The winner of the presidential popular vote speaks out on authoritarian moves and Putin’s puppet

We don’t always agree with Hillary, but hey, when she’s right, she’s right

Putin’s puppet and acting like a tinhorn dictator

Hillary Clinton responded on Wednesday to news that the Trump administration is considering appointing a special counsel to investigate her alleged ties to the Uranium One deal, calling the move “a disastrous step into politicizing the Justice Department” and “such an abuse of power.”

In an exclusive interview with Mother Jones, Clinton said such an investigation would have devastating consequences for the justice system in America. “If they send a signal that we’re going to be like some dictatorship, like some authoritarian regime, where political opponents are going to be unfairly, fraudulently investigated, that rips at the fabric of the contract we have, that we can trust our justice system,” Clinton said. “It will be incredibly demoralizing to people who have served at the Justice Department, under both Republicans and Democrats, because they know better. But it will also send a terrible signal to our country and the world that somehow we are giving up on the kind of values that we used to live by and we used to promote worldwide.”

The New York Times and Washington Post reported this week that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had asked top prosecutors to examine whether to appoint a special counsel to probe the sale of a uranium company to Russian interests while Clinton was secretary of state. Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have alleged links between the sale of the company and donations to the Clinton Foundation, even though nine different federal agencies signed off on the deal in 2010.

“I regret deeply that this appears to be the politicization of the Justice Department and our justice system,” Clinton said on Wednesday. “This Uranium One story has been debunked countless times by members of the press, by independent experts. It is nothing but a false charge that the Trump administration is trying to drum up to avoid attention being drawn to them.”

She said the Trump administration was trying to change the subject from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government. But she said she was not personally worried about being prosecuted.

“I’m not concerned, because I know that there is no basis to it,” she said. “I regret if they do it because it will be such a disastrous step to politicizing the justice system. And at the end of the day, nothing will come of it, but it will, you know, cause a lot of terrible consequences that we might live with for a really long time.”

 

Election flipped by Russians

A year after her defeat by Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton says “there are lots of questions about its legitimacy” due to Russian interference and widespread voter suppression efforts.

In an interview with Mother Jones in downtown Manhattan, Clinton said Russian meddling in the election “was one of the major contributors to the outcome.” The Russians used “weaponized false information,” she said, in “a very successful disinformation campaign” that “wasn’t just influencing voters—it was determining the outcome.”

Republican efforts to make it harder to vote—through measures such as voter ID laws, shortened early voting periods, and new obstacles to registration—likewise “contributed to the outcome,” Clinton said. These moves received far less attention than Russian interference but arguably had a more demonstrable impact on the election result. According to an MIT study, more than 1 million people did not vote in 2016 because they encountered problems registering or at the polls. Clinton lost the election by a total of 78,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

“In a couple of places, most notably Wisconsin, I think it had a dramatic impact on the outcome,” Clinton said of voter suppression.

Wisconsin’s new voter ID law required a Wisconsin driver’s license or one of several other types of ID to cast a ballot. It blocked or deterred up to 23,000 people from voting in reliably Democratic Milwaukee and Madison, and potentially 45,000 people statewide, according to a University of Wisconsin study. Clinton lost the state by fewer than 23,000 votes. African Americans, who overwhelmingly supported Clinton, were more than three times as likely as whites not to vote because of the law.

“It seems likely that it cost me the election [in Wisconsin] because of the tens of thousands of people who were turned away and the margin being so small,” Clinton said.

She noted that this was the first presidential election in more than 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court gutted the law in a 2013 ruling, and 14 states had new voting restrictions in effect for the first time. “So many places have really tried to make it as difficult as they possibly could for young people, for African Americans, the elderly, to vote,” she said.

For Clinton and others who question the legitimacy of the election results, particularly due to Russian interference, there’s not an obvious next step. “We don’t have a method for contesting that in our system,” she said. “That’s why I’ve long advocated for an independent commission to get to the bottom of what happened.” On Wednesday, Democrats in Congress introduced articles of impeachment against Trump, but Clinton thinks that’s the wrong approach. “I think we need the investigations to continue,” she said, “and I think that it’s premature.”

But Clinton stood by a claim she made during a presidential debate last year, that if Trump were elected president, he would be Putin’s “puppet.” Asked if she still felt that way, Clinton said, “I do.”

“I don’t know how the president of the United States, with all of the concerns about the integrity of our elections, could meet with Putin just recently and basically say, ‘Well, you know, he told me again he didn’t do it,’” she said. “I can’t believe that he’s so naïve. I think that he hopes or expects the rest of us to be naïve, or at least the people who support him to be naïve. But this is a serious cyberattack on America.”

The impact of Russian interference in the election can be measured in a few tangible ways. Operatives in Russia published about 80,000 Facebook posts that reached 126 million Americans, as Russia-linked Facebook ads targeted swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin. More than 36,000 Russia-linked Twitter accounts generated 1.4 million tweets about the election that had 288 million impressions. The constant drumbeat of stories based on Clinton campaign and Democratic Party emails obtained by Russian-backed hackers is one reason that then-FBI Director James Comey’s 11th-hour letter hurt Clinton so much.

Clinton admitted that her campaign had “shortcomings” that contributed to her loss, but she said the stakes of Russian meddling were bigger than just the election result. “If we don’t figure out what they did to us and take adequate steps to prevent it, they’re only going to get better,” she said. “This is the first time we’ve ever been attacked by a foreign adversary and then they suffer no real consequences.”

The interview came amid a slew of new allegations of sexual assault against prominent figures in politics and entertainment. Asked why the various sexual assault allegations against Trump haven’t stuck when similar ones have recently ended careers, Clinton said she couldn’t explain it. “I don’t understand a lot about how he got away with so many attacks and insults and behaviors that allowed him to win the presidency,” she said. “I think part of it is because a lot of people really saw him more as an entertainment figure.”

She added, “It’s something that people are going to be scratching their heads about a long time.”

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/11/hillary-clinton-trump-special-counsel-threat-this-is-such-an-abuse-of-power/

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/11/hillary-clinton-on-trumps-election-there-are-lots-of-questions-about-its-legitimacy/#

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/10/voter-suppression-wisconsin-election-2016/

 

Advertisements

Implausible deniability

Plausible deniability is the ability of people (typically senior officials in a formal or informal chain of command) to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others in an organizational hierarchy because of a lack of evidence that can confirm their participation, even if they were personally involved in or at least willfully ignorant of the actions. In the case that illegal or otherwise disreputable and unpopular activities become public, high-ranking officials may deny any awareness of such acts to insulate themselves and shift blame onto the agents who carried out the acts, as they are confident that their doubters will be unable to prove otherwise. The lack of evidence to the contrary ostensibly makes the denial plausible, that is, credible, although sometimes it merely makes it unactionable. The term typically implies forethought, such as intentionally setting up the conditions to plausibly avoid responsibility for one’s (future) actions or knowledge. In some organizations, legal doctrines such as command responsibility exist to hold major parties responsible for the actions of subordinates involved in heinous acts and nullify any legal protection that their denial of involvement would carry.

Ivanka Trump helped make her father’s first international hotel venture a success with the help of an alleged international fraudster with ties to money launderers and criminals from the former Soviet Union.

A joint report between Reuters and NBC News examined the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama, which includes residential apartments and a casino in one of the tallest buildings in Latin America.

President Donald Trump’s daughter worked with Alexandre Ventura Nogueira, a 43-year-old Brazilian who was arrested three years later by Panamanian authorities on charges of fraud and forgery unrelated to the Trump project.

He later fled the country after his release on $1.4 million bail.

Nogueira and his company, Homes Real Estate Investment & Services, was responsible for up to half of the advance 666 apartment sales, according to Reuters.

The joint Reuters-NBC News report found Nogueira did business with a Colombian who was later convicted of money laundering and is now jailed in the United States, a Russian investor in the Trump tower jailed in Israel in the 1990s for kidnapping and death threats, and a Ukrainian investor arrested for alleged human trafficking while working with Nogueira and later convicted in Ukraine.

https://www.rawstory.com/2017/11/ivanka-filled-trumps-panama-tower-with-the-help-of-fraudster-with-ties-to-russian-money-launderers/

Watch the in-depth report tonight: Richard Engel on Assignment

LIVE TONIGHT, 6:00 PM ON MSNBC

Americans deserve their government to provide as much access as possible to JFK’s assassination records, oops!

The delay “adds to the perception that the average person has that the government has something to hide.”

 

DALLAS — The federal government released a massive trove of documents late Thursday related to the era of President John F. Kennedy, the investigation into his 1963 assassination and the effort to learn about his killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Oswald’s murderer, Jack Ruby.

An initial review of the thousands of pages of material — including FBI interviews, reports of CIA activity and other official but long-secret records — surfaced household names of the era, from the actress Marilyn Monroe to the mobster Sam Giancana and, over and over, John F. Kennedy, whose death in Dallas spelled an end to an age of American innocence.

Not all of the remaining Kennedy documents were released to the public. President Donald Trump deferred to a request from the FBI and CIA to withhold 300 documents for at least 180 days in the name of national security. Trump has called on any federal agency that wants to withhold the documents after that period to provide clear justifications related to specific documents.

The documents reviewed late Thursday did offer significant information related to the investigation into Kennedy’s murder, the figures involved in it, and a Cold-War era defined by the government’s fight against communism as well as its fear of the burgeoning civil rights movement.

The documents included:

— CIA notes on a May 1964 conversation with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who said he didn’t believe American security was so “inept” that Kennedy was killed without a conspiracy. Khrushchev believed the Dallas Police Department to be an “accessory” to the assassination. The CIA source “got the impression that Chairman Khrushchev had some dark thoughts about the American Right Wing being behind this conspiracy.” When the source said that Oswald and Ruby both were “mad” and “acted on his own … Kruschev said flatly that he did not believe this.”

— An FBI document relating threats against Oswald while he was in custody on the eve of his murder, saying the killing “after our warnings to the Dallas Police Department, was inexcusable.” The same document, just days after the assassination, expresses concerns about the authorities’ ability to “convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”

— A July 15, 1964, letter from the FBI to then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy advised him that a soon-to-be published book alleged that he was having an affair with actress Marilyn Monroe. But the book alleged Robert Kennedy was working with communists “behind the scenes” to have her killed, then covered up as a suicide, the letter said. The book also said Kennedy was at her apartment the night she died. Agents wrote that allegation was “branded as false as the Attorney General was actually in San Francisco with his wife at the time Marilyn Monroe committed suicide.”

— One FBI memo dated Nov. 23, 1963, recounted Oswald’s visit to the Russian Embassy in Mexico City, where he tried speaking Russian, but he spoke “terrible hardly recognizable Russian.” Soviet officials asked him multiple times to switch to English but he refused.

— A large number of documents detailed the FBI’s efforts to learn more about Jack Ruby and specifically his “hoodlum” background in Chicago and Dallas.

— A CIA transcript dated July 26, 1965, gave a complete translation of an interrogation of Lt. Col. Yuri Ivanovich Nosenko, a KGB operative who defected to the U.S. in 1964. He claimed to have important information proving that Russia had no involvement in the Kennedy assassination. “I am ready to answer all questions,” Nosenko said early in the interrogation.

— A document, dated May 30, 1975, pertained to the 1975 Rockefeller Commission investigating CIA involvement of plans to assassinate foreign leaders. The document states that with respect to Fidel Castro, the “investigation is sufficiently complete to show that plans were undertaken by the CIA.”

— A note on a 1963 document said that a CIA source reported Castro becoming “extremely concerned with persistence of investigation into President Kennedy’s murder and with possible disclosures that could result.”

— A Nov. 27, 1963, urgent memo to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and the top special agent in Dallas told of an unfounded report from a California woman, Lillian Fisher, stating she expected Chief Justice Earl Warren to be assassinated at Kennedy’s funeral. The statement “was based on pure conjecture,” the memo stated.

After decades of waiting, researchers and conspiracy theorists had to wait a little longer Thursday — refreshing their web browsers for hours — during a delay in the release of the JFK files.

Trump said he would release 2,800 of the documents Thursday, but bowed to national security concerns by the FBI and the CIA to allow another six months to review the remaining 300 records. Some of those may be redacted or never released, a Trump aide said.

“The American public expects and deserves its government to provide as much access as possible to the President John F. Kennedy assassination records so that the people may finally be fully informed about all aspects of this pivotal event,” reads a memorandum Trump signed Thursday, which aides characterized as a temporary certification.

“Therefore, I am ordering today that the veil finally be lifted,” Trump wrote.

“I think what happened today was unfortunate,” said Gerald Posner, author of “Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK,” a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. “The expectations were built up, not just as a result of the president’s tweets, but because 25 years ago Congress had given a deadline of Oct. 26, 2017.”

The delay, he said, “adds to the perception that the average person has that the government has something to hide.”

Dale K. Myers, author of “With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit,” said many of the documents released Thursday were withheld earlier because of privacy issues.

“My sources at the National Archives have been telling us for years that there’s no smoking gun in any of this stuff,” Myers said from his home in Michigan.

https://www.rawstory.com/2017/10/jfk-documents-here-are-the-9-most-eye-popping-revelations-in-the-release-so-far/

General?…. Four star bigot is more like it

The White House Chief of Staff  John Kelly was view by many as the adult in the room by many prior to his racist/sexist description of Congresswoman Wilson as an “empty barrel”. Seems like we need better quality adults.

Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

TOP TRUMP OFFICIAL JOHN KELLY ORDERED ICE TO PORTRAY IMMIGRANTS AS CRIMINALS TO JUSTIFY RAIDS

A DIRECTIVE TO immigration officials across the country to try to portray undocumented immigrants swept up in mass raids as criminals came directly from then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, The Intercept has learned.

Earlier this month, The Intercept published a cache of internal emails exchanged between Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Texas in February, while the first mass raids of the Trump administration were underway.

The redacted emails, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by students at Vanderbilt University Law School, show that while hundreds of undocumented immigrants were rounded up across the country, DHS officials tried — and largely failed — to engineer a narrative that would substantiate the administration’s claims that the raids were motivated by public safety concerns. In the emails, local ICE officials are ordered to come up with “three egregious cases” of apprehended criminals to highlight to the media.

The February raids ­— the first in an ongoing series under this administration — led to 680 arrests nationwide, including arrests of dozens of individuals who had no criminal history. In Austin, Texas, where 51 people were arrested, the majority of those arrested had no criminal record.

But while dozens of undocumented immigrants were detained, the administration sought to shape the narrative that “by removing from the streets criminal aliens and other threats to the public, ICE helps improve public safety,” according to statements by the agency.

On February 10, as the raids kicked off, an ICE executive in Washington sent a directive to the agency’s chiefs of staff around the country. “Please put together a white paper covering the three most egregious cases,” for each location, the acting chief of staff of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations wrote in the email. “If a location has only one egregious case — then include an extra egregious case from another city.”

As a reader of The Intercept pointed out, the email’s subject line — “Due Tonight for S1 – URGENT” — meant that the request had been made by the secretary of Homeland Security himself, referred to as “S1” in department shorthand.

Kelly was at the helm of the department at the time before he was appointed in July to replace Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff.

The White House and DHS did not respond to requests for comment. ICE issued a statement in response to The Intercept’s original story but did not answer questions about what officials meant by “egregious cases” and why they felt the need to highlight such cases in the media.

In Texas at least, ICE officials struggled to fulfill Kelly’s request.

A day after the original email, an agent at ICE’s San Antonio office sent an internal email saying the team had come up short: “I have been pinged by HQ this morning indicating that we failed at this tasking.”

“As soon as you come in, your sole focus today will be compiling three egregious case write-ups,” an assistant field office director at the agency’s Austin Resident Office wrote to that team on February 12, noting that the national and San Antonio offices were growing impatient. “HQ and SNA will ping us in the afternoon for sure.”

Then the agent added that a team of officers had “just picked up a criminal a few minutes ago, so get with him for your first egregious case.”

Alice Speri  – The Intercept

https://theintercept.com/2017/10/16/top-trump-official-john-kelly-ordered-ice-to-portray-immigrants-as-criminals-to-justify-raids/

Top photo: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly calls on a reporter during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Oct. 12, 2017.

Accountant for the US, UN and giant Corporations, Deloitt seriously hacked

Yet another hacking story. It’s pretty clear that the bad guys are winning and the “good guys” are clueless and busy covering their asses.

The hack into the accountancy giant Deloitte compromised a server that contained the emails of an estimated 350 clients, including four US government departments, the United Nations and some of the world’s biggest multinationals, the Guardian has been told.

Sources with knowledge of the hack say the incident was potentially more widespread than Deloitte has been prepared to acknowledge and that the company cannot be 100% sure what was taken.

Deloitte said it believed the hack had only “impacted” six clients, and that it was confident it knew where the hackers had been. It said it believed the attack on its systems, which began a year ago, was now over.

However, sources who have spoken to the Guardian, on condition of anonymity, said the company red-flagged, and has been reviewing, a cache of emails and attachments that may have been compromised from a host of other entities.

The Guardian has established that a host of clients had material that was made vulnerable by the hack, including:

  • The US departments of state, energy, homeland security, and defense.
  • The US Postal Service.
  • The National Institutes of Health.
  • “Fannie Mae” and “Freddie Mac”, the housing giants that fund and guarantee mortgages in the US.

Football’s world governing body, Fifa, had emails in the server that was breached, along with four global banks, three airlines, two multinational car manufacturers, energy giants and big pharmaceutical companies.

The Guardian has been given the names of more than 30 blue-chip businesses whose data was vulnerable to attack, with sources saying the list “is far from exhaustive”.

Deloitte did not deny any of these clients had information in the system that was the target of the hack, but it said none of the companies or government departments had been “impacted”. It said, “the number of email messages targeted by the attacker was a small fraction of those stored on the platform”.

This assurance has been contested by sources that spoke to the Guardian. They said Deloitte’s public position belied concern within the company about exactly what had happened and why.

The Guardian first revealed the existence of the hack on 25 September.

Since then, the Guardian has been provided with further details of the attack, which seems to have started in autumn last year at a time Deloitte was migrating and updating its email from an in-house system to Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 service.

The work was being undertaken at Deloitte’s Hermitage office in Nashville, Tennessee.

The hackers got into the system using an administrator’s account that, theoretically, gave them access to the entire email database, which included Deloitte’s US staff and their correspondence with clients.

Deloitte realized it had a substantial problem in spring this year, when it retained the Washington-based law firm, Hogan Lovells, on “special assignment” to review and advise about what it called “a possible cybersecurity incident”.

In addition to emails, the Guardian understands the hackers had potential access to usernames, passwords, IP addresses, architectural diagrams for businesses and health information.

It is also thought that some emails had attachments with sensitive security and design details.

Deloitte has insisted its internal inquiry, codenamed Windham, found that only six clients had information that had been compromised. The review had also been able to establish “precisely what information was at risk”, the company said.

However, that analysis has been contested by informed sources that have spoken to the Guardian. They say the investigation has not been able to establish definitively when the hackers got in and where they went; nor can they be completely sure that the electronic trail they left is complete.

“The hackers had free rein in the network for a long time and nobody knows the amount of the data taken,” said one source.

“A large amount of data was extracted, not the small amount reported. The hacker accessed the entire email database.”

Another source added: “There is an ongoing effort to determine the damage. There is a team looking at records that have been tagged for further analysis. It is all deeply embarrassing.”

The Guardian has been told Deloitte did not at the time have multi-factor authentication as standard on the server that was breached. A cybersecurity specialist told the Guardian this was “astonishing”.

The expert said the migration to the new email system would have “utterly complicated the kind of forensic investigation required to see what had happened”.

“A hacker has got into Deloitte’s email system and been undetected for months, and only six clients have been compromised? That does not sound right. If the hackers had been in there that long, they would have covered their tracks.”

When the Guardian put all these points to Deloitte, it declined to answer specific questions, but a spokesman said: “We dispute in the strongest terms that Deloitte is ‘downplaying’ the breach. We take any attack on our systems very seriously.

“We are confident that we know what information was targeted and what the hacker actually did. Very few clients were impacted, although we want to stress that even when one client is impacted, that is one client too many.

“We have concluded that the attacker is no longer in Deloitte’s systems and haven’t seen any signs of any subsequent activities.

“Our review determined what the hacker actually did. The attacker accessed data from an email platform. The review of that platform is complete.”

In recent months, Deloitte has introduced multi-factor authentication and encryption software to try to stop further hacks.

Dmitri Sirota, co-founder and CEO of the cybersecurity firm BigID, warned that many companies had failed to use such methods because they were inconvenient and complex.

“Privileged accounts are like keys that unlock everything, from the castle to the treasury. They provide unfettered access to all systems, which is why they are so valuable.

“Organizations are monitoring databases, not the data in it. It’s hard to detect changes, prevent incidents or compare your data to notice breached information unless you have an inventory of what you have.”

Wiyot people and their supporters stand strong against racist Rob



Hundreds of indigenous people and their supporters showed up to support the City of Eureka and tell Racist Rob to “back the fuck 0ff!”

Security National employees were nowhere to be seen, either hiding or they took the afternoon off.

One of our favorite signs said “crawl back under your rock Arkley”

Many vehicles passing by honked their horns in a show of support to the crowd’s great pleasure.

Ted Hernandez Wiyot Tribal Chair (as seen in the top picture with the yellow shirt) praised the City of Eureka’s resolve to move this forward and give Tuluwat back to its rightful inhabitants.

Good job everybody!

Trump Jr keeps lying and the right wants to get their way no matter what the price

A Russian American lobbyist and veteran of the Soviet military said Friday that he attended a June 2016 meeting between President Trump’s oldest son and a Kremlin-connected attorney.

The presence of Rinat Akhmetshin adds to the number of people in attendance at the Trump Tower gathering that emerged this week as the clearest evidence so far of interactions between Trump campaign officials and Russia.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Akhmetshin said he participated in the session with several others. His role in the meeting was first reported by NBC News and the Associated Press.

Akhmetshin, a U.S. citizen, was lobbying at the time against U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia for human rights violations.

Trump Jr. has waved away concerns about the 30-minute session, which he agreed to because he was promised negative information about his father’s political opponent, Hillary Clinton. He was joined at the meeting by Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, then chairman of the Trump campaign.

Trump Jr. has said that he did not receive the negative information on Clinton that he was promised by an acquaintance, Goldstone, and that he did not know the people with whom he was meeting.

Veselnitskaya said she and Akhmetshin were working at the time defending a Russian businessman from federal charges of money laundering in a suit that was settled early this year.

Akhmetshin was born in Russia, served in the military and told people he had worked in intelligence, according to one person who said he worked with Akhmetshin in the past but asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about it.

Akhmetshin emphatically denied to The Washington Post that he ever worked as an intelligence agent though he did confirm that he served as an 18-year-old draftee for two years in a unit of the Soviet military that had responsibility for law enforcement issues as well as some counterintelligence matters.

He said that he became a U.S. citizen in 2009 and is also still a Russian citizen.

According to AP, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the Kremlin knows nothing about Akhmetshin.

Akhmetshin’s participation raises the level of the concern about the meeting. The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said he was disturbed by the news.

“Today’s report that a former Russian counterintelligence officer was also present during the meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, if accurate, adds another deeply disturbing fact about this secret meeting,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

 

 

Rinat Akhmetshin is a Hacker and a spy

Rinat Akhmetshin, the former Russian intelligence officer who took part in Donald Trump Jr.’s infamous meeting at Trump Tower last June 9, has been accused of masterminding an international hacking conspiracy.

The Daily Beast reports that a case filed with New York Supreme Court in 2015 alleges that Akhmetshin successfully orchestrated the hacking of two computer systems and stole documents from International Mineral Resources (IMR), a Russian mining company.

“The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. was told in July 2015 that Akhmetshin had arranged the hacking of a mining company’s private records — stealing internal documents and then disseminating them,” the Daily Beast reports. “The corporate espionage case was brought by IMR, who alleged that Akhmetshin was hired by Russian oligarch Andrey Melinchenko, an industrialist worth around $12 billion.”

Akhmetshin denied that he orchestrated any hacking of the company, but acknowledged that he “found” a hard drive that just happened to contain sensitive IMR documents.

Akhmetshin, a registered congressional lobbyist, has in the past also done work on behalf of Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was also present at the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower.

The Right wants to get their way no matter what the price

To many, the revelation that Donald Trump Jr. was anxious to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians will not come as a surprise. It is but the latest example of the take-no-prisoners, anything-goes politics of our day. Sure, soliciting help from a hostile foreign power is exceptional, and it is certainly true that the Trumps have taken “unconventional” politics to new heights. But how we do politics in the United States, the boundaries of acceptable behavior, has been shifting for two decades.

The real surprise – the part of the story that we should be gravely concerned about – is that this disclosure will not matter to a great many American voters. After thinking and writing about politics for two decades, I have come to the conclusion that the real issue we face is not the conduct of public officials or their surrogates, but how nefarious acts are now sanctioned, and even applauded, by so many on both sides of the partisan fence.

So what’s changed in our politics?

Fear and loathing

For one, the nature of partisanship is different. Until about a decade ago, one’s attachment to a party was centered around policy disputes or cues from groups and associations. But today’s version is grounded in the fear and loathing of the other side. Trunkloads of data, much of it from the Pew Research Center, suggest each side sees the other party as crazy and certainly dangerous. So it does not matter what your side does so long as it keeps the nut jobs on the other side at bay.

A new volume by political scientists Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels further helps to fine-tune our understanding how people vote and which party they identify with. Their book, “Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government,” suggests “issue congruence [between voters and parties], in so far as it exists, is mostly a byproduct of other connections, most of them lacking policy content.” In other words, we don’t think through issues, policies and candidate characteristics, but instead see elections as “us versus them.” These scholars argue voters tie themselves with racial, ethnic, occupational, religious, recreational and other groups, with partisanship as the byproduct. Our group identity, not policy concerns or ideology, determines vote choice. That is to say, we gather comfortably with our tribe and tune out other points of view.

A central force propelling hostility toward the “other” party is the partisan media. Many such outlets have figured out a sustainable business model. Smaller audiences can be profitable, so long as they remain loyal. Loyalty springs from “crisis” and, of course, “menace.” This leads to treating every issue as a true threat to our existence or a usurpation of fundamental “rights.” The other party is always the villain, and your side can do no wrong – so long as it is for the grand struggle.

And then there is the online world. Voters rarely explore new ideas and perspectives, but share, like and retweet concordant ones. We fence in and we fence out. As recently noted by journalist and author Megan McArdle, “Social media, of course, makes this problem worse. Even if we are not deliberately blocking people who disagree with us, Facebook curates our feeds so that we get more of the stuff we ‘like.’ What do we ‘like’? People and posts that agree with us.”

Sorting and filtering

Is the filtering of information really a new development? It is not at all clear that voters have ever absorbed a broad range of information or shifted though competing evidence. It is likely party bosses, elected officials, candidates and even media elites have always been able to manipulate mass opinion to a degree. Cognitive time-saving cues, especially party identification, have always been used to sort and filter.

But something very different is happening today. In the recent past, news was more widely viewed as objective, leading to a high degree of accepted facts and authority. When the news media unraveled the story of Watergate, for example, citizens of all partisan stripes accepted it as fact. What scholars dubbed “short-term influences” could override partisan leanings.

Which leads us to “alternative facts,” the aggressive spinning of policies and arguments regardless of contrary verifiable information. This may be a game-changer in our politics. The barrier for evidence has, it seems, evaporated, and emotion-rich information is used to draw more viewers, readers and listeners. If we add the continual drive for fresh “news” and the high costs of creating traditional journalism, we are left with little consensus or authority. New York Times blogger Farhad Manjoo put it this way: “We are roiled by preconceptions and biases, and we usually do what feels easiest – we gorge on information that confirms our ideas, and we shun what does not.”

Finally, popular culture has also probably contributed to our growing indifference to nefarious acts. We pick our reality show contestant and applaud every backhanded, despicable move that gets him across the finish line. There can’t be two winners or a collective good, only a sole survivor. Or shall we say that only one apprentice can get the job? And the best part of the show – the segment that really gets the producers juiced – is when things get truly ugly.

Democratic accountability

The latest Trump team revelation is a shocker, but even more stunning is the meager impact it will likely have on his supporters. As noted in a recent USA Today story, in Trump country the Russia disclosure is no big deal.

As voters, citizens are called to judge those in power. But there must be an objective standard for the assessment, which is why the framers of the Constitution put so much stock in a free press. The governed in a democracy must be willing and able to fairly judge the acts of the governors. But today “your side” has always done a good job and the “other” party has always failed. Any contrary revelation can be explained away as fake news.

The key ingredient in the democratic accountability process – objectivity – is disappearing, and the foundation of our limited government has been shaken. In Federalist #51 and elsewhere, James Madison wrote, “A dependence upon the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government…” Many are starting to wonder if Americans are up to the job – and whether the fate of the grand experiment is at risk.

excepts From the Washington Post,  Raw Story and The Conversation