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Justice Department launches task force to examine election interference

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday announced the creation of a cyber task force to study election interference efforts, and wants the group to issue a report by the end of June.

Sessions’ announcement didn’t specifically mention Russia, which is the subject of several investigations after claims that it interfered with the 2016 election. But Sessions did note that “enemy governments” are able to exploit the Internet achieve that goal.

“The Internet has given us amazing new tools that help us work, communicate, and participate in our economy, but these tools can also be exploited by criminals, terrorists, and enemy governments,” he said. “At the Department of Justice, we take these threats seriously. That is why today I am ordering the creation of a Cyber-Digital Task Force to advise me on the most effective ways that this Department can confront these threats and keep the American people safe.”

The new Cyber-Digital Task Force will be chaired by a senior department office picked by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and include members of the department’s Criminal and National Security divisions, U.S Attorneys, the Office of Legal Policy, the Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the ATF, FBI, DEA and the U.S. Marshals Service.

 

Read more at WashingtonExaminer.com

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Tory MP turns tables on SNP over food standards claim in House of Commons Brexit clash

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SNP’s Alyn Smith was attacked by Conservative MP Cherilyn Mackrory as she insisted UK farmers “standards are higher than many of our counterparts in the EU” in a fierce clash in the House of Commons.

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Justice Department launches criminal investigation of John Bolton book

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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has taken initial steps to investigate whether former Trump national security adviser John Bolton illegally disclosed classified information in his book, “The Room Where it Happened,” a stinging critique of the president’s decision-making on national security issues, officials familiar with the move confirmed Tuesday.

The decision to launch a criminal investigation was expected. After failing to stop the book’s publication over the summer, senior Justice Department officials said they would likely consider criminal charges.

President Trump has suggested in tweets that Bolton should be prosecuted because he “broke the law.” The latest development was first reported Tuesday by The New York Times.

“Ambassador Bolton emphatically rejects any claim that he acted improperly, let alone criminally, in connection with the publication of his book, and he will cooperate fully, as he has throughout, with any official inquiry into his conduct,” said Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper of Washington, DC. Cooper said he was “aware of reports that grand jury subpoenas have been issued seeking information concerning the publication” of the book.

The government filed a lawsuit in June, seeking an emergency order to block the book’s publication. It argued that Bolton was required — because he had a top level security clearance during his government service — to wait until the White House finished reviewing the book for classified information. Instead, the suit said, he and his publisher pushed ahead and scheduled the book’s release before the process was finished.

Cooper responded to the lawsuit by saying that Bolton was required only to wait for a White House official’s confirmation that the book was free of classified information, which he received in April. The White House then launched another review, by a more senior official, which Cooper described in court as “a transparent effort to prevent Ambassador Bolton from revealing embarrassing facts about the president’s conduct in office.”

Bolton may have been required to get written permission if the book contained a type of classified material known as SCI — sensitive compartmented information. The government’s initial lawsuit did not make such a claim, but it filed a revised suit a few days later that contained the allegation.

Cooper said any such conclusion was based on a decision to classify some information at that higher level after the book was submitted for review. Bolton was required to seek review only if he believed the book contained classified information and only regarding information properly classified at that time, Cooper said.

Federal District Court Judge Royce Lamberth declined to grant the government’s motion to block publication, concluding that the book was already in the hands of distributors and retailers. But he said Bolton “gambled with the national security of the United States. He has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability.”

Although the Justice Department was unable to stop the book’s publication, the lawsuit remains alive, because the government is seeking to seize Bolton’s profit from the book sales.

The book’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, declined to comment Tuesday on the government’s move to open a criminal investigation, and a Justice Department spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, also declined comment.

PEN America, a freedom of expression advocacy group, condemned the move.

“For the Justice Department to invoke the criminal law to investigate and possibly punish a former government official for writing a book about the president and his handling of national security issues – matters of immense public concern – is a frightening affront to First Amendment values that is clearly intended to chill others from speaking out,” said Theodore Boutrous, a lawyer for the group.



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SNP humiliated: Scottish independence dream mocked in heated clash over SNP 'incompetence'

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SNP MP Pete Wishart was left stunned as his Scottish independence dreams were dashed in a furious row.

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