Elections 2016 | KERA News

Elections 2016

Updated at 6:26 p.m. ET

FBI Director Christopher Wray defended his agency on Capitol Hill Thursday, speaking publicly for the first time since President Trump denigrated the agency last weekend. The questioning from lawmakers and the responses the new FBI director gave are a harbinger of likely issues to be raised again as the Justice Department's Russia probe appears to be intensifying after the recent plea deal of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

If the saga of Michael Flynn feels like it's been hanging over President Trump's head since Inauguration Day, that's because it has.

The story of how Trump's first national security adviser came to plead guilty to lying to FBI investigators and cooperate in the special counsel's Russia investigation spans two presidential terms and also touches government officials who were subsequently fired by Trump.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has entered the West Wing.

Mueller's team is charged with looking into whether anyone on President Trump's campaign worked with the Russians who attacked the 2016 election, so it was inevitable that investigators would want to talk with aides now working in the White House.

Some, like top adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, communications director Hope Hicks and policy adviser Stephen Miller, were key players in the campaign as well.

Five months into his mandate, Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller III unleashed a legal version of "shock and awe" on Monday with criminal charges against President Trump's former campaign chairman and a guilty plea by a foreign policy aide.

Mueller made no public comment about the charges or the next steps in an investigation that's irritating the White House and riveting the nation. But there are some clues in the court documents about where the former FBI director and his investigators may be heading.

Facebook says 126 million people may have seen Russian content aimed at influencing Americans. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to weed out Russian operatives and extremist propaganda from Facebook.

But savvy marketers — people who've used Facebook's advertising platform since its inception — say that social media giant will find it hard to banish nefarious actors because its technology is designed to be wide open and simple to use.

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

Apparent Russian agents began reaching out to Donald Trump's presidential campaign as early as March 2016, the Justice Department established in documents released Monday, with appeals for partnership and offers of help including "dirt" on Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton.

That case is made in charging documents in the case of then-Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET

Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, has been indicted on federal charges that range from conspiracy against the United States to conspiracy to launder money. He was taken into federal custody Monday morning, along with his longtime deputy.

In a court hearing around midday, both Manafort and his co-defendant, Rick Gates, pleaded not guilty.

This week in the Russia investigations: A progress report — sort of — from the Senate Intelligence Committee; Robert Mueller meets the author of the dossier; and Donald Trump Jr. may have a date on Capitol Hill.

Updated at 8:15 p.m. ET

One of the public's unanswered questions about Russia's attempts to break into election systems last year was which states were targeted. On Friday, states found out.

The Department of Homeland Security said earlier this year that it had evidence of Russian activity in 21 states, but it failed to inform individual states whether they were among those targeted. Instead, DHS authorities say they told those who had "ownership" of the systems — which in some cases were private vendors or local election offices.

Facebook will provide the contents of 3,000 ads purchased by a Russian agency to Congress. The political ads ran during the 2016 presidential election campaign. The move comes amid growing pressure on the social network from members of Congress to release the ads.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg live-streamed a statement in which he said that his company was "actively working" with the U.S. government in the ongoing Russia investigations.

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing Wednesday morning about foreign agents and attempts to influence the U.S. election.

Updated at 11:23 a.m. ET

When Donald Trump Jr. met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya last June at Trump Tower to gather information on Hillary Clinton for his father's presidential campaign, it's now clear there was at least one more Russian in the room. He has been identified in published reports as a Russian-American lobbyist named Rinat Akhmetshin.

Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted images of emails regarding his 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer on Tuesday. An intermediary said he could connect Trump Jr. with people who had information "that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton]... and would be very useful to your father."

Updated at 5:41 p.m. ET

Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday tweeted an email exchange that seemed to show the president's son entertained an offer of Russian government help for his father to be elected president in 2016.

"This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump," said the text that Trump Jr. posted on Twitter.

Updated at 1:56 p.m. ET

If two nearly simultaneous hearings Wednesday by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees into Russia's meddling in last year's presidential election revealed anything, it's that U.S. officials saw what was going on but were all but powerless to stop it.

In his prepared remarks, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the Russian government, "at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our Nation for the purpose of influencing our election — plain and simple."

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Former FBI Director James Comey testified Thursday before the Senate intelligence committee as part of its ongoing investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism today. Yates will testify along with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about possible Russian interference in the presidential election. 

The hearing is expected to begin at 1:30 p.m. Watch a livestream courtesy of PBS Newshour below.

Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET.

FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday defended his decision to tell Congress in October that he was revisiting the bureau's investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey said he believed revisiting the investigation just before the election — knowing it could affect the outcome — would be really bad, but that not to do so would be catastrophic for the agency's independence. In retrospect, he said, he still believes he made the right choice.

Updated at 11:20 p.m. ET

In her most frank remarks to date after her loss to President Trump, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton said that if not for a controversial letter from FBI Director James Comey and Russian meddling in the election, she would be sitting in the Oval Office right now.

Study: Texas Voter Education Campaign Failed To Prevent ID Confusion

Apr 11, 2017
Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

Texas’ court-ordered $2.5 million voter education campaign failed to prevent widespread confusion about the state’s identification rules ahead of the 2016 general election, according to a study released Monday.

Yuri Gripas / Reuters

FBI Director James Comey and the director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Mike Rogers, are expected to testify before the House Intelligence Committee Monday.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

The intelligence report on Russia's interference in the U.S. elections concludes that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered an "influence campaign" that aimed to help President-elect Donald Trump.

Ted Cruz Dismisses Concerns Over Russian Role In Election

Jan 5, 2017
Allison Shelley for The Texas Tribune

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, dismissed concerns Thursday about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, calling them an effort to undermine Donald Trump's victory. 

Updated at 6:15 p.m.

The White House has announced new actions targeting Russia in response to what U.S. officials say were cyberattacks intended to interfere with the U.S. election.

Donald J. Trump will be the next president of the United States.

That's been the case since Nov. 8, when Trump won 306 electoral votes, despite losing the national popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million.

And on Monday, the result was ratified by Electoral College voters, who gathered in state capitols across the United States to formally vote for president.

Krystina Martinez / KERA News

Updated: The Electoral College vote today in Texas was, as expected, an overwhelming win for Donald Trump. What wasn't expected was the number of Republican voters who resigned or defected. Four electors quit and were replaced. The final tally was 36 for Trump and one each for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and for fellow Texan Ron Paul.

After Recount, Anderson Remains Apparent Winner In Re-Election Battle

Nov 27, 2016
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Update, Nov. 30: After a recount, state Rep. Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie, is still the apparent winner in his re-election battle against Democrat Terry Meza.

Hillary Clinton's campaign said Saturday it will participate in the recount efforts in Wisconsin spearheaded by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. If Stein also pursues recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan, as she has pledged, the Clinton campaign will participate in those efforts, as well.

The recount in Wisconsin could begin as early as next week.

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