Lewandowski: No value in Trump, Mueller talks

CNN's Chris Cuomo questions Corey Lewandowski after he claimed that President Donald Trump has no reason to sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Posted: Aug 21, 2018 4:06 PM
Updated: Aug 21, 2018 4:10 PM

Just as President Donald Trump was openly pondering the possibility of lifting sanctions against Russia, Microsoft revealed it has uncovered yet another Russian intelligence operation aimed at assaulting America's democratic institutions and, it appears, at helping Trump.

There is no indication that Russia is anything other than very pleased with the result of its 2016 election meddling efforts.

Instead of lying low amid the political storm it triggered in the US, Moscow, it seems, is scaling up similar activities to influence the midterm vote in November.

This time, however, there is an interesting twist: the hackers went after Republican think tanks, creating false websites made to look like those of the Hudson Institute and the International Republic Institute (IRI) -- prominent conservative groups -- in addition to a website used by staff in Congress.

Why would Russian President Vladimir Putin's operatives target Republicans? Despite their strong conservative credentials, these think tanks have not been fully supportive of Trump and have been outspoken in their criticism of Putin's behavior -- both at home and abroad.

Putin, not surprisingly, wants to undercut his detractors. And this hacking plan -- aimed at Trump critics -- suggests that Putin wants to continue helping Trump.

When Democrats challenge Trump, it feeds into his narrative; when Republicans do it, it threatens to shrink his already narrow base of support.

The Hudson Institute may have come to Russian attention when, during an event there, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates described Russia as an aggressive force seeking to undermine democracy and divide Americans.

Some Hudson Institute fellows were withering in their criticism of Trump's summit with Putin, with one calling Trump's behavior during and after the meeting "ludicrous and dishonest."

For its part, the IRI stands for everything Putin is trying to dismantle. Searching its website for "Putin" brings up a menu of articles decrying the Russian president's repression at home and nefarious tactics abroad. IRI's board members include, among others, one of Trump's most effective critics, Republican Senator John McCain.

Some of Trump's most fervent supporters have branded IRI an enemy, a proponent of the globalist agenda that Trump and his backers abhor.

This new wave of attacks by Russia highlights the widening divide between Trump's Republican Party and traditional conservatives. It also shows the extent to which Russia views Trump as an ally: Trump's foes are Russia's foes.

Microsoft said it had been tracking Russian hackers for two years. It decided to reveal what just occurred, said President Brad Smith, now that "facts are clear as day."

With just 10 weeks until the crucial midterm elections, Microsoft found the evidence so convincing that it was able to obtain a court order to take over six websites designed to look like something they were not.

The sites were set up by a hacking group called Fancy Bear, associated with Russian military intelligence and well known for, among other activities, its 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

After it hacked the DNC emails during the height of the presidential campaign, it handed a trove of emails to WikiLeaks for public release, trying to cover its tracks and inflict maximum harm to the campaign of Hillary Clinton and maximum benefit to Trump, Putin's favored candidate.

Trump, of course, continues to cast doubt on whether this occurred. Just yesterday, in an interview with Reuters, he again attacked the probe into the Russian interference as "a disgrace" and saying, "If it was Russia, they played right into Russians' hands." Notice the "if."

By now, there's no doubt that Russia meddled in 2016, just as it did in elections in a long list of countries. Russia interfered in the UK's Brexit vote and set its hackers to work in elections in the Netherlands, Austria, Norway, France, Germany and elsewhere.

Britain's new Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is calling on the US and Europe to stand "shoulder to shoulder" against Russia's transgressions. It is doubtful that Trump will acquiesce.

Ahead of the November elections, which could decide the fate of the Trump presidency, Facebook found a new influence campaign that looked very much like the one that inflamed divisions among Americans two years ago.

In a report to Congress last month, Facebook said it discovered and uprooted an operation much like the one staged by the Kremlin's Internet Research Agency, detailed in an indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Across the United States, countless Americans are hard at work supporting their favored candidates in thousands of elections. Intelligence officials have warned the President that Russia is already working to interfere with US democracy.

Local candidates and activists are working against shadowy obstacles. In Georgia, for example, the name of Brian Kemp, the Republican secretary of state, appeared in a just-declassified congressional report for refusing to cooperate with the federal government to protect election systems. Kemp, a fierce Trump advocate, is now running for governor.

A Mueller indictment says Russia targeted Georgia's vulnerable election machinery. But Kemp dismissed warnings from the Department of Homeland Security, claiming they were an excuse for "federalizing elections under the guise of security."

A disturbing pattern has emerged: Trump supporters are dismissive of Russian interference; Trump critics are targeted by Russia.

By now, the evidence is overwhelming, and it's not just coming from what Trump likes to call the "witch hunt" or from the professionals that his supporters dismiss as the "deep state."

It's also coming from the likes of Facebook and Microsoft, companies that have little to gain from revealing to their users that when they engage with their services they may be the targets of foreign spies.

During his Reuters interview on Monday, Trump said he would consider lifting sanctions on Russia "if they do something that would be good for us" in Syria or Ukraine.

It's unclear precisely what Trump had in mind. But what is clear is that as long as Russia continues to attack democracy and Trump continues to deny it is happening, everything he does regarding Russia will be viewed with suspicion -- not only by Democrats, but by the segment of the Republican Party that doesn't trust Russia, or Trump.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 589527

Reported Deaths: 7333
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1221311726
Ramsey51028871
Dakota45667448
Anoka41421437
Washington26724281
Stearns22139221
St. Louis17682302
Scott17201124
Wright15943139
Olmsted1319098
Sherburne1160286
Carver1044945
Clay812792
Rice8014106
Blue Earth746141
Crow Wing660988
Kandiyohi652083
Chisago592551
Otter Tail572978
Benton565997
Goodhue475772
Douglas464674
Mower464032
Winona452950
Itasca432254
McLeod421658
Isanti417364
Morrison417360
Nobles407248
Beltrami392458
Steele384915
Polk382468
Becker378850
Lyon359850
Carlton344153
Freeborn341129
Pine326722
Nicollet323843
Brown304640
Mille Lacs302452
Le Sueur289222
Todd280632
Cass269628
Meeker254340
Waseca236522
Martin229831
Roseau207919
Wabasha20483
Hubbard187141
Dodge18373
Renville178943
Redwood172936
Houston171515
Cottonwood164321
Fillmore155510
Wadena155122
Pennington153619
Chippewa151838
Faribault151319
Kanabec143424
Sibley142510
Aitkin134236
Watonwan13219
Rock128019
Jackson121711
Pipestone115126
Yellow Medicine113820
Pope10956
Murray10609
Swift104918
Stevens90211
Marshall88017
Clearwater86416
Koochiching81715
Lake80819
Wilkin80712
Lac qui Parle75022
Big Stone5984
Lincoln5773
Grant5678
Mahnomen5459
Norman5399
Unassigned48793
Kittson48522
Red Lake3957
Traverse3685
Lake of the Woods3223
Cook1610

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 366197

Reported Deaths: 5929
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57488623
Linn20814334
Scott19960240
Black Hawk15785308
Woodbury15121228
Johnson1445783
Dubuque13355209
Dallas1116198
Pottawattamie11091168
Story1059248
Warren575888
Clinton554393
Cerro Gordo538089
Sioux513874
Webster512193
Marshall482175
Muscatine477499
Des Moines454366
Wapello4297122
Buena Vista424540
Jasper418672
Plymouth400680
Lee375055
Marion361775
Jones298157
Henry291137
Carroll285452
Bremer283960
Crawford265840
Boone263934
Benton256055
Washington253950
Dickinson247843
Mahaska229951
Jackson221242
Clay215325
Kossuth215264
Delaware209240
Tama209271
Winneshiek196934
Page192622
Buchanan190731
Cedar189423
Hardin184943
Fayette184841
Wright184336
Hamilton179449
Harrison179373
Clayton169256
Butler164634
Mills161722
Madison161519
Floyd160342
Cherokee158738
Lyon157741
Poweshiek154733
Allamakee151151
Iowa148324
Hancock147634
Winnebago141731
Calhoun138113
Cass137954
Grundy136233
Emmet134040
Jefferson132435
Shelby130737
Sac130119
Union128133
Appanoose128049
Louisa127849
Mitchell126042
Chickasaw123915
Guthrie121030
Franklin119321
Humboldt118826
Palo Alto112523
Howard104522
Montgomery103338
Clarke99924
Unassigned9770
Keokuk95631
Monroe95129
Ida90334
Adair86432
Pocahontas85322
Davis82824
Monona82830
Osceola78516
Greene77610
Lucas77123
Worth7438
Taylor65712
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Van Buren55618
Ringgold55524
Wayne53723
Audubon50810
Adams3384
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