Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intelligence

Gathered together in one place, for easy access, an agglomeration of writings and images relevant to the Rapeutation phenomenon.

Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Sun Dec 06, 2020 5:12 am

Part 3 of 4

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"This is normal"

President Donald Trump: (15:44)
Nobody knows anything about it. By the way, there’s your line. This is one of many. Here’s what is normal, and all of a sudden, look at that. This is normal, normal. Look even here, normal. And then boom, all of a sudden, I go from winning by a lot to losing a tight race. It’s corrupt. Detroit is corrupt. I have a lot of friends in Detroit. They know it, but Detroit is totally corrupt. Look at this, look at this. That’s at 6:31 in the morning, unexpectedly came in. In the recent recount in Georgia, which means nothing because they don’t want to check signatures, and if you’re not going to check signatures in Georgia, it doesn’t work, but we have a secretary of state and a governor who made it very difficult to check signatures.

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Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Do something@BrianKempGA. You allowed your state to be scammed. We must check signatures and count signed envelopes against ballots. Then call of election. It won't be needed. We will all WIN!


President Donald Trump: (16:41)
Why? You’ll have to ask them, but without a signature match, or a check, it doesn’t matter. They found thousands and thousands of votes that were out of whack, all against me. This was during a recount that I didn’t even think mattered. They found many thousands of votes, and that recount didn’t matter. The one that matters is the one that’s going on now, that because of the fact it’s so close, they had to by law give another recount. But the recount has to be a recount where they check the signatures. Otherwise, they’re just checking the same dishonest thing. It won’t matter.

President Donald Trump: (17:22)
In this case, the signatures on envelopes are the only thing that is relevant. We will compare the signature on the envelope to the signatures from past elections, and we will find that many thousands of people signed these ballots illegally. The Democrats had this election rigged right from the beginning. They used the pandemic, sometimes referred to as the China virus, where it originated as an excuse to mail out tens of millions of ballots, which ultimately led to a big part of the fraud, a fraud that the whole world is watching. And there is no one happier right now than China.

When performed by professionals in criminal cases or legal proceedings, signature verification can take hours. But election employees in many states must do the job in as little as five seconds...

But experts say mail voters are far more likely to be disenfranchised than those who vote in person.

That’s particularly true for young people, who are more likely to experiment with various handwriting styles; the elderly, whose signatures sometimes change with age; people with disabilities; and those voting by mail for the first time — a category that this year includes millions of Americans.

People tasked with verifying signatures often receive little or no instruction. According to one study, those without formal training are more likely to flag a genuine signature as a fake rather than identify false signatures as real.

“It is just ripe for error,” said Linton Mohammed, a forensic document examiner in California who has been an expert witness in lawsuits over ballot signature rules...

A forensic-level analysis isn’t the goal, many election officials said. Instead, workers check to see if signatures look similar enough to be counted, and don’t reflect the wrong name or diverge drastically from the one in the voter’s file.

“We are not real picky as long as it looks similar,” said Jennie Aines, elections director for Franklin County, Pa. She said her staff does not receive any type of instruction in signature analysis.

“There’s no training,” she said. “We are all just office workers trying to get stuff done in here.”...

Without a cure process, rejecting ballots for handwriting issues isn’t fair to voters, said Thomas Vastrick, a forensic document examiner who has taught signature verification classes for Florida election workers...

“We always err on the side of the voter,” said Robert Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade County Elections Department...

Signatures that don’t match do not always signal fraud.

In addition to the young and the elderly, voters whose first language is written right to left — such as Arabic or Urdu — are less likely to have a consistent signature in English, experts say.

Medication can also affect one’s handwriting, as can fine motor skills issues, disabilities and injuries.

North Dakota resident Maria Romo didn’t learn until this year that her vote in the 2018 midterm election had been rejected due to a perceived signature mismatch.

Romo said her already messy handwriting has gotten worse since she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her hands sometimes go numb and she struggles to grip a pen. Sitting down, standing up or resting her arm on a chair can change the look of her writing — all of which she would have told elections officials, she said, had they asked...

Emily Will, a forensic document examiner in North Carolina, said she’s troubled by the idea that workers may be comparing ballot signatures to just one, or even a few, samples from the voter’s file. She said she likes to have at least 20 examples of a voter’s past signature when she performs a verification, with several having been written recently.

“Think about signing a credit card receipt as opposed to your will or your mortgage papers,” she said. “Some people might consider their ballot signature very important, but some might think this is just nothing and they just scrawl it out.”

Amy Campbell of Philadelphia said she thinks she signed her ballot correctly in the June primary but election officials canceled her vote, claiming they “could not obtain” her signature.

The 26-year-old, who voted by mail due to concerns of COVID-19, said she was angry that she was not given the chance to cure her ballot.

“I thought I had done what I was supposed to do to vote and make sure I was doing my part to keep my city safe,” Campbell said. “It was frustrating that some minor clerical issue disqualified my vote.”


-- ‘Ripe for error’: Ballot signature verification is flawed — and a big factor in the election, by Maya Lau, Laura J. Nelson, L.A. Times, 10/28/20


President Donald Trump: (18:10)
Many people received two, three and four ballots. They were sent to dead people by the thousands. In fact, dead people -- and we have many examples, filled out ballots -- made applications, and then, voted, which is even worse. In other words, dead people went through a process. Some have been dead for 25 years.

To hear some people tell it -- including a handful of prominent Republicans, such as members of President Trump's family and supporters like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell -- you might think that Democrats were using dead people to steal Michigan's Electoral College votes from Trump.

But, like much of the misinformation circulated online this week by some Trump supporters, the claim falls apart under scrutiny. A CNN analysis of the claim and the purported backing for it did not find a single instance of that happening.

One of the supposed pieces of evidence was a list that circulated on Twitter Thursday evening allegedly containing names, birth dates, and zip codes for registered voters in Michigan. The origin of the list and the identity of the person who first made it public are not known.

CNN examined 50 of the more than 14,000 names on the list by taking the first 25 names on the list and then 25 more picked at random. We ran the names through Michigan's Voter Information database to see if they requested or returned a ballot. We then checked the names against publicly available records to see if they were indeed dead.

Of the 50, 37 were indeed dead and had not voted, according to the voter information database. Five people out of the 50 had voted -- and they are all still alive, according to public records accessed by CNN. The remaining eight are also alive but didn't vote.

The sample CNN reviewed is not representative, but the trend was clear -- not a single one of the names examined was of a dead person voting.

The version of the list CNN found has since been removed from the site hosting it.


-- Claims that dead people voted went viral. These are the facts, By Konstantin Toropin, Holmes Lybrand and Annie Grayer, CNN, Updated 10:47 AM ET, Sun November 8, 2020


Millions of votes were cast illegally in the swing states alone, and if that’s the case, the results of the individual swing states must be overturned, and overturned immediately. Some people say that’s too far out, that’s too harsh. Well, does that mean we take a president, and we’ve just elected a president where the votes were fraudulent?

President Donald Trump: (19:01)
No, it means you have to turn over the election. And everybody knows without going much further, and they’ve seen the evidence, but they don’t want to talk about it, what a disaster this election was, a total catastrophe. But we’re going to show it, and hopefully, the courts in particular. The Supreme Court of the United States will see it, and respectfully, hopefully, they will do what’s right for our country, because our country cannot live with this kind of an election. We could say, "let’s go on to the next one," but no, we have to look also at our past. We can’t let this happen.

President Donald Trump: (19:43)
Maybe you’ll have a revote, but I don’t think that’s appropriate. When those votes are corrupt, when they’re irregular, when they get caught, they’re terminated, and I very easily win. In all states, I very easily win the swing states, just like I won them at 10 o’clock in the evening, the evening of the election. We’re not looking to show you 25 faulty or fraudulent votes, which don’t mean anything, because it doesn’t overturn the state, or a fifty, or a hundred. We’re showing you hundreds of thousands far more than we need, far more than the margin, far more than the law requires. We can show many times what is necessary to win the state.

...

As President Donald Trump continues to contest the election results, one of the most common questions I get is, "Are you investigating his allegations of voter fraud?" The short answer is yes, we will always look into credible accusations of serious wrongdoing.

The issue here is that many of these allegations are unfounded, overblown or have little or unreliable evidence.

"Reporters on my team have reviewed about 10 lawsuits alleging problems with voting and counting in several states," said enterprise editor Steve Myers. "What many people may not realize is how far the lawsuits fall short of what people claim."

For example, Myers said, in Nevada the Trump campaign announced it and the state Republican Party were preparing to file a lawsuit alleging that up to 10,000 people who no longer lived in Nevada had voted there.

"When the suit was filed, it contained just one vague reference to 'over 3,000 instances of ineligible individuals casting ballots,' and it cited no evidence," he said. The head of elections in Clark County said he would look into the allegation but that out-of-state voters are common, and often include members of the military and college students. Judges declined to stop vote counting.

The lack of evidence appears to be why judges have tossed these cases so quickly – in Georgia, it took just one day.

The Trump campaign went to court the day after the election, alleging Chatham County had improperly intermingled ineligible ballots with valid ones, our journalists reported. A judge dismissed the case after the county elections head said he reviewed the 53 ballots in question and found they had been received before the deadline.

Investigative editor Matt Doig points out that voting irregularities happen every election but, as our reporting has shown, are extremely rare and don't amount to negating a national election.

"A poll worker will accidentally mark the book to show that John Smith Sr. voted instead of John Smith Jr., and the Sr. is dead," he said. "Somebody who lives in Michigan will cast an absentee ballot there, and then vote in person at the precinct near his vacation house in Arizona. Someone will cast a vote for a spouse who died between the time the ballot was mailed and the election deadline."

The conservative Heritage Foundation, which keeps records of voting fraud, found about 1,200 cases dating back to the 1980s. The Heritage database does not include any examples of a concerted effort to use absentee ballot fraud to influence a major election...


-- Backstory: We investigated claims of voter fraud in the election. Here's what we found., by Nicole Carroll, USA TODAY, 11/13/20


President Donald Trump: (20:34)
The media knows this, but they don’t want to report it. In fact, they outright refuse to even cover it, because they know the result if they do. Even what I’m saying now will be demeaned and disparaged, but that’s okay. I just keep on going forward, because I’m representing 74 million people. And in fact, I’m also representing all of the people that didn’t vote for me. The mail-in voting scam is the latest part of their four year effort to overturn the results of the 2016 election, and it’s been like living in hell. Our opponents have proven many times, again and again, that they will say and do anything to get back into power.

President Donald Trump: (21:28)
The corrupt forces who are registering dead voters and stuffing ballot boxes are the same people who have perpetrated one phony and fraudulent hoax after another. You’ve been watching it now for four years. These entrenched interests oppose our movement, because we put America first. They don’t put America first, and we’re returning power to you the American people. They don’t want America first, they only want power for themselves. They want to make money. That’s why they don’t want me as your president. I’ve been investigated from soon after I announced I was running for president. When I immediately went to number one in the Republican primary polls, the investigations never stopped. They went on for four years, and I won them all, I beat them all. Russia, Russia, Russia, the impeachment hoax, and so much more. Robert Mueller spent $48 million of taxpayer money investigating me for two and a half years, issued over 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, issued 230 orders for communications records, and conducted 500 witness interviews, all looking to take me down. There was no collusion in the end, none whatsoever. Senator Marco Rubio, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee stated, “The committee found no evidence that then candidate Donald Trump, or his campaign, colluded with the Russian government.” And, I thank Senator Rubio for that statement.

President Donald Trump: (23:22)
Now, I hear that these same people that failed to get me in Washington have sent every piece of information to New York, so that they can try to get me there. It’s all been gone over, over and over again. For $48 million you go through tax returns, you go through everything. The New York attorney general, who recently ran for office, campaigned without knowing me, stating, “We will join with law enforcement and other attorneys general across this nation in removing this president from office.” I never met her.

President Donald Trump: (24:03)
“It’s important that everybody understands”, she said, “that the days of Donald Trump are coming to an end.” And all it’s been is a big investigation in Washington and New York and any place else that can investigate, because that’s what they want to do. They want to take not me, but us down. Then we can never let them do that. Everything has been looked at. A friend of mine, who’s very smart, said, “You’ve probably seen more than anybody else. You’ve probably been investigated more than anybody else. And for you to come out with a clean bill of health makes you probably the cleanest person in this country.”


President Donald Trump: (24:48)
Some people in this administration, but fortunately not all, have been beaten down and disparaged. They just disappeared. Nobody knows what happened to them. Why aren’t they active? Why aren’t they involved? There’s so much to be involved in. The corruption is so rampant. They just couldn’t take it anymore. They were threatened by Democrats with impeachment, and horrible things were said about them. And they’re good people. Even recently, the head of the GSA was hounded and harassed as she reported, like she has never been before. What can I say? We caught Comey cold, we caught McCabe cold. We caught them all. We’re still waiting for a report from a man named Durham, who I have never spoken to, and I have never met. They can go after me before the election as much as they want, but unfortunately Mr. Durham didn’t want to go after these people, or have anything to do with going after them before the election. So who knows if he is ever going to even do a report.

On September 10, Nora Dannehy resigned as the deputy to John Durham, the federal prosecutor investigating the government’s probe into the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. Dannehy left her post and the Justice Department in part because of Attorney General William Barr’s pressure on Durham to release a report on his investigation’s findings before Election Day, according to a person familiar with her thinking. Trump had long been hoping a report out this fall would damage Democrats, including Joe Biden, and help him win reelection. In Trump’s terminology, Durham’s report would reveal an “attempted overthrow” of his administration by Democratic insiders. But Justice Department guidelines restrict prosecutors from taking such actions within 60 days of an election because they might affect the outcome of the election. Both Durham and Dannehy believed that if they complied with Barr’s demands they would be violating this doctrine, according to two people familiar with their thinking.

Durham, who is the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, and Dannehy were also troubled that Barr had purposely misrepresented their work in numerous public comments, the two people said. According to two sources familiar with the probe, there has been no evidence found, after 18 months of investigation, to support Barr’s claims that Trump was targeted by politically biased Obama officials to prevent his election. (The probe remains ongoing.)
In fact, the sources said, the Durham investigation has so far uncovered no evidence of any wrongdoing by Biden or Barack Obama, or that they were even involved with the Russia investigation. There “was no evidence … not even remotely … indicating Obama or Biden did anything wrong,” as one person put it.

Shortly after the resignation of his prized deputy and with the election looming on the horizon, Durham phoned Barr. He forcefully told the attorney general that his office would not be releasing a report or taking any other significant public actions before Election Day, according to a person with knowledge of the phone call. Dannehy’s resignation constituted an implied but unspoken threat to Barr that Durham or others on his team might resign if the attorney general attempted to force the issue, according to a person familiar with Durham’s thinking.

After hearing from Durham in September, Barr informed the president and allies that there would be no October surprise, causing Trump to lash out. “Unless Bill Barr indicts these people for crimes — the greatest political crimes in the history of our country — then we’re going to get little satisfaction unless I win,” he told Fox Business last month. “[These] people should be indicted, this was the greatest political crime in the history of our country. And that includes Obama and it includes Biden.”


The president had been hoping for a repeat of what happened during the 2016 election, when, with just 11 days left, then-FBI director James Comey announced the reopening of the bureau’s Hillary Clinton email investigation. Comey’s decision is widely seen to have hurt Clinton at a crucial moment and helped Trump pull off a come-from-behind victory. For more than a year and a half, Trump believed that Durham’s investigation would confirm the conspiracy theory that the “deep state” — senior officials of the Justice Department, FBI, and intelligence community — had worked to sabotage his presidency with false accusations that he had colluded with Russia. The Justice Department’s inspector general last year reported finding no “evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions” of the Russia investigators, and so far, the only charge brought by Durham’s office has been against an ex-FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to falsifying an email used to obtain a warrant for electronic surveillance on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

For his part, Barr was hyping what the Durham investigation would find since at least the spring and suggested it would be bad for Democrats. “There is a difference between an abuse of power and a federal crime. Not every abuse of power, no matter how outrageous, is a federal crime,” Barr told reporters in May. “As to President Obama and Vice-President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man. Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.” One person familiar with the Durham investigation called Barr’s comments a backhanded attempt to insinuate that Obama and Biden had abused their powers. Barr’s ongoing commentary regarding Durham’s investigation appears to have violated Justice Department policy that officials should “not confirm the existence or otherwise comment about ongoing investigations.”

While discussing Durham’s investigation, Barr’s rhetoric also increasingly paralleled Trump’s. In contrast to the president, Barr delivered his comments in a measured and restrained manner, while Trump’s claims have been coarse and hyperbolic. Barr has suggested that the DOJ and FBI’s investigations of the president was “one of the greatest travesties” in American history and a “bogus scandal,” whereas Trump simply called the investigations a “hoax.” Barr has said the “greatest danger to our free system” is when law enforcement and intelligence agencies try to “affect the outcome of an election.” Trump accused them of an attempted “coup” against him. Barr has said that the “completely bogus narrative” caused by the investigations “was largely fanned and hyped by a completely irresponsible press.” Trump blamed the “fake media,” period.

After hearing there would be no October surprise, Trump excoriated Barr, telling Rush Limbaugh: “I think it’s a terrible thing, and I’ll say it to his face.”


-- How Trump and Barr’s October Surprise Went Bust, by Murray Waas, Intelligencer, Nov 2, 2020


President Donald Trump: (26:11)
But if you look at the lies, and the leaks, and the illegal acts of behavior done by so many people, and their desire to hurt the president of the United States, something should happen. The hardest thing I have to do is explain why nothing is happening with all of these people that got caught spying on my campaign. It’s never happened before and it should never happen again to a president of the United States. All you have to do is watch the hearings and see for yourself. The evidence is overwhelming. The fraud that we’ve collected in recent weeks is overwhelming, having to do with our election. Everyone is saying, ”Wow, the evidence is overwhelming”, when they get to see it. But really, it’s too late to change the course of an election. It’s too late to change the outcome.

President Donald Trump: (27:11)
In fact, there is still plenty of time to certify the correct winner of the election, and that’s what we’re fighting to do. But no matter when it happens, when they see fraud, when they see false votes, and when those votes number far more than is necessary, you can’t let another person steal that election from you. All over the country, people are together in holding up signs, “Stop the steal.” To understand how we will challenge this fraud, it is important to know the problems with mail-in balloting. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, Georgia, Arizona, and most other states allowed anyone to get an absentee ballot and cast their vote without showing any ID. The voting took place entirely on the honor system. No identification of any kind was required.

President Donald Trump: (28:11)
Most Americans would also be shocked to learn that no state in the country verifies United States citizenship as a condition for voting in federal elections. This is a national disgrace. No other advanced country conducts elections this way. Many European countries have instituted major restrictions on mail-in voting specifically, because they recognize the nearly unlimited potential for fraud. Out of 42 European nations, all but two prohibit absentee ballots entirely for people who reside inside the country, or else they require those who need absentee ballots to show a very, very powerful ID.

President Donald Trump: (28:54)
Throughout the Democrat effort to dramatically expand mail-in voting, the Democrat party leaders were also feverishly working to block measures designed to protect against fraud such as signature verification, residency verification, or voter ID. And citizenship confirmation was almost unthought of that we should ask for it. Can you believe this? These are not the actions of people who want fair elections. These are the actions of people who want to steal elections, who are willing to create fraud. The only conceivable reason why you would block common sense measures to verify legal eligibility for voting is you are trying to encourage, enable, solicit, or carry out fraud.

President Donald Trump: (29:47)
It is important for Americans to understand that these destructive changes to our election laws were not a necessary response to the pandemic. The pandemic simply gave the Democrats an excuse to do what they have been trying to do for many, many years. In fact, the very first bill that house Democrats introduced when Nancy Pelosi became speaker, was an attempt to mandate universal mail-in voting, and eliminate measures such as voter ID, which is so necessary. Dramatically eroding the integrity of our elections was the Democrats number one priority for a simple reason: they wanted to steal the 2020 presidential election. All of the Democrat efforts to expand mail-in balloting laid the groundwork for the systematic and pervasive fraud that occurred in this election.

President Donald Trump: (30:41)
In Pennsylvania, large amounts of mail-in and absentee ballots were processed illegally and in secret, in Philadelphia, in Allegheny counties, without our observers present -- they were not allowed to be present. In fact, they weren’t even allowed in the same room. They were thrown out of the building, and they looked from outside in, but they had no way of even seeing because there were no windows. And the windows that were there were boarded up. Democrats even went to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to block observers from receiving access. There is only one possible reason that the corrupt Democrat political machine would oppose transparency during the vote counting. It’s because they know they are hiding illegal activity. It’s very simple.

President Donald Trump: (31:32)
This is an egregious, inexcusable, and irreversible harm that stains the entire election. Yet this unprecedented practice of excluding our observers, our vote watchers, as some people call them, occurred in Democrat run cities, and key states all across the nation. Here are just some of the additional facts that we’ve uncovered. Many voters all across Pennsylvania received two ballots in the mail, and many others received mail-in ballots for which they never applied. So many get ballots, they didn’t even know what they were for. And again, so many received more than one ballot. In some cases, more than two ballots. And they happened to be, for the most part, Democrats.

President Donald Trump: (32:22)
In Fayette County, Pennsylvania, multiple voters received ballots that were already filled out. They didn’t know what happened.

Quick Take

A false claim circulating on social media alleges that mail-in ballots already filled out with votes for Democrats, including Joe Biden, were sent to voters in a New York City borough. A spokesperson for the New York City Board of Elections told us the ballot that triggered the allegation was the result of a voter’s error.

Full Story

The contretemps began on Oct. 29 with a tweet by Jake Novak, who describes himself on Twitter as a freelance editorial columnist for CNBC.com. Novak said residents of Queens Village, a section of Queens Borough in New York City, “are receiving pre-filled out ballots for Joe Biden and being told to just send them back to the Board of Elections. This is blatantly ILLEGAL.” Twitter tagged the claim as “disputed.”

Novak later posted a video on Twitter in which he displays a ballot that he claims arrived entirely filled-in and another in which he elaborates on what he believes took place. The latter tweet is no longer available.

Among other things, Novak said the circles in the ballot are filled in so perfectly that no human being could have done them and they could only have been done by a machine.

Novak’s original tweet was retweeted on Oct. 30 by Eric Trump, one of President Donald Trump’s sons. The president has repeatedly and falsely claimed that vote fraud is widespread because of mail-in ballots.

The false claim also found its way onto Facebook.


The New York City Board of Elections disputed Novak’s allegation in a pair of tweets on Oct. 30. In one tweet, the board challenged the notion that the ballot brandished by Novak had not been filled out by hand. In the other, the board said it had tracked down the voter who had received the mail-in ballot and the voter had in fact received a blank ballot.

In one of his videos, Novak said he had been in touch with a Queens Village resident who had received the filled-in ballot. He said the ballot had been addressed to someone who hadn’t lived at the address for eight months. Novak said his tipster didn’t want to be identified because he had voted for past Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton but this time planned to vote for Trump, rather than Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

In his original tweet, Novak said “residents” had been receiving filled-in ballots but he backed away from the plural in the video. While saying the way the ballot he had seen was filled in suggested it was “mass produced,” he said he did not know for sure that others had received filled-in ballots.

Novak said he suspected Democrats were behind the pre-marked ballot but didn’t know for sure and was continuing to investigate.

Novak, who also lists himself on Twitter as the “creator of @Varneyco on @FOXBusiness” and a former “Executive Producer of the #KudlowReport,” said he wouldn’t provide the identity of his tipster to other news outlets because he didn’t want to give away his story. (“The Kudlow Report” was a CNBC program hosted by Larry Kudlow, now director of Trump’s National Economic Council.)

We asked Novak to put us in touch with the person or persons who had received filled-in ballots and for elaboration on why he thought the ballot could not have been filled in by a person. He did not do so.

But according to the New York City Board of Elections, there is a simple explanation for what happened, and it doesn’t involve anything nefarious. We reached Valerie Vazquez-Diaz, the board’s director of communications and public affairs, and she described what had happened in a telephone interview.

In Novak’s video of the ballot, the voter ID number is clear. According to Vazquez-Diaz, election officials tracked down the voter who had requested the absentee ballot in California. The voter reported receiving a blank ballot, filling it out and depositing it at a mail box in the Golden State.

The problem arose because the voter put the ballot into the oath envelope, which is supposed to go inside an outer envelope to be mailed to election officials. But the voter instead placed the oath envelope into the mail box. The only address on the oath envelope is the voter’s, so that’s where it was returned.


Vazquez-Diaz said officials had no idea how the envelope made its way into the hands of Novak’s tipster.

But as for Novak’s tweets, she said they were “inaccurate.”

-- False Claim About ‘Pre-Filled Out Ballots’ in Queens, by Rem Rieder and Angelo Fichera, 10/31/20


In Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, a poll watcher overheard unregistered voters being told to return later to try to vote under a different name. Tens of thousands of voters across Pennsylvania were treated differently based on whether they were Republicans or Democrats. Voters who submitted floored ballots in some Democrat precincts were notified and asked to fix their ballots, while Republican precincts, and in particular Republican voters, were not so notified, which plainly violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. ”If you are a Democrat, we’re going to fix up your ballot, make sure it’s perfect. If you are Republican, don’t even talk about it.”

President Donald Trump: (33:16)
In Michigan, a career employee of the city of Detroit with the city workers, coaching voters to vote straight Democrat while accompanying them to watch who they were voting for, violating the law and the sanctity of the secret ballot. You can’t do that. The same workers say she was instructed not to ask for any ID, and not to attempt to validate any signatures. She was also told to illegally backdate ballots, many, many ballots, received after the deadline. This is something that is so unconstitutional, and she estimates that thousands and thousands of ballots were improperly backdated by her and many others.

The Postal Service’s inspector general informed Congress on Tuesday that a worker who had made unfounded allegations of ballot corruption inside a facility in Erie, Pa., had disavowed his claims, which Republicans had amplified to suggest there was widespread fraud in Pennsylvania’s voting.

Richard Hopkins, a post office employee in Erie, “completely” recanted allegations that a supervisor was “tampering with mail-in ballots” after investigators questioned him, the inspector general’s office said, according to the Democratic leadership of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.


Not long after the Democrats’ announcement, Project Veritas — a conservative group that researchers say has engaged in a coordinated disinformation campaign to delegitimize the voting process — released a video in which Mr. Hopkins said that he had not actually recanted his statements.

Mr. Hopkins had claimed in a sworn affidavit given to President Trump’s campaign that he overheard what he believed to be a discussion about the backdating of postmarks on ballots that arrived at the postal facility after Election Day.

Ballots must have been postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3, to count. The implication of Mr. Hopkins’s claim was that postal workers had backdated ballots that should have been disqualified.

Under Pennsylvania procedures put in place during the coronavirus pandemic, mail-in ballots that arrived at election offices after Election Day have been separated from those that arrived by Nov. 3. They have not been added to the vote tallies for any candidate, and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has won Pennsylvania without them.

Only about 130 mail-in ballots arrived after Election Day out of about 135,000 ballots cast in Erie County, according to Carl Anderson III, the chairman of the county’s board of elections. The post office’s processes “will stand as legitimate under scrutiny,” he said in a statement.

Republicans, eager to find evidence of wrongdoing to bolster Mr. Trump’s fiction that the election was stolen from him, circulated Mr. Hopkins’s affidavit and amplified it.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who has urged Mr. Trump to continue to fight the results of the election, sent Mr. Hopkins’s affidavit to reporters along with a statement that read in part: “I will not allow credible allegations of voting irregularities or misconduct to be swept under the rug.” He later acknowledged in a television interview on Sunday that the claims he circulated were unverified...


-- Postal worker withdraws claim that ballots were backdated in Pennsylvania, officials say, by Luke Broadwater, NYT, 11/10/20


President Donald Trump: (34:05)
Other witnesses in Detroit also saw our election officials counting batches of the same ballots many times, as well as illegally duplicating ballots. One observer testified to seeing boxes and boxes of ballots, all bearing the same signature. Another observer in Detroit gave sworn testimony that he saw countless invalid ballots that did not belong to properly registered voters, and then witnessed election workers in Wayne County entering fake birth dates into the system in order to illegally count them. Witnesses of signed sworn affidavits, so in other words, you go to jail if you lie, testifying that after election officials announced the last absentee votes had been received, a batch of tens of thousands of ballots arrived, many without envelopes, all voting for Democrats.

President Donald Trump: (35:02)
In Wisconsin, a record number of voters were categorized as indefinitely confined, a status reserved for severely disabled individuals, also for the elderly, that allow them to vote without showing ID. Last year approximately 70,000 people claimed this status statewide. This year the number miraculously was nearly 250,000 voters, after election officials in Milwaukee and Dane County, a couple of the most corrupt political places in our country, urged citizens to improperly register under this status. And register they did in levels that don’t exist. In Wisconsin there are approximately 70,000 absentee ballots that do not have matching ballot applications as required by law. In Georgia, nine observers have testified to seeing countless irregular ballots without the creases or typical markings. indicating that the ballots did not arrive in envelopes as required.

President Donald Trump: (36:03)
A poll watcher in Fulton County estimated that approximately 98% of the large number of unusually pristine ballots that she witnessed were for Biden. A highly unusual number. In addition, thousands of uncounted ballots were discovered in Floyd, Fayette, and Walton counties weeks after the election, and these ballots were mostly from Trump voters. They weren’t counted. They were from Trump voters.

Floyd County election officials are acknowledging that 2,500 ballots went uncounted during the 2020 general election.

The additional ballots were determined during a statewide audit of the election results. On Monday the Secretary of State's Office initially reported upwards of 2,600 ballots were discovered.

County election officials released the following statement Tuesday:


We are thankful for the opportunity to perform a hand recount as directed by the Secretary of State. The audit worked exactly as it should have. We determined that there were approximately 2500 additional ballots that had not been counted. On investigation we determined that the discrepancy was caused by a malfunctioning scanner used during early in-person voting at the Administration Building in Rome. That scanner jammed on October 24 and was rendered inoperable. A new scanner was quickly brought in to replace it.

After an unsuccessful attempt to read damaged memory cards it was determined, based upon advice of Dominion IT assistants on site and in accordance with Secretary of State guidance, to rescan all of the ballots cast prior to the scanner malfunctioning.

For reasons we do not yet fully understand, some of those ballots either were not scanned or the scanned ballots were not migrated into the ballots included in the original tally.


All ballots from the Administrative Office early voting box are now being rescanned and tallied in order to verify the audit number. In addition, the voter affidavits of all voters who voted early at the administration office were counted today in order to provide yet another method of verifying the proper total vote count for that box.

Please remember that number may not match the total audit tally exactly. For instance, there would have been votes for unqualified write-in candidates or some who simply did not vote in a particular race.

No one, least of all the Floyd County Board of Elections, is happy with this situation nor satisfied. We intend to review all processes and procedures to understand how the incident with the scanner led to this voting discrepancy. However, we want you to understand: There is no evidence of fraud. There is no evidence of intentional misconduct.

Going forward, it is our job to correct the problem, learn from it and put in redundant processes which will prevent it from happening again. Maintaining electoral integrity, making voting fair and accessible, and doing right by the citizens of Floyd County are paramount concerns for the Board of Elections.


-- Election officials clarify how 2,500 ballots went uncounted in Floyd County, by Angelina Velasquez, 11/17/20
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Part 4 of 4

President Donald Trump: (36:43)
In Detroit, everybody saw the tremendous conflict and the horrible way that the two Republican canvassers were treated so horribly because they wouldn’t vote when they saw that 71% of the precincts didn’t balance. Also, there were more votes than there were voters. Think of that. You had more votes than you had voters. That’s an easy one to figure, and it’s by the thousands.

Weeks after major news outlets called the 2020 presidential race for Joe Biden, posts circulating on social media allege that more votes were cast than there are residents in Milwaukee, Wis., Detroit, Mich., Lansing, Mich. and Pittsburgh, Pa. – four blue cities in battleground states that ultimately went to Biden. Offering accurate population estimates but erroneous vote counts, the posts falsely claim extensive voting irregularities despite the Justice Department finding no evidence of widespread fraud in last month’s election...

MILWAUKEE

The posts claim that the city of Milwaukee has 590,157 residents versus 640,768 votes cast there in the 2020 general election, meaning that more than 108% of the population voted. The city is in Milwaukee County, where Biden won 69.1% of the vote (here).

Though the population count is the same as the July 2019 estimate provided here by the U.S. Census Bureau, the 640,768 vote count is not accurate.

As reported here by the City of Milwaukee’s Election Commission, 247,695 voters cast ballots in the Nov. 3 general election. With 315,483 registered voters in the city, the turnout was 78.5%.

Contrary to what the posts claim, 42% of Milwaukee residents voted in the election.


DETROIT

The posts suggest that Detroit, with 672,662 residents and 850,441 votes, had a 126% voter turnout rate. The city of Detroit is located in Wayne County, where Biden won 68.4% of the vote (here).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s July 2019 estimate, the population of Detroit is 670,031 (here). It is possible that the post’s estimate comes from Data Commons, an online open data repository, which says here that Detroit’s 2018 population was 672,662.

As for Detroit’s vote count, the 850,441 is wrong. Official election results provided here by the Detroit Department of Elections state that 257,619 out of 506,305 registered voters cast ballots, making voter turnout 50.9%.

Accordingly, 38% of Detroit’s population voted in the 2020 general election.


LANSING

The posts falsely claim that votes in Lansing exceeded the city’s population by nearly 38,000. Lansing is mostly located in Ingham County, where Biden won 65.2% of the vote (here).

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated Lansing’s population to be 118,210 in July 2019 (here), on par with the posts’ 118,427 population figure that likely comes from Data Commons (here).

The vote count of 156,295, however, is nearly triple the real number.

Robin Stites, Election Supervisor at the Lansing City Clerk’s Office, told Reuters via email that voter turnout in the City of Lansing for the Nov. 3 election was 54,045 out of 88,873 registered voters, equivalent to a 60.81% voter turnout rate.

Thus 46% of Lansing’s population voted in the 2020 general election.


PITTSBURGH

Lastly, the post claims that Pittsburgh had 691,434 votes cast, which is more than double its population. The city of Pittsburgh is in Allegheny County, where Biden won 59.4% of the vote (here).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s July 2019 estimate (here), the population of Pittsburgh is 300,286. The posts’ similar figure of 301,048 matches that of Data Commons (here).

There were 162,719 votes cast in Pittsburgh, not 691,434.

This information can be found on Allegheny County’s official election results page (here) by scrolling down to the “Reports” box on the page’s righthand column and downloading the Excel file “Detail XLS.” In the first tab, labeled “Registered Voters,” you can filter Column A to show only Pittsburgh voting districts (rows 587 through 988), and then find the sum of the cells in Column F.

Similarly, the number of registered voters can be found by filtering to Pittsburgh voting districts and finding the sum of the cells in Column A, which equals 239,845. Accordingly, Pittsburgh experienced 67.84% voter turnout.

About 54% of Pittsburgh’s total population participated in the 2020 general election.

VERDICT

False. Though the posts provide accurate population estimates for Milwaukee, Detroit, Lansing and Pittsburgh, the vote counts are incorrect and several times higher than the actual numbers.

-- Fact check: Posts claiming more votes than residents in Milwaukee, Detroit, Lansing and Pittsburgh give incorrect numbers, by Reuters Staff, 12/4/20


In Arizona, in-person voters whose ballots produced error messages from tabulation machines were told to press a button that resulted in their votes not being counted. Also in Arizona, the attorney general announced that mail-in ballots had been stolen from mailboxes and hidden under a rock.

...

Eighteen mail-in ballots were found “hidden under a rock” in Arizona, according to a Nov. 3 press release from the state’s attorney general’s office. But those ballots had not yet been cast.

Katie Conner, a spokesperson for the office, told USA TODAY that the ballots were in their original envelopes and were removed from voters’ mailboxes before they had the chance to fill them out. The ballots were sealed, according to the release.

The ballots were found by a man named Brayan Ruiz, who was working in the area on Oct. 30, according to a video on the Glendale Police Department’s Facebook. Ruiz said in the video that when he found the ballots, he took a picture before returning them to Glendale Police. That picture is included in the press release and is the same image in the Instagram post.

Officer Tiffany Ngalula, a spokesperson for the Glendale Police Department, told USA TODAY that it appears all the ballots were mailed to voters on the same day and the thief went mailbox to mailbox, grabbing all available ballots over the span of a few blocks. She added that none of the voters appeared to be missing any mail other than their ballots.

The next day, Oct. 31, all 18 of the ballots were “hand-delivered” to the voters from whom they were stolen, Conner said. The video shows two special agents from the attorney general's office and a Glendale police officer delivering the ballots to residents.

“Our agents and Glendale PD officers spent a significant amount of time speaking with residents and delivering the ballots to ensure they could still vote,” she said...

-- Fact check: Post about stolen – and returned – Arizona ballots lacks context, by Ella Lee, USA TODAY, 11/11/20


Invited error is a mistake that the appellant was responsible for. "Under the invited-error doctrine, a party may not make or invite error at trial and then take advantage of the error on appeal." Goodwin v. State, 751 So. 2d 537, 544 n.8 (Fla. 1999). "If the error is 'invited,' or the [appellant] 'opens the door' to the error, the appellate court will not consider the error a basis for reverals .... Indeed, our case law is filled with procedural pitfalls that may preclude an error from being considered on appeal." Id. at 544.

-- Invited Error: An Argument for Appellees, by Robin Bresky, Attorney at Law Magazine, 1/5/17


Trump on ‘counterfeit ballots’

And if foreign countries want to, this is an easy system to break into because they’ll do counterfeit ballots. They’ll do counterfeit ballots by the millions. – Sept. 23, White House meeting with state attorneys general

And, you know, when they talk about Russia, China, and all these others, they will be able to do something here because paper ballots are very simple — whether they counterfeit them, forge them, do whatever you want. It’s a very serious problem. — Sept. 22, remarks to reporters

But Chris, you don’t see any activity from China, even though it is a FAR greater threat than Russia, Russia, Russia. They will both, plus others, be able to interfere in our 2020 Election with our totally vulnerable Unsolicited (Counterfeit?) Ballot Scam. Check it out! – Sept. 17 tweet, in response to Wray’s testimony that day about Russian interference in the 2020 election and resulting in a Twitter warning label (“Learn how voting by mail is safe and secure”)

Unsolicited Ballots are uncontrollable, totally open to ELECTION INTERFERENCE by foreign countries, and will lead to massive chaos and confusion! – Sept. 17 tweet, resulting in a Twitter warning label

The biggest problem we have right now are the ballots. Millions of ballots going out; that’s the biggest problem. When you talk about other countries, whether it’s China, Russia, or many others that get mentioned, they’re in a much better position with these paper ballots to do something than they would ever be under the old system. And that’s our biggest problem.” — Sept. 16, White House briefing...

Trump on ‘unsolicited ballots’

Yeah, I think it’s a better name, Josh, because they said “universal ballots” and they had 15 different names. Didn’t mean — people said, “How does that have to do with being universal?” Unsolicited. Eighty million unsolicited ballots being sent all over the place. — Sept. 23, White House meeting with state attorneys general

We need nine [Supreme Court] justices. You need that. With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they’re sending, it’s a scam; it’s a hoax. … Because what they’re doing is a hoax, with the ballots. They’re sending out tens of millions of ballots, unsolicited — not where they’re being asked, but unsolicited. And that’s a hoax, and you’re going to need to have nine justices. – Sept. 22, speaking to reporters on South Lawn of White House

And when you see them cheating on the other side, I don’t say if, when. When you see them cheating with those ballots, all those unsolicited ballots, those millions of ballots, you see them. Anytime you do, report them to the authorities. – Sept. 21, at a rally in Swanton, Ohio

You have ballots that you go out and you can get, you could request as you know, you can request them and that’s fine. But if you’re not requesting them, when you get millions, about 80 million, they say, all over the United States, where the hell are they going? – Sept. 21, at a rally in Dayton, Ohio

They used to say universal, but nobody knows what that means. Unsolicited, meaning people didn’t solicit these ballots. People are saying, hey, what’s going on? I just got a whole batch of ballots. They have no idea who they’re sending them to. You know they’re sending them to the wrong people. – Sept. 20, “Life, Liberty & Levin” on Fox News

But, uh, so I, I think that, uh, yeah, they’re gonna do something, Dan. Something’s gonna happen, but you know what they’re doing? They’re trying to screw it all up with the ballots. So they have — I guess I’ve heard numbers from 50 to 80 million unsolicited ballots. That’s unsolicited. People aren’t asking for ’em. – Sept. 20, “The Dan Bongino Show”

When you solicit, when you go out — it’s called “absentee” or “solicit.” When you go out and you request a ballot — you want to say, “I want to vote because I can’t be in Florida or I can’t be someplace.” You request. So you’re sending something in, it’s handled professionally, they send it back — it’s a whole thing. That’s much different than “unsolicited,” when you get millions of ballots. I heard numbers like 80 million ballots. – Sept. 18, White House briefing

The big Unsolicited Ballot States should give it up NOW, before it is too late, and ask people to go to the Polling Booths and, like always before, VOTE. Otherwise, MAYHEM!!! Solicited Ballots (absentee) are OK. @foxandfriends — Sept. 17 tweet, resulting in a Twitter warning label

The worst campaign, most dishonest campaign I’ve ever seen, and the ballots, and well you see were that these unsolicited ballots. — Sept. 17, Clay Travis interview

Take a look at what’s happened over the last year with this same kind of thing, except in a very small setting with very few ballots going out, so that’s much easier; not 53 to 80 million going out. — Sept. 16, White House press briefing

The Unsolicited Mail In Ballot Scam is a major threat to our Democracy, & the Democrats know it. Almost all recent elections using this system, even though much smaller & with far fewer Ballots to count, have ended up being a disaster. Large numbers of missing Ballots & Fraud. — Sept. 12 tweet

In the country they’re going to send out 80 million unsolicited, in other words people that don’t even know what a ballot is, all of a sudden here comes the ballot. … A lot of people use the word absentee. Get an absentee ballot where you request it, it comes to you, you vote and you send it back. That’s different. But they’re just sending out — all over they’re sending out 80 million ballots. — Sept. 12, Jeanine Pirro interview on Fox News

They send 80 million ballots out. Where are they going? Who are they sending them to? Are they sending them to certain areas and not other areas? Are they sending them to Democrat areas? These are all controlled by Democrat governors, like your politically motivated governor. … They should make people — if you register, if you want a solicited ballot, that’s where you ask for it. You have to sign papers. You get it ’cause you can’t be there. That’s one thing. When they sent 80 million ballots to people, they have no idea where they’re going. – Sept. 12, at a rally in Minden, Nevada

Sending out 80 MILLION BALLOTS to people who aren’t even asking for a Ballot is unfair and a total fraud in the making. Look at what’s going on right now! — Sept. 10 tweet...

-- Trump’s Repeated False Attacks on Mail-In Ballots, by Eugene Kiely and Rem Rieder, Factcheck.org, 9/25/20


President Donald Trump: (37:37)
In Clark County, Nevada, where most of the state’s voters reside, the standards for matching a signature using the signature verification machine were intentionally lowered to allow large numbers of ballots to be counted that otherwise would never have passed muster. This machine was set at the lowest level. According to one report, in order to test the process, nine voters in Clark County cast ballots with intentionally incorrect signatures, and eight of the nine ballots were accepted and counted. They said you could sign your name as Santa Claus, and it would be accepted. Last week, the Clark County Commission threw out the results of a local election after the registrar reported finding, “discrepancies that we can’t explain.”

Clark County commissioners have certified all the results of the general election — except in the race for the commission seat representing District C, where ballot discrepancies outnumber Democrat Ross Miller’s 10-vote victory and a special election will be held.

Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria reported to the commission on Monday that there were 139 ballot discrepancies in District C, and Miller defeated Republican opponent Stavros Anthony by only 10 votes out of 153,162 cast. As a result of the discrepancies, the commission voted not to certify the District C results and instead call Gloria back to its first December meeting to present a plan for a special election....

Discrepancies in ballot counts can occur when the number of voter check-ins at a voting site does not match the number of ballots cast at that site, when voters attempt to vote twice, and because of assorted mail ballot issues.

President Donald Trump tweeted about the decision Monday afternoon, saying that “large scale voter discrepancy” showed that officials “do not have confidence” in election security. However, Joe Gloria stated at Monday’s meeting that discrepancies occur in every election.

“There’s no election that goes without discrepancies that are identified,” Gloria said. “In particular, this time, with such a large mail ballot number, that number that I’ve identified is in the thousandths of percent.”

The 936 discrepancies make up .096 percent of total ballots cast in Clark County in this year’s election.

Anthony has been vocally supportive of Trump in the past, but Anthony’s campaign manager, Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, distanced the campaign from the president’s comments on Monday evening, telling The Nevada Independent that Anthony’s campaign “has never subscribed to the conspiracy side of that” with regard to the discrepancies.

“What we’ve consistently talked about is human error,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re counting ballots or making pizzas, there’s going to be errors.”...


-- Clark County calls for re-vote in commission race decided by 10 ballots; discrepancies outnumber victory margin, by Kristyn Leonard, thenevadaindependent, 11/16/20


Also in Nevada, some voters were entered into a raffle for more than a dozen gift cards worth as much as $250 if they could prove they had voted. This took place on Indian reservations.

The Nevada Native Vote Project posted photos on Facebook on Election Day of smiling voters holding $25 gift cards after handing over their ballots.

The posts have since been deleted but not before they were archived. The removal may have had something to do with the U.S. criminal code, two distinct sections of which impose fines and prison sentences for “whoever makes or offers to make an expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote.”

Offering gift cards for ballots was not the only way the Nevada Native Vote Project enticed people to vote. In a video that still appeared on Facebook on Nov. 24, Bethany Sam, the public relations officer for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, urged people to come out and vote by offering “some extra swag that we can give out.”

“We have twenty-five $25 dollar gift cards to raffle off so that’s a lot of money in cash here. We have also four $100 gift cards to give away, so again you want to make sure to get out here and vote. And then, we have four $250 gift cards to raffle. And our grand prize is going to be a $500 Visa gift card to the person or native voters who came out early this week early voting,” Sam said, adding that voters need only send a photo of themselves at the polling place to enter....

Sam noted that the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony endorsed the Biden-Harris ticket. She then turned the camera to Arlan Melendez, chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony that describes itself as a “sovereign Indian nation” with a Tribal Council that “carries the same unique powers and duties as any city council, county commission, or legislative government across the United States.”

“I think the Biden-Harris campaign is supporting tribal sovereignty,” Melendez said before urging people to come out to vote.

There are an estimated 60,000 registered Native Indian voters in Nevada. In a video filmed on Election Day, Sam encouraged natives to vote because Nevada is a swing state.

“I also want you to know that we do have a raffle going on whether you’re early voting or you vote today during the Election Day,” Sam said, instructing people to enter the draw by sending her a screenshot of their cast ballot from a ballot-tracking website or a photo of themselves with an “I Voted” sticker.

The prizes included cash gift cards valued at $250, $100, and $25 as well as T-shirts and beaded items, Sam said. At the end of the video, Sam told viewers to visit the tribe’s voting recommendations page, which advises people to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden...

Sam and her boss, Melendez, did not respond to emailed questions. The office of the Nevada secretary of state, which is charged with supervising state and local elections, did not respond to emailed questions....

Martinez did not respond to a request for comment sent to her Facebook account.

NCAI stands for the National Congress of American Indians. NCAI counts Native Vote as one of its initiatives. According to its website, NCAI is funded in part by taxpayer dollars from the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Small Business Administration.
The NCAI’s list of supporters also includes the Open Society Foundations, which is headed by George Soros, a liberal power donor.

NCAI did not respond to an emailed request for comment. Matt Johnson, who is listed as the NCAI contact for Native Vote, did not respond to a request for comment...

The Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment. The Federal Elections Commission declined to comment. The Election Assistance Commission did not respond to a request for comment.


-- Illegal Money-for-Votes Raffles Conducted in Several States in 2020 Election, by Ivan Pentchoukov, epochtimes.today


Inherent Sovereign Authority: Indian tribes - as sovereign nations - historically have inherent jurisdictional power over everything occurring within their territory. Tribal courts are courts of general jurisdiction which continue to have broad criminal jurisdiction. Any analysis of tribal criminal jurisdiction should begin with this sovereign authority and determine whether there has been any way in which this broad sovereign authority had been reduced (see below).

Federal or State Concurrent Jurisdiction: Congress has granted limited jurisdictional authority to the federal courts (under the General Crimes Act and the Major Crimes Act) and to state courts (under Public Law 280). It is important, however, to note that tribal courts maintain concurrent (or joint) criminal jurisdiction.


-- General Guide to Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country, by Tribal Court Clearinghouse, a project of the tribal Law and Policy Institute


President Donald Trump: (38:42)
One of the most significant indications of widespread fraud is the extraordinarily low rejection rates for mail-in ballots in many key states. These are the states that I had to win. In swing state after swing state, the number of ballots rejected has been dramatically lower than what would have been expected based on prior experience. That means years and years of voting. In Georgia, just 0.2%, that’s substantially less than 1%, of mail-in ballots have been rejected. In other words, almost none have been rejected. They took everything. Nothing was rejected, practically, compared to 6.4% in 2016. There are those that think that 6.4 was a low number.

President Donald Trump: (39:36)
Think of it. Almost none were rejected. The previous election, 6.4% were rejected. We have seen similar declines in Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Michigan. Ballots weren’t rejected, especially if they happen to be in Democrat areas. These irregularities are inexplicable unless there is a deliberate effort to accept ineligible ballots or fraudulent ballots.

President Donald Trump: (40:06)
In Pennsylvania, the secretary of state and the state supreme court in essence abolished signature verification requirements just weeks prior to the election, in violation of state law. You’re not allowed to do that. It has to be approved by the legislature. A judge can’t do it. A state can’t do it. An official can’t do it. The only one that can do it is the legislature.

With concerns rising in Pennsylvania that tens of thousands of mail-in ballots will be discarded in the presidential election over technicalities, officials in the presidential battleground told counties they aren’t allowed to reject a ballot solely because an election official believes a signature doesn’t match the one in the voter’s file.

The new guidance from Pennsylvania’s Department of State — that state law does not allow counties to set aside mail-in ballots based on their signature analysis — prompted the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh to drop a lawsuit in federal court Monday.

The groups had cited the lack of guidance on the subject and sought to ensure that voters have the chance to fix ballots that are flagged for a perceived signature mismatch.

“As a result of this case, Pennsylvania voters can cast their vote without fear that their ballot could be rejected solely because an election official — who isn’t trained in handwriting analysis — thinks their signatures don’t match,” said Mark Gaber, a Campaign Legal Center lawyer who represented the groups in court.

In Pennsylvania’s June 2 primary election alone, when 1.5 million voted by mail, more than 26,000 ballots were rejected, including for “signature-related errors or matters of penmanship,” the lawsuit had said.

One county election director, L. Edward Allison Jr. of Lawrence County, said that the state’s guidance is in line with his county’s practices and that he doubts it will be controversial with counties. One way of fixing it is to contact voters to come in to verify their signature, he said.

“We recognize the fact that, as people age, their signature changes, I know mine has,” Allison said in an interview. “Different medical conditions, strokes, all that kind of stuff enters into it.”

Meanwhile, with seven weeks until the Nov. 3 election, a partisan stalemate in Pennsylvania’s Capitol is holding up legislation to fix glitches and gray areas in the state’s mail-in voting law.

To a great extent, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and the Legislature’s Republican majorities are clashing over how to prevent vast numbers of ballots from being discarded because of technicalities and how to head off the specter of a presidential election result hanging in limbo on a drawn-out vote count and legal fight in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court may rule in lawsuits on some of the outstanding issues, but Wolf, at a news conference on Tuesday in York, pressed lawmakers anew to act on changes he is seeking.

Republicans have said any changes must ensure the election is secure. Democrats accuse Republicans of pursuing voter suppression tactics, including trying to outlaw drop boxes and satellite election offices that Democrat-heavy counties in southeastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, are planning to use.

To help count mail-in ballots quickly after polls close, Wolf wants to give counties up to three weeks before Election Day to start processing them, instead of the three days favored by Republicans.

To ensure fewer mail-in ballots are discarded, Wolf wants to require counties to count mail-in ballots that arrive up to three days after Election Day, provided they are postmarked before polls close. Republicans oppose that and would rather move the deadline by which voters can request a mail-in ballot, from a week before the election to 15 days before, to leave more time for voters to return it.

Without an agreement on legislation, “we really do risk becoming Florida in 2000,” state Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Philadelphia, said.

A 2019 state law greatly expanded access to mail-in balloting in Pennsylvania and, fueled by concerns over the pandemic, more than 3 million voters are expected to cast ballots by mail in the Nov. 3 election.

That’s more than 10 times the number who voted by mail in Pennsylvania in 2016′s election when President Donald Trump’s 44,000-vote victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania helped propel him to the White House.

So far, nearly 1.9 million people have applied for a mail-in or absentee ballot, Wolf’s top elections official, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, said Tuesday.

For now, counties are still awaiting one court decision before they can get ballots printed and send them to voters who applied for a mail-in ballot.

In that case before the state Supreme Court, Democrats are trying to keep the Green Party’s presidential candidate off the Nov. 3 ballot.


-- Pennsylvania: Mail ballots can’t be discarded over signature, by Marc Levy, 9/15/20


Mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania can't be challenged or thrown out based on whether the voter's signature on the outer envelope matches what's on their voter registration, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The high court said in its unanimous ruling that the state Election Code had no specific language directing county election officials to compare signatures when verifying a voter's eligibility, and noted that revisions to the code over the years had actually cut out a signature comparison requirement back when mail-in ballots only applied to military members serving away from their homes.

"We draw two inferences from this early history. First, the Legislature understands how to craft language requiring signature comparisons at canvassing when it chooses to do so, as it did in 1937. Second, in the 1937 code, the Legislature drew a clear distinction between assessing the sufficiency of the ballot affidavit … and a comparison of the ballot signature," Justice Debra Todd wrote for the court. "The Legislature having subsequently stripped out the signature comparison language from the code, we ought not to construe, as intervenors suggest, the remaining sufficiency determination as incorporating a signature comparison."

The court granted a request from Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar for a declaration that signature comparisons were not necessary, over arguments from intervenors, including President Donald Trump's reelection campaign, that signature comparison was a necessary part of determining if a voter was who they said they were.

A federal lawsuit from the League of Women Voters had sought to bar counties from doing signature comparisons, arguing that signatures can naturally change over time and therefore the comparisons posed a risk that legitimate votes could be thrown out based on a mismatch. That suit was dropped after Boockvar issued guidelines in September that said counties couldn't toss ballots based on signatures.

In its own federal suit, the Trump campaign wanted the court to make signature comparisons a requirement for the precanvassing process, when election officers look at voters' declarations on the outer envelope of their mail-in ballots to verify the voters' identities and eligibility to vote, before opening the outer envelope and sending the inner envelope and the ballot within it to be counted.

Boockvar asked the justices to weigh in on the state Election Code, and the federal judge tossed the campaign's lawsuit Oct. 10.


The justices said Friday that in other areas of the Election Code not pertaining to mail-in ballots, the state Legislature had clearly indicated when signatures should be compared to state records and when they could be challenged based on those signatures, including when someone signs in to vote in person, or when they submit a provisional ballot.

But the Legislature removed the signature requirement for military voters' mail-in ballots in 1945, expanded mail-in voting in 2019 by eliminating the requirement that voters swear they are unable to vote in person, and made further accommodations in 2020 for the COVID-19 pandemic and eliminated all time-of-canvassing challenges.

"Presumably, in expanding voting by mail, the Legislature sought to streamline the process for canvassing such ballots, perhaps to avoid undermining the expansion effort by eliminating the prospect that voters — including a potentially large number of new mail-in voters — would be brought before the board or the courts to answer third-party challenges," the opinion said.

"Intervenors would have us interpret the Election Code, which now does not provide for time-of-canvassing ballot challenges, and which never allowed for signature challenges, as both requiring signature comparisons at canvassing, and allowing for challenges on that basis," the justices said. "We reject this invitation."

The justices also noted that the recent changes to the law had affected what went into the "registered absentee and mail-in voters file," which the intervenors had alleged that election officials were supposed to compare to the ballot signatures. The Legislature had cut out the requirement that the file contain copies of voter registration records with the voters' earlier signatures, the opinion said.

"It seems this file, previously utilized, is now a virtually empty relic," the opinion said. "The only informational remnant in the file, if it is still being maintained, is … a voter's absentee and mail-in ballot application number to be entered in the file. Manifestly, there is no present requirement that the file contain the type of signature information necessary to perform the signature comparison intervenors contend is mandatory."


Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose office helped represent the state, hailed the ruling as a win for voters.

"Voters who use a mail-in ballot have their identity verified in the initial application, often using a drivers' license number," he said in a statement. "Pennsylvania's voter identification system is safe and secure. We are protecting every eligible vote and ensuring each is counted."

Boockvar also lauded the ruling, sending a tweet that said it was a "Huge victory for free and fair elections in Pennsylvania! And on my birthday no less!"

Representatives for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

"Secretary Boockvar's work to undermine the security features embedded in our Election Code is ongoing. People voting in person are now being held to a higher standard than those who mail in their ballots," said state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, a Republican who had filed an amicus brief in the case siding with the Trump campaign, in a statement. "Never did we contemplate that Secretary Boockvar would interpret the statute in a way which would result in signatures required on the mail-in ballots being meaningless."

The Pennsylvania Department of State and Boockvar are represented by Daniel T. Donovan, Susan Davies, Michael Glick, Sara Shaw Tatum, Madelyn Morris and Kristen Bokhan of Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Daniel T. Brier, Donna A. Walsh and John B. Dempsey of Myers Brier & Kelly LLP; Timothy E. Gates and Kathleen M. Kotula of the State Department's Office of Chief Counsel; Kenneth L. Joel and M. Abbegael Giunta of the Governor's Office of General Counsel; and Josh Shapiro, Karen M. Romano, Keli M. Neary, Howard G. Hopkirk, Nicole Boland and Stephen Moniak of the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office.

The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee are represented by Ronald L. Hicks Jr., Jeremy A. Mercer and Russell D. Giancola of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP and Matthew Morgan and Justin R. Clark of Elections LLC.

The case is In re: November 3, 2020 General Election, case number 149 MM 2020, before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

-- Pa. Justices Say Signatures Alone Can't Disqualify Ballots, by Matthew Santoni, Law360, 10/23/20


President Donald Trump: (40:33)
The reason for this is clear. They were not verifying signatures because they know the ballots have not been filled out by the voters in whose names they were cast. In other words, people filled them out that had nothing to do with the names on the ballot. A simple recount of the ballots under these circumstances only compounds the fraud. The only way to determine whether there was an honest vote is to conduct a full review of the envelopes in the relevant states. You will find that many of them, tens of thousands, have fraudulent signatures. A full forensic audit is required to ensure that only legal ballots from lawfully registered voters that were properly cast are included in the final count.

President Donald Trump: (41:25)
This election is about great voter fraud, fraud that has never been seen like this before. It’s about poll watchers who were not allowed to watch. So illegal. It’s about ballots that poured in, and nobody but a few knew where they came from. They were counted, and they weren’t for me. It’s about big leads on election night, tremendous leads, leads where I was being congratulated for a decisive easy victory. All of a sudden by morning, or a couple of days later, those leads rapidly evaporated. It’s about numbers of ballots that were sent that nobody knows where they came from. It’s about machinery that was defective, machinery that was stopped during certain parts of the evening, miraculously to open with more votes.

President Donald Trump: (42:24)
It was about many other things, but above all, it was about fraud. This election was rigged. Everybody knows it. I don’t mind if I lose an election, but I want to lose an election fair and square. What I don’t want to do is have it stolen from the American people. That’s what we’re fighting for. We have no choice to be doing that. We already have the proof. We already have the evidence, and it’s very clear. Many people in the media and even judges so far have refused to accept it. They know it’s true. They know it’s there. They know who won the election, but they refuse to say, “You’re right.” Our country needs somebody to say, “You’re right.”

President Donald Trump: (43:12)
Ultimately, I am prepared to accept any accurate election result, and I hope that Joe Biden is as well. We already have the proof. We already have tens of thousands of ballots more than we need to overturn all of these states that we’re talking about. This is an election for the highest office in the greatest country in the history of the world. Every reasonable American should be able to agree, based on what we have already documented, that we need a systematic analysis of the mail-in ballots to review the envelopes. It’s about the signature. If they’re on the envelopes, we can only review the envelopes, and that will tell us everything.

President Donald Trump: (44:01)
This is the absolute minimum we should expect. This is not just about my campaign, although it has a lot to do with who’s going to be your next president. This is about restoring faith and confidence in American elections. This is about our democracy and the sacred rights that generations of Americans have fought, bled, and died to secure. Nothing is more urgent or more important. The only ballots that should count in this election are those cast by eligible voters who are citizens of our country, residents of the states in which they voted, and who cast their ballots in a lawful manner before the legal deadline.

President Donald Trump: (44:43)
Moreover, we must never again have an election in which there is not a reliable and transparent system to verify the eligibility, identity, and residency of every single person who casts a ballot, a very, very cherished ballot. Many very smart people have congratulated me on all we’ve done: the biggest tax cuts in history, regulation cuts, the biggest in history. We rebuilt our military. We took care of our vets like never before, Space Force, and so much more. Then they went on to say, as big and as important as these events were, the single greatest achievement in your presidency will be exactly what you’re doing right now: voter integrity for our nation. It’s more important than any of the things that we discussed.

President Donald Trump: (45:40)
If we don’t root out the fraud, the tremendous and horrible fraud that’s taken place in our 2020 election, we don’t have a country anymore. With the resolve and support of the American people, we will restore honesty and integrity to our elections. We will restore trust in our system of government. Thank you. God bless you. God bless America.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Tue Dec 22, 2020 1:54 am

Trump downplays government hack after Pompeo blames it on Russia: Secretary of state is first in administration to point to Russia but Trump attacks media over reports
What we know – and still don’t – about the cyber-attack
by Martin Pengelly in New York and agencies @MartinPengelly
theguardian.com
Sat 19 Dec 2020 13.35 EST First published on Sat 19 Dec 2020 09.20 EST

Not long after Mike Pompeo became the first member of the Trump administration to blame Russia for wide-ranging hacks of US government agencies and private companies which have sent Washington scrambling to fill the breach, the president sought to play the hack down.

In response, one senior congressional Democrat accused Trump of “another scandalous betrayal of our national security”.

“The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality,” Trump tweeted on Saturday morning. “I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control. Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because [US media] is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!)”

The hack targeted widely used software made by SolarWinds, an Austin, Texas-based company. On Friday night, speaking to the rightwing talk radio host Mark Levin, Pompeo placed blame squarely on Russia.

“This was a very significant effort,” he said. “I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity.”

Regardless, Trump chose to tag his secretary of state and director of national intelligence John Ratcliffe in another tweet that contained another baseless claim of electoral fraud in the presidential contest he lost to Joe Biden, but which he has not conceded.

“There could also have been a hit on our ridiculous voting machines during the election,” Trump wrote, “which is now obvious that I won big, making it an even more corrupted embarrassment for the USA.”

At the same time, the New York Times reported that at the White House on Friday, Trump suggested installing the attorney and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell as a special counsel investigating voter fraud. Citing two anonymous sources, the Times said aides including Rudy Giuliani, who has led attempts to overturn the election result, pushed back on the idea.

Regarding the SolarWinds hack and Trump’s attempt to play down links to Russia, Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who chairs the House intelligence committee and led impeachment proceedings against Trump, said: “Another day, another scandalous betrayal of our national security by this president.

“Another dishonest tweet that sounds like it could have been written in the Kremlin. Another obsequious display towards Putin.
And yet another reason that Trump can’t leave office fast enough.”

Pompeo did not immediately respond to being undercut by his boss. But in speaking to Levin, he said: “I’m sure some of it will remain classified. But suffice it to say there was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of US government systems and it now appears systems of private companies and companies and governments across the world as well.”

The Kremlin denies involvement.

On Saturday, a security research blog by Microsoft said a second hacking group, different from the suspected Russian team, also targeted SolarWinds products.

“The investigation of the whole SolarWinds compromise led to the discovery of an additional malware that also affects the SolarWinds Orion product but has been determined to be likely unrelated to this compromise and used by a different threat actor,” the blog said.


A SolarWinds spokesman told Reuters: “It remains early days of the investigation.”

Earlier this week, as security teams attempted to limit damage from the hacks, critics pressed for Trump to speak out.

Speaking to SiriusXM radio, the Utah Republican senator and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney said: “What I find most astonishing is that a cyber hack of this nature is really the modern equivalent of, almost, Russian bombers reportedly flying undetected over the entire country.

“In this setting, not to have the White House aggressively speaking out and protesting and taking punitive action is really, really quite extraordinary.”


Asked about Romney’s remarks, Pompeo said: “I saw this in my time running the world’s premier espionage service at the CIA. There are many things that you’d very much love to say, ‘Boy, I’m going to call that out,’ but a wiser course of action to protect the American people is to calmly go about your business and defend freedom.”

US-Russia ties have been strained by issues ranging from conflicts in Syria and Ukraine to allegations of interference in US politics, specifically the 2016 election and in favour of Trump, which Moscow also denies. At a news conference on Thursday, Vladimir Putin said he hoped Biden would help resolve some issues in relations between Moscow and Washington.

The state department said on Saturday the US was halting work at consulates in Vladivostock and Yekaterinburg, citing safety and security issues at facilities where operations had been curtailed because of Covid-19. The decision did not affect Russian consulates in the US, the department said, but the closures will leave the embassy in Moscow as the last US diplomatic mission in Russia. It is unclear if the closures will happen before 20 January, when Biden takes office.

Speaking to Levin, Pompeo said: “We have lots of folks that want to undermine our way of life, our republic, our basic democratic principles. Russia is certainly on that list … You see the news of the day with respect to their efforts in the cyber space. We’ve seen this for an awfully long time, using asymmetric capabilities to try and put themselves in a place where they can impose costs on the United States.

“So yes, Vladimir Putin remains a real risk to those of us who love freedom.”
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Thu Dec 24, 2020 7:02 am

With Biden's New Threats, the Russia Discourse is More Reckless and Dangerous Than Ever: The U.S. media demands inflammatory claims be accepted with no evidence, while hacking behavior routinely engaged in by the U.S. is depicted as aberrational.
by Glenn Greenwald
Dec 23, 2020

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Then-Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Brookings Institute May 27, 2015 in Washington, DC spoke about the Russia-Ukraine conflict (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

To justify Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss to Donald Trump, leading Democrats and their key media allies for years competed with one another to depict what they called “Russia’s interference in our elections” in the most apocalyptic terms possible. They fanatically rejected the view of the Russian Federation repeatedly expressed by President Obama — that it is a weak regional power with an economy smaller than Italy’s capable of only threatening its neighbors but not the U.S. — and instead cast Moscow as a grave, even existential, threat to U.S. democracy, with its actions tantamount to the worst security breaches in U.S. history.

This post-2016 mania culminated with prominent liberal politicians and journalists (as well as John McCain) declaring Russia’s activities surrounding the 2016 to be an “act of war” which, many of them insisted, was comparable to Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attack
— the two most traumatic attacks in modern U.S. history which both spawned years of savage and destructive war, among other things.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) repeatedly demanded that Russia’s 2016 “interference” be treated as “an act of war.” Hillary Clinton described Russian hacking as “a cyber 9/11.” And here is Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on MSNBC in early February, 2018, pronouncing Russia “a hostile foreign power” whose 2016 meddling was the “equivalent” of Pearl Harbor, “very much on par” with the “seriousness” of the 1941 attack in Hawaii that helped prompt four years of U.S. involvement in a world war.

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Breaking News: Mueller Indicts 13 Russians for Election Interference, MSNBC Live

With the Democrats, under Joe Biden, just weeks away from assuming control of the White House and the U.S. military and foreign policy that goes along with it, the discourse from them and their media allies about Russia is becoming even more unhinged and dangerous. Moscow’s alleged responsibility for the recently revealed, multi-pronged hack of U.S. Government agencies and various corporate servers is asserted — despite not a shred of evidence, literally, having yet been presented — as not merely proven fact, but as so obviously true that it is off-limits from doubt or questioning.

Any questioning of this claim will be instantly vilified by the Democrats’ extremely militaristic media spokespeople as virtual treason. “Now the president is not just silent on Russia and the hack. He is deliberately running defense for the Kremlin by contradicting his own Secretary of State on Russian responsibility,” pronounced CNN’s national security reporter Jim Sciutto
, who last week depicted Trump’s attempted troop withdrawal from Syria and Germany as “ceding territory” and furnishing “gifts” to Putin. More alarmingly, both the rhetoric to describe the hack and the retaliation being threatened are rapidly spiraling out of control.

Democrats (along with some Republicans long obsessed with The Russian Threat, such as Mitt Romney) are casting the latest alleged hack by Moscow in the most melodramatic terms possible, ensuring that Biden will enter the White House with tensions sky-high with Russia and facing heavy pressure to retaliate aggressively. Biden’s top national security advisers and now Biden himself have, with no evidence shown to the public, repeatedly threatened aggressive retaliation against the country with the world’s second-largest nuclear stockpile.

Congressman Jason Crow (D-CO) — one of the pro-war Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee who earlier this year joined with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) to block Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan — announced: “this could be our modern day, cyber equivalent of Pearl Harbor,” adding: “Our nation is under assault.” The second-ranking Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin (D-IL), pronounced: “This is virtually a declaration of war by Russia."

Meanwhile, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who has for years been casting Russia as a grave threat to the U.S. while Democrats mocked him as a relic of the Cold War (before they copied and then surpassed him), described the latest hack as “the equivalent of Russian bombers flying undetected over the entire country.” The GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee also blasted Trump for his failure to be “aggressively speaking out and protesting and taking punitive action,” though — like virtually every prominent figure demanding tough “retaliation” — Romney failed to specify what he had in mind that would be sufficient retaliation for “the equivalent of Russian bombers flying undetected over the entire country.”




For those keeping track at home: that’s two separate “Pearl Harbors” in less than four years from Moscow (or, if you prefer, one Pearl Harbor and one 9/11). If Democrats actually believe that, it stands to reason that they will be eager to embrace a policy of belligerence and aggression toward Russia. Many of them are demanding this outright, mocking Trump for failing to attack Russia — despite no evidence that they were responsible — while their well-trained liberal flock is suggesting that the non-response constitutes some form of “high treason.”

Indeed, the Biden team has been signalling that they intend to quickly fulfill demands for aggressive retaliation. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Biden “accused President Trump [] of ‘irrational downplaying’” of the hack while “warning Russia that he would not allow the intrusion to ‘go unanswered’ after he takes office.” Biden emphasized that once the intelligence assessment is complete, “we will respond, and probably respond in kind.”

Threats and retaliation between the U.S. and Russia are always dangerous, but particularly so now. One of the key nuclear arms agreements between the two nuclear-armed nations, the New START treaty, will expire in February unless Putin and Biden can successfully negotiate a renewal: sixteen days after Biden is scheduled to take office. “That will force Mr. Biden to strike a deal to prevent one threat — a nuclear arms race — while simultaneously threatening retaliation on another,” observed the Times.

This escalating rhetoric from Washington about Russia, and the resulting climate of heightened tensions, are dangerous in the extreme. They are also based in numerous myths, deceits and falsehoods:


First, absolutely no evidence of any kind has been presented to suggest, let alone prove, that Russia is responsible for these hacks. It goes without saying that it is perfectly plausible that Russia could have done this: it’s the sort of thing that every large power from China and Iran to the U.S. and Russia have the capability to do and wield against virtually every other country including one another.

But if we learned nothing else over the last several decades, we should know that accepting claims that emanate from the U.S. intelligence community about adversaries without a shred of evidence is madness of the highest order. We just had a glaring reminder of the importance of this rule: just weeks before the election, countless mainstream media outlets laundered and endorsed the utterly false claim that the documents from Hunter Biden’s laptop were “Russian disinformation,” only for officials to acknowledge once the harm was done that there was no evidence — zero — of Russian involvement.

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National Security:
Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say
More than 50 former intelligence officials signed a letter casting doubt on the provenance of a New York Post story on the former vice president's son
More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have signed on to a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of emails allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden, pictured here, "has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation."
by Natasha Bertrand
10/19/20 10:30 PM EDT


Yet that is exactly what the overwhelming bulk of media outlets are doing again: asserting that Russia is behind these hacks despite having no evidence of its truth. The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro, host of the paper’s popular The Daily podcast, asked his colleague, national security reporter David Sanger, what evidence exists to assert that Russia did this. As Barbaro put it, even Sanger is “allowing that early conclusions could all be wrong, but that it's doubtful.” Indeed, Sanger acknowledged to Barbaro that they have no proof, asserting instead that the basis on which he is relying is that Russia possesses the sophistication to carry out such a hack (as do several other nation-states), along with claiming that the hack has what he calls the “markings” of Russian hackers.

But this tactic was exactly the same one used by former intelligence officials, echoed by these same media outlets, to circulate the false pre-election claim that the documents from Hunter Biden’s laptop were “Russian disinformation”: namely, they pronounced in lockstep, the material from Hunter’s laptop “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information.” This was also exactly the same tactic used by the U.S. intelligence community in 2001 to falsely blame Iraq for the anthrax attacks, claiming that their chemical analysis revealed a substance that was “a trademark of the Iraqi biological weapons program.”


These media outlets will, if pressed, acknowledge their lack of proof that Russia did this. Despite this admitted lack of proof, media outlets are repeatedly stating Russian responsibility as proven fact.

“Scope of Russian Hacking Becomes Clear: Multiple U.S. Agencies Were Hit,” one New York Times headline proclaimed, and the first line of that article, co-written by Sanger, stated definitively: “The scope of a hacking engineered by one of Russia’s premier intelligence agencies became clearer on Monday.” The Washington Post deluged the public with identically certain headlines:

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The Washington Post
Russian hack was 'classic espionage' with stealthy, targeted tactics
Some malware used in the attack had never been seen before by investigators.
by Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima
Dec. 14, 2020 at 1:11 p.m. MST


Nobody in the government has been as definitive in asserting Russian responsibility as corporate media outlets. Even Trump’s hawkish Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, crafted his accusation against Moscow with caveats and uncertainty: “I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity.”

If actual evidence ultimately emerges demonstrating Russian responsibility, it would not alter how dangerous it is that — less than twenty years after the Iraq WMD debacle and less than a couple of years after media endorsement of endless Russiagate falsehoods — the most influential media outlets continue to mindlessly peddle as Truth whatever the intelligence community feeds them, without the need to see any evidence that what they’re claiming is actually true. Even more alarmingly, large sectors of the public that venerate these outlets continue to believe that what they hear from them must be true, no matter how many times they betray that trust. The ease with which the CIA can disseminate whatever messaging it wants through friendly media outlets is stunning.

Second, the very idea that this hack could be compared to rogue and wildly aberrational events such as Pearl Harbor or the 9/11 attack is utterly laughable on its face. One has to be drowning in endless amounts of jingoistic self-delusion to believe that this hack — or, for that matter, the 2016 “election interference” — is a radical departure from international norms as opposed to a perfect reflection of them.


Just as was true of 2016 fake Facebook pages and Twitter bots, it is not an exaggeration to say that the U.S. Government engages in hacking attacks of this sort, and ones far more invasive, against virtually every country on the planet, including Russia, on a weekly basis. That does not mean that this kind of hacking is either justified or unjustified. It does mean, however, that depicting it as some particularly dastardly and incomparably immoral act that requires massive retaliation requires a degree of irrationality and gullibility that is bewildering to behold.

The NSA reporting enabled by Edward Snowden by itself proved that the NSA spies on virtually anyone it can. Indeed, after reviewing the archive back in 2013, I made the decision that I would not report on U.S. hacks of large adversary countries such as China and Russia because it was so commonplace for all of these countries to hack one another as aggressively and intrusively as they could that it was hardly newsworthy to report on this (the only exception was when there was a substantial reason to view such spying as independently newsworthy, such as Sweden’s partnering with NSA to spy on Russia in direct violation of the denials Swedish officials voiced to their public).

Other news outlets who had access to Snowden documents, particularly The New York Times, were not nearly as circumspect in exposing U.S. spying on large nation-state adversaries. As a result, there is ample proof published by those outlets (sometimes provoking Snowden’s strong objections) that the U.S. does exactly what Russia is alleged to have done here — and far worse.

“Even as the United States made a public case about the dangers of buying from [China’s] Huawei, classified documents show that the National Security Agency was creating its own back doors — directly into Huawei’s networks,” reported The New York Times’ David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth in 2013, adding that “the agency pried its way into the servers in Huawei’s sealed headquarters in Shenzhen, China’s industrial heart.”

In 2013, the Guardian revealed “an NSA attempt to eavesdrop on the Russian leader, Dmitry Medvedev, as his phone calls passed through satellite links to Moscow,” and added: “foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts.” Meanwhile, “Sweden has been a key partner for the United States in spying on Russia and its leadership, Swedish television said on Thursday,”
noted Reuters, citing what one NSA document described as “a unique collection on high-priority Russian targets, such as leadership, internal politics.”

Image
Reuters
Sweden key partner for U.S. spying on Russia: TV
by Reuters Staff
December 5, 2019
Sweden has been a key partner for the United States in spying on Russia and its leadership, Swedish television said on Thursday, citing leaked documents from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).


Other reports revealed that the U.S. had hacked into the Brazilian telecommunications system to collect data on the whole population, and was spying on Brazil’s key leaders (including then-President Dilma Rousseff) as well as its most important companies such as its oil giant Petrobras and its Ministry of Mines and Energy. The Washington Post reported: “The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.” And on and on.

[One amazing though under-appreciated episode related to all this: the same New York Times reporter who revealed the details about massive NSA hacking of Chinese government and industry, Nicole Perlroth, subsequently urged (in tweets she has now deleted) that Snowden not be pardoned on the ground that, according to her, he revealed legitimate NSA spying on U.S. adversaries. In reality, it was actually she, Perlorth, not Snowden, who chose to expose NSA spying on China, provoking Snowden’s angry objections when she did so based on his view this was a violation of the framework he created for what should and should not be revealed; in other words, not only did Perlroth urge the criminal prosecution of a source on which she herself relied, an absolutely astonishing thing for any reporter to do, but so much worse, she did so by falsely accusing that source of doing something that she, Perlroth, had done herself: namely, reveal extensive U.S. hacking of China].

What all of this makes demonstrably clear is that only the most deluded and uninformed person could believe that Russian hacking of U.S. agencies and corporations — if it happened — is anything other than totally normal and common behavior between these countries. Harvard Law Professor and former Bush DOJ official Jack Goldsmith, reviewing growing demands for retaliation, wrote in an excellent article last week entitled “Self-Delusion on the Russia Hack: The U.S. regularly hacks foreign governmental computer systems on a massive scale”:

The lack of self-awareness in these and similar reactions to the Russia breach is astounding. The U.S. government has no principled basis to complain about the Russia hack, much less retaliate for it with military means, since the U.S. government hacks foreign government networks on a huge scale every day. Indeed, a military response to the Russian hack would violate international law . . . .

As the revelations from leaks of information from Edward Snowden made plain, the United States regularly penetrates foreign governmental computer systems on a massive scale, often (as in the Russia hack) with the unwitting assistance of the private sector, for purposes of spying. It is almost certainly the world’s leader in this practice, probably by a lot. The Snowden documents suggested as much, as does the NSA’s probable budget. In 2016, after noting “problems with cyber intrusions from Russia,” Obama boasted that the United States has “more capacity than anybody … offensively” . . . .

Because of its own practices, the U.S. government has traditionally accepted the legitimacy of foreign governmental electronic spying in U.S. government networks. After the notorious Chinese hack of the Office of Personnel Management database, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said: “You have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did. If we had the opportunity to do that, I don't think we'd hesitate for a minute.” The same Russian agency that appears to have carried out the hack revealed this week also hacked into unclassified emails in the White House and Defense and State Departments in 2014-2015. The Obama administration deemed it traditional espionage and did not retaliate. “It was information collection, which is what nation states—including the United States—do,” said Obama administration cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel this week.


But over the last four years, Americans, particularly those who feed on liberal media outlets, have been drowned in so much mythology about the U.S. and Russia that they have no capacity to critically assess the claims being made, and — just as they were led to believe about “Russia’s 2016 interference in Our Sacred Elections” — are easily convinced that what Russia did is some shocking and extreme crime the likes of which are rarely seen in international relations. In reality, their own government is the undisputed world champion in perpetrating these acts, and has been for years if not decades.

Third, these demands for “retaliation” are so reckless because they are almost always unaccompanied by any specifics. Even if Moscow’s responsibility is demonstrated, what is the U.S. supposed to do in response? If your answer is that they should hack Russia back, rest assured the NSA and CIA are always trying to hack Russia as much as it possibly can, long before this event.

If the answer is more sanctions, that would be just performative and pointless, aside from wildly hypocritical. Any reprisals more severe than that would be beyond reckless, particularly with the need to renew nuclear arms control agreements looming. And if you are someone demanding retaliation, do you believe that Russia, China, Brazil and all the other countries invaded by NSA hackers have the same right of retaliation against the U.S., or does the U.S. occupy a special place with special entitlements that all other countries lack?

What we have here, yet again, is the classic operation of the intelligence community feeding serious accusations about a nuclear-armed power to an eagerly gullible corporate media, with the media mindlessly disseminating it without evidence, all toward ratcheting up tensions between these two nuclear-armed powers and fortifying a mythology of the U.S. as grand victim but never perpetrator.

If you ever find yourself wondering how massive military budgets and a posture of Endless War are seemingly invulnerable to challenge, this pathological behavior — from a now-enduring union of the intelligence community, corporate media outlets, and the Democratic Party — provides one key piece of the puzzle.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri May 14, 2021 9:46 pm

Liz Cheney Lied About Her Role in Spreading the Discredited CIA "Russian Bounty" Story
As part of her ideological war to reclaim the GOP for neocons, the now-deposed House leader falsely denied her role in a tale designed to block withdrawal from Afghanistan.
by Glenn Greenwald
May 14, 2021

In an interview on Tuesday with Fox News’ Bret Baier, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) denied that she spread the discredited CIA "Russian bounty” story. That CIA tale, claiming Russia was paying Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, was cooked up and published by The New York Times on June 27 of last year, right as former President Trump announced his plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The Times story, citing anonymous intelligence officials, was then continually invoked by pro-war Republicans and Democrats — led by Cheney — to justify their blocking of that troop withdrawal. The story was discredited when the U.S. intelligence community admitted last month that it had only “low to moderate confidence” that any of this even happened.

When Baier asked Cheney about her role in spreading this debunked CIA story, Cheney blatantly lied to him, claiming “if you go back and look at what I said — every single thing I said: I said if those stories are true, we need to know why the President and Vice President were not briefed on them.” After Baier pressed her on the fact that she vested this story with credibility, Cheney insisted a second time that she never endorsed the claim but merely spoke conditionally, always using the “if these reports are true” formulation. Watch Cheney deny her role in spreading that story.



Liz Cheney, as she so often does, blatantly lied. That she merely spoke of the Russian bounty story in the conditional — “every single thing I said: I said if those stories are true” — is completely and demonstrably false. Indeed, other than Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), there are few if any members of Congress who did more to spread this Russian bounty story as proven truth, all in order to block troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. In so doing, she borrowed from a pro-war playbook pioneered by her dad, to whom she owes her career: the former Vice President would leak CIA claims to The New York Times to justify war, then go on Meet the Press with Tim Russert, as he did on September 8, 2002, and cite those New York Times reports as though they were independent confirmation of his views coming from that paper rather than from him:

MR. RUSSERT: What, specifically, has [Saddam] obtained that you believe would enhance his nuclear development program? …..

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Now, in the case of a nuclear weapon, that means either plutonium or highly enriched uranium. And what we’ve seen recently that has raised our level of concern to the current state of unrest, if you will, if I can put it in those terms, is that he now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium to make the bombs.

MR. RUSSERT: Aluminum tubes.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Specifically aluminum tubes. There’s a story in The New York Times this morning this is — I don’t — and I want to attribute The Times. I don’t want to talk about, obviously, specific intelligence sources, but it’s now public that, in fact, [Saddam] has been seeking to acquire, and we have been able to intercept and prevent him from acquiring through this particular channel, the kinds of tubes that are necessary to build a centrifuge. And the centrifuge is required to take low-grade uranium and enhance it into highly enriched uranium, which is what you have to have in order to build a bomb.


So having CIA stories leak to the press that fuel the pro-war case, then having pro-war politicians cite those to justify their pro-war position, is a Cheney Family speciality.

On July 1, the House Armed Services Committee, of which Rep. Cheney is a member, debated amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, the bill that authorized $740.5 billion in military spending. One of Cheney's top priorities was to align with the Committee's pro-war Democrats, funded by weapons manufacturers, to block Trump's plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2020 and to withdraw roughly 1/3 of the 34,000 U.S. troops in Germany.

To justify her opposition, Cheney — contrary to what she repeatedly insisted to Baier — cited the CIA's Russian bounty story without skepticism. In a joint statement with Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, that Cheney published on her website on June 27 — the same day that The New York Times published its first story about the CIA tale — Cheney pronounced herself "concerned about Russian activity in Afghanistan, including reports that they have targeted U.S. forces.” There was nothing conditional about the statement: they were preparing to block troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and cited this story as proof that “Russia does not wish us well in Afghanistan.”

After today’s briefing with senior White House officials, we remain concerned about Russian activity in Afghanistan, including reports that they have targeted U.S. forces. It has been clear for some time that Russia does not wish us well in Afghanistan. We believe it is important to vigorously pursue any information related to Russia or any other country targeting our forces. Congress has no more important obligation than providing for the security of our nation and ensuring our forces have the resources they need.


An even more definitive use of this Russia bounty story came when Cheney held a press conference to explain her opposition to Trump's plans to withdraw troops. In this statement, she proclaimed that she "remains concerned about Russian activities in Afghanistan.” She then explicitly threatened Russia over the CIA's “bounty” story, warning them that “any targeting of U.S. forces by Russians, by anyone else, will face a very swift and deadly response.” She then gloated about the U.S. bombing of Russia-linked troops in Syria in 2018 using what she called “overwhelming and lethal force,” and warned that this would happen again if they target U.S. forces in Afghanistan:



Does this sound even remotely like what Cheney claimed to Baier? She denied having played a key role in spreading the Russia bounty story because, as she put it, “every single thing I said, I said: if those stories are true.” She also told him that she never referred to that CIA claim except by saying: “if these reports are true.” That is false.

The issue is not merely that Cheney lied: that would hardly be news. It is that the entire media narrative about Cheney's removal from her House leadership role is a fraud. Her attacks on Trump and her party leadership were not confined to criticisms of the role played by the former president in contesting the validity of the 2020 election outcome or inciting the January 6 Capitol riot — because Liz Cheney is such a stalwart defender of the need for truth and adherence to the rule of law in politics.

Cheney played the key role in forming an alliance with pro-war Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee to repeatedly defeat the bipartisan anti-war minority [led by Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Rep. Matt Gatez (R-FL)] to prevent any meaningful changes promised by Trump during the 2016 campaign to put an end to the U.S. posture of Endless War. As I reported about the House Armed Services Committee hearing last July, the CIA tale was repeatedly cited by Cheney and her allies to justify ongoing U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan.

Cheney is motivated by power, not ethics. In 2016, Trump ran — and won — by explicitly inveighing against the Bush/Cheney foreign policy of endless war, militarism and imperialism that Liz Cheney, above all else, still vehemently supports. What she is attempting to do is reclaim the Republican Party and deliver it back to the neocons and warmongers who dominated it under her father's reign. She is waging an ideological battle, not an ethical one, for control of the Republican Party.

That will be a debate for Republican voters to resolve. In the meantime, Liz Cheney cannot be allowed to distance herself from the CIA's fairy tale about Russians in Afghanistan. Along with pro-war Democrats, she used this conveniently leaked CIA story repeatedly to block troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. And just as her father taught her to do — by example if not expressly — she is now lying to distance herself from a pro-war CIA script that she, in fact, explicitly promoted.

For those who have not seen it, I produced a one-hour video report last July on how and why the House Armed Services Committee succeeded in enacting virtually every pro-war amendment they considered and how this was accomplished through an alliance between Liz Cheney and her neocon GOP allies on the one hand, and pro-war, Raytheon-funded Democrats on the other:

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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Fri May 14, 2021 9:50 pm

U.S. Intel Walks Back Claim Russians Put Bounties on American Troops
It was a huge election-time story that prompted cries of treason. But according to a newly disclosed assessment, Donald Trump might have been right to call it a “hoax.”
by Adam Rawnsley, Spencer Ackerman, and Asawin Suebsaeng
Updated Apr. 15, 2021 8:54PM ET / Published Apr. 15, 2021 11:11AM ET

It was a blockbuster story about Russia’s return to the imperial “Great Game” in Afghanistan. The Kremlin had spread money around the longtime central Asian battlefield for militants to kill remaining U.S. forces. It sparked a massive outcry from Democrats and their #resistance amplifiers about the treasonous Russian puppet in the White House whose admiration for Vladimir Putin had endangered American troops.

But on Thursday, the Biden administration announced that U.S. intelligence only had “low to moderate” confidence in the story after all. Translated from the jargon of spyworld, that means the intelligence agencies have found the story is, at best, unproven—and possibly untrue.

“The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019 and perhaps earlier,” a senior administration official said.


U.S. intelligence only had ‘low to moderate’ confidence in the story. Translated from the jargon of spyworld, that means the intelligence agencies have found the story is, at best, unproven—and possibly untrue.


“This information puts a burden on the Russian government to explain its actions and take steps to address this disturbing pattern of behavior,” the official said, indicating that Biden is unprepared to walk the story back fully.

Significantly, the Biden team announced a raft of sanctions on Thursday. But those sanctions, targeting Russia’s sovereign debt market, are prompted only by Russia’s interference in the 2020 election and its alleged role in the SolarWinds cyber espionage. (In contrast, Biden administration officials said that their assessment attributing the breach of technology company SolarWinds to hackers from Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service was “high confidence.”)


“We have noted our conclusion of the review that we conducted on the bounties issue and we have conveyed through diplomatic, intelligence, and military channels strong, direct messages on this issue, but we are not specifically tying the actions we are taking today to that matter,” a senior administration official told reporters in reference to the bounty claims.

According to the officials on Thursday’s call, the reporting about the alleged “bounties” came from “detainee reporting”–raising the specter that someone told their U.S.-aligned Afghan jailers what they thought was necessary to get out of a cage. Specifically, the official cited “information and evidence of connections to criminal agents in Afghanistan and elements of the Russian government” as sources for the intelligence community’s assessment.

Without additional corroboration, such reporting is notoriously unreliable. Detainee reporting from a man known as Ibn Shaikh al-Libi, extracted from torture, infamously and bogusly fueled a Bush administration claim, used to invade Iraq, about Saddam Hussein training al Qaeda to make poison gas.

The senior Biden official added on Thursday that the “difficult operating environment in Afghanistan” complicated U.S. efforts to confirm what amounts to a rumor.


When asked whether Moscow put bounties on American forces in Afghanistan, press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing on Thursday that the Biden administration “felt the reports were enough of a cause for concern that we wanted our intelligence community to look into this report as a part of this overall assessment.”

Psaki reiterated the intelligence community’s low-to-moderate confidence in its assessment about possible Russian bounties but said that U.S. intelligence had “high confidence” in a separate assessment that Russian military intelligence officers “manage interaction with individuals in Afghan criminal networks” and that the “involvement of this... unit is consistent with Russia’s encouraging attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan.”

“I am unsurprised that the review led to a murky determination of low to moderate confidence. While it is clear that Russia and other adversaries have been providing assistance to their proxies in Afghanistan, identifying type and amount of such assistance with great specificity has been the persistent challenge,” Jason Campbell, an Afghanistan policy official in the Obama Pentagon, told The Daily Beast.

There were reasons to doubt the story from the start. Not only did the initial stories emphasize its basis on detainee reporting, but the bounties represented a qualitative shift in recent Russian engagements with Afghan insurgents. Russian operatives have long been suspected of moving money to various Afghan militants: an out-of-favor former Taliban official told The Daily Beast on the record that Russia gave them cash for years. But the Russians had not been suspected of sponsoring attacks on U.S. forces outright–an escalation that risked confrontation with the U.S., and occurring long after it could have made a difference in the war.

As well, there seemed to be no “causative link” to any actual U.S. deaths, in the judgment of Gen. Frank McKenzie, the senior U.S. general for the Middle East and South Asia. Former U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers told The Daily Beast last summer that they viewed the bounties account skeptically. One retired diplomat suspected “someone leaked this to slow down the troop withdrawal.”

Former U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers told The Daily Beast last summer that they viewed the bounties account skeptically. One suspected, ‘someone leaked this to slow down the troop withdrawal.’


Rarely discussed was the main reason to believe the story: the CIA actually did fund Afghan guerillas to kill Russian forces during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan of the 1980s.

The Pentagon said at the time that its massive intelligence apparatus, which includes both battlefield intelligence and the world’s most sophisticated surveillance network, did not generate the bounties story. In September, McKenzie said that the intelligence remained uncorroborated. “It just has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me,” he told NBC News.

In the weeks following the existence of the uncorroborated Russian-bounty intel first breaking in The New York Times last summer, then-President Trump would repeatedly demand in closed-door meetings that whoever leaked the information be found, punished, or even “locked up,” according to sources and former administration officials with knowledge of what transpired at the time.

The initial set of Times bounty articles caught a number of senior White House staffers off-guard at first, who scrambled to figure out what was going on. One of the then-president's initial instincts was, naturally, that this was relayed to the press to make him look bad, and he would tell five individuals close to him that it further convinced him that the United States should pull its forces out of Afghanistan.

But in various meetings at the White House and in private conversations that followed that summer, Trump would continue to speculate on how or why this could have ended up in the media, three people familiar with the matter said. At times, he said he believed it was done by officials who wanted Joe Biden to win the 2020 election, or who wanted to stay and fight in Afghanistan “forever.” He demanded to know who in the CIA or intelligence community could have possibly done this to him.

Trump mentioned that he’d heard that the intel could have been ‘totally phony’ because it could have been drawn from intel sources who were saying anything after someone had ‘kicked the crap out of them.’


At at least one point that summer, Trump mentioned that he'd heard that the intel could have been “totally phony” or manufactured because it could have been drawn from intel sources who didn't know what they were talking about, making up wild tales, or saying anything after someone had “kicked the crap out of them.”

That last speculation surprised, or somewhat confused, two of the sources who were familiar with the comment at the time, if only because Trump had repeatedly said for years that torture “absolutely works” and that the United States should revive waterboarding and other brutal measures against terror suspects. “It really sounded like the [then-]president was just grabbing for anything he could say,” one of these people recalled. “He was told by administration officials that the reporting was based on unverified claims, and he spun from that, I think.”

Regardless of whether the intelligence was fully corroborated or not, this didn't stop top officials in the Trump administration from sending notice to Russian counterparts. As The Daily Beast first reported in July, the U.S. State Department issued warnings to the Russian government that there would be a response if Moscow were then indeed caught paying bounties to Taliban fighters for the slayings of American troops in Afghanistan. Then-President Trump, for his part, publicly claimed that month that he did not raise the topic Russian leader Vladimir Putin. “That was a phone call to discuss other things, and frankly that’s an issue that many people said was fake news,” Trump said in an interview with Axios.

Meanwhile, Democrats ran with the election-time story. Then-candidate Biden called it a “horrifying revelation” if true. The senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Robert Menendez (D-NJ), introduced a measure to sanction Russia for the alleged bounties. Congressional Democrats claimed to have been insufficiently briefed on the account, which the Trump White House called a “hoax,” and suggested there was a cover-up underway. When Trump himself denied being briefed on the story, House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) remarked, “Is this an issue where they cannot tell the president things he doesn't want to hear when it comes to Vladimir Putin and Russia?”

Added House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) in June, “I think we knew the White House perspective, what we need to know is the intelligence perspective.” Now he knows.
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