Hillicon Valley: Omarosa drops bombshell claim about Trump, WikiLeaks | Dems turn up heat over fake FCC cyberattack | Uber hires ex-NSA official to improve security | FBI boosts cyber team

Hillicon Valley: Omarosa drops bombshell claim about Trump, WikiLeaks | Dems turn up heat over fake FCC cyberattack | Uber hires ex-NSA official to improve security | FBI boosts cyber team
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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, Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) and Olivia Beavers (@olivia_beavers), and the tech team, Harper Neidig (@hneidig) and Ali Breland (@alibreland).



OMAROSA MAKES BOMBSHELL CLAIM ABOUT TRUMP, WIKILEAKS: Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanJuan Williams: The GOP's problem with women of color Trump administration sought to sue Omarosa after she announced tell-all book: report Juan Williams: Too many men of color got conned by Trump MORE claimed Tuesday that President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE knew about the hacked Democratic emails obtained by WikiLeaks before they were released during the height of the 2016 election campaign.

She made the allegation during an interview that aired on MSNBC Tuesday afternoon, saying that Trump "absolutely" knew about the emails before they were released by WikiLeaks. She also said campaign officials were instructed to bring up the emails at every point they could during the end of the campaign.

U.S. officials have linked the hacked emails to a broader plot by Russia to interfere in the election.

When asked by the reporter whether she was implying Trump had a back channel to WikiLeaks, Omarosa replied, "I didn't say that, you did."

"I will say that I am going to expose the corruption that went on in the campaign and in the White House," Manigault Newman added.

WikiLeaks released troves of emails stolen from Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers and the personal inbox of John Podesta, then Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonEverytown urges Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to resign over newly uncovered remarks Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed support on Facebook for violence against Democrats McConnell last spoke to Trump on Dec. 15 MORE's campaign chairman, in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Why this is important: There has been broad speculation about whether individuals in Trump's orbit knew about the emails before they were released by WikiLeaks. Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneWould Trump have gotten away with a self-pardon? History will never know Trump's pardons harshly criticized by legal experts Presidential pardons need to go MORE, a longtime adviser to Trump who briefly worked on the campaign, has attracted scrutiny for his links to WikiLeaks -- including, apparently, from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE.


Don't forget ... Manigault Newman has been making the rounds in the media promoting her new book, "Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House," which characterizes Trump as unfit for the presidency.

Read more here.


NDA = NON DISCLOSURE ARGUMENTS: Manigault Newman has not only triggered President Trump's temper, but she has also ignited a debate over Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs).

Manigault secretly recorded a series of conversations she had with top administration officials, prompting the Trump campaign to file an arbitration claim against Manigault. The campaign alleges that she breached her "2016 confidentiality agreement with the Trump Campaign."

The White House argued this is the status quo on Tuesday.

"I can tell you that it's common in a lot of places for employees to sign NDAs, including in government, particularly anyone with a security clearance," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during the press briefing.

But a few national security minds took issue with this claim, stating that NDAs only applied to classified, national security matters -- not former aides who are now criticizing the president.

"Incredibly dishonest answer," former CIA chief Michael Hayden tweeted.

CNN's Jim Sciutto said Sanders is being "misleading to say NDA's are common in government. Yes, for those with security clearances, but to avoid disclosing classified information, NOT to bar disparaging the administration."

Others also agreed.

"For. Classified. Information. Only." tweeted Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer.

More Omarosa? Okay, maybe not tech or cyber related but here's more from a day when Omarosa Manigault Newman dominated talk in Washington.

Click here for five startling claims she's made. She also released a recording that appears to show Trump staffers discussing an alleged tape of Trump using the N-word. Trump fired back at her on Twitter, calling Manigault Newman a "dog." The White House later weighed in, noting that Trump has denied using the racial slur but with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refusing to rule out that such a tape exists.



HOUSE DEMS TURN UP THE HEAT ON PAI FOLLOWING CYBERATTACK CLAIMS: In a possible preview of things to come, a group of House Democrats sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today demanding answers about when he found out that the agency's claims of being the victim of a cyberattack last year turned out to be false.

The revelation came in an inspector general report released last week, which said that the FCC falsely claimed that its comment filing site crashed as the result of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, when in fact the deluge of comments that brought the system down was likely prompted by a pro-net neutrality segment on late-night comedian John Oliver's HBO show.

"Given the significant media, public, and Congressional attention this alleged cyberattack received for over a year, it is hard to believe that the release of the IG's Report was the first time that you and your staff realized that no cyberattack occurred," four House Democrats wrote in a letter to Pai.

"Such ignorance would signify a dereliction of your duty as the head of the FCC, particularly due to the severity of the allegations and the blatant lack of evidence," it continues. "Therefore, we want to know when you and your staff first learned that the information the Commission shared about the alleged cyberattack was false."

Pai's spokeswoman did not respond when asked for comment, but we can expect the chairman to be grilled about it on Thursday when he heads before the Senate Commerce Committee for an oversight hearing.

Read more here.



UBER HIRES FORMER NSA OFFICIAL TO CLEAN UP CYBERSECURITY: Uber announced Tuesday that it has named Matt Olsen, a former National Counterterrorism Center director and National Security Agency (NSA) general counsel, as its new chief security officer.

Olsen, who served as the counterterrorism head under President Obama until 2014, will replace Joe Sullivan as the ride-hailing company's top security official.

Sullivan was fired by Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi over his handling of a massive cyber breach last year that happened during former CEO Travis Kalanick's tenure.

Uber's security reputation took a major hit from the breach, in which personal data from 57 million user accounts was stolen. Under Sullivan, the company paid $100,000 to silence the hackers, which the company was pilloried for in the public after the payment leaked.

Now Olsen will be tasked with helping repair that reputation as a part of Khosrowshahi's broader mission to help improve the company's public image.

"I look forward to moving Uber's security organization beyond traditional corporate security to a model of mission security--the safety and security of customers and their data," Olsen said in a statement to The Hill.


Olsen noted that that one of his top priorities going into the job is "aligning Uber's security strategy with the broader goals of Uber's leadership for the company." Read more here.


FBI BOOSTS CYBER LEADERSHIP: FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday announced a series of key cybersecurity appointments to round out the bureau's leadership team.

Wray tapped Amy Hess to serve as the FBI's executive assistant director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch. Hess has a long history with the investigative agency, joining the Kansas City Field Office as a special agent in 1991, where she investigated "investigated violent crimes, gangs, and drug trafficking organizations," according to the FBI news release announcing the appointments.

The FBI also announced that Matt Gorham will head up the bureau's Cyber Division as assistant director. Gorham has decades of experience at the bureau, where he focused on violations related to "violent crime and drug investigations before focusing on counterterrorism matters." He will be moving from the Counterterrorism Division at the Washington, D.C., Field Office for his new role.

During the course of his career, Gorham served as the director of the National Cyber Joint Investigative Task Force, a cyber center within the FBI's Cyber Division that "coordinates, integrates, and shares cyber threat information" across multiple agencies in an effort to combat cyber threats.

The bureau also tapped Michael Gavin to serve as the assistant director of the FBI's IT Applications and Data Division and Marlin Ritzman the assistant director of the Information Management Division.

Read more here.


ALPHABET INVESTS IN KUSHNER BROTHER'S HEALTHCARE STARTUP: Google's parent company, Alphabet, is investing $375 million in Oscar Health, a startup health insurance company seeking to redefine the industry by using technology and data.

The infusion of funding from the parent of a major technology giant is a vote of confidence in Oscar Health, which has been closely watched for how well it will be able to shake up the health insurance industry.

"It's fantastic for us because it will really allow us to focus fully on the core model we've been building for the past 6 years, which is: use technology, use data, use design, use a human approach to build a very different health care experience," Oscar Health CEO Mario Schlosser told Wired. "And that's what this allows us to do."

Oscar offers health coverage through ObamaCare in six states and seeks to make the system smarter through innovations like having a "concierge" team, including a nurse, that helps enrollees with tasks like finding the right doctor.

Adding a note of political intrigue, the co-founder of Oscar Health is Josh Kushner, the brother of President Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerJilani: China 'sending clear message' to Biden officials with sanctions that opposition could lead to 'future pay cut' Would Trump have gotten away with a self-pardon? History will never know Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon MORE.

Read more here.


APPLE REALLY, REALLY DOESN'T LIKE TAXES: Apple argued that buildings it owned around Cupertino, Calif., where it is headquartered, were only worth $200 instead of the $1 billion tax assessors deemed in 2015, according to appeals reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The report characterized the dispute as part of an aggressive strategy by Apple to lower its tax bills. According to the Chronicle, Apple has 489 open appeals in tax disputes over property assessed at $8.5 billion in Santa Clara County, Calif., dating back to 2004.

Those appeals include the $1 billion building assessed by tax officials, as well as another $384 million property that Apple also claims is worth $200.

Apple is now valued at $1 trillion. It is also the county's biggest taxpayer, paying $56 million in the 2017–2018 tax year.

Apple's aggressive strategy to lower its property tax bill parallels its broader approach to other taxes.

Read more here.


BILL ALERT: President Trump officially signed the NIST Small Business Cybersecurity Act into law on Tuesday, according to the White House. The legislation requires the National Institute of Standards and Technology -- a non-regulatory lab at the Commerce Department -- to develop and disseminate cybersecurity resources for small businesses to help secure their networks against digital threats.


ELECTRIC SCOOTERS' PLAY FIGHT SONGS IN SANTA MONICA: "Lime raised the electric scooter brobilizing stakes in Santa Monica by offering $5 credits to customers who rallied outside City Hall. Bird raised them by shutting off all the scooters so customers would know what it feels like if they "woke up one day and Bird was gone," per BuzzFeed's Caroline O'Donovan.

(OK, we'll explain: the two scooter startups are protesting efforts to shut them down in Santa Monica, Calif.)



Why companies shouldn't wait for regulation to step up their privacy practices.

To win the AI race, we need more humans.



When you realize there's been a vulnerability embedded in the system all along.



FINALLY, a good reason not to get a Fake ID ... in addition to it being illegal.



The House is still in recess, but the Senate is back in on Wednesday.



Why Americans don't want to live in "smart" cities. (Smartcities Dive)

How banks watch your every move online. (The New York Times)

Hacked water heaters could cause blackouts? These researchers say so. (Wired)

Tinder Lawsuit? *Super Like* (CNN Money)

The unlikely activists who took on Silicon Valley -- and won. (The New York Times Magazine)

Password analyst says QAnon's codes are consistent with random typing. (Motherboard)