Natasha Bertrand
Natasha Bertrand
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Biden readies his first major penalties on Russia

Biden readies his first major penalties on Russia

The Trump administration had prepared a sanctions package in response to the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, but Biden’s national security team wants to chart its own course.President Joe Biden is looking to push Russia on human rights abuses. | Alex Wong/Getty ImagesThe U.S. is preparing to respond to Russia’s poisoning and jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and is expected to coordinate a sanctions rollout with European allies in the coming weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.The response would mark a break with the previous administration, which prepared a...

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Natasha Bertrand
2d ago
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White House launches ‘comprehensive threat assessment’ on domestic extremism

White House launches ‘comprehensive threat assessment’ on domestic extremism

The assessment comes on the heels of a deadly riot at the Capitol staged by right-wing extremists earlier this month.Supporters of then-President Donald Trump clash with Capitol police on Jan. 6, 2021.President Joe Biden has asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to conduct a “comprehensive threat assessment” of domestic extremism following the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a violent mob that left five people dead.White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced on Friday that Biden decided to ask for the review, which will be coordinated with the FBI and Department of...

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Natasha Bertrand
Jan 22
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'We feel incredibly betrayed': Thousands of Guardsmen forced to vacate Capitol

'We feel incredibly betrayed': Thousands of Guardsmen forced to vacate Capitol

Guardsmen were later let back into facilities after an outry from lawmakers.Some National Guardsmen sleep on the ground of a parking garage near the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. | POLITICOThousands of National Guardsmen were allowed back into the Capitol Thursday night, hours after U.S. Capitol Police officials ordered them to vacate the facilities, sending them outdoors or to nearby parking garages after two weeks pulling security duty after the deadly riot on Jan. 6.One unit, which had been resting in the Dirksen Senate Office building, was abruptly told to vacate the facility on Thursday,...

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Andrew Desiderio
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Jan 22
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Top FEMA official attended Trump's 'Stop the Steal' rally

Top FEMA official attended Trump's 'Stop the Steal' rally

Chris Grisafe, the agency's associate administrator for resilience, has told associates he did not go to the Capitol.In this March 24, 2020, file photo, a portable cot, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency logo FEMA printed on the backrest, and other cots line the basketball court at a makeshift medical facility in Manchester, N.H. | Charles Krupa, File/APA top official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has been assisting in preparations for the Inauguration next week, attended President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6.At that rally, Trump urged his...

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Kyle Cheney
Jan 15
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Guardsmen lament their helplessness during Capitol riot

Guardsmen lament their helplessness during Capitol riot

Members of the D.C. National Guard were watching traffic as a riot unfolded blocks away.Trump supporters stormed the halls of the capitol on Jan. 6. | Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP PhotoAs pro-Trump rioters besieged the Capitol complex last week, leading to five deaths and scores of injuries, hundreds of members of the D.C. National Guard — with easy access to body armor, shields and helmets — sat on the sidelines around the city, unable to act.In conversations with POLITICO on Monday, five of the National Guardsmen on duty last week expressed frustration and disbelief with how the events...

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Lara Seligman
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Jan 12
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Justice Department warns of national security fallout from Capitol Hill insurrection

Justice Department warns of national security fallout from Capitol Hill insurrection

Lawmakers are demanding a "full accounting" of what was taken as rioters ransacked congressional offices.A supporter of President Donald Trump sits inside the office House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as he riots inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Wednesday.The mob that rampaged inside the halls of Congress on Wednesday might have taken a lot more than Americans’ illusions of invulnerability.“National security equities” may have been among the records stolen from the Capitol on Wednesday when pro-Trump insurgents stormed the building and looted several congressional offices, the Justice...

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Natasha Bertrand
Jan 7
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Nuclear weapons agency breached amid massive cyber onslaught

Nuclear weapons agency breached amid massive cyber onslaught

Hackers accessed systems at the National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.The Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration have evidence that hackers accessed their networks as part of an extensive espionage operation that has affected at least half a dozen federal agencies. | Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP PhotoThe Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, have evidence that hackers accessed their networks as part of an extensive espionage operation that...

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Natasha Bertrand
Dec 17
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Biden picks retired general Lloyd Austin to run Pentagon

Biden picks retired general Lloyd Austin to run Pentagon

The former commander of U.S. Central Command will be announced as Biden's choice for secretary of Defense as early as Tuesday.The Biden team sees Gen. Lloyd Austin as the safe choice. | AP Photo/J. Scott ApplewhiteRetired Gen. Lloyd Austin, once viewed as a long-shot candidate to be President-elect Joe Biden’s defense secretary, has been chosen to lead the Pentagon, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.The decision comes two weeks after Biden announced the other senior members of his national security team. Although Michèle Flournoy, who was widely seen as Hillary...

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Connor O’Brien
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Dec 7
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Top cyber official expecting to be fired as White House frustrations hit agency protecting elections

Top cyber official expecting to be fired as White House frustrations hit agency protecting elections

Chris Krebs is in the White House's crosshairs in part because of a website he created to debunk election-related misinformation.Chris Krebs, the director of DHS' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, speaks during a news conference on election cybersecurity. | Evan Vucci/AP PhotoThe U.S. government's top cybersecurity official has told people that he expects the White House to fire him, three people familiar with the situation told POLITICO, as the Trump administration continues a purge of officials deemed disloyal to the president.Chris Krebs, the director of the Department of...

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Natasha Bertrand
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Nov 12
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How one DHS agency is swatting down voter-fraud claims in real time

How one DHS agency is swatting down voter-fraud claims in real time

The agency's “Rumor Control” website — and the official who oversees it — are fact-checking Trumpworld's favored viral conspiracies, putting them at odds with the president.Chris Krebs, the director of CISA, has been using his agency’s “Rumor Control” website to debunk viral conspiracies circulating widely in conservative circles. | Tasos Katopodis/Getty ImagesSince Election Day, President Donald Trump and his allies have pushed numerous merit-free allegations of voting irregularities.The Department of Homeland Security’s top cyber official is swatting them down in near real-time —...

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Natasha Bertrand
Nov 10
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Ratcliffe went off script with Iran remarks, officials say

Ratcliffe went off script with Iran remarks, officials say

The intelligence chief went slightly further than the talking points shared with other agencies.The reference to President Donald Trump was not in Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe's prepared remarks about the foreign election interference. | Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty ImagesDirector of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe went off script when he alleged during a press conference last week that Iran was sending intimidating emails to Americans in order to “damage President Trump,” according to two senior administration officials with knowledge of the episode.The reference to...

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Daniel Lippman
Oct 28
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Former Giuliani associate raises questions about Hunter Biden’s ‘hard drive from hell’

Former Giuliani associate raises questions about Hunter Biden’s ‘hard drive from hell’

Salacious documents supposedly belonging to Hunter Biden were circulating in Ukraine in May 2019, Lev Parnas says.Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born businessman who was indicted last year on campaign finance charges. | Zach Gibson/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was offered salacious photos and other documents belonging to Joe Biden’s son Hunter in the spring of 2019, earlier than previously known, according to one of Giuliani's closest former associates.And the alleged offer came from an intriguing source: a Ukrainian oligarch looking for help with a potential...

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Natasha Bertrand
Oct 24
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Hunter Biden, Rudy Giuliani and the ‘hard drive from hell’

Hunter Biden, Rudy Giuliani and the ‘hard drive from hell’

President Donald Trump is preparing to level a fusillade of allegations against Joe Biden and his son during Thursday's debate. Here's what we know.Rudy Giuliani has been at the center of the controversy over Hunter Biden’s laptop. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesIt’s 2016 all over again: Donald Trump and his allies are touting a set of purloined documents to accuse his Democratic opponent of corruption, and the specter of foreign interference hangs over the waning days of the race.This time, it’s Joe Biden in Trump’s sights. And it’s the president’s own allies controlling the timing and...

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Andrew Desiderio
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Oct 22
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Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say

Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say

More than 50 former intelligence officials signed a letter casting doubt on the provenance of a New York Post story on the former vice president's son.More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have signed on to a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of emails allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden, pictured here, “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” | Handout/DNCC via Getty ImagesMore than 50 former senior intelligence officials have outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of emails allegedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son “has...

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Natasha Bertrand
Oct 20
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Trump team on watch for adversaries seeking to exploit the president's illness

Trump team on watch for adversaries seeking to exploit the president's illness

AdvertisementThe commander in chief's Covid-19 diagnosis presents America's enemies with opportunities to make mischief, current and former officials say.Secretary of Defense Mark Esper delivers a statement at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property. | Evan Vucci/AP PhotoAmerica’s national security apparatus is keeping a close eye on how foreign adversaries will try to exploit President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis — a major potential vulnerability just weeks out from the presidential election.Current and former national security officials and experts said on Friday morning...

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Lara Seligman
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Oct 2
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Officials: Iran weighing plot to kill U.S. ambassador to South Africa

Officials: Iran weighing plot to kill U.S. ambassador to South Africa

The Islamic Republic is still looking to avenge the death of Qassem Soleimani, officials said.U.S. officials believe Iran’s regime is considering retaliation for Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani's assassination. | Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via APThe Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against the American ambassador to South Africa, U.S. intelligence reports say, according to a U.S. government official familiar with the issue and another official who has seen the intelligence.News of the plot comes as Iran continues to seek ways to retaliate for President Donald...

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Natasha Bertrand
Sep 14
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'So much noise': Brawl over 2020 intel leaves voters in the dark

'So much noise': Brawl over 2020 intel leaves voters in the dark

Democrats and intelligence experts say Russia is the most acute threat. Republicans want to focus on China instead.Trump officials like Attorney General William Barr have used media appearances to tout findings on election interference by China. | Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesFor months, Americans have been served conflicting pronouncements from the Trump administration and lawmakers about foreign efforts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election — complicating matters for voters seeking a reliable understanding of which countries are actively meddling, and on whose behalf.President Donald...

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Andrew Desiderio
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Sep 10
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Decoding the explosive Ukraine text messages

Decoding the explosive Ukraine text messages

Messages between a pair of U.S. diplomats show just how deeply officials were engaged in Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. Encrypted text messages released by House Democrats late Thursday night reveal that a plan to get Ukraine’s newly elected president to investigate President Donald Trump’s political rivals was hatched with the active involvement of U.S. diplomats, who worked for months to try to carry out the president's demands. The extraordinary texts were exchanged between then-Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker, U.S. Ambassador to the E.U....

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Natasha Bertrand
Oct 4
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