A terminal at New York's JFK Airport was evacuated, at least eight flights were delayed, and two planes were recalled from the runway — all after a TSA agent failed to notice that the metal detector he was operating wasn't even plugged in. The egregious error meant hundreds of passengers had glided through security without actually being checked, forcing the TSA to spend hours re-screening. "This is the failure of the most basic level of diligence," a law-enforcement official told the New York Post.
Ex-intelligence chief James Clapper says Russia won the election for Trump. This study backs him up.
President Trump and his allies has been attacking former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper over the past few days, part of his attempt to make "Spygate" happen. Clapper is on a media tour to promote his new book, Facts and Fears, and along with explaining how Trump is distorting his words and the FBI's attempt to investigate Russia, Clapper has been explaining his contention in the book that the Russians, to their surprise, "swung the election to a Trump win."
"Since I left the government," Clapper told PBS NewsHour on Wednesday, "it's what I call my informed opinion that given the massive effort the Russians made, the number of citizens that they touched, and the variety and the multidimensional aspects of what they did to influence opinion and affect the election, and given the fact that it turned on less than 80,000 votes in three states, to me it just exceeds logic and credulity that they didn't affect the election, and it's my belief they actually turned it."
On CNN Thursday night, Clapper swatted down more Trump team attacks and reiterated his "informed opinion" about Russia handing the election to Trump, though, he told Jake Tapper, "I don't have the empirical evidence to go with it."
But there is some empirical evidence, if not conclusive, in a new working paper at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Automated Twitter bots — a key tool that Russians used in the election — may have added 3.23 percentage points to Trump's vote in 2016, as well as 1.76 percentage points to the "leave" vote in Britain's Brexit campaign, the researchers found. "Our results suggest that, given narrow margins of victories in each vote, bots' effect was likely marginal but possibly large enough to affect the outcomes," write authors Yuriy Gorodnichenko from U.C. Berkeley and Tho Pham and Oleksandr Talavera from Britain's Swansea University. You can read more about the study at Bloomberg News. Peter Weber
President Trump has pulled out of a historic summit in Singapore with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, which had been scheduled for June 12, calling it "a truly sad moment in history."
In an open letter, Trump told Kim "we greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations" and that "I was very much looking forward to being there with you," but that "it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting" due to increasing tensions between the parties. A North Korean vice minister of foreign affairs called Vice President Mike Pence "ignorant" and "stupid" on Thursday for comparing North Korea to Libya, and warned Kim would cancel the summit if the U.S. didn't stop its threats.
Read the letter in full below. Jeva Lange
TRUMP to Kim Jong Un: Its "inappropriate" to have the summit at this time pic.twitter.com/8v0f6d76Hl
— Allan Smith (@akarl_smith) May 24, 2018
Tensions between two of the Trump administration's economic advisers has surpassed the usual co-worker drama.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and top trade adviser Peter Navarro have not resolved their differences when it comes to economic policy opinions, The Daily Beast reported Thursday, and sources say Navarro has taken to calling Mnuchin "Neville Chamberlain."
That former U.K. prime minister famously capitulated to Nazi Germany and fascist dictator Adolf Hitler during the late 1930s. Navarro reportedly sees China as such a serious economic threat that he thinks Mnuchin's international policy principles make him just as bad as a Nazi appeaser.
Navarro takes an "America First" stance when it comes to trade policies, The Daily Beast reports, and is very frustrated that other advisers like Mnuchin don't want to be as tough on China as he'd like. One official said that the battle between the two advisers is like a "cold war that became hot," also referring to a shouting match between Mnuchin and Navarro while in China earlier this month. Read more at The Daily Beast. Summer Meza
The U.K. is blaming Russia for a prank phone call to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, with Johnson's deputy, Alan Duncan, telling Bloomberg News: "If this was an attempt to ridicule us, it has totally backfired." Russian pranksters have previously placed hoax calls to U.S. politicians by posing as world leaders; earlier this year, radio comedians "Vovan" and "Lexus" pretended to be the speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament in order to offer Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) nude photos of President Trump, and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley was tricked into telling the pranksters she was "closely watching" Russia's interference in the elections of Binomo, a made-up country.
Johnson apparently realized the call was a hoax and ended the conversation, earning the respect of prankster Alexei Stolyarov who claimed it was "probably the first time the person we talked to ... was not a fool."
The U.K. was not amused, suggesting that the Kremlin supported the call in an attempt to discredit reports that Russia poisoned former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England. "These childish actions show the lack of seriousness of the caller and those behind him," said the Foreign Office. Jeva Lange
President Trump and his allies have spent the past week stoking unfounded fears that the Deep State planted a spy in his 2016 presidential campaign, and Trump didn't let up on Thursday, tweeting:
Clapper has now admitted that there was Spying in my campaign. Large dollars were paid to the Spy, far beyond normal. Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history. SPYGATE - a terrible thing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2018
Trump was immediately called out on his lies. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper actually said the opposite of what Trump claims, Politifact reports: Clapper's exact quote when asked "was the FBI spying on Trump's campaign" was, "No, they were not. They were spying on — a term I don't particularly like — but on what the Russians were doing."
Clapper didn’t say this or anything approximating it. https://t.co/eEWjHk0e5y
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) May 24, 2018
There is no publicly available evidence that there was any politically motivated spying on Trump's campaign. Rather, an FBI informant spoke with two Trump campaign advisers in 2016 after being alerted to suspicious contacts with Russia. "Accusations that the FBI was 'spying' on the Trump campaign — rather than spying on foreign spies, which is its job — erase the important distinctions between counterintelligence and criminal investigations," argued Asha Rangappa at The Washington Post.
Many critics believe Trump is intentionally branding the intelligence community as partisan as a means of discrediting Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Read how Trump's strategy might just be crazy enough to work here at The Week. Jeva Lange
In March 2016, an errant Snapchat video of a U.S. Air Force airman stationed at F.W. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming led investigators to a ring of airmen who were using LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, and other mind-altering or illegal drugs, The Associated Press reports. Eventually, disciplinary action was taken against 14 of the airmen, all of whom were in the the 90th Missile Wing — which, AP explains, "operates one-third of the 400 Minuteman 3 missiles that stand 'on alert' 24/7 in underground silos scattered across the northern Great Plains," the ICBMs "capable of unleashing hell." Six airmen were court-martialed for using and/or distributing LSD.
"I absolutely just loved altering my mind," the purported ringleader, Airman 1st Class Nickolos Harris, testified at his court-martial hearing. Airman 1st Class Devin Hagarty panicked and fled to Mexico when the investigation began, grabbing cash and a backpack and text-messaging his mom that he loved her. Another court-martialed member, Airman Basic Kyle Morrison, said in his hearing that while tripping he could not have responded if called to duty in a nuclear emergency.
"Although this sounds like something from a movie, it isn't," said prosecutor Capt. Charles Grimsley during one court-martial. Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Uriah Orland told AP that all the drug activity occurred during off-duty hours and that "there are multiple checks to ensure airmen who report for duty are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and are able to execute the mission safely, securely, and effectively." The military stopped screening for LSD in 2006. You can read more about the trips, the punishments, and the mole at AP. Peter Weber
Dutch investigators have concluded that a Russian anti-aircraft missile brigade is responsible for shooting down a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in 2014, The Guardian reports. The disaster resulted in the deaths of all 298 people on board.
Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in shooting down MH17, and has used its veto power at the United Nations to block an international tribunal over the incident. Dutch investigators say they are convinced Russia is behind the attack because they managed to identify a specific BUK missile system that was used, which was traced to a brigade in Kursk, in western Russia.
MH17 had been traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down. Jeva Lange