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Posts Tagged ‘#clinton’

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FBI probes newly discovered emails tied to Clinton case

October 28, 2016

FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers Friday the bureau is reviewing new emails related to Hillary Clinton’s personal server, a development that shook her campaign 11 days before the election.

The emails being examined are part of an investigation into Anthony Weiner, according to law enforcement sources. Weiner, the disgraced former congressman, recently separated from top Clinton aide Huma Abedin after a sexting incident.
The FBI and the New York Police Department have opened preliminary investigations of allegations that the former New York Democratic congressman exchanged sexually explicit text messages with a purportedly underage girl.
The emails in question were sent or received by Abedin, according to a law enforcement official. There were a “considerable number” of emails being reviewed from at least one device shared by Abedin and Weinder, the official said. A separate official described it as thousands of pages.
The FBI is looking at whether any of the newly discovered emails will have an impact on the investigation into Clinton’s server that was closed earlier this year.
After recommending in July that the Department of Justice not press charges against the former secretary of state, Comey said in a letter to eight congressional committee chairmen Friday that investigators are examining newly discovered emails that “appear to be pertinent” to the email probe.

Hillary Clinton’s email controversy, explained
“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear pertinent to the investigation,” Comey wrote the chairmen. “I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”
Comey said he was not sure how long the additional review would take and said the FBI “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.”
Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta pressed Comey to release more information about the emails.
“FBI Director Comey should immediately provide the American public more information than is contained in the letter he sent to eight Republican committee chairmen,” Podesta said. “Already, we have seen characterizations that the FBI is ‘reopening’ an investigation but Comey’s words do not match that characterization. Director Comey’s letter refers to emails that have come to light in an unrelated case, but we have no idea what those emails are and the Director himself notes they may not even be significant. It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election.”
Comey felt he had no choice but to tell Congress now or risk being accused of hiding relevant information before the election, law enforcement officials said in explaining the timing. The letter was “carefully worded,” one of the officials said.
The Department of Justice, which followed Comey’s recommendation not to charge Clinton, declined to comment Friday.
Law enforcement sources say the newly discovered emails are not related to WikiLeaks or the Clinton Foundation. They would not describe in further detail the content of the emails. A law enforcement official said the newly discovered emails were found on an electronic device that the FBI didn’t previously have in its possession.
The news is a major development unfolding in the final stretch of the campaign, uniting Republicans and putting the Clinton campaign on defense. GOP nominee Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans, such as Speaker Paul Ryan, jumped on Comey’s announcement to blast Clinton.
Clinton’s campaign learned of the news while they were aboard a flight to Iowa.
“We’re learning about this just like you all are,” a Clinton aide told CNN.
The Democratic nominee has the advantage in the race for the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the presidency. She is leading Trump by six points in CNN’s Poll of Polls. The question now is whether the return of the email storm, which has overshadowed her entire campaign, will have an impact on any remaining undecided voters.
Republicans: No honeymoon if Clinton wins
“Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we’ve never seen before,” Trump said at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. “We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.”
Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, tweeted after the news broke, “A great day in our campaign just got even better.”
Ryan said Clinton betrayed Americans’ trust for handling “the nation’s most important secrets.”
“This decision, long overdue, is the result of her reckless use of a private email server, and her refusal to be forthcoming with federal investigators,” Ryan said in a statement. “I renew my call for the Director of National Intelligence to suspend all classified briefings for Secretary Clinton until this matter is fully resolved.”
Despite lashing Clinton’s email practices as “extremely careless,” Comey declined over the summer to recommend prosecution. That move was instantly lambasted by Republicans — some of whom decried the department’s politicization. Comey eventually was called to Capitol Hill to testify and defend the FBI’s integrity and decision process.

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Hacked WikiLeaks emails show concerns about Clinton candidacy, email server

October 13, 2016

WikiLeaks released yet another batch of hacked emails from inside Hillary Clinton’s campaign Wednesday, and with them came another round of embarrassing headlines and new glimpses of internal anxiety over the candidate’s weaknesses.

Republican Donald Trump and his allies seized on the emails, which reveal comments by an aide about Catholics, a line from a paid speech in which Clinton might be seen as playing down the threat of terrorism and an internal dispute over potential conflicts of interest posed by the Clinton Foundation.

The drip-drip-drip of damaging attention is likely to continue. WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization, began releasing new messages last Friday from the personal email account of Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, and has promised to issue tens of thousands more.

The correspondence reveals a campaign that has struggled all year to improve a flawed candidate. As far back as March, aides were keenly aware that she was resistant to the media, perhaps out of touch with regular Americans and unable to convey a clear message to voters.

A month before Clinton launched her campaign, her aides worked to corral her well-known love for granular policy details into a message that would both capture her agenda and present a forward-looking, aspirational vision for her presidency.
Nearly a year later, a similar struggle cropped up as they attempted to revise her core campaign message.

“Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?” asked Clinton adviser Joel Benenson.

Benenson contrasted the simplicity of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s anti-Wall Street message with Clinton’s multitiered campaign slogans.

Seven months later and on the cusp of Election Day, the concerns laid out in these emails and others largely remain. Clinton has proven to be a lackluster candidate who has struggled to win over the liberals who gravitated to Sanders during the primary, and who remains ahead in large part due to Donald Trump’s historic weaknesses.
“Right now I am petrified that Hillary is almost totally dependent on Republicans nominating [Donald] Trump,” Brent Budowsky, a political columnist and former political adviser, wrote in a March 2016 email to Podesta and Roy Spence, an ad maker for the campaign. “She has huge endemic political weaknesses that she would be wise to rectify.

“Even a clown like Ted Cruz would be an even money bet to beat and this scares the hell of out me,” Budowsky added.
Indeed at least one aide, Benenson, believed that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) posed the greatest threat to Clinton if he were to become the Republican nominee.

Hovering over the trickle of embarrassing emails are suspicions both within the Clinton campaign and in intelligence circles that Russia is behind the hack. The FBI is investigating the cyber incident as part of a broader inquiry into Russian hacking of political organizations such as the Democratic National Committee, law enforcement officials said. Clinton and her allies have linked the hacking to an attempt by the Russians to influence an American election.

“By dribbling these out every day, WikiLeaks is proving they are nothing but a propaganda arm of the Kremlin with a political agenda doing Putin’s dirty work to help elect Donald Trump,” said Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin. “The FBI is now investigating this crime. The unanswered questions are why Donald Trump strangely won’t condemn it and whether any of his associates are involved.”

Regardless, the emails are likely to be a source of headaches for Clinton from now until Election Day. The Clinton campaign has declined to confirm the authenticity of the emails, nor has it denied it.

At a Wednesday afternoon rally in Lakeland, Fla., Trump called the WikiLeaks revelations “big stuff” and repeatedly slammed his Democratic rival over them.

“The Hillary Clinton documents released by WikiLeaks make more clear than ever just how much is at stake on Nov. 8. She would be the most dishonest and the most corrupt person ever elected to high office,” Trump told the crowd.

His campaign held a conference call with reporters singling out an exchange showing campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri describing people who convert to Catholicism.

“I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable, politically conservative religion — their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelicals,” Palmieri wrote, according to WikiLeaks. Palmieri, who is Catholic, said Wednesday aboard Clinton’s campaign plane that she has no recollection of the email.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan seized on the email in a statement denouncing the Clinton campaign’s “disdain” for the Catholic faith, although he cited a portion of the email not written by Palmieri or any other Clinton staffer.

The emails also show the campaign’s internal struggle with how best to address the controversy surrounding the use of an email server while Clinton was at the State Department and her resistance to her aides’ counsel about how best to but the issue aside.

In March 2015, Nick Merrill, now Clinton’s traveling press secretary, wrote to Palmieri suggesting that Clinton sit down with comedian and writer Larry Wilmore, who was already scheduled to appear with Bill and Chelsea Clinton at a Clinton Global Initiative event.

“HRC is not slated to join, but maybe she should,” Merrill wrote, suggesting Wilmore could make a joke about hearing Hillary Clinton is a big emailer.

As the email issue persisted, top aide Huma Abedin asked Clinton’s advisers in May 2015 whether Clinton could “survive not answering questions from press” at events during the first leg of the campaign when she rolled out new policy.

“In the fall, starting to do avails at message events, interviews, and Q and A with press but having had a series of policy proposals already announced and reported on that she could point to,” Abedin suggested, seemingly to relay Clinton’s thinking to a number of top aides.

Podesta disagreed in no uncertain terms.

“If she thinks we can get to Labor Day without taking press questions, I think that’s suicidal,” Podesta wrote. “We have to find some mechanism to let the stream out of the pressure cooker.”
A similar debate re-emerged in 2016, after Clinton went months without answering questions from her traveling press, only to change course after Labor Day with more frequent news conferences.

Still unable to lay the email issue to rest in 2015, Clinton’s aides talked about their effort to persuade Clinton to use the decision to turn over her server to the Justice Department as an “opportunity” for her to be seen as having dealt with the issue.

“It is clear that she is not in same place (unless John has a convo with her and gets her in a different place),” Palmieri wrote in August 2015.

To this day, Clinton’s email server is a major part of Trump’s case against her and is regularly cited by voters as among the reasons they don’t trust her.

The battle with Sanders also proved challenging. Campaign aides sought to balance the need to reduce the damage his candidacy did to hers by bringing the primary to an end while also not alienating his liberal supporters, whom she planned to rely in during the general election.

In the wake of Sanders’s resounding defeat of Clinton in the New Hampshire primary, the emails show top Clinton advisers discussing ways to slow the momentum of the senator from Vermont, a self-described “democratic socialist.”

In one email, Clinton adviser Mandy Grunwald discusses several possible lines of attack, including one under the header: “FREE STUFF FOR EVERYBODY.”

“Combined, Sanders proposals would put the government in control of more than half of the American economy, but Sanders has never told anyone who would pay for all of this or how it would work,” she wrote.

Others warned against attacking Sanders too hard — and risking turning away his supporters.

The emails show that Clinton’s campaign also worried about the influence of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) over the left wing of the party and the possibility that she might endorse Sanders.

In October 2015, as Sanders was attracting huge crowds on the campaign trail, Grunwald asked whether Clinton should modify her views on a proposed banking regulation to mollify Warren.
“I am still worried that we will antagonize and activate Elizabeth Warren by opposing a new Glass-Steagall,” Grunwald wrote. “I worry about defending the banks in the debate.”

An excerpt of one of Clinton’s paid speeches show some aides were concerned that her comments seemed like an admission that she is “out of touch.”

And Clinton mused about her own shortcomings and challenges with being a more authentic candidate in an off-the-record interview she had with New York Times journalist Mark Leibovich in the summer of 2015.

“I’m trying to let people into my life,” she said, according to the transcript. “I’m trying to relate to people — not relate to them, you know, talk about being a grandmother — talk about, you know, the experiences I had growing up and all that. Talk about my own mother. And in that way, kind of make connections.”

The leaked emails also offer a glimpse of the often plodding nature of her campaign. While Trump often speaks off the cuff — and his staff doesn’t even know some of what he’ll say — most everything Clinton does is scripted.
On an email chain in October 2015 that included more than a dozen aides, there was great debate over whether Clinton should tell a joke at an Iowa dinner about her grueling 11-hour testimony before a House panel investigating the Benghazi attack.

As described, the joke, which was apparently suggested by Bill Clinton, involved the former secretary of state half-expecting Sanders to burst in during hour eight of her testimony and repeat his famous debate line: “Enough about your damn emails, Hillary!’”

In the end, the line never saw the light of day.

“I defer if others think this buys us good will with Sanders people,” Podesta wrote. “But email jokes in Iowa usually end up badly and don’t we want to move on?”

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Facebook disputes Belgian tracking order over use of English in court ruling

January 29, 2016

Facebook is objecting to the use of English words such as “cookie” and “browser” in a Belgian court order, which has demanded the site stop tracking users without their consent, saying that Belgians may not understand the words.

It forms a small part of Facebook’s appeal in its long-running battle over tracking of non-users of its social network.

Facebook was ordered to stop tracking internet users who do not have accounts with the social network within 24 hours or face fines of up to €250,000 a day. The ruling included the English words “browser” and “cookie” referring to parts of Facebook’s tracking technology.

Dirk Lindemans, a lawyer representing Facebook Belgium told the Belgian newspaper De Tijd: “It is a requirement that justice can be understood by everyone. Otherwise you get a slippery slope towards class-biased justice.”

The social network is appealing the use of English words under Belgian law that dictates rulings must be made in Dutch, French or German from a Belgian court. Facebook is claiming that the ruling should be annulled.

A Facebook spokesperson said: “It’s untrue to suggest that we are appealing our court case only on a point of language. It is one of many arguments which we made when we submitted our appeal documents in January and forms two paragraphs of 190 in a 37 page document.”

Even so, the strength of Facebook’s argument on this point is questionable. The Dutch for “web browser” is “webbrowser” for instance, while in French it is “browser” or “navigateur”. An internet “cookie”, as opposed to a biscuit, is “cookie” in all three languages.

The case, brought by the Belgian Privacy watchdog in June 2015, accused Facebook of indiscriminately tracking internet users when they visit pages on the site or click “like” or “share”, even if they are not members of the social network. Tracking users without their permission contravenes European privacy law.

The Belgian court said Facebook used a special “cookie” that lodged on a user’s device if they visited a Facebook page – for example belonging to a friend, a shop or a political party – even if they were not signed up to the network.

Facebook claims the cookie is used to protect users as part of its security systems, preventing user accounts being hacked.

Brendan van Alsenoy, legal researcher at the KU Leuven Centre for IT & IP law and author of the report into Facebook’s tracking of users on which the Belgium data protection case was built: “I can only express surprise and disbelief. It’s so far from the substance of the case, and needlessly detracts from the important issues at stake.”

Facebook said: “While we’re confident that we are fully compliant with applicable European law, we are working hard to address the Belgian Privacy Commissioner’s concerns in a way that allows us to provide the best possible service and have offered to work with them on a solution.”

Willem Debeuckelaere, president of the Belgian Privacy Commission said: “‘Law is a profession of words’, so keep it professional.”

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Emails: Russia-linked hackers tried to access Clinton server

October 5, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia-linked hackers tried at least five times to pry into Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email account while she was secretary of state, emails released Wednesday show. It is unclear if she clicked on any attachment and exposed her account.

Clinton, the Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential race, received the infected emails, disguised as speeding tickets from New York, over four hours early the morning of Aug. 3, 2011. The emails instructed recipients to print the attached tickets. Opening the attachment would have allowed hackers to take over control of a victim’s computer.

Security researchers who analyzed the malicious software in September 2011 said that infected computers would transmit information from victims to at least three server computers overseas, including one in Russia. That doesn’t necessarily mean Russian intelligence or citizens were responsible.

Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign, said: “We have no evidence to suggest she replied to this email or that she opened the attachment. As we have said before, there is no evidence that the system was ever breached. All these emails show is that, like millions of other Americans, she received spam.”

Practically every Internet user is inundated with spam or virus-riddled messages daily. But these messages show hackers had Clinton’s email address, which was not public, and sent her a fake traffic ticket from New York state, where she lives. Most commercial antivirus software at the time would have detected the software and blocked it.

The phishing attempts highlight the risk of Clinton’s unsecure email being pried open by foreign intelligence agencies, even if others also received the virus concealed as a speeding ticket from Chatham, New York. The email misspelled the name of the city, came from a supposed New York City government account and contained a “Ticket.zip” file that would have been a red flag.

Clinton has faced increasing questions over whether her unusual email setup amounted to a proper form of secrecy protection and records retention. The emails themselves — many redacted heavily before public release — have provided no shocking disclosures thus far and Clinton has insisted the server was secure.

During Clinton’s tenure, the State Department and other U.S. government agencies faced their own series of hacking attacks. U.S. counterterrorism officials have linked them to China and Russia. But the government has a large staff of information technology experts, whereas Clinton has yet to provide any information on who maintained her server and how well it was secured.

The emails released Wednesday also show a Clinton confidant urging her boss and others in June 2011 not to “telegraph” how often senior officials at the State Department relied on their private email accounts to do government business because it could inspire hackers to steal information. The discussion never mentioned Clinton’s own usage of a private email account and server.

The exchange begins with policy chief Anne-Marie Slaughter lamenting that the State Department’s technology is “so antiquated that NO ONE uses a State-issued laptop and even high officials routinely end up using their home email accounts to be able to get their work done quickly and effectively.” She said more funds were needed and that an opinion piece might make the point to legislators.

Clinton said the idea “makes good sense,” but her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, disagreed: “As someone who attempted to be hacked (yes I was one), I am not sure we want to telegraph how much folks do or don’t do off state mail b/c it may encourage others who are out there.”

The hacking attempts were included in the 6,300 pages the State Department released, covering a period when U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden and the Arab Spring rocked American diplomacy.

The former first lady and New York senator had maintained that nothing was classified in her correspondence, but the intelligence community has identified messages containing “top secret” information. Clinton had insisted that all of her work emails were being reviewed by the State Department, but Pentagon officials recently discovered a new chain of messages between Clinton and then-Gen. David Petraeus dating to her first days in office that she did not send to the State Department.

As part of Wednesday’s release, officials upgraded the classification level of portions of 215 emails, State Department spokesman John Kirby said. Almost all were “confidential,” the lowest level of classification. Three emails were declared “secret,” a mid-tier level for information that could still cause serious damage to national security, if made public.

“The information we upgraded today was not marked classified at the time the emails were sent,” Kirby stressed.

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