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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 225)

Omar sounds off after Minnesota county bans refugee resettlement — aided by Trump executive order

Westlake Legal Group d5212544-ContentBroker_contentid-8773343eb1e34b9181200509f128ca87 Omar sounds off after Minnesota county bans refugee resettlement -- aided by Trump executive order fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/minnesota fox-news/person/ilhan-omar fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Danielle Wallace article 12b53495-4f62-573c-aa9a-26f476634c6a

After an executive order by President Trump made it possible, a northern Minnesota county on Tuesday night opted to ban the resettlement of refugees within its boundaries, becoming the first in the state and the second in the nation to do so.

The vote at a crowded public meeting in Beltrami County, a sparsely inhabited area surrounding Red Lake, drew condemnation from many Minnesota Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar.

The move was viewed by many as a reaction to spiking crime in the state since large numbers of Somali refugees began arriving, according to reports. But supporters say it was simply an exercise of their rights, as facilitated by the president.

“President Trump empowered counties to have a voice in the decision-making process for the federal refugee resettlement program,” state Rep. Matt Grossell, a Republican, told the Duluth News Tribune. “Tonight, Beltrami County exercised that option.”

“President Trump empowered counties to have a voice in the decision-making process for the federal refugee resettlement program. Tonight, Beltrami County exercised that option.”

— Minnesota state Rep. Matt Grossell, Republican

OMAR DRAWS IRE FOR CONDEMNING IRAN SANCTIONS AS ‘CRIPPLING’ WHILE BACKING ANTI-ISRAEL BDS MOVEMENT

In a Twitter message Wednesday, Omar — who immigrated to Minnesota from Somalia as a teenager — saw the vote differently.

“Over 20 years ago, the state of Minnesota welcomed my family with open arms. I never would’ve had the opportunities that led me to Congress had I been rejected,” Omar wrote. “What Beltrami County is doing is denying refugees a chance at a better life.”

Omar fled Somalia with her family near the beginning of the country’s civil war in 1991 and lived in a  Kenyan refugee camp for four years until immigrating to the U.S. in 1995.

The Trump administration announced in November that resettlement agencies must get written consent from state and local officials in any jurisdiction where they want to help resettle refugees beyond June 2020. The order says the agencies were not working closely enough with local officials on resettling refugees and his administration acted to respect communities that believe they do not have the jobs or other resources to be able to take in refugees. Refugees have the right to move anywhere in the United States after their initial resettlement, but at their own expense.

The vote drew applause from many of the crowd of more than 150 people crowding the board chambers in Bemidji, Minn., which is about 140 miles northwest of Duluth. Native Minnesotans blame the influx of Somalis for spikes in crime.

Minnesota statistics released in July 2018 said that incidents of violent crime including murder decreased compared to 2017, but rape and involuntary sex trafficking rose to the highest rate seen in almost a quarter-century, The Duluth News Tribune reported, citing the state Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The report did not give a definitive reason for the spike.

In February, the FBI said Somalis in Minnesota reemained vulnerable to recruitment by terrorists.

FBI numbers showed 45 Somalis in the Minneapolis area left to join the ranks of either the Somalia-based Islamic insurgency al-Shabab or the Iraq- and Syria-based ISIS combined. And as of 2018, a dozen more had been arrested with the intention of leaving to support ISIS. Both numbers are far higher than those who allegedly left or attempted to leave the country to join terrorist groups abroad from other areas in the U.S. where Muslim refugees have been resettled.

Meanwhile, others argue Trump’s executive order only empowers Islamophobes who put Somalis and other Muslim refugees at risk of violent attacks.

Three men from Illinois were arrested and charged last March in connection with the August 2017 bombing of a mosque in a Minneapolis suburb. The Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., was bombed before morning prayers, causing extensive damage although no one was injured or killed.

The nation’s first county to ban refugee resettlement was Appomattox County, Va., where commissioners voted 4-1 on Dec. 17 to deny consent to resettlement. The Beltrami County vote came a night after commissioners in Burleigh County in neighboring North Dakota voted 3-2 to limit refugee resettlement to 25 people in 2020.

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At least 41 states have publicly agreed to accept refugees, but a governor’s decision doesn’t preclude local officials from refusing to give their consent. For instance, the Democratic mayor of Springfield, Mass., has refused to give written consent for refugees to be resettled in the city.

The Trump administration capped the number of refugee admissions at 18,000 for the current fiscal year.

Fox News’ Hollie McKay and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group d5212544-ContentBroker_contentid-8773343eb1e34b9181200509f128ca87 Omar sounds off after Minnesota county bans refugee resettlement -- aided by Trump executive order fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/minnesota fox-news/person/ilhan-omar fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Danielle Wallace article 12b53495-4f62-573c-aa9a-26f476634c6a   Westlake Legal Group d5212544-ContentBroker_contentid-8773343eb1e34b9181200509f128ca87 Omar sounds off after Minnesota county bans refugee resettlement -- aided by Trump executive order fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/minnesota fox-news/person/ilhan-omar fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Danielle Wallace article 12b53495-4f62-573c-aa9a-26f476634c6a

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Today on Fox News: Jan. 10, 2020

STAY TUNED

On Fox News: 

The Ingraham Angle, 10 p.m ET: Laura Ingraham talks to President Trump in a must-see interview!

On Fox News Radio:

The Fox News Rundown podcast: “What’s Behind the Bernie Sanders Surge?” – Up until recently, the 2020 Democratic field has mainly focused on impeachment, health care and other domestic issues. However, the ongoing tensions with Iran have forced the candidates to discuss foreign policy. How will the conflict with Iran shake up the presidential race and could it be a boost to an anti-war candidate like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.? Fox News politics editor Chris Stirewalt discusses the impact the Iran conflict is having on voters and what is behind the recent surge of Sen. Sanders.

Also on the Rundown: The wildfires in Australia have been burning since September destroying more than 32,000 square miles. At least 25 people have died and it’s estimated that hundreds of millions of animals have been killed. Entrepreneur and former star of “The Real Housewives of New York,” Bethenny Frankel, joins the Rundown to explain how her #BStrong initiative will be mobilized to help the victims and first responders.

Don’t miss the good news with Tonya J. Powers. Plus, commentary by  “Fox News Sunday” host, Chris Wallace.

Want the Fox News Rundown sent straight to your mobile device? Subscribe through Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher.

The Brian Kilmeade Show, 9 a.m. ET: Special guests include: Eugene Scalia, U.S. Secretary of Labor; U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and more.

Westlake Legal Group Trump092019 Today on Fox News: Jan. 10, 2020 fox-news/media fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 1043b2f0-5db6-5bd1-bcdc-1136078bcd0f   Westlake Legal Group Trump092019 Today on Fox News: Jan. 10, 2020 fox-news/media fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 1043b2f0-5db6-5bd1-bcdc-1136078bcd0f

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What to Expect From the December Jobs Report

Westlake Legal Group 10jobs1-facebookJumbo What to Expect From the December Jobs Report Wages and Salaries United States Politics and Government United States Economy Unemployment Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Labor and Jobs International Trade and World Market Factories and Manufacturing

The Labor Department will release hiring and unemployment figures for December at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. Here’s what to watch for:

  • The unemployment rate is expected to be unchanged at 3.5 percent.

  • Average hourly earnings are predicted to rise by 0.3 percent, after moving up 0.2 percent in November. That would bring the year-over-year increase to 3 percent.

Analysts are paying particularly close attention to Friday’s release, and not just because it will begin to close the books on 2019.

Figures from the previous two months were clouded somewhat by a six-week strike by 49,000 General Motors workers. And although the report won’t alter last year’s overall employment picture, December’s reading will help explain whether November’s unusually exuberant gains were a one-off or the start of a trend.

“The big story of 2019 was the slowdown from 2018” in payroll growth, said Nick Bunker, an economist at the jobs site Indeed. “I just want to see whether we’re going to head into 2020 with a bit more momentum.”

The government reported this week that the number of new people filing for unemployment benefits dipped, a figure that remains at historically low levels. Nonetheless, Andy Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm that tracks layoff announcements, said that “overall the job cuts we saw in 2019 were fairly high, higher than you would expect.”

Industrial goods and automobile manufacturers were among the hardest hit.

A weakening manufacturing sector was a persistent concern throughout last year. “Uncertainty around trade has been a serious complication,” Mr. Challenger said. “It’s hard for these manufacturers to make decisions around long-term planning when they don’t know what their cost structure is going to be. And there’s still changes to come.”

There has been progress on the trade front — the United States and China have reached the first phase of an agreement that officials are scheduled to sign next week. But two-thirds of Chinese imports worth $360 billion are still subject to tariffs. And President Trump has said he will impose more tariffs, on imports from Europe, this month.

“It will be interesting to see how manufacturing ended the year,” a sector that is particularly important to President Trump and his voter base, said Rubeela Farooqi, chief United States economist for High Frequency Economics. “Especially in an election year, the trajectory is going to be important.”

The labor squeeze has helped workers at the lowest end of the pay scale, pushing wage increases above the overall average. Nonetheless, spiritless wage growth has been one of the more disappointing story lines of 2019.

“We saw an acceleration of wage growth in 2018, but then it stalled out in 2019,” Mr. Bunker of Indeed said. “Average wage growth was fairly tepid.”

Average year-over-year raises in 2019 have so far failed to match the 3.4 percent peak reached in February.

The slowdown is puzzling considering that the jobless rate has been below 4 percent for nearly two years. Employers routinely lament their inability to find workers at the wages they are offering. Finding qualified workers was the top complaint for small-business owners in December, according to a monthly survey from the National Federation of Independent Business.

Robert Herman owns a mobile pet grooming franchise in Charleston, S.C., where the jobless rate was 1.8 percent in November. This year Mr. Herman said he planned to add a fifth van to his fleet of moving dog and cat salons and hire two more employees. Between commission and tips, he said his workers average $20 to $25 an hour.

The low overall unemployment rate may be overstating the strength of the labor market, said Elise Gould, an economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, pointing to slow wage growth.

This year, minimum wage increases could help to further pull up paychecks at the bottom. Raises either went into effect this month or are scheduled for later in the year in 21 states and 26 cities and counties.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A Glimpse of Our Connected Tech Future, Courtesy of CES 2020

LAS VEGAS — Like it or not, the future is connected.

Your next car will probably connect to the internet. So will your TV and doorknobs. One day, you may even adopt a robot companion capable of analyzing its environment and reacting to your actions in real time.

That future, or at least a glimmer of it, was on display at CES, the giant consumer electronics trade show that attracted more than 170,000 attendees here this week.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 09CES4-articleLarge A Glimpse of Our Connected Tech Future, Courtesy of CES 2020 International Consumer Electronics Show Google Inc Driverless and Semiautonomous Vehicles Conventions, Fairs and Trade Shows Computers and the Internet Amazon.com Inc

A crowd gathered for a speech at the Google exhibit. Along with Amazon, the company was among the biggest players at CES.

This year’s annual event — the first one took place in 1967 — featured more than 4,500 exhibitors, including tech companies big and small from all over the world, and sprawled across 2.9 million square feet at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Wynn casino, the Venetian and a handful of other venues around town.

The conference was a window into where the industry is pouring huge amounts of resources and investment, hoping that the year’s hottest tech trends — like artificially intelligent virtual assistants, connected cars and foldable screens — will become everyday fixtures in our lives.

The enormous conference was also an opportunity for tech observers to make predictions about the innovations that might become popular and the gadgets that will probably flop in the coming years.

Among the questionable tech trends were foldable screens, demonstrated by TCL, Lenovo and Dell, among others. Lenovo showed its ThinkPad X1 Fold, a Windows foldable tablet. Unfolded, it measured about 13 diagonal inches, and folded up, it looked compact like a book.

That may sound neat, but not everyone is optimistic about foldable screens. Frank Gillett, a technology analyst for Forrester Research, predicted that foldable devices would be unpopular, largely because of their high price tags and limited use cases.

Case in point: Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, its first foldable smartphone priced at nearly $2,000, was a failure after early reports of the device breaking after light use. Lenovo’s X1 Fold will cost about $2,500 when it arrives this year.

“Foldables — the pun is too tempting — will be a flop,” Mr. Gillett said.

Amazon and Google were among the biggest players at CES, each boasting about how awesome their personal assistants were.

Google said its virtual assistant is now used by more than 500 million people a month across more than 90 countries.

Last year, Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo speakers dominated the global smart speaker market with about 25 percent of share, ahead of Baidu and Google, according to Canalys, a research firm. And the market for smart speakers keeps growing.

It is still unclear, however, whether consumers want to do much with virtual assistants as they continue to get smarter. Studies have shown that people mostly use Alexa and Google Assistant for basic tasks like playing music and checking the weather. Paying for gas (which Amazon wants you to do) sounds like a stretch.

Still, Dave Limp, Amazon’s head of hardware devices, was bullish. He said that even if Alexa users only occasionally used the assistant’s more advanced capabilities, that was still significant.

“Customers interact with Alexa billions of times a week,” he said. “Even one of many things that they’re doing can add up to be a pretty big thing.”

Self-driving cars are still far from fruition, but tech companies highlighted features that could help people drive more safely.

Samsung showed a car equipped with its Exynos Auto V9 computing processor, which can run applications on multiple screens and pull information from up to 12 cameras. The system was designed to simultaneously provide entertainment like videos to passengers in the back seat while providing safety-assistance apps to drivers, the company said.

Amazon also showed off its automotive prowess, displaying cars from Lamborghini and the auto start-up Rivian that now include Alexa personal-assistant capabilities.

New auto safety features may ultimately prove to be the most practical and useful things to come out of CES this year.

Safety-assistance apps that alert drivers to vehicles in their blind spots or help them park automatically should be a boon to consumers, said Carolina Milanesi, a technology analyst for Creative Strategies.

“We’re looking more at talking about safety and saving lives versus, ‘It’s super cool, your car comes to you when you call it,’” Ms. Milanesi said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

What to Expect From the December Jobs Report

Westlake Legal Group 10jobs1-facebookJumbo What to Expect From the December Jobs Report Wages and Salaries United States Politics and Government United States Economy Unemployment Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Labor and Jobs International Trade and World Market Factories and Manufacturing

The Labor Department will release hiring and unemployment figures for December at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. Here’s what to watch for:

  • The unemployment rate is expected to be unchanged at 3.5 percent.

  • Average hourly earnings are predicted to rise by 0.3 percent, after moving up 0.2 percent in November. That would bring the year-over-year increase to 3 percent.

Analysts are paying particularly close attention to Friday’s release, and not just because it will begin to close the books on 2019.

Figures from the previous two months were clouded somewhat by a six-week strike by 49,000 General Motors workers. And although the report won’t alter last year’s overall employment picture, December’s reading will help explain whether November’s unusually exuberant gains were a one-off or the start of a trend.

“The big story of 2019 was the slowdown from 2018” in payroll growth, said Nick Bunker, an economist at the jobs site Indeed. “I just want to see whether we’re going to head into 2020 with a bit more momentum.”

The government reported this week that the number of new people filing for unemployment benefits dipped, a figure that remains at historically low levels. Nonetheless, Andy Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm that tracks layoff announcements, said that “overall the job cuts we saw in 2019 were fairly high, higher than you would expect.”

Industrial goods and automobile manufacturers were among the hardest hit.

A weakening manufacturing sector was a persistent concern throughout last year. “Uncertainty around trade has been a serious complication,” Mr. Challenger said. “It’s hard for these manufacturers to make decisions around long-term planning when they don’t know what their cost structure is going to be. And there’s still changes to come.”

There has been progress on the trade front — the United States and China have reached the first phase of an agreement that officials are scheduled to sign next week. But two-thirds of Chinese imports worth $360 billion are still subject to tariffs. And President Trump has said he will impose more tariffs, on imports from Europe, this month.

“It will be interesting to see how manufacturing ended the year,” a sector that is particularly important to President Trump and his voter base, said Rubeela Farooqi, chief United States economist for High Frequency Economics. “Especially in an election year, the trajectory is going to be important.”

The labor squeeze has helped workers at the lowest end of the pay scale, pushing wage increases above the overall average. Nonetheless, spiritless wage growth has been one of the more disappointing story lines of 2019.

“We saw an acceleration of wage growth in 2018, but then it stalled out in 2019,” Mr. Bunker of Indeed said. “Average wage growth was fairly tepid.”

Average year-over-year raises in 2019 have so far failed to match the 3.4 percent peak reached in February.

The slowdown is puzzling considering that the jobless rate has been below 4 percent for nearly two years. Employers routinely lament their inability to find workers at the wages they are offering. Finding qualified workers was the top complaint for small-business owners in December, according to a monthly survey from the National Federation of Independent Business.

Robert Herman owns a mobile pet grooming franchise in Charleston, S.C., where the jobless rate was 1.8 percent in November. This year Mr. Herman said he planned to add a fifth van to his fleet of moving dog and cat salons and hire two more employees. Between commission and tips, he said his workers average $20 to $25 an hour.

The low overall unemployment rate may be overstating the strength of the labor market, said Elise Gould, an economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, pointing to slow wage growth.

This year, minimum wage increases could help to further pull up paychecks at the bottom. Raises either went into effect this month or are scheduled for later in the year in 21 states and 26 cities and counties.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

WH press secretary turns tables on Stephen King, Don Winslow after authors’ $200G ‘strings attached’ charity offer

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was ready with a reply Thursday after authors Stephen King and Don Winslow offered to donate a total of $200,000 to a children’s charity if Grisham agreed to hold a press briefing, ending a drought of nearly 10 months.

“If you have $200,000 to play with,” Grisham answered, via an interview with CNN, “why not just help children because it’s a good thing to do?

“Donations to charity should never come with strings attached,” she added.

STEPHANIE GRISHAM SAYS REPORTERS USED WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFINGS TO ‘GET FAMOUS’

Winslow and King tweeted Thursday they would each kick in $100,000 to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, in Grisham’s name, if she would hold a one-hour meeting in the White House briefing room.

“And all you have to do is YOUR DAMN JOB!” King scolded.

Westlake Legal Group Stephen-King-Stephanie-Grisham-Getty-FOX WH press secretary turns tables on Stephen King, Don Winslow after authors' $200G 'strings attached' charity offer fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics fox-news/media fox-news/entertainment/genres/books fox news fnc/entertainment fnc Brie Stimson article 379bfec6-5c41-50df-b039-8385514cd714

Stephen King, left, and fellow author Don Winslow tried to persuade White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham to hold a traditional press briefing at the White House.

Winslow was quick to react after Grisham gave her answer.

“First, we both regularly donate to charity,” he tweeted. “Second, why do all Trump officials refuse to answer the most basic questions they are asked? Stop evading, Stephanie. Let’s try again: Why have you not held any White House press briefings for over 300 days? What are you afraid of?”

Grisham took over as White House press secretary when Sarah Sanders departed in June — but unlike Sanders, Grisham has not held any formal media briefings.

The administration has set a record for the longest period without a White House press briefing, which last occurred March 11 while Sanders was still in the position.

President Trump often holds informal press pools with reporters on the White House lawn. He also takes questions during other White House events.

In September, Grisham told Fox News the briefings had become “a lot of theater,” claiming that some reporters were trying to use them to “get famous.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

She added that President Trump is “his own best spokesperson.”

Westlake Legal Group Stephen-King-Stephanie-Grisham-Getty-FOX WH press secretary turns tables on Stephen King, Don Winslow after authors' $200G 'strings attached' charity offer fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics fox-news/media fox-news/entertainment/genres/books fox news fnc/entertainment fnc Brie Stimson article 379bfec6-5c41-50df-b039-8385514cd714   Westlake Legal Group Stephen-King-Stephanie-Grisham-Getty-FOX WH press secretary turns tables on Stephen King, Don Winslow after authors' $200G 'strings attached' charity offer fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics fox-news/media fox-news/entertainment/genres/books fox news fnc/entertainment fnc Brie Stimson article 379bfec6-5c41-50df-b039-8385514cd714

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Ukraine President Presses Allies for Evidence on Plane Crash in Iran

KYIV, Ukraine — President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine pleaded with the United States and other Western countries on Friday to release the evidence that a Ukrainian passenger jet that crashed shortly after takeoff in Iran had been shot down.

Mr. Zelensky said the possibility that a missile had downed the Ukraine International Airlines plane on Wednesday, killing all 176 aboard, “cannot be ruled out but is not currently confirmed.”

American and allied officials said on Thursday that they had intelligence that surface-to-air missiles fired by Iranian military forces shot down the Boeing 737 minutes after it took off from Tehran, headed for Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

Video

Westlake Legal Group xxivid-iran-plane-2-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Ukraine President Presses Allies for Evidence on Plane Crash in Iran Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Ukraine International Airlines Tehran (Iran) Iran Defense and Military Forces Canada Boeing Company Aviation Accidents, Safety and Disasters

The New York Times has obtained and verified video showing the moment a Ukrainian airliner was hit in Iran.CreditCredit…Screenshot from video

The jet crashed hours after Iran fired ballistic missiles at American targets in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the leader of a powerful branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and was bracing for a possible American response.

Mr. Zelensky has pledged to get to the bottom of what happened, cutting short a trip to Oman immediately after the crash and dispatching a team of 45 Ukrainian experts to Tehran.

On Friday, Mr. Zelensky made it clear that Western governments, allies in his country’s conflict with Russia, had not shared the evidence that led them to believe that the Ukrainian jet had been shot down by Iran.

“The version that a missile hit the airplane cannot be ruled out, but currently cannot be confirmed,” Mr. Zelensky said in a statement posted to Facebook on Friday morning. “Given the latest announcements made by countries’ leaders in the news media, we call on our international partners — first and foremost the governments of the United States, Canada, and Great Britain — to provide the data and the evidence concerning the catastrophe to the commission investigating its causes.”

Mr. Zelensky said he planned to speak with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday about the investigation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain both said Iran had probably shot down the plane by accident.

President Trump said he suspected that the downing of the plane had been the result of “a mistake on the other side,” although he did not provide any details about what led to that assessment.

An American official told The New York Times that the United States had a high level of confidence that a Russian-made Iranian air defense system had fired two surface-to-air missiles at the plane.

The crash of the Ukrainian jet has presented Mr. Zelensky, a 41-year-old comedian who swept to a stunning victory in the presidential election last spring, with the most urgent crisis of his short tenure.

Already caught up in American domestic politics amid the impeachment spectacle on Capitol Hill, Mr. Zelensky must now navigate the geopolitical showdown between two longtime adversaries: the United States, Kyiv’s most powerful partner, and Iran.

“Our goal is to ascertain the undeniable truth,” Mr. Zelensky said in his statement on Friday. “We believe this is the responsibility of the whole international community before the families of the dead and the memory of the victims of the catastrophe.”

Iran has maintained that there was no evidence that the plan was struck by a missile and doubled down on that assertion on Friday. Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization chief, Ali Abedzadeh, speaking during a Friday news conference, urged caution and said that nothing could be determined until the data from the black boxes was analyzed and said statements made by other nations were politically motivated.

But, he added, what could be said was that the plane had not been hit by a missile and was likely on fire before it crashed. He also urged nations with intelligence on the crash, namely the United States and Canada, to share that information with Iran.

“We cannot just give you speculation,” Mr. Abedzadeh said in footage televised and translated on Iranian state television. “So far what I can tell you is that the plane has not been hit by a missile, and we have to look for the cause of the fire.”

Megan Specia contributed reporting from London.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ukraine President Presses Allies for Evidence About Iran Plane Crash

KYIV, Ukraine — President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine pleaded with the United States and other Western countries on Friday to release the evidence that a Ukrainian passenger jet that crashed shortly after takeoff in Iran was shot down.

Mr. Zelensky said the possibility that a missile had downed the Ukraine International Airlines plane on Wednesday, killing all 176 aboard, “cannot be ruled out but is not currently confirmed.”

American and allied officials said on Thursday that they had intelligence that surface-to-air missiles fired by Iranian military forces shot down the Boeing 737 minutes after it took off from Tehran, headed for Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

Video

Westlake Legal Group xxivid-iran-plane-2-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Ukraine President Presses Allies for Evidence About Iran Plane Crash Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Ukraine International Airlines Tehran (Iran) Iran Defense and Military Forces Canada Boeing Company Aviation Accidents, Safety and Disasters

The New York Times has obtained and verified video showing the moment a Ukrainian airliner was hit in Iran.CreditCredit…Screenshot from video

The jet crashed hours after Iran fired ballistic missiles at United States targets in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the leader of a powerful branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and was bracing for a possible American response.

Mr. Zelensky has pledged to get to the bottom of what happened, cutting short a trip to Oman immediately after the crash and dispatching a team of 45 Ukrainian experts to Tehran.

On Friday, Mr. Zelensky made it clear that Western governments, allies in his country’s conflict with Russia, have not shared the evidence that has led them to believe that the Ukrainian jet was shot down by Iran.

“The version that a missile hit the airplane cannot be ruled out, but currently cannot be confirmed,” Mr. Zelensky said in a statement posted to Facebook on Friday morning. “Given the latest announcements made by countries’ leaders in the news media, we call on our international partners — first and foremost the governments of the United States, Canada, and Great Britain — to provide the data and the evidence concerning the catastrophe to the commission investigating its causes.”

Mr. Zelensky said he planned to speak with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later Friday about the investigation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain both said Iran probably shot down the plane by accident.

President Trump said he suspected that the downing of the plane was the result of “a mistake on the other side,” although he did not provide any details about what led to that assessment.

An American official told The New York Times that the United States had a high level of confidence that a Russian-made Iranian air defense system fired two surface-to-air missiles at the plane.

The crash of the Ukrainian jet has presented Mr. Zelensky, a 41-year-old comedian who swept to a stunning victory in the presidential election last spring, with the most urgent crisis of his short tenure.

Already caught up in American domestic politics amid the impeachment spectacle on Capitol Hill, Mr. Zelensky must now navigate the geopolitical showdown between the United States, Kyiv’s most powerful partner, and Iran, two longtime adversaries.

“Our goal is to ascertain the undeniable truth,” Mr. Zelensky said in his statement Friday. “We believe this is the responsibility of the whole international community before the families of the dead and the memory of the victims of the catastrophe.”

Iran has maintained that there was no evidence that the plan was struck by a missile and doubled down on that assertion on Friday. Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization chief, Ali Abedzadeh, speaking during a Friday news conference urged caution and said that nothing could be determined until the data from the black boxes was analyzed and said statements made by other nations were politically motivated.

But, he added, what could be said was that the plane had not been hit by a missile and was likely on fire before it crashed. He also urged nations with intelligence on the crash, namely the United States and Canada, to share that information with Iran.

“We cannot just give you speculation,” Mr. Abedzadeh said in the clip televised and translated on Iranian state television. “So far what I can tell you is that the plane has not been hit by a missile and we have to look for the cause of the fire.”

Megan Specia contributed reporting from London.

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Jason Nichols: As a Democrat and impeachment supporter, I want Pelosi to let Trump’s Senate trial begin

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6121061127001_6121063569001-vs Jason Nichols: As a Democrat and impeachment supporter, I want Pelosi to let Trump’s Senate trial begin Jason Nichols fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/nancy-pelosi fox-news/person/mitch-mcconnell fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc f9c6dfc4-6551-55ce-ba97-0a40b37bce43 article

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democrats who led the successful drive to impeach President Trump have done a masterful job building a case to remove a president who often brings ignominy upon his office and is a national security threat because of his dishonesty, ignorance, noncompliance with government protocol, and brazen defiance of congressional oversight.

Now it’s time for Pelosi to send the two articles of impeachment adopted by the House to the Republican-controlled Senate for a trial.

TREY GOWDY: TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL IS NOT ABOUT HIM. THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRATS WANT NOW

Trump has made clear he thinks he can ignore Article 1 of the Constitution, and can do anything to advance his reelection chances. And he’s done just that.

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The President brags about improper actions that other presidents would try to hide, such as his “perfect” call pressuring the president of Ukraine to produce dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, a possible Democratic nominee for president. The president even told reporters on the White House lawn that China should also investigate Biden and the former vice president’s son.

Barring an unforeseen political miracle, there’s no chance that Trump will be convicted in the Senate and removed from office. Even if all 47 Democrats and allied independents in the 100-member body vote to remove Trump, they would need to pick up the support of 20 Republican senators to convict him.

So far no Republicans in the Senate have come out favor of Trump’s removal as they stand united behind him, putting party loyalty over their duty to support and defend the Constitution.

At most – and this an extremely unlikely scenario – a handful of GOP senators could conceivably vote for Trump’s conviction. But 20 is mathematically impossible.

Thus far, Pelosi has refused to send the two articles of impeachment adopted by the House over to the Senate in order for Trump’s impeachment trial to begin.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has stated openly that he has no intention of honoring his oath to judge Trump impartially in an impeachment trial. So has Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Both Republicans have said they will do everything needed to make sure Trump is acquitted, and want to prevent the introduction of new evidence or testimony of witnesses at the impeachment trial.

By delaying transmittal of the articles of impeachment to the Senate, Pelosi has succeeded in calling attention to the Republican bias in favor of Trump and McConnell’s refusal to allow fact witnesses at the impeachment trial.

Democrats quite reasonably want to call former National Security Adviser John Bolton (who has said he would testify if subpoenaed), Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, White House staffer Robert Blair, and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffy to testify at Trump’s impeachment trial. These men have direct knowledge of Trump’s improper pressure campaign against Ukraine.

But McConnell is refusing to allow witnesses at this time, claiming it is too early to consider this issue. In reality he never wants witnesses to testify, for fear they will hurt the president with their testimony – as Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland did in the House impeachment inquiry.

This refusal exposes Republican hypocrisy. During House impeachment hearings, GOP defenders of Trump complained that all witnesses offered only secondhand hearsay evidence about wrongdoing by Trump. But Trump refused to allow firsthand witnesses with direct knowledge of his actions to testify, saying he needs to uphold the right of future presidents to communicate confidentially with their subordinates.

Now most Senate Republicans are supporting Trump in this refusal. Talk about situational ethics. 

This duplicitousness from congressional Republicans makes now the perfect time for Pelosi to transmit the two articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Republicans have complained that Pelosi’s holding of the articles of impeachment was somehow unprecedented and have argued for following the same format as the Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. There charge against Pelosi is simply not true.

Clinton was impeached by the House on December 19, 1998. The articles of impeachment were sent to the Senate on January 7, 1999 – nearly three weeks later.

And back in 1999, Lindsey Graham – then a member of the House – argued for “meaningful witnesses” during Clinton’s trial, claiming that excluding them would “change impeachment.” This is exactly the opposite position Graham holds today. It would be great to see a “debate” featuring old videotapes of Rep. Graham arguing for witnesses, against current Sen. Graham arguing against calling them.

Pelosi’s holding of the articles of impeachment has had some other serendipitous outcomes as well. The president’s recent questionable foreign policy decisions and lack of transparency with members of the Senate have caused a few Republicans to break ranks, feeling disrespected by the White House.

While there are not 20 Republican votes in the Senate to convict Trump, only a simple majority vote of 51 senators would be needed to overrule McConnell and call witnesses – meaning only four Republicans would need to break ranks. This is a possibility, and Pelosi’s delay in transmitting the impeachment articles has increased pressure on a handful of Republicans to support hearing from witnesses.

And even if Senate Republicans deny witness testimony, nothing should stop Democrats from issuing subpoenas and having witnesses testify before the House.

No matter how much spinning they do, Senate Republicans are having a hard time justifying their refusal to hear from witnesses at a Trump impeachment trial. A Morning Consult poll in December found that 54 percent of voters believe the Senate should call witnesses to testify in such a trial.

A trial without witnesses is like a restaurant without food or a car without an engine– it’s missing the most important element.

Even McConnell is facing the pressure to conduct a trial the way any person with basic legal knowledge knows trials should be conducted: with witnesses. McConnell is facing potentially the most difficult election challenge of his long career in November from retired Marine Amy McGrath.

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If Bolton is allowed to reveal important information, he will expose McConnell’s efforts to suppress witness testimony as the cover-up that it obviously is. McConnell is already the most unpopular senator. If his blind loyalty and servile obedience to Trump leads to his defeat for reelection it will be a cause to celebrate for Democrats.

By transmitting the articles of impeachment now, Pelosi will appear to have adhered to the Clinton precedent. She has won at every stage of this process by showing restraint when necessary. Now it’s time to take the next step.

Trump’s stonewalling, his utter disrespect for members of Congress and his obstruction of their oversight duties has now become so extreme and unprecedented it is even disturbing some in the GOP.

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While an impeachment trial won’t end with Trump’s removal from office, it will expose his improper conduct in greater detail to the American people, hopefully convincing voters to cast ballots for the Democratic candidate for president in November.

The message of the American people to Trump at that point would be clear and reminiscent of a TV show he is quite familiar with: “You’re fired!”

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Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6121061127001_6121063569001-vs Jason Nichols: As a Democrat and impeachment supporter, I want Pelosi to let Trump’s Senate trial begin Jason Nichols fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/nancy-pelosi fox-news/person/mitch-mcconnell fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc f9c6dfc4-6551-55ce-ba97-0a40b37bce43 article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6121061127001_6121063569001-vs Jason Nichols: As a Democrat and impeachment supporter, I want Pelosi to let Trump’s Senate trial begin Jason Nichols fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/person/nancy-pelosi fox-news/person/mitch-mcconnell fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc f9c6dfc4-6551-55ce-ba97-0a40b37bce43 article

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‘Chaos Is the Point’: Russian Hackers and Trolls Grow Stealthier in 2020

Westlake Legal Group 22dc-CYBERELECT-01-facebookJumbo ‘Chaos Is the Point’: Russian Hackers and Trolls Grow Stealthier in 2020 Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 News and News Media Cyberwarfare and Defense

The National Security Agency and its British counterpart issued an unusual warning in October: The Russians were back and growing stealthier.

Groups linked to Russia’s intelligence agencies, they noted, had recently been uncovered boring into the network of an elite Iranian hacking unit and attacking governments and private companies in the Middle East and Britain — hoping Tehran would be blamed for the havoc.

For federal and state officials charged with readying defenses for the 2020 election, it was a clear message that the next cyberwar was not going to be like the last. The landscape is evolving, and the piggybacking on Iranian networks was an example of what America’s election-security officials and experts face as the United States enters what is shaping up to be an ugly campaign season marred by hacking and disinformation.

American defenses have vastly improved in the four years since Russian hackers and trolls mounted a broad campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election. Facebook is looking for threats it barely knew existed in 2016, such as fake ads paid for in rubles and self-proclaimed Texas secessionists logging in from St. Petersburg. Voting officials are learning about bots, ransomware and other vectors of digital mischief. Military officials are considering whether to embrace information warfare and retaliate against election interference by hacking senior Russian officials and leaking their personal emails or financial information.

Yet interviews with dozens of officials and experts make clear that many of the vulnerabilities exploited by Moscow in 2016 remain. Most political campaigns are unwilling to spend what it takes to set up effective cyberdefenses. Millions of Americans are still primed to swallow fake news. And those charged with protecting American elections face the same central challenge they did four years ago: to spot and head off any attack before it can disrupt voting or sow doubts about the outcome. It is a task made even more difficult by new threats to the election from other American rivals, such as Iran, which has more motive than ever to interfere in 2020 after a drone strike killed its top security and intelligence commander last week in Iraq.

The Russians were sloppy in 2016 because they could be: They caught Americans off guard. Now hackers and trolls, who have seen their tradecraft splashed across the pages of American intelligence assessments and federal indictments, are working far harder to cover their tracks. They are, as one American intelligence official put it, “refreshing” their operations.

One of the two Russian intelligence units that hacked the Democrats in 2016, known as “Fancy Bear,” has shifted some of its work to servers based in the United States in an apparent attempt to thwart the N.S.A. and other American spy agencies, which are limited by law to operating abroad, according to federal officials tracking the moves. The other unit, known as “Cozy Bear,” abandoned its hacking infrastructure six months ago and has dropped off the radar, security analysts said.

The trolls at the Internet Research Agency — the now-indicted outfit behind much of the Russian disinformation spread in 2016 — have ditched email accounts that were being tracked by Western intelligence agencies and moved to encrypted communication tools, like ProtonMail, that are much harder to trace. They are also trying to exploit a hole in Facebook’s ban on foreigners buying political ads, paying American users to hand over personal pages and setting up offshore bank accounts to cover their financial tracks, said an official and a security expert at a prominent tech company.

At the Department of Homeland Security, there is renewed anxiety about a spate of ransomware attacks on American towns and cities over the last year. The attacks, officials say, revealed gaping security holes that could be exploited by those looking to disrupt voting by locking up and ransoming voter rolls or simply cutting power at critical polling centers on Election Day. And while large-scale hacking of voting machines is difficult, it is by no means impossible.

There are also weak points up and down the long chain of websites and databases used to tally and report votes, officials said. Run by states or counties, the systems that stitch together reports from thousands of polling centers are a hodgepodge of new and old technologies, many with spotty security.

With the first primaries just weeks away, officials are keeping a watchful eye for hints about what to expect come November. The widespread expectation is that hackers, who may have only a single shot at exploiting a particular bug or vulnerability, will wait until the general election rather than risk wasting it on a primary.

Some of the meddling is homegrown. Americans have been exposed spinning up fake websites for Democratic front-runners and paying Macedonians to promote divisive political views. Facebook, the most important digital platform for political ads, also made it clear this week that it would not police political messaging for lies or misleading claims.

With Americans so mistrustful of one another, and of the political process, the fear of hacking could be as dangerous as an actual cyberattack — especially if the election is close, as expected. That is what happened last November in Kentucky, when talk of a rigged election spread online after it became clear that the governor’s race would come down to the wire.

“You don’t actually have to breach an election system in order to create the public impression that you have,” said Laura Rosenberger, director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, which tracks Russian disinformation efforts.

“Chaos is the point,” she added. “You can imagine many different scenarios.”

Still, officials say, the deepest challenges come from abroad. Iran, under harsh sanctions that were not in place four years ago, nosed around the election system in 2018. More recently, Iranian hackers have been caught trying to compromise President Trump’s campaign and impersonating American political candidates on Twitter.

For his part, Mr. Trump has already warned North Korea against “interference,” though he appeared to be referring to missile launches meant to embarrass him.

The president has shown far less concern about Russian interference. He has repeatedly questioned the idea that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election, viewing such talk as a challenge to his legitimacy. In his zeal to find another culprit, Mr. Trump eagerly embraced a Russian-backed conspiracy theory that shifted the blame to Ukraine, and set in motion the events that led to his impeachment.

American officials, however, are nearly unanimous in the conclusion that Russia interfered in 2016, and that it remains the greatest threat in 2020. Unlike other countries, which are seen as eager to influence American policy, Russia appears, above all, to be interested in undermining confidence in America’s democratic institutions, starting with the voting process.

Then and now, officials and experts said, the Russians and others could bank on one constant: America’s partisan divide, which engenders deep cynicism among Democrats and Republicans alike.

“Our adversaries, including Russia, China, Iran and others, are persistent: They focus on our politics and try to take advantage of existing fissures and American sentiment, particularly if it may weaken us,” said Shelby Pierson, who monitors election threats at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

“They’ll try many tactics and can adapt,” she added. “If it doesn’t work out, they try something else.”

In the public imagination, the defining elements of Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election were disinformation and the hacking of Democratic Party emails. But as they look to 2020, many election security officials and experts say the most worrying piece of the Russian meddling was the hacking of state election systems.

Election systems in all 50 states were targets of Russian hackers in 2016, though voting went smoothly in most places. In the estimation of many officials and experts, the effort was probably a trial run meant to probe American defenses and identify weaknesses in the vast back-end apparatus — voter-registration operations, state and local election databases, electronic poll books and other equipment — through which American elections are run.

One expert told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia was “conducting the reconnaissance to do the network mapping, to do the topology mapping, so that you could actually understand the network, establish a presence so you could come back later and actually execute an operation.”

Of particular concern is the Russians’ hacking of three companies that provide states with the back-end systems that have increasingly replaced the thick binders of paper used to verify voters’ identities and registration status.

Current and former officials say American intelligence agencies determined in 2017 that the companies’ systems had been penetrated. But officials still cannot say how far the hackers got or whether any data was stolen or corrupted.

The companies operate without federal oversight — it is states, after all, that run American elections, yet most lack the resources or expertise to oversee what are essentially tech firms. As a result, little is known about the companies’ security, employee requirements or supply-chain practices, experts said.

One of the targeted companies, VR Systems, provided e-poll books to Durham County, N.C., where malfunctions with the electronic systems in 2016 led to scores of voters’ being told incorrectly that they had already cast ballots or were ineligible to vote.

Though officials declassified a report in recent weeks that showed configuration errors, not an attack, were to blame for the problems in Durham, experts say the Election Day chaos there highlighted the risk of an attack or ordinary malfunction that blocks voters from casting their votes in swing states.

The rise of ransomware — which typically locks a system until victims pay the attackers in a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin — has given another weapon to attackers looking to sow chaos and digitally disenfranchise voters.

American cities and towns faced a record number of ransomware attacks last year, with more than 100 federal, state and municipal governments hit.

Homeland Security officials are investigating whether Russian intelligence was involved in any of the attacks, according to two department officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. They are looking into whether cybercriminals, who appeared to be motivated by greed, were used as decoys to test the defenses of states and cities that might make ideal targets closer to the election. Among the towns hit hardest by ransomware last year was Riviera Beach, Fla., in Palm Beach County — which played an outsize role in deciding the contested 2000 presidential election.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, there was an intense focus on America’s voting machines, particularly the pricey touch-screen devices that lack the paper trail necessary to audit random samples of the tallies or conduct a reliable — if slow — manual recount.

Yet many machines remain vulnerable, as J. Alex Halderman, a professor at the University of Michigan, often demonstrates when he runs fake elections between George Washington and Benedict Arnold, and manipulates the software that prepares the ballots to assure a victory for America’s most famous traitor.

“In every single case, we found ways for attackers to sabotage machines and to steal votes,” he told the Senate Intelligence Committee, describing his research.

A study published in December by Interos, a risk-management firm, raised questions about the security of the hardware used in the machines, as well. Two-thirds of the companies that supply critical components for voting machines maintain offices in Russia and China, where foreign companies are regularly required to give security officials sensitive technical information, including software code in some cases. Chinese-owned companies make about a fifth of the voting machine components.

Each of those parts presents an opportunity for foreign interference. “There has been insufficient attention to the potential problems of the actual voting machines being hacked,” said David Dill, founder of the Verified Voting Foundation.

Come November, eight or so states will still be without full paper backup. These include battleground states, like Pennsylvania, that are out of funds to replace paperless machines.

Much as 20th-century militaries learned to combine soldiers, sea power and airplanes to mount a coordinated assault, Russia has proved adept at meddling in elections by blending different types of digital malfeasance into one larger operation. The 2016 election exemplified the playbook: Russian hackers stole sensitive material, starting with Democratic Party emails, then used trolls to spread and spin the material, and built an echo chamber to widen its effect.

Now, as the next election approaches, hackers appear to be laying the groundwork for a repeat. But this time they are employing techniques that are more sophisticated — and dangerous — in their attempts to steal potentially embarrassing material from political campaigns.

Security experts say they are witnessing a significant ramp-up in attempts to hack Democratic front-runners. In just the last two months, there were roughly a thousand phishing attempts against each of the leading Democratic candidates, according to Area 1, a Silicon Valley security firm, which did not name the candidates.

Most were attempts to replicate the 2016 hack of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, who was successfully baited into turning over his email credentials, said Oren Falkowitz, Area 1’s chief executive. But in about a fifth of the attacks, hackers compromised the accounts of campaign consultants and affiliates, and used those to send malicious lures to people inside the campaign. It is an extra step for hackers, but individuals are softer targets than the campaign, and people are far more likely to click on a link if they know the sender.

An episode during the run-up to Britain’s recent parliamentary election highlighted the potential, but also the limits, of disinformation campaigns based on real information.

In November, an anonymous Reddit user — who has since been linked to a wide-ranging Russian disinformation campaign — posted internal British government documents that detailed preliminary talks with the United States on a trade deal. Though the post did not gain much attention initially, it eventually made its way to the opposition Labour party, which said it offered proof that the Conservatives, if re-elected, planned to privatize the National Health Service as part of a deal with the United States.

News of the documents forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deny that his party planned to privatize the health service, though his government acknowledged that the leaked materials were genuine.

But with the Conservatives well ahead in the polls, the episode did nothing to alter the election’s outcome. Mr. Johnson won a commanding majority in Parliament and a clear mandate to proceed with Britain’s exit from the European Union — and cut a trade deal with the United States.

The other pieces of the Russian campaign, which targeted a number of Western countries between 2016 and 2019, had even less impact, according to a report last month by Graphika, a firm that tracks social media activity. Called Secondary Infektion, the campaign was run by trolls who used hundreds of social media accounts to spread 44 stories in at least six languages. The stories ranged from fictitious claims about the 2016 American election to an article that sought to link President Emmanuel Macron of France to Islamist militants.

Most were demonstrably false and based on faked interviews or manufactured documents. The trade-deal story appears to have been the only one based on real material, and the only one that made international headlines.

“Some were openly mocked by real users; many were simply ignored,” Ben Nimmo of Graphika wrote in the firm’s report.

“As the 2020 U.S. presidential election approaches,” Mr. Nimmo added, “it is vital to be wary of potential interference, but it is equally important to understand what forms of interference are most damaging.”

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