Overnight Cybersecurity: Mueller interviewed Sessions in Russia probe | Comey met investigators last year | Dems demand social media firms probe Russian bots | Missing FBI text messages anger Republicans

Overnight Cybersecurity: Mueller interviewed Sessions in Russia probe | Comey met investigators last year | Dems demand social media firms probe Russian bots | Missing FBI text messages anger Republicans

Welcome to OVERNIGHT CYBERSECURITY, your daily rundown of the biggest news in the world of hacking and data privacy. We're here to connect the dots as leaders in government, policy and industry try to counter the rise in cyber threats. What lies ahead for Congress, the administration and the latest company under siege? Whether you're a consumer, a techie or a D.C. lifer, we're here to give you ...

 

THE BIG STORIES:

--MUELLER INTERVIEWS SESSIONS: Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLewandowski says he's under no obligation to speak truthfully to the media Nadler considering holding Lewandowski in contempt Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing MORE was interviewed last week by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal MORE's team as part of the Justice Department's investigation into Russian election meddling. The Justice Department confirmed a report in The New York Times that Sessions was questioned for several hours. It is the first time that Mueller's team has interviewed a member of President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE's Cabinet. Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in March, despite criticism from Trump. It was reported earlier this month that Trump ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to block Sessions from recusing himself, but the attorney general refused. It is likely that Mueller questioned Sessions about Trump's firing of former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyWe've lost sight of the real scandal Former Obama officials willing to testify on McCabe's behalf: report House Democrats seeking Sessions's testimony in impeachment probe MORE and whether the president obstructed justice.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

--AND REPORTEDLY INTERVIEWED COMEY LAST YEAR: Comey was reportedly interviewed last year as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference. The New York Times reported Tuesday that the interview with Comey included discussion of the memos he wrote about his interactions with President Trump. Trump fired Comey last May. The move helped trigger events leading to Mueller's probe into Russian election interference, which is looking at links between the Trump campaign and Russia. Comey last year testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Trump had asked for his loyalty during a January dinner at the White House. He also testified that Trump pressured him during an Oval Office meeting in February to end the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump has denied both claims and attacked Comey, calling him a leaker. Flynn pleaded guilty last year to making false statements to the FBI. He is now cooperating with Mueller's investigation.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

A FEW CAPITOL HILL UPDATES:

--TOP DEMS DEMAND SOCIAL MEDIA FIRMS INVESTIGATE RUSSIAN BOTS: Top-ranking Democrats in the House and the Senate are calling on Twitter and Facebook to launch investigations of potential Russian-linked accounts that are pushing for the release of a controversial congressional memo.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff says Trump intel chief won't comply with subpoena over whistleblower Sunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate Schiff: Diplomacy with Iran 'only way out of this situation' MORE (Calif.), and the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGrassley: Kavanaugh classmate didn't contact Senate panel Trump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions This week: Congress returns for first time since mass shootings MORE (Calif.), sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Election security looms over funding talks | Antitrust enforcers in turf war | Facebook details new oversight board | Apple fights EU tax bill New oversight board will have final say over Facebook's content decisions Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare MORE and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asking that they "provide a public report to Congress and the American public by January 26" on the matter.

Facebook and Twitter confirmed receipt of the letter.

"Twitter is committed to addressing malicious activity on our platform, and we take any assertions of such activity very seriously. We look forward to working closely with Senator Feinstein and Congressman Schiff to address their questions," a Twitter spokesperson said.

The memo in question was drafted by House Intelligence Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesWe've lost sight of the real scandal Twitter won't disclose who's running parody accounts being sued by Devin Nunes Nunes campaign drops lawsuit against constituents who accused him of being a 'fake farmer' MORE (R-Calif.) and is believed by some Republicans to show political bias in the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) probe of potential links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

--BIDEN BACKS ELECTION INTERFERENCE BILL: Former vice president Joe BidenJoe BidenJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency 2020 candidates keep fitness on track while on the trail Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? MORE on Tuesday expressed support for a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate that is aimed at deterring future foreign interference in U.S. elections.

Biden voiced support for the "Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act" during an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday.

"I think it is an appropriate step. I'm sure there are consequences that could flow that are ones we did not anticipate, but I cannot--I do not believe the failure--doing that equals the failure to take these steps in terms of our interests. And so I would--were I in the Senate, I'd be supporting that legislation," Biden said when asked specifically about the bill.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRepublicans wary of US action on Iran California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Fla.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenProgressive tax-the-rich push gains momentum Senators pressure Trump to help end humanitarian crisis in Kashmir Democratic candidates are building momentum for a National Climate Bank MORE (D-Md.) one week ago. To read more about it, click here.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: 

Techies and celebs unite at Davos.

 

AN ACTION IN FOCUS: 

STATE SETS UP CUBA 'INTERNET TASK FORCE': The State Department announced Tuesday that it will convene a Cuba Internet Task Force to promote the free flow of information in Cuba.

"The Department of State is convening a Cuba Internet Task Force composed of U.S. government and non-governmental representatives to promote the free and unregulated flow of information in Cuba," the State Department said in a statement on Tuesday morning. "The task force will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access and independent media in Cuba."

The task force was set up in response to a presidential memorandum signed last June. The State Department said that the first public meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 7, in Washington.

 

WHAT'S IN THE SPOTLIGHT: 

FBI TEXT MESSAGES: Federal investigators are demanding answers from the FBI over missing text messages between agents accused of anti-Trump bias, leaving the nation's premier law enforcement agency scrambling to defend its reputation amid an explosion of criticism from the White House, Congress and conservative media.

The DOJ has opened an investigation into how the FBI "failed to preserve" text messages sent between Peter Strzok, the FBI's top counterintelligence officer, and Lisa Page, a senior FBI lawyer.

The FBI informed the DOJ's inspector general this week that the data was not retained because of "misconfiguration issues" related to software upgrades on the bureau's phone devices.

President Trump on Tuesday called the revelation "one of the biggest stories in a long time," while White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the development "absolutely outrageous."

"It looks like there could have been some really inappropriate and possibly illegal behavior," Sanders said at Tuesday's press briefing.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vowed to leave "no stone unturned" in finding the missing messages. GOP lawmakers are calling for a second special counsel to investigate and have floated the possibility of issuing a subpoena to the bureau's cell carrier.

To read more from our piece, click here.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Links from our blog, The Hill, and around the Web.

FBI chief moves to fill key posts. (The Hill)

Facebook exec to retire, help Dems in midterms. (The Hill)

Dem presses Homeland Security for update on Kaspersky ban. (The Hill)

Tech giants spent record sums on lobbying in 2017. (The Hill)

CIA director: Trump grasps intelligence at same level as 25-year veteran. (The Hill)

OP-ED: Better cybersecurity is critical to protecting future elections. (The Hill)

OP-ED: After 'foreign surveillance' law, Congress must demand answers from intel community. (The Hill)

Intel does not want customers to implement patches for Spectre, Meltdown. (CyberScoop)

A case study of how Russia's propaganda, influence campaigns work. (Atlantic Council)

British cyber official warns major cyberattack is a matter of 'when, not if.' (The Guardian)