr. Trump in 2016, Mr. Mueller has made it much harder for the president to dismiss the investigation as mere politics. He may also have made it harder for Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Mueller himself, since, as some Democratic lawmakers argued, that would look like an attempt to help Russia further undermine American democracy.

Before the charges were announced, the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, briefed Mr. Trump and Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, and handed over a copy of the indictment, according to a person briefed on the matter. Mr. Mueller was not present at the briefing.

On Friday afternoon, after Mr. Trump left Washington for his Palm Beach, Florida, estate, the White House issued a defiant statement claiming that the investigation had uncovered no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“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,” the president said in a statement.

In a tweet, Mr. Trump played up Mr. Mueller's assertion that the Russian operation had begun in 2014, well before he declared his candidacy. “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion!” he wrote.

Far from being rattled, Mr. Trump was elated, according to his advisers, because he viewed it as evidence that Mr. Mueller now knows who the malefactors are — and they do not include him or members of his team. (The indictment refers to campaign officials who met or communicated with Russians, but says they were “unwitting.”)

Yet Mr. Trump sidestepped the fact that he has stubbornly denied Russia's interference, even after two assessments by the nation's intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had meddled. Last November, during a trip to Asia, Mr. Trump said that Mr. Putin had told him that Russia did not meddle, and that he was inclined to believe him.

“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn't do that’, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Mr. Trump said. “I think he is very insulted by it,” he added, “which is not a good thing for our country.”

Mr. Trump went so far as to suggest that the heads of the intelligence agencies at the time of the 2016 election — John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director; James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence; and James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director — were less trustworthy than Mr. Putin.

“I mean, give me a break — they're political hacks,” he told reporters. “You have Brennan, you have Clapper, and you have Comey. Comey's proven now to be a liar, and he's proven to be a leaker, so you look at that.”

Still, the response on Capitol Hill was resounding — at least concerning the gravity of Russia's actions — and it could narrow Mr. Trump's room for maneuver as he tries to limit the political fallout from the investigation.

“The Russians engaged in a sinister and systematic attack on our political system,” the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, said. “It was a conspiracy to subvert the process, and take aim at democracy itself.”

The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said the indictment was “further proof that Vladimir Putin directed a campaign to interfere with our elections, with the goal of tipping the outcome.” He called on Mr. Trump to immediately reverse his decision not to impose sanctions against Russia that were recently passed by Congress.

Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, argued that any attempts to remove Mr. Mueller or Mr. Rosentein “will have to be seen as a direct attempt to aid the Russian government in attacking American democracy.”

Mr. Trump has not hesitated to put Mr. Mueller's future in jeopardy. Last July, he threatened to dismiss the special counsel if his investigation ranged too far afield from Russia's campaign meddling. In an interview with The New York Times, he complained that Mr. Mueller's office was rife with conflicts of interest and that the investigation had crossed a red line.

A month earlier, several officials said, Mr. Trump actually gave an order to fire Mr. Mueller but backed down after Mr. McGahn threatened to resign rather than carry it out.

Mr. Trump's strategy for dealing with charges of Russian meddling has not varied much since the campaign: deny, obfuscate, play down and, since Election Day, blame it on Democrats bitter after Hillary Clinton's defeat.

In May, Mr. Trump told Lester Holt, the NBC News anchor, “This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should've won.”

In September, he tweeted that “the Russia hoax continues, now it's ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?” PolitiFact called Mr. Trump's denial of Russian meddling its 2017 “Lie of the Year.”

Since taking office, Mr. Trump has often expressed concern that the charges undermine the legitimacy of his presidency. He has told associates that if he accepts the premise of Russian meddling, it will call into question the idea that he won the election on his own merits.

That fear drove many of Mr. Trump's most incendiary tweets and statements throughout his first year in office, especially about the size and breadth of his electoral victory. The day after his inauguration, Mr. Trump ordered his press secretary, Sean Spicer, to insist that his inaugural crowd was the largest in history, which it demonstrably was not.

In news conferences, on Twitter and at rallies, he has called the Russia investigation “fake news” and repeatedly predicted that Mr. Mueller's investigation will end without finding much.

Mr. Mueller's indictment does not settle the over-arching question of whether Mr. Trump or any of his campaign associates colluded with Russia. For now, the president has seized on that as evidence of his innocence.

But as Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, put it, “The indictment leaves open the vital question of whether Americans, including any associated with the Trump campaign, knowingly played a role in Russia's active-measures campaign.”

That seemed a likely avenue of inquiry for an investigation that is casting a lengthening shadow on Mr. Trump's presidency.


Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt contributed reporting.

• Mark Landler is a White House correspondent at The New York Times. In 24 years at The Times, he has been diplomatic correspondent, bureau chief in Hong Kong and Frankfurt, European economic correspondent, and a business reporter in New York. He is the author of Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Twilight Struggle over American Power (Random House).

• Michael D. Shear is a White House correspondent in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, where he covers President Trump, with a focus on domestic policy, the regulatory state and life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. A veteran political correspondent, he covered Barack Obama's presidency, including the 2012 re-election campaign. Before coming to The N.Y. Times in 2010, he spent 18 years at The Washington Post, writing about local communities, school districts, state politics, the 2008 presidential campaign and the White House. A member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that covered the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, Mr. Shear is a 1990 graduate of Claremont McKenna College and has a masters in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He lives in Virginia with his wife and two teenage children.

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« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2018, 01:29:53 pm »

from The New York Times....

Russia Wanted Trump to Win. And It Wanted to Get Caught.

Its election interference didn't aim at just the outcome
 — it also targeted attitudes toward our democracy.

By JULIAN SANCHEZ | Saturday, February 17, 2018

People in prison garb wearing Hillary Clinton masks outside a Trump campaign event in 2016. — Photograph: Damon Winter/The New York Times.
People in prison garb wearing Hillary Clinton masks outside a Trump campaign event in 2016.
 — Photograph: Damon Winter/The New York Times.

IT'S A Hollywood cliché that’s been adopted by villains from the trickster god Loki in Marvel's “The Avengers” to James Bond's “Skyfall” nemesis Raoul Silva: They are captured, only for the heroes to realize — too late! — that being caught was part of the villain's evil plan all along. With Friday's release of an indictment detailing Project Lakhta — the information operations component of Russia's efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election — it's worth asking whether President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has been reading from a similar script.

The charging document released by the Justice Department names 13 Russian nationals associated with the innocuous-sounding “Internet Research Agency,” a team of well-funded professional trolls who carried out a disinformation campaign that spread from social media to real-world rallies. If there were any lingering doubts that Russia's intervention was aimed at harming Hillary Clinton's campaign and bolstering Donald Trump's, an internal directive quoted in the indictment spells it out explicitly: “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump — we support them).”

That Russia should have preferred Mr. Trump's victory to Mrs. Clinton's is hardly a surprise: The real estate mogul had long been open in his fawning admiration for autocratic leaders generally and Mr. Putin in particular. But in any game of strategy, the best moves are those that accomplish multiple objectives. Friday's indictment should serve as a reminder that Project Latkha didn't merely aim to influence the outcome of the election, but also its tone, and Americans' attitudes toward their own democratic institutions.

There's a critical back story to Russia's interference: A longstanding Kremlin grudge against Mrs. Clinton, cemented in 2011 when, as secretary of state, she cast doubt on whether Russia's parliamentary elections, plagued by allegations of fraud and vote rigging, had been “free and fair”.

The bulk of the Russian team's online trolling efforts were directed at Mrs. Clinton, but the indictment notes that they also took aim at other Republican candidates; Mr. Trump, Bernie Sanders and the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, were spared. The trio had something more than opposition to Mrs. Clinton in common: A central theme of their campaigns was that the American political system is fundamentally rigged — the same claim that had so incensed Mr. Putin.

This same theme crops up in many of the Russian front groups' attacks: “Hillary Clinton has already committed voter fraud during the Democrat Iowa caucus,” one social media post declared. One of the more memorable stunts the Russian team sponsored — hiring an American to attend rallies dressed as Mrs. Clinton in prison garb, toting an ersatz jail cell — fits the same pattern: She had to be cast not merely as an inferior candidate, but as a criminal who could win only through corruption.

Mr. Trump was vehemently committed to the same message, not only leading those infamous chants of “Lock her up!” but routinely declaring that if he were defeated — which polls throughout the campaign suggested was the most likely outcome — it would only be because Democrats had rigged the vote.

In hindsight, it's natural to think that Russia's primary aim was to achieve the upset Trump victory we now know occurred. But if they were relying on the same polls as the rest of the world, they would have regarded that as a long-shot. It seems at least as likely that they hoped a strong showing would position a defeated Mr. Trump as a thorn in Mrs. Clinton's side, casting a pall over the legitimacy of her administration by fuming publicly about how he had been cheated. (They probably could not have imagined that Mr. Trump would do this even in victory, insisting without any evidence that he had lost the popular vote only because of voter fraud.)

If we run with the hypothesis that Russia's core goal was to sow doubt about the integrity and fairness of American elections — and, by implication, erode the credibility of any criticism aimed at Russia's — then the ultimate exposure of their interference may well have been viewed not as frustrating that aim but as one more perverse way of advancing it.

Similar logic might account for Russian cyberattacks on many state voter registration systems — first reported in June and more recently confirmed by Department of Homeland Security officials. There's a consensus among cybersecurity experts that our unusually decentralized electoral system would make it extraordinarily difficult to surreptitiously change the result of a national election via hacking from abroad. But that might not be necessary: An attack might succeed just by creating widespread uncertainty about whether results had been altered, creating a crisis of legitimacy by the ultimate victor.

United States intelligence officials themselves have voiced suspicions that Russia intended to be caught. “They were unusually loud in their intervention,” James Comey, the former F.B.I. director, told Congress at a hearing last March. “It's almost as if they didn't care that we knew.” Wade into any online political discussion, where the conversation-ending accusation “Russian bot!” has become a commonplace, and it's hard to deny that it's worked.

If this sounds plausible, we should also consider that our political response, too, may have been part of the plan. With President Trump dutifully refusing to implement retaliatory sanctions imposed on Russia by a large bipartisan majority in Congress, legislators have begun eyeing the online platforms on which so much disinformation spread. “You created these platforms,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, railed at a panel of lawyers for Google, Facebook and Twitter in November, “and now they're being misused. And you have to be the ones who do something about it — or we will.”

That would be a final irony, and an unpleasant one. No less than our “meddling” in their internal elections, Russia has long resented United States criticism of the country's repressive approach to online speech. Their use of online platforms to tamper with our presidential race reads not only as an attack, but as an implicit argument: “The freedoms you trumpet so loudly, your unwillingness to regulate political speech on the internet, your tolerance for anonymity — all these are weaknesses, which we'll prove by exploiting them.”

Urgent as it is for the United States to take measures to prevent similar meddling in the next election, we should be careful that our response doesn't constitute a tacit agreement.


Julian Sanchez is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2018, 01:30:05 pm »

from The New York Times....

Trump's Conspicuous Silence Leaves a Struggle Against Russia Without a Leader

President Trump depicted indictments charging Russians with interfering in America's
politics as a vindication for himself rather than a threat to the United States.

By PETER BAKER | Saturday, February 17, 2018

President Trump in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday. Mr. Trump has made little, if any public, effort to rally the nation to confront Moscow for its electoral intrusion or to defend democratic institutions against continued disruption. — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.
President Trump in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday. Mr. Trump has made little, if any public, effort to rally the nation to confront Moscow
for its electoral intrusion or to defend democratic institutions against continued disruption. — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.

WASHINGTON — After more than a dozen Russians and three companies were indicted on Friday for interfering in the 2016 elections, President Trump's first reaction was to claim personal vindication: “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion!” he wrote on Twitter.

He voiced no concern that a foreign power had been trying for nearly four years to upend American democracy, much less resolve to stop it from continuing to do so this year.

The indictment secured by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, underscored the broader conclusion by the American government that Russia is engaged in a virtual war against the United States through 21st-century tools of disinformation and propaganda, a conclusion shared by the president's own senior advisers and intelligence chiefs. But it is a war being fought on the American side without a commander in chief.

In 13 months in office, Mr. Trump has made little if any public effort to rally the nation to confront Moscow for its intrusion or to defend democratic institutions against continued disruption. His administration has at times called out Russia or taken action, and even Mr. Trump's national security adviser, speaking in Germany on Saturday, called evidence of Russian meddling “incontrovertible.” But the administration has been left to respond without the president's leadership.

“It is astonishing to me that a president of the United States would take this so lightly or see it purely through the prism of domestic partisanship,” said Daniel Fried, a career diplomat under presidents of both parties who is now at the Atlantic Council. He said it invariably raised questions about whether Mr. Trump had something to hide. “I have no evidence that he's deliberately pulling his punches because he has to, but I can't dismiss it. No president has raised those kinds of questions.”

Rather than condemn Russia for its actions, Mr. Trump in the past has said he accepts the denial offered by President Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Trump has not imposed new sanctions called for in a law passed by Congress last year to retaliate for the attack on America's political system, or teamed up with European leaders to counter a common threat. He has not led a concerted effort to harden election systems in the United States with mid-term congressional elections on the horizon, or pressed lawmakers to pass legislation addressing the situation.

Michael A. McFaul, an ambassador to Moscow under President Barack Obama, called Mr. Trump's reaction to the indictments “shockingly weak” and said he should instead have criticized Mr. Putin for violating American sovereignty or even announced plans to punish Moscow.

“Instead, he just focused on his own campaign,” Mr. McFaul said. “America was attacked, and our commander in chief said nothing in response. He looks weak, not only in Moscow but throughout the world.”

The president's silence has not necessarily stopped lower levels of his administration from responding to Russian actions, sometimes going further than Mr. Obama, who was also criticized for not doing enough to counter Moscow's threat. The Trump administration has decided to send weapons to Ukraine so it can defend itself against Russian intervention, and recently imposed sanctions on more human rights violators. After Russia ordered the American Embassy in Moscow to shed most of its staff, the administration responded by ordering Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco and diplomatic annexes in New York and Washington.

Mr. Trump has spoken about President Vladimir V. Putin in generally flattering or friendly terms, a stance that has raised suspicions about why he is going easy on him. — Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/European Pressphoto Agency.
Mr. Trump has spoken about President Vladimir V. Putin in generally flattering or friendly terms, a stance that has raised
suspicions about why he is going easy on him. — Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/European Pressphoto Agency.

Likewise, in just the past few days, the Trump administration formally blamed Russia for an expansive cyberattack last year called NotPetya and threatened unspecified “international consequences.” The nation's intelligence agency directors, including those appointed by Mr. Trump, unanimously warned in congressional testimony that Russia was already meddling in this year's mid-term elections.

Mr. Trump's own aides readily acknowledge the reality that he does not. Besides describing Russian interference as undeniable on Saturday, Lietenant General H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, said Mr. Mueller's charges made clear that Russia had been engaged in a “sophisticated form of espionage” against the United States.

“With the F.B.I. indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain,” he said.

Mr. Trump has viewed reports of Russian intrusion as a threat to his legitimacy, a way for Democrats, the news media or the “deep state” to question his victory in the Electoral College over Hillary Clinton in 2016. When his Justice Department indicted the 13 Russians and three Russian entities on Friday for trying to “sow discord in the U.S. political system”, the president focused on the fact that no evidence was presented that he or his campaign was knowingly involved.

On Saturday, he posted a string of Twitter messages that continued his focus on what the indictment meant for him. He approvingly cited a New York Post column calling the indictment a win for the president because it proved “the Russians had no impact on the election results” and “there was no Collusion with Trump Campaign.”

Indeed, the indictment made no assertion that the president or anyone affiliated with him did anything wrong, understandably a relief for Mr. Trump, given a year of investigation and media reports exploring the possibility of collaboration with Russia. The “information warfare against the United States,” as one Russian organization called it, started in 2014, predating Mr. Trump's entry into the race.

But the indictment also determined that by 2016 the effort had evolved into a deliberate attempt to support Mr. Trump and disparage Mrs. Clinton. And the charges against the Russians are not the end of the investigation by Mr. Mueller, nor do they mean that there were no contacts or cooperation that may eventually spell legal trouble for people in the president's orbit.

Previous legal filings and news accounts have documented multiple contacts between Mr. Trump's team and Russians in 2016. Among them was a June 2016 meeting hosted by Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, and Paul J. Manafort, his campaign chairman, on the promise that Russian visitors would provide incriminating information about Mrs. Clinton as part of the Russian government's support of the elder Mr. Trump.

The charges against the Russians documented an elaborate scheme to use social media to provoke distrust of the system by creating online personas for fictitious American activists and stealing identities, an operation sophisticated enough to focus on “purple states” that would be battlegrounds between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton.

A “March for Truth” rally in New York in June. — Photograph: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images.
A “March for Truth” rally in New York in June. — Photograph: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images.

The findings bolstered the conclusions of American intelligence agencies, which for more than a year have said that Russia interfered in the election, a determination that Mr. Trump has occasionally accepted but more often dismissed as a “hoax”. Only in a written statement that aides issued in his name after his tweet on Friday was any concern expressed about the Russian attack described in the indictment, and then only to urge his critics to stop questioning him.

“We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord and rancor to be successful,” the statement said. “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.”

Mr. Trump's position stood in contrast to that of fellow Republicans who responded to the indictment with calls for tougher action against Russia. To many, the president's reaction once again raised the question of why he would go easy on Moscow. He has spoken about Mr. Putin in generally flattering or friendly terms and avoided any direct criticism even during moments of enormous stress in the relationship between the two countries.

For the moment, the government is left to act without the president. Jeh C. Johnson, a secretary of homeland security under Mr. Obama, said the best way to stop Russia from interfering in the future is the threat of a powerful response. “When it comes to cyberattacks, it will always be easier to be on offense than defense,” he said. “But when it comes to cyberattacks between nation-states, the most effective defense is to simply make the offensive behavior cost-prohibitive.”

But the best way to do that, experts said, is for the president to lead the way. “The U.S. government cannot mobilize an effective strategy without White House leadership and prioritization,” said Heather A. Conley, a State Department official under President George W. Bush who testified at a Senate hearing in the past week on defending against Russian interference.

Despite the warnings by the intelligence chiefs and the threat detailed in the indictment, she said, “there continues to be no policy message or response, leaving our country unprotected and vulnerable.”

John P. Carlin, a former assistant attorney general for national security and chief of staff to Mr. Mueller when he was F.B.I. director, said the president's silence sent a message to Russia and the world.

“I think it does have consequences,” he said. The American government can warn against further interference, but “it would be better if it gets driven by the commander in chief. The goal is to drive a clear message that says the United States and our allies throughout the world that share our values are drawing a line that says ‘stop, this is unacceptable’.”


• Peter Baker is the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times covering President Donald J. Trump. He previously covered the presidencies of Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Mr. Baker joined The Times in 2008 after 20 years at The Washington Post. He began writing about Mr. Obama at the inception of his administration, through health care and economic debates, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the re-election campaign and decisions over war and peace in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. During his first tour at the White House, Mr. Baker was a co-author of the original story breaking the Monica Lewinsky scandal and served as The Post's lead writer on the impeachment battle. During his next White House assignment, he covered the travails of Mr. Bush's second term, from the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina to Supreme Court nomination fights and the economy. In between stints at the White House, Mr. Baker and his wife, Susan Glasser, spent four years as Moscow bureau chiefs, chronicling the rise of Vladimir V. Putin, the rollback of Russian democracy, the second Chechen war and the terrorist attacks on a theater in Moscow and a school in Beslan. Mr. Baker also covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was the first American newspaper journalist to report from rebel-held northern Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, and he spent the next eight months covering the overthrow of the Taliban and the emergence of a new government. He later spent six months in the Middle East, reporting from inside Saddam Hussein's Iraq and around the region before embedding with the United States Marines as they drove toward Baghdad. He is the author of four books, most recently Obama: The Call of History, an illustrated history of the 44th president. A native of the Washington area, Mr. Baker attended Oberlin College.


Related to this topic:

 • New York Times EDITORIAL: Stop Letting the Russians Get Away With It, Mr. Trump

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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2018, 01:31:27 pm »

So there you have it: Donald J. Trump has been full-of-shit all along with his shreaks of “fake news!”
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« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2018, 10:01:33 pm »

from The New York Times....

Trump's Evolution From Relief to Fury Over the Russia Indictment

The president unleashed a two-day Twitter tirade that
was unusually angry and defiant even by his standards.

By KATIE ROGERS and MAGGIE HABERMAN | Sunday, February 19, 2018

President Donald J. Trump on Friday in Washington. — Photograph: Tom Brenner/The New York Times.
President Donald J. Trump on Friday in Washington. — Photograph: Tom Brenner/The New York Times.

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA — President Trump began the weekend believing that something good had just happened to him. An indictment leveled against 13 Russians for interfering with the 2016 election had not accused him or anyone around him of wrongdoing. “No collusion” was his refrain.

But once ensconced at his Florida estate on Friday, Mr. Trump, facing long hours indoors as he avoided breezy rounds of golf after last week's school shooting a few miles away, began watching TV.

The president's mood began to darken as it became clearer to him that some commentators were portraying the indictment as nothing for him to celebrate, according to three people with knowledge of his reaction. Those commentators called it proof that he had not won the election on his own, a particularly galling, if not completely accurate, charge for a president long concerned about his legitimacy.

What followed was a two-day Twitter tirade that was unusually angry and defiant even by Mr. Trump's standards. In his tweets on Sunday, Mr. Trump sought to shift the blame to Democrats for Russia's meddling, saying that President Barack Obama had not done enough to stop the interference.

The president denied — despite the ample evidence to the contrary — that he had ever suggested that Moscow might not have been involved. He called Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, a “monster.” And he asserted that the Russians were “laughing their asses off” because the efforts to investigate and combat Moscow's meddling had only given the Russians what they wanted.

“If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams,” Mr. Trump wrote.

The president's outburst ended a relatively subdued period after the deaths of 17 people in the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday. He spent the following days praising law enforcement officials and emergency responders, and calling officials in Florida to receive updates. Mr. Trump met with two shooting victims in an unannounced visit to a Florida hospital on Friday evening, White House officials said.

As he shunned the golf course over the weekend (his predecessor had been criticized for golfing too soon after tragic events), he instead spent time mingling with his supporters, including Geraldo Rivera. Mr. Rivera said on Twitter on Sunday that he had seen first-hand that the president “was deeply affected” by the time he had spent with victims, “impressed by their courage” and “equally distressed by the savagery of their wounds.”

But Mr. Trump also had time to stew over news coverage of the indictment against the Russians secured by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel leading an investigation into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia. And he was surrounded in Florida by people who are likely to share his grievances: his two oldest sons, as well as John F. Kelly, his chief of staff, and Dan Scavino Jr., the White House social media director, who often emulates his boss's prose on Twitter.

The indictment says that while the Russians began their scheme in 2014 with the goal of undermining the American democratic system, they eventually shifted their focus to trying to help elect Mr. Trump and disparage his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The president has repeatedly seized on the fact that the efforts started before he became a candidate, but he has glossed over the conclusion that they evolved toward supporting his candidacy.

The indictment does not assert any wrongdoing by the president or anyone affiliated with him, saying that some members of the Trump campaign were unwitting in their contacts with the Russian effort. It is also silent about whether the Russian campaign affected the election results.

Mr. Trump has long fought the idea that Moscow's efforts might have influenced the election, branding it as a “hoax” perpetrated by Democrats embarrassed about losing to him. He has made little if any public effort to rally the nation to confront the Russians for their intrusion.

The president's Twitter eruption began late Saturday night, when he accused the F.B.I. of having missed signals that could have prevented the school shooting because it was “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.”

He then lashed out at his national security adviser, Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, who had said at a security conference in Germany on Saturday that the indictment provided “incontrovertible” evidence that Russia had interfered in the American democratic system.

Mr. Trump said his adviser had “forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems.” The nation's intelligence agencies believe that it is not possible to make such a calculation about the election outcome.

Then, on Sunday, Mr. Trump said that he had “never said Russia did not meddle in the election,” quoting a comment he had made in a 2016 presidential debate.

“I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer’,” Mr. Trump wrote. “The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia — it never did!”

Yet he has repeatedly denied that Russia was behind any meddling, going so far in November as to suggest that he believed President Vladimir V. Putin's denials of interference over the conclusions of American intelligence agencies.

Mr. Trump also called Mr. Schiff, the California congressman, “Liddle Adam Schiff” and branded him “the leakin' monster of no control,” even as he praised him for his criticism of Mr. Obama's muted response to the Russian threat.

The president in the past has traded bitter Twitter messages with Mr. Schiff, accusing him of leaking classified information from the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russia's actions. Mr. Schiff shot back at Mr. Trump on Sunday, saying on Twitter that “if McMaster can stand up to Putin, why can't you?”

Initially, Mr. Trump had been swayed by advisers who described the indictment announced on Friday as a victory for him, since it identified particular bad actors outside the campaign and used the word “unwitting” to describe the contacts with the Trump campaign.

But as the weekend went on, Mr. Trump's longstanding frustrations with an inquiry that he has branded a “witch hunt” once again came to the fore. While the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, had noted repeatedly in announcing the indictment that it does not say that Russia changed the outcome of the election, Mr. Trump was angry because his own team had not gone further in his defense.

That included General McMaster, who, as an active duty military officer, takes the constrictions on what he can say politically very seriously. When he spoke in Germany, Mr. McMaster did not believe he could go further than the cold facts of the document, a reality that deeply frustrated the president, two administration officials said.

Although incensed by coverage of the Russia investigation, Mr. Trump spent part of the weekend focused on the school shooting. On Sunday, the White House announced that he would hold a “listening session” with high school students and teachers in Washington on Wednesday, and meet with state and local officials on school safety on Thursday.

Mr. Trump also called three local officials, including Christine Hunschofsky, the mayor of Parkland. In an interview, Ms. Hunschofsky said she was struck by how affected the president had seemed by his hospital visit.

“He gave his condolences, and then he talked quite a bit,” Ms. Hunschofsky said. “He said he had talked to somebody recovering in the hospital. I remember he kept saying, ‘How do you recover from that?’”


Katie Rogers reported from West Palm Beach, and Maggie Haberman from New York.

• Katie Rogers is a White House correspondent for The New York Times. She started at The N.Y. Times in 2014 and has since focused on features and breaking news. She has covered Washington in the Trump era, pop culture, sexual harassment in Congress, New York Fashion Week, socialites, sexism at the Olympics and the occasional Santa. She is a native Hoosier and a graduate of Loyola University Chicago.

• Maggie Haberman is a White House correspondent. She joined The New York Times in February 2015 as a campaign correspondent. Previously, Ms. Haberman worked as a political reporter at Politico from 2010 to 2015 and at other publications including the New York Post and New York Daily News. She was a finalist for the Mirror Awards, with Glenn Thrush, for What is Hillary Clinton Afraid of? which was published in 2014. Her hobbies include singing, and she is married with three children.


Related to this topic:

 • FACT CHECK: Trump Falsely Claims, ‘I Never Said Russia Did Not Meddle’

 • Trump's National Security Chief Calls Russian Interference ‘Incontrovertible’

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« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2018, 10:23:09 pm »

from The New York Times....

Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now

He either believes Putin's denials, or more likely,
is afraid of what the Russians have on him.

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN | Sunday, February 18, 2018

President Donald J. Trump in Washington on Friday. — Photograph: Tom Brenner/The New York Times .
President Donald J. Trump in Washington on Friday. — Photograph: Tom Brenner/The New York Times .

OUR DEMOCRACY is in serious danger.

President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.

That is, either Trump's real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn't want released; or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of Trump's own C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I. chiefs.

In sum, Trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself, or he's criminally incompetent to be commander in chief. It is impossible yet to say which explanation for his behavior is true, but it seems highly likely that one of these scenarios explains Trump's refusal to respond to Russia's direct attack on our system — a quiescence that is simply unprecedented for any U.S. president in history. Russia is not our friend. It has acted in a hostile manner. And Trump keeps ignoring it all.

Up to now, Trump has been flouting the norms of the presidency. Now Trump's behavior amounts to a refusal to carry out his oath of office — to protect and defend the Constitution. Here's an imperfect but close analogy: It's as if George W. Bush had said after 9/11: “No big deal. I am going golfing over the weekend in Florida and blogging about how it's all the Democrats' fault — no need to hold a National Security Council meeting.”

At a time when the special prosecutor Robert Mueller — leveraging several years of intelligence gathering by the F.B.I., C.I.A. and N.S.A. — has brought indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups — all linked in some way to the Kremlin — for interfering with the 2016 U.S. elections, America needs a president who will lead our nation's defense against this attack on the integrity of our electoral democracy.

What would that look like? He would educate the public on the scale of the problem; he would bring together all the stakeholders — state and local election authorities, the federal government, both parties and all the owners of social networks that the Russians used to carry out their interference — to mount an effective defense; and he would bring together our intelligence and military experts to mount an effective offense against Putin — the best defense of all.

What we have instead is a president vulgarly tweeting that the Russians are “laughing their asses off in Moscow” for how we've been investigating their interventions — and exploiting the terrible school shooting in Florida — and the failure of the F.B.I. to properly forward to its Miami field office a tip on the killer — to throw the entire F.B.I. under the bus and create a new excuse to shut down the Mueller investigation.

Think for a moment how demented was Trump's Saturday night tweet: “Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

To the contrary. Our F.B.I., C.I.A. and N.S.A., working with the special counsel, have done us amazingly proud. They've uncovered a Russian program to divide Americans and tilt our last election toward Trump — i.e., to undermine the very core of our democracy — and Trump is telling them to get back to important things like tracking would-be school shooters. Yes, the F.B.I. made a mistake in Florida. But it acted heroically on Russia. What is more basic than protecting American democracy?

It is so obvious what Trump is up to: Again, he is either a total sucker for Putin or, more likely, he is hiding something that he knows the Russians have on him, and he knows that the longer Mueller's investigation goes on, the more likely he will be to find and expose it.

Donald, if you are so innocent, why do you go to such extraordinary lengths to try to shut Mueller down? And if you are really the president — not still head of the Trump Organization, who moonlights as president, which is how you so often behave — why don't you actually lead — lead not only a proper cyber-defense of our elections, but also an offense against Putin.

Putin used cyber-warfare to poison American politics, to spread fake news, to help elect a chaos candidate, all in order to weaken our democracy. We should be using our cyber-capabilities to spread the truth about Putin — just how much money he has stolen, just how many lies he has spread, just how many rivals he has jailed or made disappear — all to weaken his autocracy. That is what a real president would be doing right now.

My guess is what Trump is hiding has to do with money. It's something about his financial ties to business elites tied to the Kremlin. They may own a big stake in him. Who can forget that quote from his son Donald Trump Jr. from back in 2008: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets.” They may own our president.

But whatever it is, Trump is either trying so hard to hide it or is so naïve about Russia that he is ready to not only resist mounting a proper defense of our democracy, he's actually ready to undermine some of our most important institutions, the F.B.I. and Justice Department, to keep his compromised status hidden.

That must not be tolerated. This is code red. The biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today is in the Oval Office.


• Thomas L. Friedman became The New York Times' foreign affairs Op-Ed columnist in 1995. He joined the paper in 1981, after which he served as the Beirut bureau chief in 1982, Jerusalem bureau chief in 1984, and then in Washington as the diplomatic correspondent in 1989, and later the White House correspondent and economic correspondent. Mr. Friedman was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting (from Lebanon) and the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting (from Israel). He also won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Mr. Friedman is the author of From Beirut to Jerusalem, which won the National Book Award in 1989. He has written several other books, including Hot, Flat and Crowded, an international best seller. Born in Minneapolis, Mr. Friedman received a B.A. degree in Mediterranean studies from Brandeis University in 1975. In 1978 he received a master’s in modern Middle East studies from Oxford. His column appears every Sunday and Wednesday.


Related to this topic:

 • Inside the Russian Troll Factory: Zombies and a Breakneck Pace

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« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2018, 11:30:49 am »

weaponized media is FAKE NEWS

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