The U.S. intelligence community developed substantial evidence that state websites or voter registration systems in seven states were compromised by Russian-backed covert operatives prior to the 2016 election -- but never told the states involved, according to multiple U.S. officials. Top-secret intelligence requested by President Barack Obama in his last weeks in office identified seven states where analysts -- synthesizing months of work -- had reason to believe Russian operatives had compromised state websites or databases. Three senior intelligence officials told NBC News that the intelligence community believed the states as of January 2017 were Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin. read more
The bad news about Jared Kushner is difficult to keep up with. Vox writes an in-depth recap of the multiple controversies swirling around President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser. Just this week his security clearance was downgraded, the Washington Post reported that communications have been intercepted between multiple countries discussing how to take advantage of Kushner and the New York Times revealed Kushner's family business has gotten million in loans from organizations in countries which the White House adviser was working with on sensitive U.S. negotiations.
Jared Kushner's father made a direct pitch to the Qatari government in an attempt to secure an investment in a Kushner Companies asset in April 2017 -- just weeks before his son is said to have backed a Saudi blockade of Qatar, according to a report in The Intercept. Kushner's father, Charles, who heads up the real-estate company, is reported to have met Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sharif in New York last year to discuss financing the company's troubled 666 Fifth Ave. office tower. A month after the failed negotiations, Jared Kushner reportedly advised President Trump to back a blockade against Qatar, with Trump later tweeting in June that the country funded "radical ideology." read more
When the acting head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development asked an agency official to "find money" to pay for a costly makeover of incoming Secretary Ben Carson's office, she recoiled, telling him $5,000 was the statutory max. But that wasn't the end of the conversation, according to a complaint alleging retaliation filed with a federal whistleblower agency. Helen Foster, HUD's former chief administrative officer, wrote in the complaint that she was told the administration "has always found money for this in the past" and that "$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair." HUD would later spend $31,561 on a dining set, according to an agency document. In response to a request for comment Tuesday, HUD said only blinds were purchased for Carson's office and were within the $5,000 limit. The agency said the dining set was considered "a building expense" rather than a decoration and was not ordered by Carson. The set is in a room adjoining the secretary's office.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's strategy to stop the long string of Republican losses in special elections is simply to stop calling special elections. But Democrats are fighting back. According to Reuters, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) is suing to force Walker to hold special elections in state legislative districts vacated by Republicans appointed to the governor's administration. Walker previously refused to call special elections for Assembly District 42 and Senate District 1, claiming that the state House term was almost over and it could wait until the midterms. read more