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Tech firm busts Russian operatives for setting up new website to interfere with midterm elections: report

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Russian operatives with ties to a notorious “troll factory” under indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller may be preparing to launch an influence operation to interfere in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, McClatchy reports.

Speaking at the end of the Fifth Annual Government Forum on Cyber Threat Intelligence, researchers at the cybersecurity firm FireEye warned of a new effort that mimics the information warfare campaign that U.S. intelligence has concluded Russia conducted to help Donald Trump during his successful 2016 presidential campaign.

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FireEye, which was a sponsor of the conference, warned of a new website, usareally.com, that appeared on the internet on May 17. The site has posted an average of nine articles a day, in broken english.

On May 25, the website teased that their “USA Really” campaign would officially launch on June 14.

“June 14th isn’t just Trump’s birthday. It’s not just Flag Day, either,” the post read. “This is the day when we officially launch our project, ‘USA Really’, which is an honest media outlet that tells you what’s really happening in America.”

“Our slogan is ‘The USA As It Really Is!’ We invite everyone who care (sic) about America to come and celebrate with us outside the White House on June 14th at 2pm to congratulate the rest of the country on this triply important day,” the post continued.

“We’re all patriots, and we all want everyone else to finally wake up!” they added.

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https://twitter.com/USA_Really/status/999944627770810369

The researchers at the cybersecurity firm warned the website’s operators once worked out of the same St. Petersburg “troll factory” known as the Internet Research Agency. Special counsel Mueller indicted the company on February 16.

“We’re not saying it (USA Really) is the Internet Research Agency but there are a number of indicators that suggest it is,” said Lee Foster, manager of information operations analysis for FireEye iSIGHT Intelligence.

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The Russian operatives behind the website reported work for the Federal News Agency (FAN), whose ownership is unknown.

“There are a bunch of other domains as well that play on USA Really that we are monitoring that haven’t launched,” Foster explained.

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“It’s not always easy to change an outcome (of an election) but they can delegitimize the process and create doubt,” said John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at FireEye iSIGHT.

Facebook disabled the group’s Facebook page after a McClatchy reporter requested comment. They are still active on Twitter.

A YouTube video says the, “Federal News Agency has plans for a similar English news platform like Sputnik” that is hiring “English speaking journalists.”

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Pelosi blasts Trump as ‘not a well person’ and wonders if GOP is motivated by a ‘manhood thing’: report

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) briefed members of the Democratic Caucus on Saturday about the state of negotiations over the next coronavirus stimulus bill.

Luke Broadwater, a congressional correspondent for The New York Times, posted a thread about the call on Twitter, citing "sources on call."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was also on the call, and reportedly blasted White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for the failure to reach a deal.

“Meadows, when John Boehner and Paul Ryan was Speaker, impeded every agreement they tried to make with us on must-pass legislation," Hoyer reported said.

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Democratic pressure on intel agencies exposed a motherlode of information on foreign meddling helping Trump: report

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On Saturday, Politico reported that congressional Democrats believe their pressure campaign on the intelligence community was crucial to exposing Russia's newest plot to interfere with U.S. elections on behalf of President Donald Trump.

"For weeks, top Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate have been blaring warnings and demanding briefings and public disclosures from the intelligence community, shrugging off Republican charges that they’re politicizing intelligence," reported Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney. "And Democrats can now point to evidence that their pressure campaign might be working. On Friday, the Trump administration’s counterintelligence chief publicly confirmed that Russia is attempting to harm Joe Biden’s candidacy in 2020. The official, William Evanina, even singled out a pro-Russia Ukrainian, Andrii Derkach, as a key participant in the Kremlin’s new effort."

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2020 Election

Pelosi ‘going for the jugular’ as Republicans fight among themselves over COVID-19 aid: report

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes she has the upper hand in negotiations with Republicans over the next round of stimulus in response to economic catastrophe resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report in The New York Times.

The newspaper recounted how Pelosi responded to CNBC anchor Jim Cramer's suggestion she invokes John Lewis to get Republicans to help "minorities" and vulnerable Americans during the economic crisis.

“Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn for what you just described," Pelosi replied.

"The comment — unusually coarse for Ms. Pelosi, 80, who was educated by nuns — was part insult, part dare and part slogan for a woman who believes she has the upper hand in crisis negotiations and does not intend to lose it. And it reflected how, two weeks into stalled talks over another round of federal assistance to prop up a battered economy, and less than three months before Election Day, the speaker of the House is going for the jugular," the newspaper explained.

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