Wednesday, July 12, 2017

If Russia Did Swing the Election to Trump, This Is How.

Special forces do it all the time. Two or three go into combat areas where they identify and target enemy forces for air strikes.

Now the Congressional and Justice Department investigators are  exploring whether members of the Trump campaign provided a similar targeting operation for Russian cyber strikes.

Yes, I know. That's the American media for you. Only this isn't coming from CNN or MSNBC. It's not from the New York Times or Washington Post. It's from McClatchey, the old Knight Ridder outfit, and they're known for getting information right where others get it wrong.

Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states – areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.

Also under scrutiny is the question of whether Trump associates or campaign aides had any role in assisting the Russians in publicly releasing thousands of emails, hacked from the accounts of top Democrats, at turning points in the presidential race, mainly through the London-based transparency web site WikiLeaks.


By Election Day, an automated Kremlin cyberattack of unprecedented scale and sophistication had delivered critical and phony news about the Democratic presidential nominee to the Twitter and Facebook accounts of millions of voters, many in swing states, even in key precincts.

Russia’s operation used computer commands knowns as “bots” to collect and dramatically heighten the reach of negative or fabricated news about Clinton, including a story in the final days of the campaign accusing her of running a pedophile ring at a Washington pizzeria.

One source familiar with Justice's criminal probe said investigators doubt Russian operatives controlling the so-called robotic cyber commands that fetched and distributed fake news stories could have independently "known where to specifically target … to which high-impact states and districts in those states."

As more has been learned about the breadth of the Russian cyber onslaught, congressional Democrats have shown growing resolve to demand that the Republican-controlled intelligence committees fully investigate ways in which Trump associates may have conspired with the Russians.


“I get the fact that the Russian intel services could figure out how to manipulate and use the bots,” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner told Pod Save America recently. “Whether they could know how to target states and levels of voters that the Democrats weren’t even aware (of) really raises some questions … How did they know to go to that level of detail in those kinds of jurisdictions?”

The Russians targeted women and African-Americans in two of the three decisive states, Wisconsin and Michigan, “where the Democrats were too brain dead to realize those states were even in play,” Warner said.

Twitter’s and Facebook’s search engines in those states were overwhelmed, he said, meaning they couldn’t discern fake news from real news.

“On your news feed, you suddenly got … ‘Hillary Clinton’s sick’ or ‘Hillary Clinton’s stealing money from the State Department,’” said Warner.

The good part of this story is that investigators have something concrete to work with - the records of how the Facebook and Twitter search engines were attacked and overwhelmed. There's a ton of evidence that can be mined from that including how the attack was conducted, from where, and how it was targeted.

Bit by bit the picture may emerge of how a flawed ogre was put into the White House.


Anonymous said...

“Whether they could know how to target states and levels of voters that the Democrats weren’t even aware (of) really raises some questions … How did they know to go to that level of detail in those kinds of jurisdictions?”

Has everyone suddenly forgotten the name Robert Mercer?


The Mound of Sound said...

I certainly didn't, Cap. Or AggregateIQ, the Brexit fixer shop from Victoria or Chris Wylie. I can't see any of those being willing to risk being detected manipulating a general election, can you? What do you imagine might befall them if they were exposed? That would be an attack on the state itself and, for that, there would probably be consequences.

Even the Mob knows there are times it's best to bring in out-of-town hitmen.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. So it seems that Mercer and Co. were acting as forward air controllers for a Russian cyber campaign. That still doesn't leave them entirely in the clear - the FBI's big on charging people with conspiracy. At least it was. A lot will depend on whether Trump's latest nominee for FBI director, Christopher Wray, has pledged fealty to The Don.


Owen Gray said...

These days, any Trump appointee will have a hard time getting people to believe he or she is genuinely independent.

Dana said...

The longer this goes on with nothing actually being done to rectify this problem the more I think nothing at all will be done.

Lawyers are making money hand over fist investigating, defending, justifying. What's their motivation to turn down the money.

Democrats haven't had such a great opportunity since Watergate but unlike then these Democrats can't find their ass with both hands.

Republicans clearly have no motivation to do anything at all other than try to work past the orange creature where they can and try to remain out of jail.

The media hasn't had such a ratings kicker in forever probably and they're milking it for all it's worth day in day out 24/7.

So I think we're in for a real long denouement that probably won't make anyone very happy but will make a lot of lawyers and media owners very, very rich.

The Mound of Sound said...

Dana, you're old enough to know better. How long did it take from the first news accounts of Watergate until the resignation of Nixon? Do you think Congress was willing to entertain impeachment in the first 12, 18 or even 24 months?

Why, with Trump barely 6 months in office would you expect much more than what exists today? If anything, Nixon's crew from Gordon Liddy to John Mitchell were vastly more skilled than Trump's cadre.

By comparison, this break in is easier to prove than the burglars' job at the Watergate.

Northern PoV said...

I'm with Dana
"The longer this goes on with nothing actually being done to rectify this problem the more I think nothing at all will be done."

So, after all this idle speculation I will lay down the gauntlet...

... if tRump is impeached by the house I will buy Mound a pint.
If tRump gets convicted by the Senate (or even resigns under the real threat of impeachment/conviction) - Mound wins a case of beer.

(It will have to wait till I visit the Island or Mound comes to Vancouver to get paid.)

If tRump finishes his term (or exits office for other reasons) I'd suggest that Mound buys me a pint. (I like the odds here)


Dana said...