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New investigation reveals Russia’s worldwide digital hit list — beyond the US election

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The hackers who interfered with the U.S. presidential election targeted a variety of targets worldwide, according to a newly revealed digital hit list.

The Associated Press obtained the list — which includes U.S. defense contractors, Russian opposition figures and Ukrainian officers — collected by the cybersecurity firm Secureworks.

The list shows detailed evidence of how closely the Russian government worked with hackers to further the Kremlin’s interests.

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“(The data is) a master list of individuals whom Russia would like to spy on, embarrass, discredit or silence,” said Keir Giles, director of the Conflict Studies Research Center in Cambridge, England.

Hackers targeted at least 545 accounts in Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists are fighting a grinding war, including the president and his son and the opposition parliamentarian who helped uncover payments allegedly paid to Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Within Russia, Fancy Bear focused on government opponents such as Pussy Riot’s Maria Alekhina and journalists critical of the Kremlin.

“It’s simply hard to see how any other country would be particularly interested in their activities,” said Michael Kofman, an expert on Russian military affairs at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, who was on the list of targets. “If you’re not Russia, hacking these people is a colossal waste of time.”

Most of the identified targets were in the United States, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Syria, according to the AP analysis.

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“Everything on this list fits,” said Vasily Gatov, a Russian media analyst who was also targeted.

Secureworks found the data after the hacking group Fancy Bear accidentally exposed part of its phishing operation online, revealing a direct line between hackers and the leaks of private emails related to the Clinton campaign.

Hackers worked with Russia for years, according to the hit list, which showed they tried to break into 4,700 Gmail accounts — including the pope’s representatives in Kiev and the punk band Pussy Riot in Moscow.

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Fancy Bear tried to hack into nearly 600 inboxes of top U.S. diplomatic and security officials, including then-Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, then-NATO Supreme Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove, and one of his predecessors, U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark.

They also tried hacking employees of defense contractors such as Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, as well as Russia watchers and, especially, Democrats.

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More than 130 Democratic workers, campaign staffers and supporters were targeted, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, and other members of her inner circle.

The AP also found a few Republican targets besides Powell, whose private emails were successfully breached and posted online.

“They got two years of email,” Powell told AP. “I always suspected some Russian connection.”

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian involvement was “unfounded,” but cybersecurity experts said the evidence was indisputable.

“This is the Kremlin and the general staff,” said Andras Racz, a specialist in Russian security policy at Pazmany Peter Catholic University in Hungary. “I have no doubts.”


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Trump ignored aides’ advice before first Ukraine call — and it destroyed his impeachment defense: report

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to himself as his own top advisor and a political "genius." But his interactions with Ukraine at the heart of the impeachment inquiry could demonstrate the limitations of such an approach to governing.

Friday's bombshell, behind-closed-door testimony from David Holmes has made White House aides unhappy, but the bad news for the administration did not stop there.

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‘Aides to the president are not happy’ Gordon Sondland held the phone up in restaurant: CNN’s Jim Acosta

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CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta reported on Friday that White House aides are unhappy with Ambassador Gordon Sondland for holding up a call with Trump in a restaurant for multiple witnesses to listen.

The details were revealed in bombshell closed-door testimony before Congress on Friday.

Acosta noted the administration was trying to downplay the significance of the call.

"But I will tell you, that the aides of the president are not happy that Gordon Sondland apparently held the phone up so other aides could hear what was going on and the words of the source familiar with the conversations inside the White House, the president speaks loudly, Sondland should know that," Acosta reported.

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David Holmes’ opening statement to Congress directly implicated Donald Trump: report

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donald trump on the phone

Congress will hear first-hand testimony of President Donald Trump's involvement in the Ukraine scandal.

"David Holmes, the state department aide who overheard President Donald Trump's conversation with the US ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, said that Sondland told Trump that the Ukranian President would do 'anything you ask him to,' and that he confirmed the Ukrainians were going to 'do the investigation,'" CNN reported Friday.

""Sondland told Trump that (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky 'loves your ass,'" Holmes testified. "I then heard President Trump ask, 'So, he's gonna do the investigation?' Ambassador Sondland replied that 'he's gonna do it,' adding that President Zelensky will do 'anything you ask him to.'"

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