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National Govt & Politics
Trump blames Obama in wake of latest Russia indictments
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Trump blames Obama in wake of latest Russia indictments

Trump blames Obama in wake of latest Russia indictments
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Trump blames Obama in wake of latest Russia indictments

A day after the Special Counsel looking into Russian interference in the 2016 elections returned a new series of indictments against specific Russian intelligence agents, and just before his first summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump on Saturday blamed the Obama Administration for not doing enough to stop Russia's cyber meddling during his bid for the White House two years ago.

"The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration," the President tweeted from Scotland, where he is spending the weekend at his Turnberry golf resort.

"Why didn’t Obama do something about it? Because he thought Crooked Hillary Clinton would win, that’s why," the President added.

In his tweets about the indictments the past two days, Mr. Trump made no mention of his Monday summit meeting in Helsinki, Finland with the Russian leader, and gave no indication whether or not the issue of election interference would be on their agenda.

As for the indictments handed down on Friday by a federal grand jury, what exactly did we learn from the details, and what trails might they point to in terms of further investigation?

Let's take a look:

1. A highly detailed trail of Russian intelligence involvement. For those who have complained about the lack of actual evidence of Russian involvement in the 2016 elections, this latest indictment showed just how much specific and highly detailed information is in the hands of federal investigators and U.S. Intelligence. The indictment not only names those Russian Intelligence (GRU) agents who were at the keyboard, but details how the information was gained by the GRU, and then ultimately spread into the public domain by a third party. "This is jaw-droppingly impressive forensic work," said Thomas Rid, a Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Rid's bottom line - the indictment was "historically unprecedented in scope, detail, and likely impact." The former U.S. Ambassador to Russia under President Obama had this to say:

2. Guccifer 2.0 was not some Romanian hacker. The latest indictment from Special Counsel Robert Mueller spells out what many experts had long figured about the persona of "Guccifer 2.0," who handed out information from certain hacks of the DNC - that it was actually a Russian intelligence agent, posing as someone who wasn't working for Moscow. Thomas Rid says, "the indictment doesn't just show Guccifer 2 was managed by a specific GRU unit — it *reconstructs the internet searches made while some GRU officer was drafting the first post as Guccifer 2*." It is obvious from the level of detail in the indictment that U.S. Intelligence and law enforcement have a lot of communications from inside the GRU on Guccifer 2.0, and how that group made contacts with certain U.S. persons, including one who was "in regular contact with the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump." At this point, there is no evidence any of those people in the U.S. who contacted Guccifer 2.0 knew who they were dealing with, but the indictment makes the case that the false Romanian cover was just a way for Moscow to deny Russian responsibility.

3. Candidate for Congress asks for help from Russian intelligence. Whether or not you knew that Guccifer 2.0 wasn't really from Romania, the indictment makes clear that at least one person running for the Congress in 2016 - that person was not identified by name or party - got in touch with Guccifer 2.0, and asked for help against their opponent. "On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress," the indictment states. "The Conspirators responded using the Guccifer 2.0 persona and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent." It would seem to make sense that since the Russians had information from inside the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the recipient of that information would have been a Republican - but that's not fully detailed. It raises some interesting questions. Who was that candidate? Did that person get elected? Is he/she serving in the Congress right now? Is that person involved in questioning the Russia investigation?

4. Mueller: GRU responsible for the Podesta hack. In the emails leaked out by Wikileaks from Clinton campaign chief John Podesta before the 2016 elections, was the actual spear phishing email that was used to get Podesta to change his email password. The indictment says that Russian Intelligence agents - using the ID “john356gh” - put together a fake link in an email for Podesta, which did not go to Google, but instead to "GRU-created website." That email was sent to Podesta on March 19, 2016, and around March 21, 2016, the indictment says two specific agents "stole the contents of (Podesta's) email account, which consisted of over 50,000 emails." The indictment says the same 'john356gh' account was used "to mask additional links included in spear phishing emails sent to numerous individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign," all from the email, "hi.mymail@yandex.com." This was not a 400 pound guy sitting in his bedroom.

Jamie Dupree
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wikileaks1025

Jamie Dupree

5. "Organization 1" is clearly Wikileaks. The latest indictment also further cements the evidence that Wikileaks worked with Russian intelligence operatives, helping them to release emails from top Clinton aide John Podesta, as well as others within the Democratic National Committee. The indictment does not specifically name "Wikileaks," but instead refers to it as "Organization 1" - while detailing how that group released information on Podesta, and others. "In order to expand their interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Conspirators transferred many of the documents they stole from the DNC and the chairman of the Clinton Campaign to Organization 1." The indictment says the GRU at one point sent a file with emails that was titled, "wk dnc link1.txt.gpg." Since the indictment was issued on Friday, Wikileaks made no denial - instead posting a video on Twitter showing President Trump talking about Wikileaks during the 2016 campaign.

6. Mueller indicates Russian obtained Clinton campaign 'analytics.' One of the more interesting pieces of information in this new indictment is the revelation that Russian agents hacked into the cloud system used by the Hillary Clinton campaign, which "contained test applications related to the DNC’s analytics." The term analytics would refer to voter data and other election information used by the campaign, as officials try to figure out what voter groups, or what areas to target in a campaign - in some cases, a road map for what the campaign might have been doing. The indictment does not indicate what was done with the information taken from the DNC computers - but it raises some interesting 'what if' type of questions on how that could have been put to use before Election Day.

Jamie Dupree
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russia365

Jamie Dupree

7. Russian Intel targeted county election websites. Tucked into Friday's indictment is also a charge that Russian Intelligence probed not just the computers of state election boards, but also down to the county level, checking on websites in Florida, Georgia, and Iowa. Florida was also targeted in a different way, as the GRU allegedly sent 'over 100 spear phishing emails to organizations and personnel involved in elections in numerous Florida counties.' Those emails, according to the charges, contained malware embedded into an attached Word document. The indictment did not indicate what the Russian units were after at the county level - but a typical Supervisor of Elections would have a lot of voter information in their computer systems, and also would be on the front lines of vote tabulation on Election night.

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8. The person "in regular contact" with Trump Campaign. As mentioned above, the indictment says that members of Russian intelligence - under the cover of Guccifer 2.0 - exchanged messages with someone "who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump." The quick assumption of those following this story was that is Roger Stone, the one-time foreign policy adviser to the campaign, who was pushed aside before the elections in 2016, but has talked in the past about being in touch with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. At first, Stone rejected the assertion that the indictment might be referring to him and contacts with Wikileaks, but a few hours later on CNN, Stone acknowledged that was a possibility.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

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  • A judge sentenced the man who admitted to killing a Wisconsin couple last year before holding their 13-year-old daughter captive for three months to life in prison without the possibility of supervised release. >> Read more trending news Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, appeared before a Barron County judge for sentencing in the killing of James and Denise Closs and the kidnapping of their daughter, Jayme, according to the Duluth News Tribune. He pleaded guilty in March to two counts of intentional homicide for gunning down James Closs, 56, and Denise Closs, 46, in the early morning hours of Oct. 15. He also pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping for abducting Jayme. >> Man pleads guilty to kidnapping Wisconsin teen Jayme Closs, killing her parents Update 4:30 p.m. EDT May 24: A judge sentenced Patterson to life in prison without the possibility of parole for each of the intentional homicide charges to which Patterson pleaded guilty. The judge also gave Patterson the maximum sentence -- 40 years -- for kidnapping Jayme. Update 4:20 p.m. EDT May 24: In a brief, tearful statement in court, Patterson said he “would do like, absolutely anything to take back what I did.” “I would die,” he said. “I would.” Patterson’s attorneys asked a judge to sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole until 2072 for the killings of James and Denise Closs. The sentencing hearing is ongoing. Update 3:30 p.m. EDT May 24: In a statement read by an attorney Friday in court, Jayme said Patterson took many things from her but that, “He can never take my spirit away.” “He thought he could make me like him, but he was wrong,” she said. “He can’t stop me from being happy and moving forward with my life. I will go on to do great things in my life, and he will not. Jake Patterson will never have any power over me.” Chris Gramstrup, an attorney representing Jayme, read the victim impact statement in court. “He stole my parents from me,” Jayme said in the statement. “He stole almost everything I loved from me. For 88 days, he tried to steal me, and he didn’t care who he hurt or who he killed to do that. He should stay locked up forever.” Prosecutors said Jayme and her mother heard Patterson shoot and kill James Closs as they huddled together in a bathtub. Denise Closs called 911 as Patterson tried to batter down the bathroom door. Once he broke down the door, he wrestled the phone from Denise Closs and ordered her to tape Jayme’s mouth, hands and feet, prosecutors said. He told authorities that he thought she was doing a bad job, so he put down his shotgun to do it himself. Once Jayme was restrained, authorities said he picked up his shotgun again and, with Jayme feet from her mother, shot Denise Closs in the head. He then dragged Jayme to his car, threw her in the trunk and drove her to his home, where she was held captive for 88 days. Through Gramstrup, Jayme said her parents “did all they could to make me happy and protect me.” “He took them away from me forever,” Jayme said. “I felt safe in my home and I love my room and all of my belongings. He took all of that too. I don’t want to even see my home or my stuff because of the memory of that night. My parents and my home were the most important things in my life.” She said that since her escape in January, “It’s too hard for me to go out in public.” “I get scared and I get anxious,” she said. Prosecutors said Jayme escaped from Patterson’s home Jan. 10 after he left her alone. Original report: Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said members of Jayme’s family are expected to give statements at Friday’s hearing, MPR News reported. The court proceeding is expected to last several hours, according to CNN. Under Wisconsin law, Patterson will face a mandatory life sentence for each of the homicide convictions, the Duluth News Tribune reported. The main question for Friday will be whether Patterson will eventually be eligible for parole, according to the newspaper. >> Who is Jake Thomas Patterson? Suspect in Jayme Closs kidnapping identified Authorities said Patterson admitted to targeting Jayme after seeing her get on a school bus while he was driving home from work one day. He told investigators he did not know the Closses before the attack. Jayme told authorities she woke early on the morning of Oct. 15 when the family dog started barking. She woke her parents and then hid with her mother in a bathroom. Investigators said Patterson shot and killed James Closs before he found Jayme and Denise Closs in the bathroom. >> Jayme Closs kidnapping: Suspect charged in Closs murders, bail set at $5 million Jayme said Patterson killed her mother before dragging her to his car and driving her to what would turn out to be his home in Douglas County. He was arrested after Jayme escaped Jan. 10 from his home and flagged down a woman walking her dog. >> Jayme Closs to be given $25K reward after she saved herself from accused kidnapper Jayme told investigators Patterson made her hide under the bed in his bedroom for as many as 12 hours at a time without food, water or bathroom breaks. She escaped after Patterson left her alone in the home 88 days after he first abducted her. Jayme is living with her aunt and uncle, the Stevens Point Journal reported.
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The plea bargain was aimed at helping Colorado authorities send Cleary to prison for violating his probation in the stalking cases, the News reported.  >> Related story: Man upset over not having girlfriend accused of mass shooting threat to girls Fourth District Judge Christine Johnson on Thursday declined to take the state up on its recommendation, citing her uncertainty of whether Cleary would serve any jail time for probation violation in Colorado, the newspaper said. “I don’t want to be in the position of guessing what Colorado is going to do,” Johnson said during Cleary’s sentencing hearing.  Cleary was arrested Jan. 19, the same day multiple women’s marches were being held in Utah and throughout the country, based on an alarming Facebook post he wrote the night before, the News said. In the post, he bemoaned his lack of romantic prospects and, like several mass shooters who have targeted women, blamed the opposite sex for his plight. “All I wanted was a girlfriend,” Cleary wrote, according to a police affidavit obtained by The Denver Post. “All I wanted was to be loved, yet no one cares about me. I’m 27 years old and I’ve never had a girlfriend before, and I’m still a virgin. This is why I’m planning on shooting up a public place soon and being the next mass shooter ‘cause I’m ready to die and all the girls the turned me down is going to make it right by killing as many girls as I see.” Another post stated, “There’s nothing more dangerous than (a) man ready to die,” the Post reported.  Cleary’s threats alarmed state and federal authorities in Colorado and neighboring Utah, where they traced his cellphone the following day. He was arrested at a McDonald’s in Provo and charged with making a terroristic threat.  Following his arrest, Cleary told investigators he was “upset and not thinking clearly” when he wrote the Facebook posts. According to the Post, he deleted the threats after other people called him and threatened him. Court records obtained by multiple newspapers paint a disturbing portrait of Cleary, who was accused of stalking and harassment by at least eight women and girls dating back at least seven years. The News reported that Cleary was also accused of threatening to bomb a grocery store in 2013 and threatened to commit a mass shooting at a mental health facility in 2016.  >> Read more trending news An 18-year-old Arvada woman called police on New Year’s Eve 2015 and reported that Cleary, with whom she’d been chatting on Facebook, began harassing her online and over the phone after she declined to go on a date with him. According to the Post, the woman told detectives he would use aliases, including one alias on Facebook named John Coleman. “I’ve been watching you,” the person claiming to be Coleman wrote to her on Facebook. “Soon here, you’ll be lying in your deathbed.” During that investigation, Arvada detectives found details of a previous criminal investigation in which Cleary told another woman who spurned his advances she should kill herself, the Post reported. He also posted her name and phone number in an online sex ad, offering her services for $20, court records show. In a prior misdemeanor harassment case from earlier in 2015, Cleary was convicted after talking a woman into posing naked for him and then posting the picture to a fake Facebook page in her name, the newspaper reported.  A harassment case from Denver found Cleary accused of writing threatening messages to a 17-year-old girl, including a message that said, “I own multipul (sic) guns. I can have u dead in a second. One day I’ma snap and kill everyone,” according to court documents. A second Denver case involved a 19-year-old woman who said she lived with Cleary in a hotel room for two weeks, during which time he choked her and urinated on her, the court documents said.  Cleary was convicted in October 2016 on two counts of stalking and harassment involving two of the three alleged victims in Arvada, the Post said. He was sentenced to two years of probation.  Cleary was arrested in yet another stalking case less than a year later. A 43-year-old Lakewood woman who had dated him called 911 Aug. 5, 2017, to report Cleary was stalking her. He was arrested outside the woman’s house. According to the Post, Cleary told investigators the woman was the only person who loved him and he was lonely without her. The woman told police she and Cleary had a sexual relationship -- contradicting Cleary’s claim earlier this year that he was a virgin. The victim told police Cleary, who began stalking her when she broke off the relationship, had called her 45 times that day, threatening her and telling her he hoped she would die.  “I am going to burn your house down,” Cleary told her, according to court records. “I am going to send people to your house to kill you.” Cleary also posted her phone number and address on Craigslist “soliciting sexual acts and rape,” according to a probable cause statement in the case. The woman said she’d received multiple phone calls from strangers due to the ad. The woman told police she lost 20 pounds and began having nightmares and anxiety attacks because of the stalking, the Post reported.  Cleary pleaded guilty to charges of felony stalking and making threats, the newspaper said. A judge in Jefferson County sentenced him last May to three years of probation.  Despite having violated his probation on the Arvada cases, he was not jailed following his guilty plea in the case involving the Lakewood woman, the Post reported. Pam Russell, a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, said Cleary’s mental health played a part in his sentencing in that case, as well as in his 2016 stalking conviction, which was handled in Adult Mental Health Court.  “The courts decided to let his mental health issues be a big component of his treatment,” Russell told the Post.  Cleary’s defense attorney in the most recent case, Dustin Parmley, said this week that his client’s violent words are related to his mental illness, which he was reportedly diagnosed with at age 10. Cleary told investigators he takes medication for an impulse control disorder.  Parmley said Cleary’s words have never turned to action. Investigators found no evidence that Cleary had weapons or attempted to obtain any, the Post said.  The newspaper reported that four of the criminal investigations into Cleary ended without charges filed against him.  Cleary will serve his time in Utah before being transferred to Colorado to face probation violation charges there, the News reported. An official with the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole told the paper his earliest hearing could take place as soon as September. The News said the board could potentially set a release date at that time, or members could decide to keep him in prison. Cleary could serve the entire five years of his sentence before being returned to Colorado. 

Washington Insider

  • Victims of Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters will have to wait into next month for Congress to give final approval to a $19.1 billion relief bill, as final passage of the plan in the House was blocked on Friday by a lone Republican lawmaker, forcing a delay until Congress returns for legislative business in the first week of June.   “I respectfully object,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), a more conservative Republicans who stayed in town after the House had completed its legislative business on Thursday, and came to the floor Friday morning to object to acting on the plan without a full roll call vote.   The House had approved $19.1 billion in disaster aid in early May; the Senate on Thursday amended the plan with the backing of President Trump – but it wasn’t good enough to get unanimous consent for approval in the House. “If I do not object, Congress will have passed into law a bill that spends $19 billion of taxpayer money without members of Congress being present here in our nation’s capital,” Roy said on the House floor, forcing a further delay on the disaster aid measure. One of Roy’s objections was that no money was included in the plan for the immigrant surge along the southern border - President Trump had backed off of that in order to secure a deal on Thursday. Roy’s maneuver drew the scorn of fellow Republicans from states which are need of aid - like Georgia - where farmers suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Michael. Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) tweeted that “our farmers need aid today,” as this move by his GOP colleague will delay that process into June, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of fellow Republicans with farmers in need of assistance.   Democrats were furious. “House Republicans’ last-minute sabotage of an overwhelmingly bipartisan disaster relief bill is an act of staggering political cynicism,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  “Countless American families hit by devastating natural disasters across the country will now be denied the relief they urgently need,” Pelosi added in a statement. “This is a rotten thing to do,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who noted to reporters that Roy was blocking aid for his own home state of Texas. “We should have passed this months ago,” said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), who asked for approval of the measure on the House floor. “I am beyond fed up. This is wrong,” said Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA).  “This bill is about helping people – not about playing Washington politics.” “Republican politicians are playing games while people’s homes are literally underwater,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).   Unless Republicans relent next week, the House would not be able to set up a vote on the disaster aid measure until the week of June 3. “There are people who are really hurting, and he’s objecting,” Shalala said.  “He’s holding hostage thousands of people.”  The House has two ‘pro forma’ meetings scheduled for next week - on Tuesday and Friday.  Republicans could object to passing the bill at those times as well.