Nicholas Fandos

Donald Trump Jr. Communicated With WikiLeaks During Campaign

Donald Trump Jr. had multiple online conversations during the 2016 presidential campaign with WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group that released a hacked trove of Democrats’ emails, according to four congressional officials. Trump, the president’s son, in recent weeks handed over Twitter messages he exchanged with WikiLeaks to several congressional committees investigating Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election, according to the officials.

Democrats Warn of Possible Foreign Disinformation Plot Targeting Congress

Top congressional Democrats warned in a cryptic letter that a foreign power was using disinformation to try to interfere in the presidential election and the activities of Congress, and demanded a prompt briefing by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to warn every member of Congress. While the letter writers did not specify the threat, officials familiar with a classified addendum attached to it said the Democrats’ concerns touched on intelligence related to a possible Russian-backed attempt to smear the presidential campaign of former Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. They contend that the

Frustration and Finger-Pointing as GOP Pulls Out of Deal Talks on Hacked Materials

House Republicans withdrew from negotiations with Democrats over a pact that would have effectively barred both parties from using hacked or stolen material on the campaign trail in the fall of 2018.

Facebook Has Identified Ongoing Political Influence Campaign

Facebook has identified a coordinated political influence campaign, with dozens of inauthentic accounts and pages that are believed to be engaging in political activity around divisive social issues ahead of November’s midterm elections. The company detected and removed more than 32 pages and accounts connected to the influence campaign on Facebook and Instagram as part of its investigations into election interference.

Comey Cited as ‘Insubordinate,’ but Report Finds No Bias in FBI Decision to Clear Clinton

Former FBI director James B. Comey was “insubordinate” in his handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, a critical Justice Department report concluded on June 14.  But the report, by the department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, does not challenge the decision not to prosecute Clinton. Nor does it conclude that political bias at the FBI influenced that decision, the officials said. “We found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations,” the report said.

Knowledge Gap Hinders Ability of Congress to Regulate Silicon Valley

With bipartisan agreement, members of Congress said that Silicon Valley needed to be reined in with new regulations. But time and again, when the most pressing issues have landed on Capitol Hill — like gun violence, school shootings, immigration and border control — Congress has declared five-alarm fires only to fail to follow through on major legislation. The current zest for new privacy laws is also likely to stall as lawmakers wrestle with the technical complexities and constitutional vexations sure to emerge with any legislation to control content on the internet. Beyond the typical pol

Justice Department Will Be Investigated Over Surveillance of Trump Campaign Official

The Justice Department’s inspector general, facing increasing political pressure from Republicans in Congress and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, said that his office would investigate the surveillance of a former Trump campaign official. The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, said he would examine whether law enforcement officials complied with the law and departmental policies in seeking permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to wiretap the former campaign adviser, Carter Page.

House Votes to Renew Surveillance Law, Rejecting New Privacy Limits

The House of Representatives voted to extend the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program for six years with minimal changes, rejecting a yearslong effort by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to impose significant new privacy limits when it sweeps up Americans’ emails and other personal communications.  The vote, 256 to 164, centered on an expiring law that permits the government, without a warrant, to collect communications of foreigners abroad from United States firms like Google and AT&T — even when those targets are talking to Americans.

Senators Press Tech Executives but Split on Russia’s Role in President Trump’s Win

Senators who called tech giants to Capitol Hill on Nov 1 to answer for their roles in Russia’s election interference differed along party lines over the Kremlin’s role in swaying the race, with Republicans offering an implicit defense of the legitimacy of President Donald Trump’s victory. After months of publicly sidestepping the issue, several Republicans used a high-profile hearing with executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter to dismiss the impact of Russia’s use of the sites to spread misinformation and buy ads to try to tip the election in President Trump’s favor.

Tech Executives Are Contrite About Election Meddling, but Make Few Promises on Capitol Hill

Executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter appeared on Capitol Hill for the first time on Oct 31 to publicly acknowledge their role in Russia’s influence on the presidential campaign, but offered little more than promises to do better. Their reluctance frustrated lawmakers who sought stronger evidence that American elections will be protected from foreign powers. The hearing, the first of three in two days for company executives, served as an initial public reckoning for the internet giants.