1/ A report from the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that Russia conducted an "unprecedented, coordinated cyber campaign" in order to undermine confidence in U.S. voting systems starting as early as 2014 and continuing through Election Day 2016. Senators report that the Russians targeted at least 18 states looking for vulnerabilities, and in six states they tried to gain access to voting websites. In "a small number of states" they actually breached election computer defenses. The committee said it found no evidence that vote tallies or voter registration information were changed, but that Russian hackers were "in a position to, at a minimum, alter or delete voter registration data." (New York Times / The Hill)

  • [PDF] Russian Targeting of Election Infrastructure During the 2016 Election: Summary of Initial Findings and Recommendations. (Senator Burr)

2/ Top White House officials withheld information sought by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, siding with senior FBI and national intelligence officials that the information could endanger a top-secret intelligence source. The Justice Department, however, invited Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy for a classified briefing about their document request related to the Russia investigation after Nunes publicly suggested that he may try to hold Jeff Sessions in contempt for refusing to comply. Some administration officials worry that Trump will change his mind and support Nunes' argument that "Congress has a right and a duty to get this information." (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ One of the women who accused Trump of sexual assault won her uncontested primary bid for a seat in the Ohio state House of Representatives. Rachel Crooks accused Trump of kissing her without her consent in 2005 and went public with her claims in 2016. She is now the Democratic nominee for a seat in the Ohio state legislature. (CNN) / Washington Post)

  • Don Blankenship lost in the West Virginia Republican U.S. Senate primary on Tuesday following the coordinated effort by Mitch McConnell and Republican leaders to sink his bid. Blankenship called himself "Trumpier Than Trump." (New York Times)

4/ Trump mused about taking away press credentials from media outlets over "negative" coverage of him. "Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt?" Trump tweeted. "Take away credentials?" Trump was apparently responding to a segment on Fox and Friends, which cited a study from the Media Research Center – a right-wing media watchdog. The study says 91% of network news stories about him are negative. (The Independent / The Hill / Politico / Washington Post)

5/ Robert Mueller's team interviewed Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who attended a meeting with the head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund in the Seychelles Islands on Jan. 11, 2017. The meeting is understood to have been an effort to establish a back channel between the incoming Trump administration and the Kremlin. (Daily Beast)

poll/ 47% of registered voters say they would support the Democratic candidate in their district on a generic congressional ballot, compared to 44% who would back the Republican. 31% say the country would be better off with Democrats in control of Congress while 30% say the country would be better of with the GOP in charge. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. Senate Democrats filed a petition to force a net neutrality vote by June 12th. All 49 Senate Democrats and one Republican have pledged to support the pro-net neutrality bill. The prolonged absence of John McCain gives proponents a 50-49 vote edge in the Senate. However, the measure is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled House or survive a veto by Trump. (Ars Technica / Reuters / The Verge)

  2. Trump's nominee to the lead the CIA defended the agency's use of torture of terrorism suspects, but said she "would not restart, under any circumstances, an interrogation program at CIA." During her confirmation hearing, Gina Haspel refused to definitively tell the Senate Intelligence Committee whether she believed it was wrong to waterboard terror suspects. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  3. North Korea handed over three American prisoners to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and they are now on the way home from Pyongyang. Trump plans to greet the three men when they arrive at Andrews Air Force Base. North Korean state media said the men were detained for either subversion or committing "hostile acts" against the government. (CNBC / Reuters)

  4. The White House requested $7 billion in funding cuts to the Children's Health Insurance Program as part of a $15 billion rescissions package sent to Congress. (CNN)

  5. A group of Republicans are trying to force a vote to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in defiance of Paul Ryan. House GOP moderates filed a discharge petition that would trigger a series of votes on four immigration bills if 218 members sign on. They need every Democrat to support the petition and 20 Republicans to break ranks to trigger the votes. (Politico / CNN)

  6. Trump: "Everyone thinks" I deserve the Nobel Prize for improving relations with North Korea. Trump was asked by a reporter whether he deserved the honor, to which he replied: "Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it." (CNN)


Dept. of that Michael Cohen x Russia x Stormy Daniels thing.

Let's try to untangle the latest news surrounding Michael Cohen, Russian oligarchs, and Stormy Daniels…

  1. Michael Avenatti released an "executive summary" yesterday of material he says connects Trump's payment to Stormy Daniels to a Russian oligarch. Avenatti represents Daniels in her lawsuit against Trump and Michael Cohen. (NPR)

  2. The Avenatti dossier claims that a company connected to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg made eight payments to Essential Consultants, one of Cohen's shell companies, between January 2017 and August 2017. Avenatti suggested that the funds from Columbus Nova may have been used to reimburse Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about her alleged affair with Trump. (Daily Beast)

  3. Essential Consultants received more than $1 million from Vekselberg's Columbus Nova. Cohen's company, Essential Consultants, was incorporated on October 17, 2016 – 10 days after the Access Hollywood tape went public and a weeks before the election – and is the same shell company used to pay Stormy Daniels on October 27th. More than $4.4 million flowed through Essential Consultants beginning just before the 2016 election and continued until January 2018. (New York Times)

  4. Robert Mueller's investigators questioned Vekselberg about a $500,000 payment from Columbus Nova to Essential Consultants that was made shortly after the 2016 election. Vekselberg was placed on a list of sanctioned Russians for election interference and other activities last month by the Trump administration. The purpose of the payments and the nature of the business relationship between Vekselberg and Cohen is still unclear. (CNN)

  5. AT&T paid Essential Consultants $200,000 in four separate installments for "insights" on the Trump administration between October 2017 and January 2018. Net neutrality was repealed in December 2017. Two of those payments came before the Justice Department filed a November 20th antitrust lawsuit to block AT&T's $85 billion deal for Time Warner. Two payments came after that. (CNBC / Politico / The Atlantic)

  6. Drug giant Novartis paid Essential Consultants $1.2 million for health care policy consulting work that Cohen was "unable" to do. Novartis signed a one-year contract with Cohen's shell company for $100,000 per month in February 2017 – days after Trump's inauguration – for advice on "how the Trump administration might approach certain U.S. health-care policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act." But a month after signing the deal, Novartis executives "determined that Michael Cohen and Essentials Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated" following their first meeting with Cohen. "Cohen promised access to not just Trump, but also the circle around him," a Novartis employee said. "It was almost as if we were hiring him as a lobbyist." (CNBC / Bloomberg / STAT News)

  7. Mueller's investigators questioned Novartis last year about its relationship with Cohen and Essential Consultants. "Novartis cooperated fully with the Special Counsel's office and provided all the information requested," a Novartis spokeswoman said in a statement. (Politico)

  8. Korean Aerospace Industries confirmed that it paid $150,000 to Essential Consultants. The company is in contention for a multibillion joint U.S. contract with Lockheed Martin for jet trainers. (Washington Post)

  9. The Treasury Department's inspector general is investigating whether Essential Consultants banking information was leaked. Banks are required to file a Suspicious Activity Report on any unusual transactions over $10,000, which experts say could be the source of the information that Avenatti released yesterday. Rich Delmar, counsel to the inspector general, said that the office is "inquiring into allegations" that Suspicious Activity Reports on Cohen's banking transactions were "improperly disseminated." (Washington Post)