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Trump’s team ‘downplayed the Russian angle’ in new Iran election hacking announcement: Ex-FBI official

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President Donald Trump (left, via Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons) and FBI Director Christopher Wray (right, via Wikimedia Commons).

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow spoke with former FBI Assistant Director for counterterrorism, Frank Figliuzzi, who explained that it is unusual for the Director of National Intelligence would make an announcement about an operation that the FBI was part of.

“‘Flummoxed’ is a kindler, gentler word we can use,” said Figliuzzi. “I am deeply concerned that this is just a glimpse of what I’ve been calling the coming chaos. Look, we had a press conference controlled by the day. No 1, that struck me as unusual and really almost unprecedented in terms of announcing an operational, investigative-type finding. That’s not supposed to happen. No. 2, we saw the DNI downplay the Russian angle here and play up Iran and play up that this was all intended to somehow damage the president.”

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He explained it was an outright political spin of a legitimate piece of information Americans deserved to know.

“That’s a political spin on what should be a law enforcement and intelligence press conference,” he went on. “We saw the director of the fbi, as you mentioned, play a minor, secondary role probably because he was told to do so and he wants to stay in the fight and do the best for his agency and stay at his helm. But we saw the absence of the attorney general of the United States tonight, which is very unusual, he’s not made a whole lot of public appearances recently. But here’s what’s concerns me operationally for the future: if a foreign power can get our registration data and then target our address with it and get messages to us, they can take that data and they can change potentially your voting location.”

It’s something that he noted the United States intelligence community has talked about for months and been nervous about. So, these foreign meddlers could mess with the actual outcome of the vote by creating chaos on election day when people show up at the polls and their ID Is somehow different or they’re at the wrong polling place or the polling place is changed.

“This is a signal, it’s called a signal in the cybersecurity world,” he explained. “That ‘I’m inside, I can do this, I’m here, and there’s more to come.’ So, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The fact that we’re already politicizing this kind of intelligence work is deeply harmful. And don’t be surprised if you see this theme replicated in the next days and weeks by the president who will say, ‘This was to damage me, I’m on top of this.’ Well, they’re not on top of this. We have holes in our county, local, and state registration systems. We’ve been saying this. Sen. Mitch McConnell has turned down extra money for security. And now we are realizing just now that we have ancient windows operating systems that are trying to — you know, with Scotch tape, trying to hold together computer systems that hold registration data and voter information. We’re in for a bumpy ride.”

See his full comments below:

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