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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Russia Russia Russia, Redux

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  Russia is making a similar effort this year.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Nicholas Fandos at NYT:
Top officials with the Department of Homeland Security directed agency analysts to downplay threats from violent white supremacy and Russian election interference, a Homeland Security official said in a whistle-blower complaint released on Wednesday.
Brian Murphy, the former head of the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence branch, said in the complaint that he was ordered this spring by Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of the department, to stop producing assessments on Russian interference and focus instead on Iran and China. That request, Mr. Murphy said, was routed through Mr. Wolf from Robert C. O’Brien, the White House national security adviser.
Mr. Wolf later told him not to disseminate a report on a Russian disinformation campaign to denigrate Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s mental health because it “made the president look bad,” said Mr. Murphy, who warned that the actions in their totality threatened national security.
Zachary Cohen, Kylie Atwood and Marshall Cohen at CNN:
The US Treasury Department on Thursday announced new sanctions against a Ukrainian lawmaker, accusing him of being an "active Russian agent" who is part of Moscow's interference in the 2020 campaign.
The controversial Ukrainian lawmaker, Andrii Derkach, has close ties to President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and was already singled out earlier this summer by the US intelligence community for helping Moscow's ongoing efforts to weaken Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Now, Derkach has been explicitly labeled a Russian agent by the US government and sanctioned for attempting to influence the upcoming election.
The announcement on Thursday was an extraordinary step by the US government to publicly condemn Russia's ongoing interference in the 2020 election. It shows how some parts of the US government are cracking down on Russia's anti-Biden meddling, while Trump has openly embraced the Russian effort and hasn't spoken out against it.
The news also raises the stakes for Giuliani, who collaborated with Derkach to spread anti-Biden material during Trump's impeachment. The Treasury statement now means Giuliani collaborated with "an active Russian agent," which is precisely the type of behavior that led to allegations of Trump-Russia collusion in the 2016 election. Asked about the news, Giuliani texted CNN, "Who cares."
Derkach is among a small group of Ukrainian political figures who have, over the past year, injected themselves into the 2020 election by promoting dubious claims of corruption against Biden and releasing alleged audiotapes from Biden's diplomatic work as vice president.
He has worked closely with Giuliani to peddle anti-Biden material, much of which has also been embraced by Republican lawmakers and right-wing outlets like OANN, according to CNN reporting and Derkach's public statements.
From Microsoft:
In recent weeks, Microsoft has detected cyberattacks targeting people and organizations involved in the upcoming presidential election, including unsuccessful attacks on people associated with both the Trump and Biden campaigns, as detailed below. We have and will continue to defend our democracy against these attacks through notifications of such activity to impacted customers, security features in our products and services, and legal and technical disruptions. The activity we are announcing today makes clear that foreign activity groups have stepped up their efforts targeting the 2020 election as had been anticipated, and is consistent with what the U.S. government and others have reported. We also report here on attacks against other institutions and enterprises worldwide that reflect similar adversary activity.
We have observed that:
  • Strontium, operating from Russia, has attacked more than 200 organizations including political campaigns, advocacy groups, parties and political consultants
  • Zirconium, operating from China, has attacked high-profile individuals associated with the election, including people associated with the Joe Biden for President campaign and prominent leaders in the international affairs community
  • Phosphorus, operating from Iran, has continued to attack the personal accounts of people associated with the Donald J. Trump for President campaign