Hillicon Valley: Mueller hits Manafort with more charges | DOJ targets NYT reporter in leak probe | Chinese hacker steals sensitive data from Navy contractor | House votes against reviving tech office

Hillicon Valley: Mueller hits Manafort with more charges | DOJ targets NYT reporter in leak probe | Chinese hacker steals sensitive data from Navy contractor | House votes against reviving tech office
© Greg Nash

The Cyber and Tech overnights have joined forces to give you Hillicon Valley, The Hill's new comprehensive newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley.

Welcome! Follow the cyber team Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) and Olivia Beavers (@olivia_beavers), and the tech team, Ali Breland (@alibreland) and Harper Neidig (@hneidig), on Twitter. Send us your scoops, tips and compliments.

 

TGIF. It is June 8 -- the same number the G-7 would be if President TrumpDonald John TrumpArizona GOP Senate candidate defends bus tour with far-right activist Alyssa Milano protests Kavanaugh in 'Handmaid's Tale' costume Bomb in deadly Yemen school bus attack was manufactured by US firm: report MORE and Russia had their way.

 

MUELLER BRINGS NEW CHARGES AGAINST Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortAccused Russian agent moved from DC to Virginia jail for undisclosed reasons Bannon: If Trump knew about Trump Tower meeting ‘you have to question it’ Manafort conviction will add little firepower to Mueller investigation MOREFormer Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been hit with new charges filed by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's office. Mueller filed a superseding indictment Friday in a D.C. court that brought two new accounts against Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime Manafort aide.

The two new counts, which layer onto five previously issued charges, accuse Manafort and Kiliminik, who ran the Kiev office of Manafort's political consulting company Davis Manafort Partners, of obstructing justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Manafort and Kiliminik "knowingly and intentionally attempted to persuade" two unidentified persons with "intent to influence, delay, and prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding," according to the new court filing.

Kilimnik had previously been mentioned, but not named, in court documents as a "person A" with ties to Russian intelligence.

The court filings accuse Manafort, Gates, and Kilminik of engaging "in a multi-million dollar lobbying campaigning" at the direction of Viktor Yanukovych, the former Russia-aligned Ukrainian president from 2006 until 2014.

The allegations concern events that took place years before Manafort joined the Trump campaign.

The indictment says Manafort and his associates sought to have top European politicians "take positions favorable to Ukraine" when lobbying the U.S., "secretly" paying them for such efforts.

"The plan was for the former politicians, informally called the 'Hapsburg group,' to appear to be providing their independent assessments of Ukraine's actions, when in fact the were paid lobbyists for Ukraine," the court document reads.

To read more of our piece, click here.

 

DOJ SECRETLY SEIZES JOURNALIST'S PHONE RECORDS OVER LEAK PROBE: The Department of Justice reportedly seized a New York Times reporter's phone and email records this year in an effort to probe the leaking of classified information, the first known instance of the DOJ going after a journalist's data under President Trump.

The Times reported Thursday that the DOJ seized years worth of records from journalist Ali Watkins's time as a reporter at BuzzFeed News and Politico before she joined The Times in 2017 as a federal law enforcement reporter.

Watkins was alerted by a prosecutor in February that the DOJ had years of records and subscriber information from telecommunications companies such as Google and Verizon for two email accounts and a phone number belonging to her. Investigators did not receive the content of the records, according to The Times.

What The Times/Some members of the media are saying: "It's always disconcerting when a journalist's telephone records are obtained by the Justice Department -- through a grand jury subpoena or other legal process," Watkin's attorney Mark MacDougall said in a statement to The Times.

Background: This strategy to go after reporters started in the Obama administration. But ... Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last year that the DOJ had tripled the number of leak investigations it was conducting compared to the Obama administration, which prosecuted more leak cases than all other administrations.

FBI agents reportedly contacted Watkins about a previous three-year romantic relationship with the Senate Intelligence Committee's former director of security, James Wolfe, as part of a probe into unauthorized leaks. Wolfe is accused of lying to the FBI in December about his communications with three reporters through encrypted messaging applications. He is slated to make his first court appearance in the case on Friday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

To read more about the Justice Department's actions, click here.

We've got more on the indictment here.

A Dem senator is calling the charges "extremely troubling." More on that here.

 

MEANWHILE ... The House Oversight Committee may hold a hearing on the Justice Department's surveillance of the New York Times reporter, a senior member of the panel said Friday.

Former Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanThree scenarios for how leadership races could play out in the House New Dem ad uses Paterno, KKK, affair allegations to tar GOP leaders Department of Education launches investigation into OSU sexual abuse allegations MORE (R-Ohio), a top President Trump ally, said he was "very nervous" to learn about the extent of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) decision to collect and scrutinize years' worth of the reporter's email and phone records. More on this here.

 

CHINESE HACKER STEALS SENSITIVE DATA FROM NAVY CONTRACTOR: Hackers linked to the Chinese government broke into computers belonging to a Navy contractor and stole a trove of sensitive information about a U.S. Navy project and undersea warfare, the Washington Post is reporting.

The data pilfered from the contractor's computer included plans on a U.S. project to build a supersonic anti-ship missile that can be mounted on American submarines by 2020, according to the Post, which cited unnamed U.S. officials.

The Chinese hackers targeted an unnamed contractor working for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, a Navy research and development facility headquartered in Newport, R.I. They pilfered 614 gigabytes of data on a secret project known as Sea Dragon, as well as signals and sensor data, documents on electronic warfare, and other information.

Some key context: Security professionals have long observed Chinese spies conducting cyberattacks against U.S. defense contractors in order to spy on military capabilities.

The activity has persisted despite a landmark cyber pact between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015 in which both parties agreed to stop supporting cyber-enabled intellectual property theft against businesses within one another's borders. More here. To read the story from the Post, click here.

 

HOUSE SAYS NO TO REVIVING TECH OFFICE: The House on Friday defeated a proposal to fund the revival of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), a nonpartisan agency that educated lawmakers on developments in tech and science.

Republicans led the 217-195 vote to defeat the amendment, which would have allocated $2.5 million to reestablish the OTA.

The OTA was established in 1972 in order to "provide early indications of the probable beneficial and adverse impacts of the applications of technology and to develop other coordinate information which may assist the Congress."

But lawmakers decided to scrap the office in 1995 in a budget-cutting spree. Read more here.

 

SENATORS AIM TO INSERT 'SECURE ELECTIONS ACT' INTO DEFENSE BILL: Senators are trying to pass legislation aimed at securing U.S. election systems from cyberattacks by inserting the measure into annual defense policy legislation.

Sens. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordHillicon Valley: Trump escalates feud with intel critics | Tesla shares fall after troubling Musk interview | House panel considers subpoena for Twitter's Jack Dorsey | Why Turkish citizens are breaking their iPhones Hillicon Valley: FBI fires Strzok after anti-Trump tweets | Trump signs defense bill with cyber war policy | Google under scrutiny over location data | Sinclair's troubles may just be beginning | Tech to ease health data access | Netflix CFO to step down House Intel lawmakers introduce bipartisan election security bill MORE (R-Okla.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: Trump escalates feud with intel critics | Tesla shares fall after troubling Musk interview | House panel considers subpoena for Twitter's Jack Dorsey | Why Turkish citizens are breaking their iPhones The Hill's Morning Report — GOP seeks to hold Trump’s gains in Midwest states Tina Smith defeats former Bush ethics lawyer in Minnesota Dem primary MORE (D-Minn.) have introduced a new version of the Secure Elections Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the upper chamber is poised to take up next week.

The lawmakers, backed by a bipartisan group of co-sponsors, originally introduced the legislation last December amid rising fears over threats to voter registration databases and other digital systems as a result of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

According to U.S. officials, Russian hackers targeted election-related systems in 21 states as part of its plot to meddle in the 2016 vote.

Since, Lankford and Klobuchar have been working with state election officials to revise the legislation. Some state officials have been wary of federal efforts to address election security, fearing a federal takeover of elections, which have historically been administered by states.

The details of the latest measure: The new version of the bill no longer includes a grant program designed to help states replace aging election technology because Congress already appropriated $380 million for states for election security in a massive funding package approved in March, an aide told The Hill.

The NDAA amendment also differs from past versions by expanding the Election Assistance Commission's current Technical Guidelines Development Committee and renaming it the Technical Advisory Board.

This entity replaces the advisory panel originally proposed by the senators to offer states recommendations for securing their systems, which would have been housed at the Department of Homeland Security.

The amendment would also create a floor requiring states conduct post-election audits of federal elections beginning in 2020, with the option for states to waive the requirement until 2022. The measure does not, however, specify how states must go about auditing the federal results.

The Senate will take up the NDAA next week. It is not yet clear which amendments will go to the floor for a vote.

We've got more here.

 

TRUMP DONOR HELPED PRUITT TAP SCIENCE ADVISERS: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Court orders EPA to enforce chemical safety rule | Dem says Zinke would 'sell' his grandkids for the oil industry | EPA reportedly poised to unveil climate rule replacement Court throws out EPA delay of Obama chemical plant safety rule The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) MORE sought and acted upon a recommendation from a major Trump campaign donor for an individual to head the agency's leading science body, internal documents show.

Doug Deason, a Dallas businessman and financial backer of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, gave the EPA a list of names of candidates for Pruitt's Science Advisory Board in August, after being asked by Pruitt personally for recommendations.

Deason's involvement in making suggestions for the board, of which one -- Michael Honeycutt -- was appointed, was unearthed in a trove of internal EPA emails obtained by the Sierra Club through a Freedom of Information Act request and first reported on by Politico Friday.

 

A LIGHTER TWITTER CLICK: ALL CAPS is great to celebrate the Washington Capitals' WIN last night, but it is not so good for...

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

U.S. officials are preparing for Chinese espionage at North Korea summit. (NBC News)

The Defense Digital Service is taking action to help Army Cyber Command boost its cyber specialists. (FedScoop)

'Tech optimists' weigh in on the effects of the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. (Vox)

The video game industry powers up. (Wall Street Journal)

Mueller wants to inspect witnesses' encrypted messaging apps. (CNBC)

How Congress is struggling to get smart on tech. (Washington Post)