Apple rejects San Bernardino shooter iPhone hacking order, says FBI seeks 'dangerous' iPhone 'backdoor'
On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI break into an iPhone owned by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, giving Apple five days to object. It took Apple only a few hours to say no.
"We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a letter to customers on the Apple website. But while "up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them," the U.S. government has now "asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone."
Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone's physical possession....
We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them. Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority. [Apple]
The British government on Tuesday rejected Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's request for an independence referendum. The announcement came shortly after the Scottish Parliament voted 69-59 in favor of backing Sturgeon's bid for a vote on Scotland's independence.
In a statement, the British government said it would not engage in negotiations with Scotland because it would be "unfair to the people of Scotland to ask them to make a crucial decision without the necessary information" about the U.K.'s "future relationship with Europe," or about "what an independent Scotland would look like."
Sturgeon has argued that while the U.K. may have voted to leave the European Union last year, Scotland voted overwhelmingly in favor of remaining, and thus Scottish citizens deserve an independence vote before the Brexit process begins. "The people of Scotland should have the right to choose between Brexit — possibly a very hard Brexit — or becoming an independent country, able to chart our own course and create a true partnership of equals across these islands," Sturgeon said Tuesday ahead of Parliament's vote.
Britain is slated to exit the EU in 2019. Becca Stanek
The White House spent over an hour under lockdown Tuesday after a suspicious package triggered a bomb threat warning, International Business Times reports. The Secret Service announced that a man approached 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. claiming to have a bomb around 10:25 a.m. ET, and White House staff were subsequently ordered to shelter in place. The alert was lifted at 11:37 a.m., although the suspicious package investigation — involving a bomb robot — continued.
The suspect had a warrant out for his arrest prior to the incident. He was caught just east of the White House and taken into custody:
Suspicious package investigation continues; suspect in custody! pic.twitter.com/O25gr5B72f
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) March 28, 2017
Security concerns have plagued the Trump residences, with a Politico report Tuesday indicating that protection of the first lady and her son at Mar-a-Lago is apparently lacking. As recently as Sunday, a woman who said she wanted to talk to the president was arrested for jumping the White House fence. The suspect cited other recent fence jumpers' successes as her inspiration for attempting the unlawful entry. Jeva Lange
Shaken over President Trump's failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Wall Street is now raising questions about his ability to keep financial promises like reforming the tax code and slashing regulations on banks.
The cooling "Trump bump" has left the Dow at risk of suffering a ninth-straight day of decline Tuesday, which would mark the longest losing streak for the Dow since Jimmy Carter was in the White House in 1978. While the index is still up 11 percent since the election and the Nasdaq has actually closed higher in three of the past four days, CNN Money observes "a notable shift in terms of sentiment." Jeva Lange
The Trump administration reportedly tried to restrict fired Attorney General Sally Yates' Russia testimony
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that President Trump's administration apparently attempted to greatly limit the scope of former Attorney General Sally Yates' testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Letters obtained by The Washington Post revealed Yates, who Trump fired in January after she would not back his immigration executive order, "was notified earlier this month by the Justice Department that the administration considers a great deal of her possible testimony to be barred from discussion in congressional hearing because the topics are covered by the presidential communication privilege." Yates served as deputy attorney general under former President Barack Obama and was the acting attorney general at the start of Trump's term, playing a role in the investigation of ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's communications about sanctions with a Russian ambassador.
In response, Yates' lawyer David O'Neill acknowledged the restrictions on Yates' testimony and assured the Justice Department that Yates would not disclose information protected by "client confidences" unless she were granted explicit permission by the department. However, O'Neill took issue with how "overbroad, incorrect, and inconsistent with the department's historical approach" its orders to Yates were. "In particular, we believe that Ms. Yates should not be obligated to refuse to provide non-classified facts about the department's notification to the White House of concerns about the conduct of a senior official," O'Neill wrote.
A Justice Department official responded, saying that Yates would need to consult with the White House before disclosing information covered by the presidential communications privilege, but that she did not need "separate consent from the department."
On Friday, Yates' lawyer sent a letter notifying White House Counsel Don McGahn that "any claim of privilege 'has been waived as a result of the multiple public comments of current senior White House officials describing the January 2017 communications,'" The Washington Post reported. "Nevertheless, I am advising the White House of Ms. Yates' intention to provide information," O'Neill wrote.
Update 11:16 a.m. ET: The White House has since released a statement denying The Washington Post's report.
Statement from White House on Washington Post story concerning Sally Yates: pic.twitter.com/tur7D06vLS
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) March 28, 2017
Eric Trump couldn't say enough good things about Fox News host Sean Hannity during his appearance Tuesday on Fox & Friends. For 30 seconds, President Trump's son sang Hannity's praises, calling him a "fantastic person" and a "great, great man" with "strong beliefs." "By the way," Trump said, "there is no better patriot in the world than Sean Hannity."
In a rebuttal to former anchor Ted Koppel's remark over the weekend that Hannity and his show are "bad for America," Trump argued that Hannity is actually great for the nation. While Koppel contended Hannity's show has "attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts," Trump said that strong beliefs are crucial to American progress. "You know, beliefs are what get America to a great place," Trump said.
Watch Trump declare Hannity the best patriot in the world below. Becca Stanek
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) March 28, 2017
Legislators in Maine, Virginia, Georgia, and Kansas are exploring the possibility of expanding Medicaid after the Affordable Care Act survived last week following the failure of a Republican-backed health-care bill, Vox reports.
"I'm not an activist or supporter [of ObamaCare] now, but I can see when things are working," explained Kansas state legislator Susan Concannon, a Republican. Maine Sen. Tom Saviello (R) added, "My own party is mad at me because I continue to pursue [Medicaid expansion], but we have to do something. I look at Franklin County, which I represent, and roughly 1,000 people would gain coverage there."
Nineteen states have yet to expand the program, and in Kansas, where the state Senate passed an expansion bill late Monday, there is still heavy pushback from many conservatives. "To expand ObamaCare when the program is in a death spiral is not responsible policy," a spokesperson for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) said. Jeva Lange
On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to pull funding from "sanctuary" jurisdictions unless those cities, counties, and states comply with a 1996 law that prohibits blocking communications between local police or sheriffs and federal immigration authorities about the immigration status of suspects in custody. Sessions also said the Justice Department will take steps to "claw back any funds awarded to a jurisdiction" that violates federal law, noting the DOJ will dole out more than $4.1 billion in such grants this year.
Sessions was acting under an executive order President Trump signed in January, but he didn't actually announce any new policy. Instead, The New York Times says, he was mostly restating aggressively grant eligibility rules former President Barack Obama issued last July. The law doesn't require local jurisdictions to honor "detainer" notices from federal immigration officials — requests to hold undocumented immigrants for up to 48 hours, without a warrant.
"Despite what Attorney General Sessions implied this afternoon, state and local governments and law enforcement have broad authority under the Constitution to not participate in federal immigration enforcement," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, nevertheless calling Trump's tactics "draconian." Tom Jawetz at the liberal Center for American Progress said Sessions' threat might not actually affect any U.S. city or county. "This is not really about enforcing the law, this is about driving policy through bullying and fear mongering," he said.
From Austin to Seattle, sanctuary jurisdictions said the Trump crackdown wouldn't affect their policies, most of which specifically state that law enforcement must comply with the law, U.S. Code 1373. There is no set definition of what a "sanctuary" jurisdiction is, and each city or county that refuses to comply with some aspect of Trump's immigration policy does so differently. CNN has a pretty good primer on what sanctuary cities actually do (and don't do):
The larger issue is how much the federal government can compel state and local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration policy. The 10th Amendment offers some protection to local jurisdictions, but the ACLU cautions that cities that do sign on to become part of Trump's "deportation force" face legal risks, too. "Because ICE does not seek a judicial determination of probable cause, these requests put local police in the position of holding people in jail without the legal authority to do so, which violates their constitutional rights," says the ACLU's Domenic Powell. Peter Weber