Ryan Lucas

Comey Calls Trump Out on ’Lies’ About FBI
President repeatedly told Comey he was ‘doing a great job’

Former FBI Director James B. Comey, speaking publicly for the first time since his abrupt dismissal, fired back at the Trump administration, saying the president’s allegations that the bureau was in disarray and poorly led “were lies, pure and simple.”

In front of a packed hearing room and live television audience, Comey provided a detailed account of his interactions with President Donald Trump, the concerns those conversations generated among senior FBI leaders, and the president’s possible interference in the bureau’s Russia investigation.

Top Intelligence Officials Mum on Interactions With President
Coats, Rogers say they have never felt pressured on investigations

The director of national intelligence and the director of the National Security Agency refused Wednesday to say whether President Donald Trump had asked them to get former FBI Director James B. Comey to curtail the bureau’s Russia investigation.

A series of recent news reports have fueled questions about whether the White House attempted to enlist senior U.S. intelligence officials to downplay the FBI’s probe into possible Trump campaign ties with Russia.

Spy Work With Allies Could Chill After Trump Intel Spill
‘If this becomes habit with Trump or routine, then we’ve got a big problem with intelligence partners’

President Donald Trump’s decision to share with Russian officials highly classified information provided to the United States by an ally could chill cooperation with partner intelligence services, particularly if it becomes a routine occurrence.

The Washington Post reported Monday that the president divulged sensitive data about an alleged Islamic State plot to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a meeting in the Oval Office last week. The material was given to the United States by Israel, according to The New York Times.

Spy Agencies Gear Up for Fight Over Surveillance Authority
Battle could echo debate over 2015 Patriot Act renewal

The reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act will pit civil liberties advocates who oppose the warrantless eavesdropping authority it provides, against law enforcement agencies that say it’s crucial to their efforts to combat terrorism.

The provision allows law enforcement to snoop on the communications of foreigners believed to be overseas, although American officials acknowledge that the communications of Americans are sometimes swept up as well — something known as “incidental collection.”

Acting FBI Chief Promises to Keep Congress in Loop
Andrew McCabe: I’ll Tell You if White House Meddles on Russia

The acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, promised lawmakers Thursday that he would inform them if the bureau’s investigation into possible ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia faces any political interference from the White House.

McCabe, a veteran FBI officer who took over at the bureau in an acting capacity after President Donald Trump’s stunning decision Tuesday to fire James B. Comey, also said the FBI’s work continues “despite any changes in circumstance.” He added that there has been “no effort to impede our investigation to date.”

Yates Says She Warned White House About Flynn
‘We told him we were concerned the American people had been misled’

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates told Congress on Monday that she warned the White House that President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, had misrepresented his contacts with Russian officials and was potentially susceptible to blackmail.

Testifying under oath, Yates provided her first public account of discussions she had in January with White House Counsel Donald McGahn about Flynn’s communications with Russian officials. Much of Yates account was already known through press reports over the past three months, but she did offer new details of her interactions with administration officials regarding Flynn.

Lawmakers Wary of Russia’s Ability to Plant Cyber Dirt
Moscow’s alleged meddling not just a thing of the past, officials warn

In a brief and largely overlooked exchange between Sen. Marco Rubio and America’s top spy during a January hearing about Russia’s alleged election meddling, the Florida Republican sketched out what he fears could be the next front in the hidden wars of cyberspace.

Could Russian hackers, Rubio asked then-Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., hypothetically gain access to a U.S. lawmaker’s computer, plant criminal evidence on the device of, say, child pornography or money laundering and then tip off law enforcement?

Warner Says ‘Great, Great Deal of Smoke’ on Russia

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Thursday that he will not jump to conclusions in the panel’s investigation into Russian election meddling, but said “so far there is a great, great deal of smoke.”

The remarks from Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner came at the opening of the committee’s hearing on Russian intelligence operations to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential race. The panel is conducting an investigation into Moscow’s meddling, including possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Comey Confirms FBI Investigating Trump Campaign Ties to Russia
FBI director says he has no information to support Trump’s Obama wiretap claims

FBI Director James Comey said Monday for the first time that the bureau is conducting a counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, including any ties between the 2016 campaign of now-President Donald Trump and Moscow.

As for Trump’s tweets that President Barack Obama ordered wiretapping of Trump Tower, Comey said, “I have no information that supports those tweets.”

Under Pressure, Sessions Recuses Himself From Campaign Inquiries
AG says he reached decision after meeting with DOJ ethics officials

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday recused himself from any investigation related to the 2016 U.S. election, including into alleged ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian officials. 

Sessions’ announcement comes less than 24 hours after The Washington Post reported that the former Alabama senator spoke twice during the presidential campaign with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. Sessions, who served as a senior Trump adviser during the campaign, did not disclose those meetings at his confirmation hearing, despite being asked whether he had any contacts with Russian officials.

Senate Panel to Probe Links Between Russia, Political Campaigns
Burr and Warner statement says committee will ‘follow the intelligence wherever it leads’

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s inquiry into Russian intelligence operations against the United States will investigate any possible links between Russia and American political campaigns, the panel said Friday.

The bipartisan investigation will also include a review of the American intelligence agencies’ assessment of what they say was Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including cyberattacks and other so-called active measures.

Ep. 36: Spooked by Russia
The Week Ahead

CQ Roll Call’s intelligence reporter Ryan Lucas separates fact from fiction on all the Russia-related reports that have thrown the nation’s capital into a tizzy. 

Pompeo, DeVos, Ross Confirmation Hearings Delayed
3 Trump nominees still due to testify on Thursday

Updated 5:45 p.m. The Senate Intelligence Committee has pushed back the confirmation hearing for CIA Director-designee Mike Pompeo from Wednesday to Thursday — one of a series of delays or postponements affecting the crowded confirmation schedule.

The Intelligence panel did not provide a reason for the change, but the hearing for President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to the lead the CIA was one of five originally scheduled for Wednesday. It will now join two other confirmation hearings planned for Thursday, including another key national security post — Defense secretary.

Intelligence Officials Say Putin Ordered Campaign to Help Trump
Activities demonstrated a ’significant escalation in directness’

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign targeting the 2016 U.S. presidential election to undermine confidence in American democracy, smear Hillary Clinton and, eventually, to help lift Donald Trump to victory, according to a declassified report from U.S. intelligence agencies.

The document, based on information and analysis from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency, spells out the U.S. spy agencies’ conclusions on what they say was Russia’s wide-ranging venture to interfere in the American vote.

Russian Hacking Report Due Next Week
Obama ordered unclassified version last month

Congress will be briefed next week on the intelligence community’s report detailing Russian cyberattacks during the 2016 election, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said Thursday.

An unclassified version of the report, which President Barack Obama ordered the nation’s spy agencies to draw up last month, will be released to the public as well, Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Trump’s Dispute With CIA Puts Pompeo in a Bind
Director-designee must convince boss that agency’s analysis is valuable

In the extraordinary public dispute between Donald Trump and the CIA, one man finds himself in a particularly tricky position: the president-elect’s nominee to lead the agency, Rep. Mike Pompeo.

The tea party Republican from Kansas, who is expected to win Senate confirmation, will have to repair a relationship between Trump and the CIA that has been battered by the president-elect’s repeated disparagement of the agency’s capabilities and competence.

Reviving Torture Under Trump Would Be Tricky but Not Impossible
President-elect has favorable views about Bush-era harsh interrogation methods

With a soft southern drawl and a neatly trimmed salt-white beard, the architect of the CIA’s torture program captivated his audience with stories of personally waterboarding al-Qaida operatives at secret prisons and interrogating 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Obama Orders ‘Full Review’ of Russian Hacking
Probe won't be limited to 2016 election cycle

President Barack Obama has directed the intelligence community to conduct a “full review” of Russian hacking efforts during the U.S. presidential campaign, a senior administration official said Friday, amid growing calls from Congress for greater public clarity on the Kremlin’s efforts to influence the elections.

White House counterterrorism adviser Lisa O. Monaco said Obama expects the report to be finished before he leaves office on Jan. 20. It will be shared with Congress, she said, but it is unclear whether it will be made available to the public.

Rights Group Urges Civilian Protections During Mosul Campaign
Amnesty International raises possibility of war crimes

As U.S.-backed Iraqi forces open their offensive for the northern city of Mosul, an international rights group warned Tuesday that civilians fleeing Islamic State-held territory face potential violence from government troops and allied militias who it says have tortured, detained and killed people escaping militant-controlled areas in the past.

In a new 70-page report, Amnesty International documents what it describes as war crimes committed by Iraqi forces and militiamen against civilians uprooted by previous military operations. The rights group raises the possibility of similar abuses on an even greater scale during the operation to capture the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, a majority Sunni city where an estimated 1 million civilians are believed to be trapped.

Recent Breaches Raise Fears of Voting System Hacks
'Best Practices' considered for state and local election officials

In an already topsy-turvy presidential campaign, the recent breaches of Democratic Party computer networks have fueled fears about potential foreign meddling and raised questions about how secure the electronic systems that record and tally votes across the country are from sophisticated hackers.  

For years, computer security experts have warned that electronic voting is vulnerable to hacking that could alter vote tallies and theoretically swing an election. The intrusions that compromised the Democratic National Committee and the House Democrats’ fundraising campaigns’ systems — both of which cybersecurity experts have blamed on groups linked to Russian intelligence agencies — have only heightened those concerns.