By Robert A. Vella
FBI election warning
“We recognize that our adversaries are going to keep adapting and upping their game,” Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, said Friday in a speech in Washington, citing the presence of Russian intelligence officers in the United States and the Kremlin’s record of malign influence operations.
“So we are very much viewing 2018 as just kind of a dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020,” he said.
Mr. Wray’s warnings came after the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, laid out in hundreds of pages of detail the interference and influence campaign carried out by Russian operatives in the 2016 election.
While American officials have promised to continue to try to counter, block and weaken the Russian intelligence operations, they have complained of a lack of high-level coordination. President Trump has little interest or patience for hearing about such warnings, officials have said.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told The New York Times on Friday that hackers penetrated a Florida county’s elections system in 2016.
Rubio’s comments come a week after special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed that Russians sent malicious software to Florida county government officials overseeing the 2016 election.
Rubio, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Times that there was an intrusion into a county’s elections system but that the target or targets were not notified.
He said national security officials opted to issue a blanket warning about hacking efforts as a way to protect intelligence methods.
Trump’s contempt of Congress
President Trump’s blatant obstruction of investigations conducted by the House of Representatives, intended to prevent officials in his administration and others from testifying, risks contempt of Congress charges, civil enforcement actions by the judicial system, and possibly impeachment proceedings. The success of this strategy depends upon Democrats’ reluctance to force the issue by using all the tools at their disposal. So far, they haven’t.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of President Donald Trump, once said that a president’s refusal to comply with congressional oversight was an impeachable offense.
In an unearthed video from December 1998 circulating on Twitter on Friday, the South Carolina legislator passionately states that Richard Nixon could have been impeached for failing to comply with subpoenas from Congress.
“The day Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day he was subject to impeachment because he took the power from Congress over the impeachment process away from Congress, and he became the judge and jury,” Graham said two decades ago.
At the time, then-Representative Graham was a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and subsequently served as a manager in the unsuccessful impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.
President Trump said earlier this week that he would not comply with Congressional attempts to question administration officials.
INDIANAPOLIS — Turmoil racking the National Rifle Association is threatening to turn the group’s annual convention into outright civil war, as insurgents maneuver to oust Wayne LaPierre, the foremost voice of the American gun rights movement.
The confrontation pits Mr. LaPierre, the organization’s longtime chief executive, against its recently installed president, Oliver L. North, the central figure in the Reagan-era Iran-contra affair, who remains a hero to many on the right.
Behind it is a widening crisis involving a legal battle between the N.R.A. and its most influential contractor, Ackerman McQueen, amid renewed threats from regulators in New York, where the N.R.A. is chartered, to investigate the group’s tax-exempt status. With contributions lagging, the N.R.A. is also facing an increasingly well-financed gun control movement, motivated by a string of mass shootings.
National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre said Thursday that the organization’s president is trying to oust him in an alleged extortion attempt — casting light on apparent discord within the influential gun rights group.
In a letter penned to the NRA’s board, LaPierre claimed Oliver North, a former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel perhaps best known for his role in the Iran-contra affair, was pressuring him to resign over alleged financial transgressions.
“Delivered by a member of our Board on behalf of his employer, the exhortation was simple: resign or there will be destructive allegations made against me and the NRA,” LaPierre wrote in the letter, which was published Friday by the Wall Street Journal.
Rod J. Rosenstein, again, was in danger of losing his job. The New York Times had just reported that — in the heated days after James B. Comey was fired as FBI director — the deputy attorney general had suggested wearing a wire to surreptitiously record President Trump. Now Trump, traveling in New York, was on the phone, eager for an explanation.
Rosenstein — who, by one account, had gotten teary-eyed just before the call in a meeting with Trump’s chief of staff — sought to defuse the volatile situation and assure the president he was on his team, according to people familiar with matter. He criticized the Times report, published in late September, and blamed it on former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, whose recollections formed its basis. Then he talked about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and told the president he would make sure Trump was treated fairly, people familiar with the conversation said.
The episode illustrates the political tightrope Rosenstein has had to walk in his two years as the Justice Department’s second-in-command. To keep his job, the deputy attorney general has worked to mollify an often angry Trump, while at the same time protecting the special counsel’s investigation of the president and his campaign. Rosenstein’s actions have come under renewed scrutiny, as he has played a key role in releasing Mueller’s findings in a way even some of his supporters say has been overly favorable to Trump.
The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza as it tries to ramp up pressure to remove President Nicolas Maduro.
The sanctions are the latest slapped by the United States against senior figures in Venezuela as it seeks to install in power Juan Guaido, the opposition leader.
A federal judge in San Francisco decided Friday to block the Trump administration from denying federal funds to family planning clinics in California that make abortion referrals.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Edward Chen followed a similar decision by a federal judge in Washington state to bar the government from imposing the new restrictions there.
A judge in Oregon also has indicated he would rule similarly in a challenge brought in that state.
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas officials announced Friday that they settled a lawsuit over a bungled search for ineligible voters that President Donald Trump stoked over Twitter but that resulted in the U.S. citizenship of thousands of people being wrongly called into question.
The agreement officially ends a botched scouring of Texas voter rolls that began in January and was beset by deeply flawed data. It identified nearly 100,000 potentially ineligible voters but wrongly captured naturalized citizens.
Problems with the list were discovered within days, but not before Trump seized on the reports out of Texas to renew his unsubstantiated claims of rampant voter fraud in the U.S.