Wired: “Over the past year, the Kremlin’s strategy of weaponizing leaks to meddle with democracies around the world has become increasingly clear, first in the US and more recently in France. But a new report by a group of security researchers digs into another layer of those so-called influence operations: how Russian hackers alter documents within those releases of hacked material, planting disinformation alongside legitimate leaks.”
“In President Trump’s oft-changing world order, Roger J. Stone Jr., the onetime political consultant and full-time provocateur, has been one of the few constants — a loyalist and self-proclaimed ‘dirty trickster’ who nurtured the dream of a presidential run by the developer-turned-television-star for 30 years,” the New York Times reports.
“But two months into the Trump presidency, Mr. Stone, known for his pinstripe suits, the Nixon tattoo spanning his shoulder blades, and decades of outlandish statements, is under investigation for what would be his dirtiest trick — colluding with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton and put his friend in the White House.”
Washington Post: “Reporters were kept out, and only a few select staffers, family members and outsiders were allowed to participate in the private GOP policy retreat. But at least one unauthorized person made it inside, and while it is unclear to what degree the country’s top leaders were in physical danger, their circle of trust was undoubtedly breached.”
“A person secretly recorded closed sessions on national security and health care that were attended by many dozens of GOP lawmakers. They had gathered for a private discussion of some of the thorniest legislative issues of the moment, as well as a question-and-answer session with Pence.”
Ambassador John Bolton claimed that hacks during the election season could have been “a false flag” operation — possibly committed by the Obama administration itself, Politico reports.
Said Bolton: “It is not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside, that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false flag. So the question has to be asked, why did the Russians run their smart intelligence service against Hillary’s server, but their dumb intelligence service against the election?”
“Just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you and wishing the best. For what it’s worth, I thought the move you pulled was kind of badass.”
— Jared Kushner, in a 2013 email to David Wildstein obtained by the Washington Post, amid growing evidence that Wildstein had ordered the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge to payback Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) political enemies.
“An automated army of pro-Donald Trump chatbots overwhelmed similar programs supporting Hillary Clinton five to one in the days leading up to the presidential election, according to a report published Thursday by researchers at Oxford University,” the New York Times reports.
“The chatbots — basic software programs with a bit of artificial intelligence and rudimentary communication skills — would send messages on Twitter based on a topic… Their purpose: to rant, confuse people on facts, or simply muddy discussions.”
“A poll worker in Texas was injured Tuesday when he tried to move a Donald Trump campaign sign and cut his hand on box-cutter blades that had been attached to it,” the Huffington Post reports.
“The tampered sign was discovered Tuesday morning blocking an official polling sign at Collin County College in Plano, according to NBC Dallas. A precinct official had ordered the sign to be moved.”
Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) “was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in jail for orchestrating an illegal news leak to damage a political enemy, capping a spectacular downfall for a woman who three years ago was seen as one of the state’s fastest-rising stars,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
“Her downfall began when she leaked confidential grand jury material two years ago to a newspaper in a bid to embarrass a political enemy, and then lied about her actions under oath. After a trial in August, a jury found her guilty of perjury, obstruction and other charges.”
Andres Sepulveda tells Bloomberg he rigged major political campaigns over a period of eight years in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela.
“With a budget of $600,000, the Peña Nieto job was by far his most complex. He led a team of hackers that stole campaign strategies, manipulated social media to create false waves of enthusiasm and derision, and installed spyware in opposition offices, all to help Peña Nieto, a right-of-center candidate, eke out a victory.”
Now serving 10 years in prison in Colombia, Sepulveda is telling his story in hopes of a reduced sentence.
On the question of whether the U.S. presidential campaign is being tampered with, he is unequivocal: “I’m 100 percent sure it is.”
Ben Carson told Morning Joe that Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign tactics in Iowa were “despicable” and “devastating.”
Said Carson: “Our internal polling and some external polling showed us doing significantly better than we did. But you know, it’s water under the bridge. It’s not that many delegates. It’s a long race. You know, it’s a nine-inning game. We don’t call it after the second inning. We’re going to do just fine.”
The Charleston Post and Courier introduced a digital tool that asks readers to help keep tabs on the coming wave of dirty tricks.
Politico: “This is a state famous for telephone pollsters implying John McCain had an illegitimate child, and the bogus Mitt Romney Christmas card with controversial quotes from the Book of Mormon. Fliers dropped on South Carolina doorsteps have told people the wrong date to vote; this is where political rivals have bantered openly with racial slurs and innuendo about sexual trysts.”
Jeb Bush’s campaign manager warned top staffers to expect “dirty tricks” from Marco Rubio’s campaign in the run-up to voting in New Hampshire, Politico reports.
“The stakes are high for both candidates on Tuesday — but especially for Bush, who has made New Hampshire the cornerstone of his campaign. There is a growing sense among some of Bush’s top supporters that a less than impressive performance will make it harder for the former Florida governor to continue on his campaign.”
Hillary Clinton’s campaign offices around the country “have been put on alert after at least two women approached Iowa staff under the guise of being supporters in an apparent effort to catch the campaign engaging in improper or illegal activity,” Time reports.
“The motivations of the women is not known, but their alleged techniques match those of Project Veritas, the conservative group run by James O’Keefe, which specializes in undercover stings meant to embarrass liberal groups and politicians. The group declined to comment on the Clinton campaign’s allegations.”