THE KEY

The Justice Department should release special counsel Robert Mueller's full report -- because it may contain key information that will aid the fight against Russian hackers targeting the 2020 elections.

That's one reason Democrats say Attorney General William Barr's four-page summary of Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election is insufficient. 

Former Democratic National Committee chief Donna Brazile said on Twitter that it was critically important to release the report “so we can prevent the Russians or others from attempting this in November, 2020.”

Former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul added: “We need to know these facts about Russian operations in order to prevent such attacks on our sovereignty in 2020.”

The calls to release the report in the name of national security are another sign that the fight over Mueller's investigation is sure to continue. 

Mueller's two-year investigation found no members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with a Russian hacking group that stole and strategically released emails from the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign that upended the 2016 election. That was “despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign,” Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in their summary — a reference to Russian overtures to President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner, among others.

The report also found that no Trump campaign officials “conspired or knowingly coordinated” with a social media influence operation run by the Russian intelligence front the Internet Research Agency, which U.S. intelligence officials say was aimed at helping Trump’s election chances and hurting Clinton’s.

Yet Barr and Rosenstein’s decision not to pursue obstruction of justice charges against Trump -- after Mueller reached no conclusion on the matter -- is the part of the report that led most Democrats to demand full transparency. Mueller laid out evidence for and against an obstruction charge in the full report, Barr and Rosenstein said — and Democrats want its full release. 

Trump hailed the report summary as a “complete and total exoneration."

Barr and Rosenstein do plan to release the Mueller report, they said — but only after it’s scrubbed of information related to grand jury proceedings and that may affect other investigations, including prosecutions of many Trump campaign officials, such as former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Democrats are concerned that scrubbing could go too far. They also want the Justice Department to turn over underlying documents that supported Mueller’s conclusions, according to a joint statement from House Judiciary Chariman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

The finding that there was no direct conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign closes one of the few remaining questions about the 2016 interference operation, which has produced criminal indictments against a dozen Russian hackers, multiple rounds of sanctions against Russian organizations and an mammoth effort to surge the state of U.S. election cybersecurity led by the Homeland Security Department and state governments.

It also brings some closure to an attack that struck at the core of U.S. democracy and forced government officials to reckon with how vulnerable elections were to digital interference. In addition to hacking Democratic political organizations, Russia also probed election systems in 21 states, though there’s no evidence they succeeded in changing any votes.

Since the attack, Congress has delivered $380 million to states to upgrade their voting systems and DHS launched a massive election security effort ahead of the 2018 midterm elections — including scanning dozens of state and local election systems for cybersecurity vulnerabilities and placing sensors on more than 90 percent of state voting systems.

Election security has also become a key talking point for Democratic presidential hopefuls on the campaign trail and that rhetoric is likely to heat up as security efforts increase and the election draws nearer.

Even many Republicans were hopeful the Mueller findings could galvanize state, local and federal officials as they prepare to protect the 2020 contest from interference.

“Now it is time to move on, govern the country, and get ready to combat Russia and other foreign actors ahead of 2020,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted soon after the report summary came out.

Graham has resisted making the full Mueller report public unless Democrats agree to a new investigation into alleged misdeeds by Clinton, such as her use of a personal server and email account for official government business.. This month he blocked a measure calling for the report’s release — and that the House approved 420 to 0 — from even being taken up in the Senate.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, also highlighted the Mueller report’s interference finding and pledged to continue fighting against Russian hacking and disinformation efforts.

Still other former officials used the report summary’s release to criticize Trump for not embracing intelligence agencies’ conclusions about Russian election interference

James R. Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, said in a CNN interview: “It’s a shame that the president refuses to call that out or to acknowledge what the Russians did … That kind of interference is continuing and we can look forward to it again in 2020.”

Trump has wavered on accepting the intelligence community's conclusions — he has said at times he believes Moscow interfered but also speculated other nations might also have interfered or even a 400-pound lone hacker. He has also been loath to condemn the interference.

Paul Rosenzweig, a former Homeland Security Department official said the evidence of Russian interference is now overwhelming, adding: “you have to also wonder why it is in the face of that evidence the President continues to ignore the issue.”

PINGED, PATCHED, PWNED

PINGED: The Federal Emergency Management Agency improperly shared personal information — including banking information — about approximately 2.5 million U.S. disaster survivors, according to a Friday inspector general’s report.

The release marks probably the biggest government security blunder of the Trump administration — one that may force the administration to wrestle with its pledge to hold top officials accountable after breaches occur.

The agency itself described the failure as a “major privacy incident.”

Here’s more from my colleagues Joel Achenbach, William Wan and Tony Romm: “The data mishap … occurred when the agency shared sensitive, personally identifiable information of disaster survivors who used FEMA’S Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, according to officials at FEMA. Those affected included the victims of California wildfires in 2017 and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the report said.”

A DHS official told my colleagues that about 1.8 million people had both their banking information and addresses improperly shared, while about 725,000 people had just their addresses shared.

PATCHED: The European Commission will stop short of endorsing a U.S. call to European nations to ban the Chinese telecom giant Huawei from the next-generation 5G networks, Reuters's Foo Yun Chee and Robin Emmott reported.

The commission will, however, “urge EU countries to share more data to tackle cybersecurity risks related to 5G networks,” the story says.

“European digital chief Andrus Ansip will present the recommendation on Tuesday. While the guidance does not have legal force, it will carry political weight which can eventually lead to national legislation in European Union countries,” Reuters reported.

“The United States has lobbied Europe to shut out Huawei, saying its equipment could be used by the Chinese government for espionage. Huawei has strongly rejected the allegations and earlier this month sued the U.S. government over the issue.”

PWNED: More cyberattacks against banks are being linked to nation state hacking groups, according to timeline and research from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank and the defense contractor BAE Systems.

“Out of 94 cases of cyberattacks reported as financial crimes since 2007, the attackers behind 23 of them were believed to be state-sponsored, the majority coming from countries like Iran, Russia, China and North Korea,” according to Reuters’ Angela Moon, who previewed the report.

“The number of such cyberattacks linked to nations jumped to six in 2018 from two in 2017 and two in 2016, the report, which was co-developed with British defense company BAE Systems, showed,” Moon reported.

PUBLIC KEY
Lawmakers want the attorney general to explain how the collection of cellular location data has changed following a recent SCOTUS decision.
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PRIVATE KEY
A pair of security researchers dominated Pwn2Own, the annual high-profile hacking contest, taking home $375,000 in prizes including a Tesla Model 3 — their reward for successfully exposing a vulnerability in the electric vehicle’s infotainment system.
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