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Hillicon Valley: Trump denies Russian meddling at presser with Putin | Republicans join in criticism of Trump | FCC chief rejects Sinclair-Tribune merger | Uber faces probe over gender discrimination | Social media execs headed to Capitol

Hillicon Valley: Trump denies Russian meddling at presser with Putin | Republicans join in criticism of Trump | FCC chief rejects Sinclair-Tribune merger | Uber faces probe over gender discrimination | Social media execs headed to Capitol
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Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill's newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley.

Welcome! Follow the cyber team, Olivia Beavers (@olivia_beavers) and Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16), and the tech team, Harper Neidig (@hneidig) and Ali Breland (@alibreland).

 

TRUMP REFUSES TO DENOUNCE RUSSIAN ELECTION MEDDLING: President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE on Monday downplayed Moscow's interference in the 2016 presidential election and criticized the special counsel investigation -- all while standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a press conference following their meeting in Helsinki.

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In an extraordinary scene broadcast live to a worldwide audience, Trump refused when asked to condemn Russia's meddling in the election and complained instead that the allegations have created doubts about the legitimacy of his win over Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWatchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US Republicans cancel airtime in swing Vegas district The Democratic Donald Trump is coming MORE.

"He just said it's not Russia," repeating Putin's denials of involvement in the U.S. election. "I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be."

The president said he ran a "clean campaign" and beat Clinton "easily."

"I won that race and it's a shame there can even be a little bit of a cloud over it," he said. "We ran a brilliant campaign and that's why I'm president."

Trump reiterated his claim that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE has unearthed "no collusion" between his campaign and the Kremlin and complained the FBI had not examined servers belonging to the Clinton campaign and brought up emails belonging to Clinton.

"What happened to the server?" the president asked. "What happened to the Clinton emails?"

The meeting Monday came just days after Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for launching cyberattacks against the DNC and state election systems in an effort to meddle in the election.

Read more here.

 

WE'VE HEARD THIS BEFORE: PUTIN DENIES MEDDLING IN US ELECTION: Putin also denied that his country interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections during his talks with Trump.

Speaking during the press conference following their joint meeting in Finland, Putin said Trump raised the issue of so-called election interference but reiterated his past denials.  

"I had to reiterate things I said several times, including during our personal contacts, that the Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs including election process," Putin said through a translator. "Any specific material, if such things arise, we are ready to analyze together."

He went on to suggest Russia would be ready to collaborate with U.S. officials on a "joint working group on cybersecurity."

Read more here.

 

TRUMP'S REMARKS SPARKED PUSHBACK FROM REPUBLICANS: Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE (R-Wis.) on Monday said there's "no question" Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

"There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world," Ryan said in a statement. "That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.

"There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals," he continued. "The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy."

More here.

 

SCHUMER WONDERS IF PUTIN HAS 'DAMAGING' INFO ON TRUMP: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that Trump's performance leaves "a single, ominous question ... over the White House."

"What could possibly cause President Trump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States? Millions of Americans will continue to wonder if the only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump," Schumer said.

Read more here.

 

COATS COUNTERS: The top U.S. intelligence official on Monday offered a robust defense of the intelligence community's assessment of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, after Trump cast doubt on the conclusion.

Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHillicon Valley: Intel chief wants tech, government to work more closely | Facebook doesn't believe foreign state behind hack | New net neutrality lawsuit | Reddit creates 'war room' to fight misinformation Hillicon Valley: Russia-linked hackers hit Eastern European companies | Twitter shares data on influence campaigns | Dems blast Trump over China interference claims | Saudi crisis tests Silicon Valley | Apple to let customers download their data Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Senators seek US intel on journalist's disappearance | Army discharged over 500 immigrant recruits in one year | Watchdog knocks admiral over handling of sexual harassment case MORE, whom Trump handpicked to serve as Director of National Intelligence, said the intelligence community has been "clear" in its assessment of Russian meddling and described Russian efforts to undermine U.S. democracy as "ongoing" and "pervasive." Coats also emphasized that the intelligence community's assessments are "fact-based."

"We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security," Coats said in a statement issued Monday afternoon.

Read more here.

 

More on the surreal presser: The Hill's Niall Stanage has five takeaways from the jaw-dropping press conference.

Trump faced criticism from both sides of the aisle for the remarks, including from Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcConnell: GOP could try to repeal ObamaCare again after midterms Comey donates maximum amount to Democratic challenger in Virginia House race Live coverage: McSally clashes with Sinema in Arizona Senate debate MORE (R-Ariz.), who called the performance "disgraceful."

Trump later fired back at critics via Twitter.

 

BAD NEWS FOR SINCLAIR-TRIBUNE MERGER: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai said Monday that he has "serious concerns" about the proposed merger between Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media, a surprising move that could likely kill the controversial $3.9 billion deal.

In a statement, Pai questioned the company's plans to get the deal approved by selling off some television stations and said he would propose sending the deal to be reviewed by an administrative law judge.

"The evidence we've received suggests that certain station divestitures that have been proposed to the FCC would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law," Pai said.

Why this could be bad for the merger: The move toward an administrative law proceeding is a likely step toward killing the merger altogether. In 2011, AT&T and T-Mobile withdrew a merger application after then-FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski circulated a similar proposal to the commission.

The Sinclair-Tribune deal would have given the combined media company the ability to reach nearly three-quarters of the country's television-viewing audience, putting it over the top of the legal limit on serving 39 percent of households.

In order to bring the merger in compliance with the ownership limit, the two companies agreed to divest 23 local television stations around the country.

But some of those sales would still leave Sinclair with a degree of control over the stations' operations.

Critics said the sidecar deals were an effort to evade the law while still allowing Sinclair, a right-leaning broadcaster, to spread conservative and pro-President Trump programming.

"I think Sinclair has been disingenuous about divestitures for months now," Gigi Sohn, who served as an adviser to Democratic former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, told The Hill in an interview. "I think the last filing didn't satisfy anybody that Sinclair wasn't going to still have some control over these stations."

Sinclair didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Monday's move was a shocking blow to a merger that many expected to be approved. Read more here.

 

PRESERVE YOUR DIGITAL DOCS: House lawmakers on Monday afternoon passed legislation aimed at boosting federal record preservation. The bill, called the Electronic Message Preservation Act of 2017, would direct the national archivist to create regulations requiring federal agencies to capture and preserve electronic records and to make those records "retrievable" through electronic searches. It was introduced by Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsRosenstein to appear for House interview next week Trump more involved in blocking FBI HQ sale than initially thought: Dems Hillicon Valley: Russia-linked hackers hit Eastern European companies | Twitter shares data on influence campaigns | Dems blast Trump over China interference claims | Saudi crisis tests Silicon Valley | Apple to let customers download their data MORE (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, last year. Lawmakers approved the bill in a voice vote Monday afternoon.

 

FACEBOOK, TWITTER, YOUTUBE TO TESTIFY BEFORE HOUSE PANEL: Top public policy officials from Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet's YouTube division are set to testify before Congress on Tuesday to determine whether the companies were politically motivated in filtering content on their platforms.

GOP lawmakers have taken aim at the social media giants for what they have charged are politically biased practices in the content each site chooses to remove. The companies have denied such claims.

The companies will send their top public policy officials to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, including Facebook's head of global policy, Monika Bickert; YouTube's head of global public policy and government relations, Juniper Downs; and Twitter's senior public policy strategist Nick Pickles, according to the committee.

Google spokeswoman Charlotte Smith and a spokesperson from Facebook both confirmed to The Hill that they would send representatives to the hearing. Twitter did not comment.

Read more here.

 

UBER'S NEW HEADACHE: Uber is being investigated by the federal government over allegations of gender pay discrimination, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's probe reportedly started in August. The agency has been speaking with current and former employees of the company.

Investigators have been asking questions about hiring practices, pay disparity and other gender-related issues, according to the report.

 

TWITTER SUSPENDS ALLEGED RUSSIAN LEAKERS: Twitter has suspended two accounts allegedly used by Russian intelligence officers to share information obtained in hacks.

The Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks accounts were both suspended on Saturday, one day after special counsel Robert Mueller alleged in an indictment that the accounts were run by Russian military officers.

A Twitter spokesman told The San Diego Union-Tribune that the "account has been suspended for being connected to a network of accounts previously suspended for operating in violation of our rules." He did not comment further.

The Guccifer 2.0 account was briefly suspended in 2016 after it released contact information for nearly 200 current and former members of Congress. Both accounts have been inactive for at least 18 months.

 

ON TAP:

Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanGroup begins 'Nuns on the Bus' tour to protest Trump tax law ahead of midterms Election Countdown: Dems raising millions in fight for House | Trump attacks potential challengers | GOP finalizes 2020 convention plans | Dems see Kavanaugh fight driving women voters to the polls | Bloomberg spending big for Senate Dems GOP sacrifices women and House Republicans with Kavanaugh plan MORE (R-Colo.) will speak at an event hosted by Incompas and Engine about the "Future of Net Neutrality" at 9 a.m.

The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on "Facebook, Google and Twitter: Examining the Content Filtering Practices of Social Media Giants" at 10 a.m.

Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHillicon Valley: Russia-linked hackers hit Eastern European companies | Twitter shares data on influence campaigns | Dems blast Trump over China interference claims | Saudi crisis tests Silicon Valley | Apple to let customers download their data Dems blast Trump for 'conflating' Chinese, Russian election interference claims Dems eye ambitious agenda if House flips MORE (D-Miss.), the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, is sponsoring a congressional panel on healthcare cybersecurity at 11 a.m.

 

A LIGHTER TWITTER CLICK: No comment.

 

SOME OP-EDS TO CHEW ON:

Trump and Putin should be talking about cyber weapons and social media instead of nuclear weapons.

Russia proved it is the greatest threat to our democracy.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Illinois' elections board requests confirmation Mueller identified hackers in data breach. (The Hill)

The FBI official in charge of the bureau's election interference task force has left. (The Wall Street Journal)

Russian trolls are deploying some new tactics. (Associated Press)

How wireless carriers get permission to share your whereabouts. (The Wall Street Journal)

Elon Musk donated nearly $40K to Republican PAC, filings show (The Hill)

Why some of Instagram's biggest memers are locking their accounts (The Atlantic)