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Russian hackers targeted 21 US states during election: US official

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Russian hackers targeted 21 U.S. states’ election systems in last year’s presidential race, a Department of Homeland Security official told Congress on Wednesday.

Jeanette Manfra, the department’s acting deputy undersecretary of cyber security, would not identify which states had been targeted, citing confidentiality agreements. She reiterated that there was no evidence that any actual votes were manipulated.

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“As of right now, we have evidence that election-related systems in 21 states were targeted,” Manfra told the Senate Intelligence Committee, which investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Systems were breached in a smaller number of states, she said, but did not give a specific figure.

Department officials had said about 20 states had been probed by hackers working on behalf of the Russian government, but recent news media reports had suggested the number could have been far higher.

Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate panel, expressed frustration at Manfra’s refusal to identify which states had been targeted.

“I just fundamentally disagree,” he said.

Warner on Tuesday sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly asking the agency to disclose more information about hacking attempts on state and local election systems.

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Arizona and Illinois last year confirmed that hackers had targeted their voter registration systems.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that the Kremlin orchestrated a wide-ranging influence operation that included email hacking and online propaganda in order to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump, a Republican, win the White House.

Manfra and other officials testifying on Wednesday reiterated that U.S. elections are resilient to hacking in part because they are decentralized and largely operated on the state and local level.

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Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, expressed skepticism at that assertion, saying only a small amount of votes in key battleground states would need to be altered to tip the scales of an election.

“A sophisticated actor could hack an election simply by focusing on certain counties,” King said. “I don’t think it works just to say it’s a big system and diversity will protect us.”

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Russia has repeatedly denied responsibility for any cyber attacks during the U.S. presidential election. Trump has inconsistently said Russia may or may not have been responsible for the hacking but has dismissed allegations that his associates colluded with Moscow as “fake news.”

(Reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Lisa Von Ahn and Jonathan Oatis)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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‘Please stop’: Devin Nunes shamelessly tries to out whistleblower and gets shut down by Adam Schiff

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) cautioned impeachment witnesses on Tuesday not to answer questions from Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) because they were allegedly designed to out a whistleblower who kicked off the inquiry.

During a House impeachment hearing, Nunes repeatedly questioned two witnesses -- Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council aide -- about whether they had leaked information to the press.

Schiff suggested that the line of questioning was designed to suss out the identity of the whistleblower, who has a right to anonymity under federal law.

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Newly leaked emails show Stephen Miller regularly pushed Breitbart to run anti-Rubio hit pieces

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Newly leaked emails obtained by NBC News show that Trump White House aide Stephen Miller regularly pressed right-wing website Brietbart News to run pieces attacking Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) during the 2016 election campaign.

The emails show that Miller regularly sent editorial directives to former Breitbart writer Katie McHugh even while he was working on the Trump campaign. According to McHugh, Miller had a special affinity for going after Rubio, who led a Republican effort to secure a deal for comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate.

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State supreme court judge rules Trump to be deposed in defamation case – third loss for president

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A New York State Supreme Court judge has ruled a defamation case against President Donald Trump can move forward, and that the President will be deposed by January 31, 2020. The case is being brought by former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos.

The is the President's third attempt to block the requirement for him to be deposed, and his third loss.

"Zervos has accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in 2007. She claims Trump kissed her twice on the lips during a lunch meeting in his New York City office, and on a separate occasion in Beverly Hills, she alleges he kissed her aggressively and touched her breast," CNN reports. "Trump has denied the allegations."

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