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Category Archives: NSA

Court date for Kingsville woman who allegedly leaked NSA documen – KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage … – KRIS Corpus Christi News

Posted: June 27, 2017 at 6:54 am

GEORGIA -

A local woman who is charged with leaking classified documents is scheduled to be in court today.

Reality Winner, the Kingsville native and former National Security Agency contractor, is scheduled to appear in federal court in Georgia on Tuesday for what her attorney says is a status update on charges she faces.

The 25-year-old intelligence specialist is charged violating the Espionage Act by mailing highly classified documents about Russian interference during the 2016 U.S. election to the media.

Winner remains in custody at a jail in Lincoln County, Georgia.

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Ex-Israeli NSA chief: Foundation of civilization is under attack – The Jerusalem Post

Posted: June 26, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Illustrative image of cyber counter-terrorism. (photo credit:INGIMAGE PHOTOS)

The foundation of civilization is under cyber attack, said the former commander of Israel's elite intelligence Unit 8200 Nadav Zafir on Monday.

Zafir claimed that the electoral process can be tampered with by unlawful cyber activity and damage infrastructure, putting democratic civilizations at risk.

Zafir, headed what is considered to be the Israeli NSA between 2009 - 2013, made the comments during Cyber Week at Tel Aviv University.

The current chief of the Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, is scheduled to give a rare talk on Tuesday that will present the audience with some of the means the Israeli security services use to tackle threats from individual hackers. This would be the first time such details will be openly presented to the public.

Today marks the second day of the conference, a unique event that address the challenges of security and privacy, for governments as well as private people, as the Internet becomes ever more present in global communication, finance, and entertainment.

The former chief of the USNational Security Agency (NSA) Keith Alexander also addressed the summit, telling the audience that he recently met with USPresident Donald Trump and that, despite what you hear in the press, the president understands fully existential cyber threats.

Speakers include Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism official Thomas Bossert, who serves as assistant to Trump. Current director of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Nadav Argaman, Check Point CEO Gil Shwed and former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani are also in the lineup.

Other speakers include chief information security officer of the Indian Axis bank Ashutosh Jain and Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems. Events include an international war game simulation, a panel on the role of cyber in aviation, and even a cocktail party.

In recent years Israel became a celebrated global leader in the realm of cyber security, hi-tech, and technological innovation. Leading many to label Israel as a "Hi-Tech Nation".

This is the sixth year in which Cyber Week had taken place. This year's event will include round table discussions discussing Israeli - French, India-Israel, and UK - Israel innovation and regulation in regard to cyber security.

Those visiting the conference will be greeted by a huge six meters (19.5 feet) sculpture of a Trojan horse created from molten bits of smartphones, keyboards, and television screens that have been made useless due to a virus attack or remote hacking. The piece, which weighs two tons, was designed by Israeli advertising executive Gideon Amichay for the 2016 conference and became an iconic piece at campus.

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EXCLUSIVE Whistleblower: ‘Most Probable’ That NSA Has Recordings of Trump Phone Calls with James Comey – Breitbart News

Posted: at 4:57 pm

It is very likely, in fact, most probable that NSA does have those tapes, stated Binney.

Binney continued: I think you already have examples of it where you had conversations that President Trump had with the president of Mexico and also with Australia. All of those have been leaked. Also phone calls involving [former National Security Advisor Michael] Flynn and so on and the White House.

And the point is here, you see, I dont know of any time that the president makes a phone call that is not encrypted. So that means that the people who are intercepting the president have to be able to decrypt it. And the people who provide the encryption and the keys to the systems to be used are NSA, he added.

Binney was speaking Sunday night on this reporters talk radio program, Aaron Klein Investigative Radio, broadcast on New Yorks AM 970 The Answer and Philadelphias NewsTalk 990 AM.

Binney was an architect of the NSAs surveillance program. He became a famed whistleblower when he resigned on October 31, 2001 after spending more than 30 years with the agency. He has remained a sought-after expert on NSA surveillance.

Binney was responding to a series of tweets from the U.S. president last week in which Trump wrote that he did not make and does not have recordings of his conversations with Comey.

However, Trump allowed that with all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are tapes or recordings of my conversations with James Comey.

On May 12, after Comey had been fired and there was speculation he was behind leaks to the news media, Trump had ominously issued the following warning on Twitter:

In remarks to the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month, Comey described three in-person private conversations with Trump one in January at Trump Tower before the inauguration and two more in the White House after Trump became president and two phone calls between the two.

NSA Absolutely Tapping Trumps Calls

Asked pointedly whether he believes the NSA is bugging the Oval Office, Binney replied, Absolutely.

In February on this reporters radio program, Binney made national headlines when he alleged the NSA was tapping Trumps Oval Office phone calls.

Binney further contended at the time that the NSA may have been behind a data leak that revealed Michael Flynn allegedly misled Vice-President Mike Pence and other Trump administration officials about the contents of his phone calls with Russias ambassador to Washington.

During the interview on Sunday, Binney addressed alleged illicit NSA domestic surveillance that he says is documented in NSA whistleblower Edward Snowdens slides on the agencys Fairview program, which is supposed to focus on the collection of data from foreign countries citizens utilizing switching stations located inside the U.S.

Binney stated:

The slides showing the tap points across the United States where the targets really are the U.S. population and not the foreigners. If they wanted the foreigners all they would have to do is tap the surfacing points for the transoceanic cables. That would be along the coast. You wouldnt need to tap points distributed with the populations of the company. So that is the main program they are using to collect all this data on the fiber networks.

Binney further stated the NSA could remotely turn on cell phone mics to record offline conversations.

Aaron Klein is Breitbarts Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, Aaron Klein Investigative Radio. Follow him onTwitter @AaronKleinShow.Follow him onFacebook.

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EXCLUSIVE Whistleblower: 'Most Probable' That NSA Has Recordings of Trump Phone Calls with James Comey - Breitbart News

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NSA Advocates Data Sharing Framework – Threatpost

Posted: June 24, 2017 at 1:58 pm

NEW YORKThe economics of cybersecurity are skewed in favor of attackers, who invest once and can launch thousands of attacks with a piece of malware or exploit kit. Thats why Neal Ziring, technical director for the NSAs Capabilities Directorate, wants to flip the financial equation on bad guys.

We need to conduct defenses in a way that kills an adversarys ROI, Ziring said. I want to get it down to the point where a threat actor says, I better choose carefully where I throw this malware first, because Im not going to get a third or fourth try. Today they dont have that concern.

In order to decimate a cybercriminals ROI on developing tools and attack playbooks, Ziring is calling on public agencies, companies and the security community to radically change the way they respond to cyberattacks.

In a keynote address Thursday at the Borderless Cyber conference, he said the cybersecurity community needs to work cooperatively to collectively respond to attacks in the same spirit they share threat intelligence. He argues, doing so will deprive cyber threat actors of the ability to use tools and tradecraft multiple times and starve criminals financially.

The future of cyber defense is having a shared response or coordinated response, Ziring said. We need to break out of todays enterprise mentality of every person for themselves.

The type of framework Ziring describes doesnt exist today, but two standards come close. Those are STIX (Structured Threat Information Expression) and TAXII (Trusted Automated eXchange of Indicator Information) which both deal with sharing data ahead of an attack. Neither address a key component that Ziring is calling for which is a public-private framework that creates a type of autoimmune system. If one node on the network is attacked, all other connected nodes are warned within seconds to defend against a similar attack.

There is no technological reason why this couldnt work. There are only practical obstacles like the need for interoperable standards that will enable us to do this in todays heterogeneous environments. And thats the bit we are solving right now with STIX and OpenC2, he said.

Still early in development, OpenC2 is a language that would enable the coordination and execution of command and control of defense components between domains and within a domain.

Universal support for that type of framework will take a major shift in industry mindsets. As one conference attendee noted, today breach data is a carefully guarded secret for many companies. Ninety-five percent of the dozens of breaches the attendee said he helped mitigate over the past year were kept private for fear it might hurt share prices and the companies reputation.

Ziring said the industry does not need new regulations to mandate breach transparency. The upside to information sharing is the carrot that he hopes will lure companies, sectors and communities to be part of the sharing framework. He notes there are already several critical infrastructure sectors that are required to report breaches to the DHS.

It would be better if we didnt have to create more regulation. Well have to take a wait and see approach for now, he said.

Currently, the type of framework Ziring describes is extremely rare. Within the financial services sector breach data is shared between members of a FS-ISAC (Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center). When one member is attacked all other members are alerted and can fend off similar attacks before they happen.

Meanwhile, attack surfaces are growing with the rapid expansion of cloud, IoT and third-party services. Ziring said current defenses are not as scaleable as they need to be and cant match the automated nature of cyberattacks.

Using FS-ISAC as a model, Ziring envisions a future where industry-focused communities share visibility into threats. When an attack occurred, top-level community members would analyze the threat and send out counter measures to community members inoculating them within seconds or minutes from similar attacks. Its unreasonable to ask small business to be ready fight off a nation state attack themselves, he said.

To many in attendance, that top-level community member is the government. To that end, Ziring told attendees that NSA and DHS are committed to be a trusted partner in the framework through the development of standards such as OpenC2.

The government has a unique authority in this area. We are doing a lot today within the DHS and FBI. I believe government has a responsibility to share. Culturally, its going to be tough. But we need to do it, he said.

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Privileged user management trips up NSA – TechTarget

Posted: at 1:58 pm

A recently declassified report revealed the U.S. National Security Agency failed to fully secure its systems since the Edward Snowden leaks in 2013.

The report detailed the findings of the Department of Defense inspector general's 2016 assessment of the NSA's security efforts around privileged user management. The heavily redacted report was declassified after Charlie Savage, a Washington correspondent for The New York Times, filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The assessment looked at how the NSA handles privileged access management, and, according to the report, the NSA was found wanting.

After Edward Snowden leaked over a million files in 2013, the NSA began an initiative, dubbed Secure the Net (STN), with seven privileged user management goals. The inspector general's assessment found that the NSA met only four out of the seven goals: developing and documenting a plan for a new system administration model; assessing the number of system administrators across the enterprise; implementing two-factor access controls over data centers and machine rooms; and implementing two-factor authentication controls for system administration.

According to the report, dated Aug. 29, 2016, not all of the four privileged user management initiatives were fully met. "[The] NSA did not have guidance concerning key management and did not consistently secure server racks and other sensitive equipment in the data centers and machine rooms in accordance with the initiative requirements and policies, and did not extend two-stage authentication controls to all high-risk users," the report read.

Additionally, the assessment found that three of the seven STN initiatives for strong privileged user management were not accomplished. The NSA was supposed to "fully implement technology to oversee privileged user activities; effectively reduce the number of privileged access users; and effectively reduce the number of authorized data transfer agents."

There were 40 STN initiatives in total, though the assessment focused on the seven related to privileged access management. The conclusion reached in the assessment was, while the NSA was successful in part, it "did not fully address all the specifics of the recommendations."

Learn everything you need to know about privileged access management in the enterprise

Find out how to manage and monitor privileged user accounts

Test your privileged user management knowledge with this quiz

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Prior to Snowden, NSA Had No Clue How Many Were Approved to Download Top Secret Info – Washington Free Beacon

Posted: at 1:58 pm

Edward Snowden / Getty Images

BY: Natalie Johnson June 24, 2017 5:00 am

The National Security Agency did not know how manyofficials were authorized to download and transfer top secret data from its servers prior tothe high-profile leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden, according to a recently declassified government report.

The NSA was also unsuccessful in attempts to meaningfully cut the number of officials with "privileged" access to its most sensitive databases, the Department of Defense's inspector general determined in the 2016 investigation. The heavily redacted report was obtained by the New York Times through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The agency struggled to achieve the mandated reductions because it had no idea how many employees or contractors were designated data transfer agents or privileged access users prior to the leaks.

NSA officials told the inspector general they lost a "manually kept spreadsheet" that tracked the number of privileged users after receiving multiple requests from the inspector general to provide documents identifying the initial number. The lapse made it impossible for the agency to determine its baseline of privileged users from which reductions would be made.

The report said the NSA then "arbitrarily removed" privileged access from users, who were told to reapply for the authorization. While this enabled the agency to determine how many personnel were granted special access, the NSA still had no way of measuring how many privileged users had lost the clearance.

The inspector general said the NSA should have used this new baseline as a "starting point" to reduce privileged users instead of using the number to declare a reduction in those personnel.

In the case of data transfer agents, the NSA's "manually kept list" tracking the number of officials authorized to use removable devices, such as thumb drives, to transfer data to and from the agency's servers was "corrupted" in the months leading up to the Snowden leaks, the report said.

Without a baseline to measure potential reductions, the NSA then mandated data transfer agents to reapply for the authorization. Again, though this allowed the agency to determine how many personnel were given the authority, the NSA still had no way of gauging how many reductions were made, if any.

The threat proved ongoing earlier this month when former contractor Reality Winner was charged with removing classified information from NSA facilities regarding the Russian election hacks and leaking it to the press.

The initiatives to cut the number of people with access to classified data were part of a broader post-Snowden measure, called "Secure the Net," to strengthen protections of its sensitive surveillance and hacking methods.

The report determined that while the NSA made some progress in achieving reform, the agency "did not fully meet the intent of decreasing the risk of insider threats to its operations and the ability of insiders to exfiltrate data."

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines acknowledged the report's conclusions in a statement issued to the New York Times last week.

"We welcome the observations and opportunities for improvement offered by the U.S. Defense Department's Inspector General," she said. "NSA has never stopped seeking and implementing ways to strengthen both security policies and internal controls."

It is unclear what steps the NSA has taken since the report was finalized in August 2016 to reduce the number of employees and contractors with access to its top-secret databases.

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NSA Names Whatcom as One of Four Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyberdefense National Resource Centers – whatcomtalk.com

Posted: at 1:58 pm

Submitted by:Whatcom Community College

Whatcom Community College (WCC) has been selected by the National Security Agency (NSA) to lead efforts to improve and expand cybersecurity education nationwide as one of four Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyberdefense (CAE-CD) National Resource Centers. In this role, WCC will function as a super hub, helping to support and guide 10 regional centers. Whatcom will lead the CAE-CD mentor program, guiding university and college administrators and faculty through the rigorous application for the CAE-CD designation. The NSA bestows the designation, which recognizes colleges and universities that meet industry-recognized standards of education and training in the cyberdefense field, with curriculum mapped to the NSAs latest requirements.

The College will receive up to $1 million in federal grant funding, which will significantly expand the number of participating institutions in the United States. As one of four national centers funded to support various aspects of the initiative, WCC was designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense 2-year education (CAE2Y) in 2011 and, again, in 2014. Whatcom was among the first community colleges in the nation to earn the designation.

WCC has years of experience and is a national leader in cybersecurity education. Our CIS and cybersecurity programs are models of excellence, WCC President Kathi Hiyane-Brown said. Were honored to share our program models with other academic institutions to help prepare qualified employees for the cyberdefense workforce, which is vital to our national security.

The grant project will leverage the mentor model program that WCC developed under previous grants. The program will connect candidate institutions with a qualified mentor who will assist the applicant in improving their cybersecurity program and completing the CAE-CD application. This process helps to ensure that the application is of high quality and meets NSA standards prior to submission. Through this process, colleges and universities can save time, effort, resources and frustration, and achieve a meaningful designation that will help attract faculty and students and even spur economic development in their region.

WCC offers a bachelor of applied science (BAS) in IT Networking as well as two-year degrees and certificates in computer information systems and cybersecurity (with opportunities to transfer to regional universities). WCC is also the lead institution for CyberWatch West a National Science Foundation (NSF) regional center for cybersecurity education and for C5 (Catalyzing Computing and Cybersecurity at Community Colleges), also funded by the NSF. More than 110 universities, colleges, high schools and educational organizations belong to the CyberWatch West consortium. For more information about WCCs computer information systems and cybersecurity programs, visit whatcom.edu/cis.

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The NSA is now sharing a bunch of code on GitHub – FedScoop

Posted: June 23, 2017 at 5:56 am

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Cryptocurrency Miner Digging Into PCs Based On NSA Exploit – Security Intelligence (blog)

Posted: at 5:56 am

Its been a tough year for the National Security Agency (NSA), and hacking group Shadow Brokers is responsible for much of the trouble. Over the past few months, theyve leaked more than a few implants the NSA term for malware code developed by the agency.

Recently, the agencys DOUBLEPULSAR tool was used to help spread the massive malware attack WannaCry. Bleeping Computer noted that its now on the hunt again, this time digging in with a Monero cryptocurrency miner on PCs running unsecured Server Message Block (SMB) devices.

According to the International Business Times, the new malware strain goes by the unassuming name Trojan.BtcMine.1259. First detected by Russian antivirus firm Dr. Web, the attack targets computers running unsecured SMB protocols and downloads a malware loader onto the machine. It then scans for minimal kernel threads. If PCs have enough resource room to spare, the download grabs the cryptocurrency miner and goes to work.

Based on current infection data, according to the International Business Times, researchers believe the new malware strain leverages DOUBLEPULSAR to gain access, parts of the Ghost RAT library to communicate with its command-and-control (C&C) server and other malware variants to carry out its attack. Once compromised, victim PCs mine Monero currency in the background and send the proceeds back to cybercriminals.

Why Monero? As Live Bitcoin News explained, this cryptocurrency is among the fastest-growing in the digital money market. It presents an ideal opportunity for fraudsters looking to avoid the scrutiny that comes with more traditional bitcoin transactions.

Updating to the latest Windows version should protect corporate devices from this newest attack. While DOUBLEPULSAR infections peaked at 100,000 in early April, the number fell to just 16,000 this month thanks to the MS17-010 patch, Bleeping Computer reported.

DOUBLEPULSAR isnt the first NSA tool leaked by the Shadow Brokers. In April, the group also released the EternalBlue exploit, which was used to carry out surveillance activities, according to ZDNet. It was subsequently adopted by fraudsters to attack targets in Singapore using the Ghost RAT Trojan and other parts of South Asia using Backdoor.Nitol.

This exploit also leveraged SMB vulnerabilities and is rendered useless by proper Windows patching. Since many PCs arent regularly updated or run older versions of the OS no longer covered by Windows support, however, CyberScoop argued that the tool will be used for years to come by both sophisticated cybercriminals and amateurs.

As Bob Wandell, former information assurance chief of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), explained to CyberScoop, The payloads that can be loaded onto EtnernalBlue are boundless and uniformly malicious.

Even government-built malware isnt safe from theft and compromise. Exploits such as EternalBlue give cybercriminals long-term access options, while backdoors such as DOUBLEPULSAR provide ways for attackers to jump on the newest malware bandwagon: background cryptocurrency mining.

Fraudsters will take what they can get. Theyll innovate if needed, but they prefer to leverage tools from other sources that can quickly compromise thousands of machines.

Its another case study for regular security updates and continual monitoring of network services. Supposed IT safety only lasts until attackers discover how to break down the door, steal the key or dig a tunnel.

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Cryptocurrency Miner Digging Into PCs Based On NSA Exploit - Security Intelligence (blog)

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Report: DNI, NSA chief told Mueller that Trump asked them to say publicly that there was no collusion with Russia – Hot Air

Posted: at 5:56 am

CNNs claiming Democratic and Republican sources for this, but even if its gospel truth, I cant imagine itll do Trump any (further) damage on Russiagate. WaPo first reported a few weeks ago that he asked DNI Dan Coats and NSA chief Mike Rogers to intervene with Comey to try to get the FBI to back off its Russia investigation. The idea that the president might have tried to enlist one part of the intelligence community to slow down a federal probe being conducted by another part is a serious charge.

But CNN doesnt repeat that charge. They claim that Coats and Rogers told Bob Mueller and the Senate Intel Committee behind closed doors (after their famous public testimony) that Trump asked them only to speak up publicly and affirm that theres no evidence that he personally colluded with Russia. If you strain hard, you can try to stretch that into some sort of obstruction ploy Comey had refused to clear Trump publicly, after all, because the FBI investigation was still ongoing but no average voter is going to fault Trump for feeling exasperated that his deputies wouldnt lift the cloud of suspicion over him if they had reason to believe hes been falsely accused. If they thought that he had colluded and then he asked him to lie and say that he hadnt, obviously that would be a different matter. But if all he was asking was for them to tell the exculpatory truth and if it really was a request, not a direct order then whats the red-letter scandal in his interactions with Coats and Rogers?

Coats and Rogers also met individually last week with the Senate intelligence committee in two closed briefings that were described to CNN by Democratic and Republican congressional sources. One source said that Trump wanted them to say publicly what then-FBI Director James Comey had told the President privately: that he was not under investigation for collusion. However, sources said that neither Coats nor Rogers raised concerns that Trump was pushing them to do something they did not want to do. They did not act on the Presidents alleged suggestion

One congressional source expressed frustration that Coats and Rogers didnt answer the questions in public, especially since what they ended up expressing in private was that they did not feel that the President pressured either of them to do anything improper.

Rogers interaction with the President is also documented in a memo written by his deputy at the NSA, Richard Ledgett.

Coats and Rogers each found Trumps request odd and uncomfortable, in CNNs words, but evidently neither believed he crossed a line. And theres no claim here that he ordered or even asked them to lean on Comey on his behalf. He wanted them to clear his name after having been told repeatedly by Comey that he wasnt personally a target of the FBI investigation. That may not have been proper protocol but everyone can sympathize with the impulse.

By the way, tomorrows the deadline for the White House to turn over any Oval Office recordings of Trump and Comey. If Trump ignores it, whats the House Intel Committees next move?

[E]ven with a subpoena, the panel stands little chance of actually compelling Trump to turn over anything he doesnt voluntarily want to produce, according to legal experts, setting lawmakers up for a high-stakes choice: Let it go, and look like they are giving the president a pass; or pursue the subpoena, and risk exposing the legislative branchs weakness in the midst of a historic probe of the president

There are exemptions for federal officials claiming executive privilege on behalf of the president and no figure in the White House is closer to the president than than the president himself. Congress can try to circumvent that hurdle by passing what is known as a contempt resolution ordering the matter to a court but against a Republican president, that is a tall order in a GOP-led Congress.

The best-case scenario for the Committee is that they somehow get Paul Ryan to go along with a contempt resolution and the court battle over whether executive privilege entitles Trump to withhold any recordings drags on for years. That is to say, this is less a matter of squeezing evidence out of Trump than it is a test of Republican loyalty to the president. Will they challenge him by issuing a subpoena, knowing that if they win in court, the audio could further damage Trumps presidency and their own electoral chances, or will they roll over by refusing to issue a subpoena, leaving potential evidence of obstruction untouched? Theres going to be a court fight over the tapes between Mueller and the White House eventually, I assume. Maybe thatll be the House GOPs out: If Muellers going to take this on, why do we have to get in the middle of it?

The likeliest outcome here, actually, will be the White House declaring tomorrow that there are no tapes of Trump and Comey. Newt Gingrich hinted to the AP in an interview that he thinks Trumps tweet about Oval Office tapes was a bluff, designed to rattle a political enemy much as Trumps foray into Birtherism was designed to rattle Obama. Well see.

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Report: DNI, NSA chief told Mueller that Trump asked them to say publicly that there was no collusion with Russia - Hot Air

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