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Why Some U.S. Ex-Spies Don't Buy the Russia Story (bloomberg.com)
157 points by necessity on Aug 15, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 147 comments

This is stupid. No intruder is going to copy files straight to their home computer. They'll use a compromised server somewhere, and there is plenty of server to server bandwidth.

It's fine to be skeptical of course, and to be very skeptical of direct "hacking the election" (whatever that means) claims.

But there is plenty of public evidence that Russia was involved in the DNC hack. This evidence was available before the election, which makes it more credible against claims of political interference.

I've posted this before, but I think it's important people understand what public evidence is available:

2014 report into ATP-28: https://www.fireeye.com/blog/threat-research/2014/10/apt28-a..., presenting pretty compelling (if circumstantial) evidence that group is Russian state backed.

(July) 2016 report into the DNC hacking, showing it was first breached by ATP-29 (The other Russian state backed hacking group), but the leaks almost certainly came from a second breach by ATP-28 later: https://www.crowdstrike.com/blog/bears-midst-intrusion-democ...

My question would be, has Julian lied about sources before, and would he deviate from that if he didn't?

His claim is that the source is not Russia --people who were happy to see Julian leak things (and believe his leaks) while Bush was president are now calling him a puppet of Putin. I have no idea if Putin has goods on him. Or whether Julian is just a medium. It is, however, interesting to see people shift along political axes though.

If there was a Russian angle, I think their aim was to cause uncertainty regardless of winner. Be it Trump or Hillary, whoever the winner was, the voters of the opposition would question the results --despite there being no actual election hacking (altering the vote count).

One interesting thing though is that since the media writ large expected Hillary to win, had she won, this same evidence would have been "page 6" news and would have been rather quickly forgotten but for a few "sore losers".

It should be noted that the entirety of the material leaked by Assange would be consistent with "Russian agent" theory (including variations along the lines of him not being directly in service, but getting backing because of being useful, even if he has his own reasons).

It might not be very obvious from inside US, but the whole mess with Iraq and Afghan wars, and especially everything that Wikileaks exposed about them, is one of the biggest providers of source material for Russian "whataboutism" (see also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_you_are_lynching_negroes). In early 00s, it was mainly useful to justify the way Russia handled Chechnya. But from 2008 on, it became more and more important - South Ossetia, Crimea, Donbass, Syria.

With that in mind, leaks about any American administration serve those goals. Bush was certainly fair game. As do any leaks that concern any Western countries, their allies, and affiliated countries. Which happens to be exactly what Wikileaks has been focusing on.

Now, this doesn't mean that those leaks don't have any further value, in particular, to citizens of the affected countries. This part of it is where you generally see a lot of partisanship when judging said value.

I don't get why people are so trustful of Assagne's assurances the source wasn't Russian. Unless he hacked it himself or was looking over the shoulder of the guy who hacked it, he simply cannot know who the ultimate source of the material is. The person he got it from may very well not have been Russian. But who did that person get it from? It's no different than a Tor exit node delivering information it receives: it simply isn't in a position to know the true origin.

The fact that Assange has come out very hard trying to imply it was Seth Rich and not Russians is itself the most suspicious thing.

1. He can't possibly know if Russia is the true source.

2. Seth Rich is a classic KGB style conspiracy theory with literally not one shred of evidence, at all.

So he's doing two very odd things here that he's never done. He's saying Russia is NOT the source AND Seth Rich IS the source.

It's typical for someone with good intentions to find themselves owned by a spy agency. Assange is most likely in so deep he can't fix it.

It's a fact he's taken money from Russia and the theory of him being compromised by them goes back years before the election. He's the one that arranged for Snowden to go to Russia.

So he's compromised and a tool now. It doesn't matter if he was once free or not at this point.

Putin's goal is to do whatever benefits him. Sowing dissent and confusion in the US works to his benefit. I'm sure Russian intelligence had a hand in things, either directly or by proxy, but like any intelligence operation, creating distractions, promoting false leads and casting dispersion is part of the game. Putin was a KGB counter-intelligence officer. His administration is packed with ex KGB and FSB personnel. He knows what's he doing and Russia is playing our political divisions against us and manipulating us.

From the intelligence community assessment [0]:

> The Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet RT (formerly Russia Today) has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks. RT’s editor-in-chief visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in August 2013, where they discussed renewing his broadcast contract with RT, according to Russian and Western media. Russian media subsequently announced that RT had become "the only Russian media company" to partner with WikiLeaks and had received access to "new leaks of secret information." RT routinely gives Assange sympathetic coverage and provides him a platform to denounce the United States.

[0] https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf

WL also worked with the NYT and The Guardian and no one was calling him a puppet of the US or the UK.

Sure, it's possible he's FSB (or whatever) secret unit and he's their Trojan horse --but no one was saying that during the Bush years (or even Obama minus '16). Only now do they say, oh, he's such a puppet. It's hard to take the allegation seriously when previously many of the same people had no problem with him.

There's a big difference between NYT/Guardian, which de facto are somewhat independent private media (and not quite aligned with Trump and May), and RT, which is a fully controlled instrument of the state, implementing only state policy.

People in the intelligence community consider Snowden a Russian asset now. Russia could've flipped or co-opted Assange since the Bush years, or maybe it's only now coming out. Either way much of this stuff is classified, so we can't really know details one way or the other. But if you keep up with folks in the IC and look into how Russia does warfare, you see they've been doing this forever, and they're pros at it.

This is speculation and personal opinion, unlike the stuff I wrote above.

I suspect what happened is that the hacking groups gave Wikileaks the dump via a cut-out. It's entirely possible that cut-out isn't aware how the data was obtained.

I don't think Assange is a Russian agent (even though he receives money from RT etc). I think he has his own motives. At the time this was more anti-Clinton that pro-Trump specifically.

More recently his Tweets have become more supportive of Trump personally (although interestingly not really his agendas necessarily). My uncharitable suspicion is that he's hoping for a presidential pardon.

this same evidence would have been "page 6" news and would have been rather quickly forgotten but for a few "sore losers".

Of course. There's plenty of similar evidence that the Russians also supported the Green party and Sanders campaigns in various forms. No one talks about them because they ended up not mattering.

Isn't it most plausible Russia is in every party and branch as much as possible, so whoever wins they win? We need Russia out of our government all together and not make it a partisan issue.

If you want Russia to pull back, you have to pull back too (ala Bill Clinton detente) Pull back on the sanctions, pull back on hovering over and picking up pieces in their former sphere of influence (former central Asia soviet reps).

We might be able to influence N Korea with these tactics, but Russia has a lot of natural resources, people and materiel. It's a diff game.

You have had (some) people on the left defending Kim Jun-un's actions as predictable (he's being bullied, etc). Putin's are predictable too, given what he has to work with.

I think we'd be better off reluctantly working with him (in the ME, for ex.) than blocking them every corner. It sets them back into a cold-war mentality. We (the world) need the biggest powers, US, CN, RU, to get along, if not be friends. We don't see eye to eye in many things (human rights wise, ex, pollution, ex) but we can work toward a more stable planet.

Why do you believe that the Russian reaction to pulling back would be to pull back as well? If anything, all experience shows that they'll use that to do a power grab in the neighbouring countries instead. Treating "sphere of influence" as a valid concept is immoral, it essentially means allowing Russia to do whatever they want to others against their will; there's a good reason why their neighbours are allying with the west - it's because they want protection from being "sphereofinfluenced".

If anything, we can say that the current sanctions and other have been somewhat effective in deescalating violence, and if the west would have pulled back, then we'd have Ukraine dismembered by now through increased direct Russian military involvement.

Nothing "sets back" Russia to cold war mentality; they have never left it, won't will without a regime change, they won't stop treating the west as their enemy and they will aggressively (re)take the now independent states we let them to.

Do you think the West has no sphere of influence?

And, was it Russia that expanded to the NATO borders, or were the NATO borders that expanded to eventually reach Russia?

I'm saying that the whole concept of spheres of influence is outdated, immoral and invalid. Instead, you should think in terms of alliances or some other concept that gives agency to the people there, not "the West" or Russia.

The sovereign countries themselves must get a choice - if they want to join NATO, that is their right, and Russia shouldn't get a veto (nor even a vote) in that. Countries should be free to join/leave the "spheres" at will, not be placed there or given or taken.

And, actually, the whole reason why NATO is at their borders is the Russian insistence of their sphere of influence. If Russia agreed in practice that their borders stop where they are and that they won't ever poke beyond them, then their neigbours wouldn't need to even consider NATO.

> And, actually, the whole reason why NATO is at their borders is the Russian insistence of their sphere of influence.

Uhh, no.


Nobody forced for example the Baltic states into NATO. They did that because these countries felt threatened by Russia. I think there were even referendums on this and they came out overwhelmingly positive.

The belief in Ukraine, however, was that Russia was an ally, did not pose a threat and therefore Ukraine should have not seeked NATO membership. That assumption proved to be wrong now.

(I'm an American).

Amazing doesn't even begin to cover Americans complaining about foreign interference in our elections.

There's hardly a country up and down Central and South America, North Africa, and the Middle East whose elections we haven't meddled in. Start with the Shah of Iran, Mubarak, Hussein before he turned on us, the Bay of Pigs, Allende/Pinochet, etc.

Which is not to say we shouldn't push back on Russian interference in our elections, but just wow. I'd like to see us keep out of everyone else's elections too.

I mean, yes and no.

Back in those days it was more do or die. Let the soviets gain ground and grow their ideology or stop it within reason [stop short of no-proxy hot wars].

If we look at the toll paid by countries which went 2nd world vs those that stayed/coherced on our side, the suffering was much greater in those that went full soviet.

And often times people who point to Allende etc as bad will not point to Ghadafy or all the rest in N. Africa Obama set loose.

> Back in those days...

I think it's probably a bit naive to assume the US has stopped interfering in elections.

The sanctions are for stuff like them hacking another government or invading a sovereign country. It's hard to be friends with a nation through those situations (and irresponsible not to react at all)

What did we do about Ukraine? A little slap? He does not care. Looks like Hillary was comms with Ukraine, presumably to act tougher towards Moscow.

We just need to recall how we felt when they pranced around Cuba. We're doing similar in the eastern block (not the same degree) but all the same it gets in their craw.

Russian infiltrated US parties voting sanctions on Russia. Really?

I'm willing to go along with that.

I too would not be surprised if he favors Trump via omission rather than commission. Julian likely is severely allergic to establishment politicians because he rightfully sees them as two sides of the same coin who like Hillary see him as a US enemy, while Trump seems more pragmatic about it.


>Wikileaks was actively campaigning for trump. Wikileaks came out and said they had "proof" clinton was a witch for christ's sake

I have not seen that. What I've read is that one of Podesta's leaked emails reference something along the lines of "spirit cooking" or whatever (and whatever that was code for) and some people outside WikiLeaks (obviously conspiracy theorists on the right) ran with that as evidence she (not even Podesta) was some kind of witch.

Regarding the spirit cooking: https://www.conservativereview.com/articles/wtf-is-spirit-co...

So, weird, but not witchcraft. Just the typical sort of performance art that I never understand. And the context of the email is there. Nobody was seeking out a "spirit cooking" experience. Just an invitation from an eccentric artist.

Ha! Well, thanks to Jane's Addiction, I think I know that better referenced as santaria.

Wikileak's twitter [1] literally linked to a website that says clinton is a satan worshipping witch.

[1] https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/794450623404113920?lang...

While I wouldn't go that far, but Wikileaks essentially consists of Julian at this point. And in my opinion he is a media whore so he will increasingly do whatever it takes to get that attention he craves. On the spectrum he is in the category of "Chaotic Me Me ME"

> but Wikileaks essentially consists of Julian at this point

It does not, which is how Wikileaks was able to keep publishing when the Ecuadorian embassy took away his internet access.

He doesn't know the source. The source claims not to be Russia, and Assange believes it because he's a useful idiot.

Assange hardly seems like an idiot.

Spiteful interloper who carefully chooses his words, relishing his part in the political upheaval of a nation-state which has effectively imprisoned him in a London embassy? Maybe.

How's that working out for him? Trump is no more in his court than Clinton was, Ecuador has cut off his Internet access, and he's squandered any support he had by helping elect an even bigger idiot.

On the other hand, he hasn't joked about extrajudicially "droning him". So there is that. On the other hand, most of DC saw Hillary as a war hawk.

The source of that purported joke is "sources in the State Department" that talked to TruePundit. If you believe TruePundit had sources in Clinton's State Department, you might believe that Seth Rich leaked the DNC emails to WikiLeaks after participating in child sex trafficking in the basement of a basement-less pizza parlor.

Yeah I dunno. TYT[1] (not a Trump mouthpiece) seem to agree her non denial as likely admission that it was said. "[Clinton] probably said it as a [frustrated] joke".


What in that video suggests that TruePundit's sources were real? Cenk not only falls for the story, he makes up another conspiracy theory out of whole cloth by saying that "non-legal methods" in a Clinton email means illegal instead of methods that don't use the courts.

This is supposed to be convincing? Here's more of TruePundit's vaunted anonymous sources saying things you and Assange might be credulous enough to believe: https://m.dailykos.com/stories/2016/11/2/1590342/--True-Pund....

In October - before the election - Trump said "I love Wikileaks"[1].

It hasn't worked out well, but the logic is reasonable.

[1] http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/330052-wiki...

> It's fine to be skeptical of course, and to be very skeptical of direct "hacking the election" (whatever that means) claims.

It means hacking provably vulnerable voting systems [1] at a small number of polling locations in pivotal counties in swing states.

"Hacking the election" is neither inconceivable nor intractable. It's just something the media and government have to ensure we don't think about.

[1] http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2017/08/a-conference-of-hackers-tot...

Yes, that's the most defensible position to take on what "hacking the election" could mean.

There are plenty of other possible meanings, and people feel differently about the many possible definitions.

The word "Hack" does not just mean "illegal intrusion of a computer system"

I quite enjoy the irony of pointing this out on HackerNews...

The other piece of irony is that leading up to election night "our voting systems are secure", "we have taken steps to ensure your vote is not tampered", etc., etc. since Hillary was predicted and landslide, no one bothered to care. But after the upset, now all those assurances are disbelieved.

The other piece of irony is that leading up to election night "our voting systems are secure", "we have taken steps to ensure your vote is not tampered", etc., etc. since Hillary was predicted and landslide, no one bothered to care.

Only if you weren't paying attention! There was plenty of noise around about the attacks at the time, if you looked for the signs.

In August 2016 The Federal Government made some moves to designate the election machines and systems as critical infrastructure so they could protect them[1]. Predictably, this was opposed[2].

After the election, Obama did it anyway[3]. As it turns out many states had asked for assistance securing their systems[4].

[1] http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/election-cyber-securit...

[2] http://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2016/08/some-swing-stat...

[3] https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/01/why-t...

[4] http://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/02/politics/cyber-hacking-rus...

Wasn't the server in question unpatched for quite some time, meaning that any number of adversaries might have hacked it while it was vulnerable?

Chances are at least a half dozen state actors and another half dozen private entities would have had a strong chance of being privy to the exploits used to hack the server and would likely have been on the ball enough to do so when it was vulnerable.

In any case, the "who exploited the vulnerable server?" question is less relevant to American democracy than digging into the questionable conduct revealed by the emails.

It's insane that this is still being discussed. But I guess stuff gets obfuscated when it becomes politicized. I've got a (non-comprehensive) chronological list of public reports on this hack and its attribution-

Croudstrike (June 15 2016) https://www.crowdstrike.com/blog/bears-midst-intrusion-democ... "are believed to be closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services"

SecureWorks (June 16 2016) https://www.secureworks.com/research/threat-group-4127-targe... "moderate confidence that the group is operating from the Russian Federation and is gathering intelligence on behalf of the Russian government"

Fidelis (June 20 2016) http://www.threatgeek.com/2016/06/dnc_update.html https://archive.fo/yPp9K "this settles the question of “who was responsible for the DNC attack,”"

SecureWorks - 2nd Post (June 26 2016) https://www.secureworks.com/research/threat-group-4127-targe... "The range of targets demonstrates that the threat group poses a broad threat to individuals and groups associated with U.S. politics, to organizations and individuals in the government and defense verticals, and to those whose business involves commenting on Russia."

Threatconnect (June 29 2016) https://www.threatconnect.com/blog/guccifer-2-0-dnc-breach/ "we assess Guccifer 2.0 most likely is a Russian denial and deception (D&D) effort that has been cast to sow doubt about the prevailing narrative of Russian perfidy"

Threatconnect (July 26 2016) https://www.threatconnect.com/blog/guccifer-2-all-roads-lead... "strengthens our ongoing assessment that Guccifer 2.0 is a Russian propaganda effort and not an independent actor."

Crowdstrike - 2nd Post (December 22 2016) https://www.crowdstrike.com/blog/danger-close-fancy-bear-tra... "further supports CrowdStrike’s previous assessments that FANCY BEAR is likely affiliated with the Russian military intelligence (GRU), and works closely with Russian military forces"

I read most of the reports you listed and honestly I am not convinced. Faking the digital evidences is not something new. Take a look at the links in the "Evading forensics and anti-virus" chapter from recent CIA leaks: https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/ for a good overview. Basically, I would not trust any digital evidences unless it involves digital signatures with strong keys (or similar stuff).

You are taking crowdstrike at their word. I don't. I see hearsay, I don't see any evidence. Just because a private company paid by the DNC says, "that's what we found", along with a few (advanced persistent threat) wordsalad, doesn't show us jack shit. On top of that, most of networking type guys know, especially with some of the more recent attribution-faking tool leaks, that attribution is not that fucking easy. So they have some cyrillic and some IP's in russia? Probability goes up, yes, but acting as if the question is answered and as if it's silly anyone questions it still is ridiculously intellectually dishonest. The DNC got caught being shady as shit if not illegal, and when they got caught, then lost the election, they turned the narrative against to Russia. It's like #3 in the classic machiavellian realpolitik media pr propaganda playbook. Crowdstrike has a lot of ties that make it's output even that much more questionable (the same report from anyone would get the same response, but their connections make them deserving of extra scrutiny.)








C&C server IP Addresses

Netherlands, France, Canada, Latvia, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden, US, Bulgaria.

Notice an absence of a country?

Fun Bonus: All this reveals the corporate nature of parties!(that's their defense for not handing over the servers/drives.) Part of the corruption, both of them!

PS. I shouldn't have to point this out, but in this climate of hysteria I think it might be necessary. Just because there are technical doubts about the DNC-Russia story, doesn't mean those doubts can be used to deny or affirm any other possible US-Russia espionage issues such as collusion, coercion, etc.

What could possibly convince you?

We have a pretty well respected company saying "this is what we found", before anyone knew how important it would end up being.

The links you have posted appear to be a fairly random set of unrelated things that I guess are supposed to undermine the report, but to me they look.. unrelated?

The OpenSecret links aren't for CrowdStrike.

https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000801 is for Warburg Pincus and shows are very even mix of Republican and Democratic recipients.

https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000031277 is for Accel Partners, and again shows an even spread, with the exception of a $176,580 donation to Right To Rise USA which is a Jeb Bush SuperPac.

The rest seem.. I don't even know what to say about them. https://i.imgur.com/O9z33Dq.png is just a ToC of report??

>pretty well respected company

Not well respected, especially after their multiple past fuckups.

>fairly random set of unrelated things

VIPS report, relevant donation information of crowdstrike affiliated persons, a report from a third-party who crowdstrike allowed to look at data... not unrelated at all.

A start for transparency to relieve skepticism would be to release the data that shows the C&C ip's match past Russian affiliated attacks. That's what it boils down to, Crowdstrike claims that those ip's match a past or known group of Russian pivot servers, but haven't offered the data to verify this.

I have training in computer/network forensics. Do you?

A few points:

>Not well respected

Did you criticize Crowdstike before the 2016 election? Because they're very highly regarded.

>You are taking crowdstrike at their word.

You don't have to trust Crowdstrike, as there are other organizations that did analysis. Most of my links were not from Crowdstrike.

The analyses do not rely solely on C&C IPs, and the fact that you keep harking on that makes me think you haven't read those links. There's lots of TTP and malware analysis.

>that's their defense for not handing over the servers/drives.

It is extremely common for groups to share imaged versions of a computer.

You are obviously not interested in intellectually honest discussion, so I'm not wasting anymore time with you.

lol, great points. You are saying it is not common to image drives? The google results for disk+imaging+in+forensics disagrees

His name was Seth Rich.

Yes, and WikiLeaks has offered a reward for information leading to the arrest of his killers.

Weird coincidence: Seth Rich and at least one of the Awan family hung out at a bar the night prior to hus shooting.

Sure it wasn't Comet Pizza? You guys blew the chance for one absurd conspiracy in this affair. Everyone just laughs at you when you try it again.

Has WikiLeaks' Twitter account been hacked?


Do you deny that WL is offering this reward?

No, they are just attempting to forum slide.

This is a seriously debunked conspiracy theory [0][1] that damages us all when people continually spread it.

[0] http://www.snopes.com/seth-conrad-rich/

[1] http://www.npr.org/2017/08/01/540783715/lawsuit-alleges-fox-...

Yeah, of course it's a seriously debunked conspiracy.

It was merely a coincidence that, 5 days after a large number of files were copied from DNC computers, DNC employee Seth Rich winds up with a couple of bullets in his back, "and yet they never took anything".


Yes, it literally is. You just needed to scroll down the page a little more.


Even the language used in this article is misleading: “hacked the election”. The actual allegations are that Russia was behind the hacks of the DNC servers. That is not election hacking! Hacking the election sounds like the Russians found some vulnerability with voting machines. There is no evidence of this.

In either case, Trump won the election because he won more electoral votes than Hillary. And he did this by winning more popular votes in key states. It’s that simple. The Democrats had an unappealing candidate who ran a weak campaign in key states. And lost.

What the DNC leaks do show, however, is that the Democrats ran a fraudulent primary election where they colluded with the Clinton campaign and suppressed any opposition from the left. This resulted in an unpopular candidate in the general election, and a public even more untrusting of the Clintons and the process. The Democrats needs to look in the mirror instead of playing to fears of Russian boogeyman.

The DNC Charter [1] states numerous times that it is their responsibility to establish processes which ensure the office of President of the United States is selected by a fair and equitable process. However, being a private entity they are not obligated to do a damn thing. While they violated their own charter by favoring one candidate over the other I don't believe they actually broke any laws. And this is what makes this interesting. People can be very upset about what they've done, but nobody can really do much about it because they're not a government agency. Isn't it fascinating? We have an entity with incredible power over the election process and absolutely no oversight.

[1] http://s3.amazonaws.com/uploads.democrats.org/Downloads/DNC_...

Yeah, it is a very interesting situation. It is unfortunate that these private parties have so much power and support from the states but aren’t really held accountable to the voters.

This sort of system maybe worked better early in the days of the US but with our two very entrenched parties, all of this serves to prevent any third party becoming a viable option.

Indeed. Part of how they have done this is by taking over the state legislatures (both parties), and passing laws and regulations at the Secretary of State level that make it extremely difficult for third-parties and independents to run for federal office. For example, in Texas, a person wanting to run as an independent candidate for president needs to get 80k signatures on a petition by people who voted in neither party primary. Except they will dispute as many signatures as possible, so it's more like 120k needed. Also, you have 69 days to do it!

Both parties are corporations and are part of the problem. They circled the wagons when Ross Perot scared the shit out of them in 92, and the League of Women Voters withdrew from doing the debates because of how unfair they were becoming.

In theory it has few implications as there are dozens of political parties to help fill in the void https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_parties_in... In practice, however, it's next to impossible to run for a federal office on their ticket, so perhaps the focus should be on helping young political startups gain access to the federal stage.

You accuse others of using misleading language, then proceed to use misleading language yourself. Calling the primary "fraudulent" makes it sound like primary votes were miscounted, but of course there is no evidence of that either. (Unless you count the controversy over a voter roll 'purge' in NY, but that (a) didn't cover enough voters to make a significant difference, (b) probably benefitted Sanders anyway, and (c) was not the subject of any revelations from the leaks.)

The DNC colluded with the Clinton campaign in numerous ways. There's an ongoing lawsuit about this: http://www.newsweek.com/dnc-fraud-lawsuit-claims-bernie-sand...


The lawsuit does not allege that votes were miscounted.

You’re right, it alleges that the DNC defrauded donors by failing to run a fair primary.

ongoing lawsuit != guilt

It wouldn't surprise me if there are a number of campaign-inspired lawsuits. That doesn't mean any of their claims are found to be true by a court.

You're suggesting that the DNC colluded with Clinton against Sanders, yet Sanders is not a part of this lawsuit. Sounds more like spin from the right to me.

Hacking the election is the language that the mainstream media has been promulgating. Shouldn't he use the same language they use to point blame?

It's the same language used by the MSM in clickbait titles. The article outlines the same counter intelligence techniques used in the Macron hack.

This is incorrect. In one case, Trump won the election by very narrowly winning more popular votes in key states. Those votes could have been influenced by the news.

What the DNC leaks show is also the messiness underbelly of virtually any campaign. You can call it collusion, but I'd say it's the DNC doing their job to try to get an electable candidate on the ballot. The RNC did the same thing - they just failed this time.

Had the Trump team's email leaked in the same way, I suspect the election would have gone the other way.

Parent said:

> And he did this by winning more popular votes in key states

And you said:

> This is incorrect. In one case, Trump won the election by very narrowly winning more popular votes in key states.

What exactly is "incorrect" again? So just because he won by a small margin, that win doesn't count? I don't even like Trump but this is really outrageous. Please take a second to think about what you're saying. I don't even know what you consider as "correct".

Had the Trump team's email leaked in the same way, I suspect the election would have gone the other way.

It's hard to conceive of what could be in Trump team email that would be more damaging than some of the things that Trump said that were known before the election. Such as:

"I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters"


"Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything."

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It seems like Trump said something outrageous every other day.

If Trump's email had him directing his underlings to cooperate with the Russians to hack the DNC, then maybe that would have hurt. But maybe that wouldn't have been sufficient. Maybe there would have needed to be a video attachment with Trump saying exactly that? Not just words?

Seriously. Outside of evidence of Trump specifically directing people to cooperate with Russia to commit felonies, what email could have been sufficiently damaging to Trump?

Well, there was the serious allegation of forced rape of an underage (13 I think?) girl. I doubt there'd be any emails in that topic, but I have to think that would have cost him a few votes if verified.

OTOH, the "but Hillary" argument seemed to trump everything else, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

All votes are influenced by the news. That’s how our modern democracy works. You learn about the candidates through a (hopefully free) media and then you cast a vote.

That's the point -- the CIA, FBI, and NSA determined with "high confidence" [0] that Russia worked to influence us through (among other outlets) the media -- especially social media. It worked, and because of it our votes weren't free.

> Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.”

[0] https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf

Because only "free" US media can influence US citizens... Mark Twain wrote about it long ago in his "Running for Governor"

"You can call it collusion, but I'd say its X doing their job." I find this statement totally lacks awareness considering all the accusations of collusion being hurled at the current administration.

Trump won because in MI, PA, and WI, Jill Stein received more votes than the difference between Trump and Hillary.

3rd party candidates in FL in 2000 and MI, PA, and WI in 2016 were the spoilers for the whole nation. Don't be an idealistic, naive American voter, be a pragmatic voter!

Yes I know the electoral college is racist, and we need to abolish it.

Why do you assume that all the third party voters would have voted for Hillary if there were no third party candidate? They could have abstained, or even voted for Trump. Many libertarian party supporters find the Republicans more tolerable than the Democrats.

In any case, shaming people because they voted for a candidate who they felt best represented their views goes against the very idea of representative democracy.

I'm not shaming the fact that they voted, I'm shaming who they voted for. You aren't a responsible voter if you're not up to accepting responsibility for your vote. If you voted for Trump, hope he's making you happy. If you voted for Jill Stein or Ralph Nader in 2016 or 2000 in WI, MI, PA, or FL, you are very much responsible for Bush and Trump respectively in the electoral and government system we have since your candidate was a spoiler.

These 3rd party voters could have abstained or voted for another 3rd party or went Republican, but they didn't. They could have traded their vote to someone in a safe state (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/16/opinion/anti-trump-republ...), if Hillary was their 2nd preference. If not, go ahead, vote for 3rd party candidate who could be a spoiler and has no chance of winning.

You aren't a responsible voter if you pretend that voting for a "lesser of two evils" over a candidate who actually represents your beliefs is ever anything better than a wasted vote.

This is the very definition of idealism and being naive about how much your vote matters, when you should give a thought to your 2nd preference and be pragmatic if you are in a non-safe state for your 2nd preference. Do vote trading with someone in a safe state, and your candidate will still get the same percentage of nationwide votes, and your 2nd preference will win.

Again, I am not saying that don't vote for 3rd party candidates anywhere.

There is no equivalence between Trump and Hillary, and if Voting for Hillary in a non-safe or safe state would have been a wasted vote, pity the 65 million who voted for her.

"This is the very definition of idealism and being naive about how much your vote matters,"

I was a California resident at the time. My vote was about as close to irrelevant as one can get; California's electoral votes haven't turned red since Reagan.

Even if I had moved to Nevada by then (that is: a few months before I actually did), I would have had zero regrets voting for Johnson. Neither Trump nor Clinton deserved my vote, simple as that.

"There is no equivalence between Trump and Hillary"

There is plenty of equivalence between two corrupt and most-likely-actually-criminal sociopaths. There's also plenty of equivalence between two presidential campaigns that went out of the way to present a "if you're not with me, then you're against me" mentality and alienate every supporter of the other candidate.

Importantly, and more specifically, both candidates' campaigns utterly alienated me as a voter simply because I did not precisely align with their "one true policy" or whatever. Neither candidate gave me any reason to vote for them, and every reason to not vote for them.

"2nd preference"

I had no second preference. If I did have a second preference, it might as well have been Mickey Mouse.

"vote trading"

Oh yeah, and make my vote even more worthless than it already is.

(Of course, vote trading as a California resident would've been an upgrade no matter what, but now that I live in Nevada, it'd be entirely irrational to want to dilute the power of my individual vote any further than it already is).

I am not sure how to help with your perceptions of campaigns and candidates, but their likely policies and cabinet appointments were there for anyone to see. Trump institutionalizing xenophobia is a degree of difference that is hard for me to see past.

The electoral college has a purpose and plenty of thought went into it. Also, this narrative of spoiler candidates is bullshit.


It's purpose was to have electors cast nationwide votes before mass transportation existed. In it's current form, it is completely a left over from a racist past.


Also, if a democratic candidate is your 2nd preference, and you're in a non-safe state, and you don't trust vote trading, you should most likely not vote for a spoiler candidate, and vote for your 2nd preference democratic candidate. If a democrat isn't your 2nd preference, go ahead, do what you want.

The mechanics of the electoral college make this much pragmatism and tactical voting necessary for any American voter I'm afraid.

The electoral college has less to do with it than the fact that our electoral system is first-past-the-post.

States handing out their electors according to vote would make the system non-racist.

I think people should be free to vote whatever they feel like.

The voting is not the problem, the two party system, that effectively discounts any vote thats not R or D, is.

People should be vote trading if they're in a non safe state. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/16/opinion/anti-trump-republ...

No excuse to not do it until the electoral college is abolished.

3rd parties get trotted out every time someone loses an election by a few percentage points. The facts are, that viewed against 2012, the right wing third party candidates gained more votes than the left wing. Ie. the demographics of the 3rd party votes helped Clinton more than they hurt her.

By definition they helped Trump more in WI, MI and PA. Where MI, PA, and WI would have put Clinton over 270. Have there been any cases where Republicans would have won the presidency but 3rd parties were spoilers in a handful of states? I don't think so. Maybe in 1960.

Percentage increase is less relevant with Trump on the ballot, compared with the raw votes that swung the electoral college.

I am not saying don't vote for 3rd parties. I am saying if you're in a non-safe state for your 2nd preference, do vote trading with someone in a safe state or vote for your 2nd preference who has a better chance of winning. If you vote trade, your 3rd party candidate will still get the same percentage of votes nationwide, and your 2nd preference will actually win.

The combination of mass incarceration, the racist electoral college as it is, and the the demographics of the country make it seem likely that some pragmatic and tactical voting in non-safe states will go a long way for Democrats, at least that seems to be the lesson from the past two decades. Hacking the electoral college anyone?

> By definition they helped Trump more in WI, MI and PA.

No, not by definition. There's all sorts of other reasons why Clinton could get fewer votes. Clinton has just been trying to blame every reason except those that blame her campaign.

The real question isn't "what could have cost her a fraction of a percentage point here and there?", but instead "why was such a razor edge to begin with?"

Yes by definition, and I did define it as a presidential election flipping because of 3rd party voters in a handful of swing states.

You're ignoring that Trump on the ballot meant any Libertarian was going to get a bump. Any other republican, and their winning margin would've been bigger, or Hillary would've won and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

It shouldn't have been close, but the last few elections have been, with the popular vote winner losing the electoral college twice and Kerry coming within ~30 EVs. Do you have a solution for divided media, inequality, climate change, and citizens united, that is simpler than vote trading or making people realize voting for their 2nd preference might just be worth it to hack the electoral college? I'd love to hear it.

> Yes by definition, and I did define it as a presidential election flipping because of 3rd party voters in a handful of swing states.

There's no data that this that case. You just keep stating it like it's a fact.

Here are the results for MI, PA, and WI: https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/michigan https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/wisconsin https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/pennsylvania

In all three cases, the difference between Hillary and Trump was less than what the 3rd party candidates got and what Jill Stein alone got. Given what I've said before, and what happened in 2000 in FL, trying to convince people of actually voting for their 2nd preference (Hillary) or vote trading in such states makes almost as much sense as blaming the Clinton campaign itself (definitely deserves the most blame), Russia, and any number of other reasons why Hillary lost.

It's a part of the puzzle, again, given that this is the 2nd time this happened.

I also want to mention there were probably specific reasons why the vote was so close in these states. Namely lead in the water in Flint MI, and Scott Walker ending collective bargaining in WI. PA vote is probably most reflective of the decline of unionization. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/17/opinion/campaign-stops/th...

These issues probably affected presidential democratic turnout in these states as much as any other issue affecting the statewide or national campaigns. Also, millennial turnout was down from 2012 according to exit polls. Not sure how much to believe exit polls. Total turnout was up by little in MI and PA in 2016 compared to 2012, and it was down in WI.




Seriously, downvoted for pointing out legitimate fact and reference to pragmatism?

Not legitimate fact.

It mostly is if you lookup the definition of spoiler. Gary Johnson and Independent voters did also receive more votes than the difference between Trump and Hillary in MI, PA, and WI.

The actual allegations are that Russia was behind the hacks of the DNC servers.

Generally speaking "hacking the election" doesn't refer to this, and instead refers to information operations by Russian linked groups. Indeed, there were no credible public allegations of actual voting machine hacks or even attacks until the "Reality Winner" leaks.

I'd note that on a website called "Hacker News" it should be pretty clear that "hack" can refer to many, many thing.

The author of this opinion piece: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonid_Bershidsky

Suddenly we are quick to point out opinion pieces in a media landscape where that has become otherwise irrelevant.

Left = 'unverified facts', Right = 'opinion piece'

If you check the article, this really is an opinion piece, not an article based on solid verifiable facts.

Stop trying to twist everything into a fucking partisan cock-fight.

This points to using a cheap Linux box at host VPS.

AWS micro instances run Linux basically by default and have about 150-250 megabit connections.

I assume they loaded the documents onto a hacked AWS box running WordPress or similar and downloaded them later from there. Hackers almost always tunnel through at least one compromised machine because they don't trust a VPN alone for anonymity.

In no way does this imply anyone was or was not responsible. This is a common thing to do for any hacking group

It's odd that the bloomberg piece has a whole bunch of links but doesn't link the VIPS letter. It's here: https://consortiumnews.com/2017/07/24/intel-vets-challenge-r...

Also it goes out it's way to mention William Binney, and The Nation article linked from it mentions other ex-government employees associated with VIPS, but neither mentions the mysterious Skip Folden that VIPS relied on as thier technical expert.

This is what the VIPS letter says about him:

Independent analyst Skip Folden, who retired after 25 years as the IBM Program Manager for Information Technology

but if he spent 25 years as a high or even medium level employee at IBM I would expect some kind of internet trail and I couldn't find one.

The name is "Norman (Skip) Folden", and people on Reddit have been trying to ID him.[1] There's someone 85 years old with that name, but that seems an unlikely match. "Program Manager for Information Technology" is usually a job title at a customer site, says Payscale.[2] An "IBM Program Manager for Information Technology" may just designate someone who ran an IBM mainframe shop.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/conspiracy/comments/6q49di/july_5_2... [2] http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Program_Manager%2C_I...

may just designate someone who ran an IBM mainframe shop

It's quite possible that he worked for IBM running mainframes on site for the NSA or CIA or any of a myriad of relatively secretive US government agencies.

If so, together with IBM's historic penchant for secrecy, and given that Folden is perhaps closer in age to The Greatest Generation than to The Millenials, he just might not be very visible on Google.

I'd bet that searching "real" databases, e.g. DMV records, Social Security records, IBM employee payroll lists, property tax records, etc, would be far more productive.

I find it interesting that no one is discussing the fact that the DNC's leaks were damaging only because they were not operating impartially. Regardless if the leaks came from Russia or a whistleblower in the DNC, isn't the fallout somewhat self inflicted?

Yes, and the only reason I was interested in the leaked information was because of the transparency it provided into the DNC and Clinton Foundation.

In a democracy, transparency is a good thing.

There are still a variety of things that were in the emails pertaining to campaign finance violations and DOJ improprieties that have essentially been ignored. Regardless of how the American people came to know about these things, they should be the focus of the investigation.

That's beside the point of the hacking. If a foreign nation deliberately interfered in our electoral system to the benefit or possibly in collusion with their preferred party, that's a way bigger deal. It's criminal.

Secondly, the amount of dirt they uncovered was so minimal. Of course they favored Clinton. She was a party loyalist and the one they considered most likely to win the general. If you think both parties don't operate like this all the time, you're nuts. They'd be nuts not to. I can't even imagine the level of freak out at the RNC when Trump took the lead.

Yep, the most severe outcome of a similar hacking of Macron's campaign in France was an extreme amount of boredom the leaks induced.

I don't get either of their arguments. Yes, 180mbps is pretty fast for residential internet, but it's certainly not hard to get nor is there any reason to believe he was using residential broadband. The MS Word thing I didn't follow at all.

From what I can tell, he's also basing the transfer speed on last modified dates. I'm not overly familiar with the details of Linux last modified date, but I don't believe there is a history of last modified, it's just a single date per file. If that's the case, it only indicates the time of the last copy, which could have been from the downloads (or whatever) folder to a thumb drive after the download.

The data was likely initially copied to a computer running Linux, because the file last modified times all reflect the apparent time of the copy and this is a characteristic of the the Linux ‘cp’ command (using default options).

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't put it past either political party to do something like this, but the evidence seems somewhat weak if I'm understanding it correctly.

Apparently they've never heard of rsync and -t (--times), which is implied by -a (--archive), which is recursive and copies all relevant data for archival purposes, and is the first flag I use with every single rsync command? There are plenty of file copying/syncing techniques that preserve timestamps, and if the files were previously copied to/from a device that did not (such as a thumb drive to the computer they were eventually stolen from), then it would stand to reason that the modification times would represent the times of that prior copy operation.

I mean, file timestamps have been used by some really smart people to make intersting assumptions about what's going secretly on in very interesting ways, such as Tsutomu Shimomura reportedly looking at library access times while covertly on the same remote system as Kevin Mitnick to make assumptions about what he was compiling (I don't recall the source, it may even be made up), but this isn't one of them.

It's also completely trivial to arbitrarily change the "last modified" date of a file to literally anything you want on Linux with `touch -t`.

I understood it as he compared last modified of two files that were downloaded consecutively. Now if you take the difference between those last modified dates that would be the time spent downloading one of these files (which one is up to which date was greater). That is assuming that files were being copied synchronously one by one (like cp would do)

According to the website of "Adam Carter" (linked in the article: http://g-2.space/) the 180MBPS is only unusual if you assume the hacker was Russian - it's very fast for a VPN connection and, according to Carter's website, is consistent with USB 2 download speeds.

For more about the MS Word stuff, here's the page on that: http://g-2.space/intent/

Possibly relevant tidbit from a recent Guccifer 1.0 interview: He used 'Russian proxy servers because they were “the fastest.”' I imagine they're referring to VPNs. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/08/11/guccifer-calls-fox-from...

Was this based on file timestamps in some archive?

I'll grant that it could also be related to some way the files were prepared in the interim, but it is at least worthy of considering where that metadata might have come from or been replaced through normal activity or intentional operations.

It was. And in fact afaict the archive was never public.

It's very easy to copy files preserving timestamps, in which case the timestamps would not represent the time to copy the files during the break in, but the time to copy them to the medium they were stolen from. Did anyone bother to check whether the files were created on that system, or copied originally from some USB disk? Or even copied to the server from some workstation across a gig network but that workstation was copying directly from a plugged in USB drive? There are so many ways to have timestamps originally sourced from USB type transfer speeds in the chain of file management at some point that this is ridiculous.

With most reasonable VPN technologies (IPsec, OpenVPN) there is nothing that would slow down throughput other than CPU processing. And 180 Mbps is not close to VPN CPU bottleneck speeds.

Here's some technical background on the MS Word thing: http://g-2.space/intent-conclusion.html Make of it what you will

There were Cyrillic characters in regards to some of the meta data attached to some leaked word documents.

Obviously wrong bit: "Downloading such files this quickly [at 22.6 megabytes per second] over the internet, especially over a VPN (most hackers would use one), would have been all but impossible because the network infrastructure through which the traffic would have to pass would further slow the traffic."

This is an interesting analysis, but determining download speeds (and the resulting conclusions about how the data was moved about) from zip file metadata is still basically guesswork. You have to make a number of assumptions for this to work out, and yes, they are reasonable assumptions, I guess, but they are still assumptions.

I would also point out that this article is mostly revolving around whether _some_ portion of the DNC emails were purposefully leaked, but it doesn't say much at all about the remaining incidents and data. It certainly doesn't disprove the "russia story."

Additionally the claims they make about timezones are also only based on the difference of timestamps. Eg they see that the difference between 7z (Unix timestamps thus UTC) and RAR3 (MS-DOS localtime) is three hours. The way they then conclude it's Eastern time is very flimsy.

In fact that that alle files, even those in rar-files were all modified on the same time, convinces me more that the timestamps have nothing to do with the transmission. But that someone altered them after the hack, or that but more unlikely is that all the timestamps are still untouched and exactly on how they were on the DNC server

Eastern time is 4 hours (and at the time, probably 5) from UTC. 3 hours is somewhere in the ocean.

So, maybe I'm missing something here, but since when does the Russian hacking stand for "the Russian story" as a whole? Manaford's no-knock warrant, Jared's Russian embassy back channel, or Donnie Junior's e-mails seem like much more important items in said story so far. Within that context the DNC hacking seems to me to be only a small piece of the puzzle. Its validity (or not) does not call the other elements's veracity into question.

> VIPS instead surmises that, after WikiLeaks' Julian Assange announced on June 12, 2016 his intention to publish Hillary Clinton-related emails, the DNC rushed to fabricate evidence that it had been hacked by Russia to defuse any potential WikiLeaks disclosures.

This is laughably stupid. Why would attributing the hack to Russia instead of Wikileaks or whatever make any difference to the contents of the hacks?

Because the media and the mass conciousness is that easily manipulated? It worked, didn't it?

> CrowdStrike, the firm whose conclusions informed much of the intelligence community's assessment

I don't think this is true at all. I do recall CS releasing their own report in early summer, but my understanding is the January IC assessment was a completely separate document which did not cite the CS report in any way.

(If I am missing something here, happy to be corrected, this aspect just stuck out to me)

The IC assessment was just regurgitating CS's report. The IC just took CS at their word since they would have contracted out to someone like CS to begin with. The FBI, for instance, wasn't allowed to look at any of the evidence directly. AFAIK, no government entities have looked at the raw data.

Edit: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/jul/...

> In his testimony in January on the cyber attacks, then-director of the FBI James Comey said the agency never got access to the machines themselves, but obtained access to the forensics from a review of the system performed by CrowdStrike, a third-party cybersecurity firm.

To clarify, this is the report I am referring to, and it does not appear to mention CrowdStrike at all:


Sure, they didn't cite CrowdStrike, but there's no extra information in that report other than what came from CrowdStrike's report.

There definitely appears to be additional information in the IC assessment though.

Like what?

They're different reports. I don't quite understand what you are saying.

> The IC assessment was just regurgitating CS's report. The IC just took CS at their word since they would have contracted out to someone like CS to begin with.

The IC assessment appears to be very different. It describes information sourcing without any reference to an analysis of DNC servers (let alone CrowdStrike). There does not appear to be any indication that information from CrowdStrike's analysis or any information from DNC servers at all was used to generate the IC assessment.

More technical details can be found here: http://g-2.space/sixmonths/

So, as a motive, one possibility could be the DNC orchestrated the DNC leaks to blunt the effect of trickling podesta/wikileaks emails if it was somehow an insider. Why become the news during a campaign where every moment Trump spoke his poll numbers went down? And show their own favoritism? It doesn't seem plausible. This could all be more Russian disinformation. As far as the podesta/wikileaks emails go:

1) Russia's history when it comes to election meddling and spreading dis-information speaks for itself, yes the US does it too, but the Russia is on another level (Every eastern European country has been a public target from the same groups).

2) Russia had a lot more to fear from Hillary than Trump. The sanctions and military ratcheting would likely be more in force than it is now under Trump and a dysfunctional congress. Hillary was a known hawk on Russia, compared with Manafort/Flynn on Russia.

3) Putin himself said "some patriotic Russians might have done stuff" like sending phishing emails.

When Russia faced the lemon of a Hillary administration, they made lemonade. Arguably, it wasn't that hard and paid for itself. We as the voting public knew most of this before the election, including partly about Trump's intent of collusion and possibly collusion, and voted the way we did anyway.

Assange is kind of irrelevant, he has always had his own motives, and it's pretty clearly being anti-US. Offering Damore a job with wikileaks, really?

There's something I don't get about the "Trump-Russia scandal":

It seems to me the chances are Russia tries to hack most US politician's emails every day, and probably twice on Sundays. Even the nice ol' US was caught in 2009 spying on the UN Secretary General and the Security Council delegations of its allies; do we really for one moment think that famously-spy-heavy bad-guy Russia and its ex-spy-master President wouldn't be constantly trying to get its hands on the emails of its Cold War enemy?

In which case, hunting whether Trump encouraged Russia seems like hunting for who asked the clouds to rain this morning.

Which makes the US reaction not smell right. It smells somehow like a game of pretexts.

So having "not got that" about the scandal -- something seems fishy here -- it looks to my amateur, non-US, non-politician, probably-too-cynical eyes, like there's five parties having a political fight for control (and yes I am being deliberately simplistic and caricaturing):

- The Trump team, who seem like they're recruited like the Dirty Dozen (you're so unsuitable for any normal administration, and possibly borderline insane, that you've got nothing to lose with this crazy mission...)

- The powers that be / senior civil servants. Trump spent his entire campaign calling Washington "the swamp" and declaring he'd drain it. Did you think they wouldn't fight back, the FBI wouldn't leak, they wouldn't try to undermine this braggart who's just come marching in telling them he's going to rip them apart?

- The Republican establishment (McCain, etc). Did you really think parts of the Republican party that spent so long wanting anyone but Trump would grow to like him?

- The left-of-centre echo chamber (us techie types, journalists, other professionals), whose typical MO is to use the levers of embarrassment, twitterstorms, and rhetoric to try to shovel any government we are unfortunate enough to have over us into following our agenda

- Modern industry, which seems to have cottoned onto the idea that if publicly you say enough "left" things (equality, diversity) and sound passionate about social progress, you can pursue a "right" agenda (not paying tax, disempowering employees, building private monopolies with moats around them) without anybody making much fuss.

And though that may be a gross caricature, in that model somehow the behaviour seems to make sense. For example, the Trump-Russia scandal as a way of tying Trump's hands and forcing him down foreign policy lines he doesn't want. The administration's seeming dysfunction, because anyone who joins them knows it is the only administration they will ever serve, so you can only get amateurs who don't know the game of White House politics or think they can change how it is played. The constant storms over his latest tweet, despite his tweets having been incoherent for years, because raising the level of outrage creates social roadblocks -- making avenues hopefully too sensitive and already too explosive for him to travel further down them.

Which makes Russia seem like an irrelevant bystander -- doing what it does every day (which happens to be trying to hack American servers for everything it can get, while trying to nibble at gaining more control and influence in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean).

> hunting whether Trump encouraged Russia seems like hunting for who asked the clouds to rain this morning.

The Trump-Russia scandal isn't about whether Trump “encouraged” Russia, which seems to be the basic error in your entire argument.

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