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A Russian woman with close ties to the National Rifle Association was arrested Sunday and charged with “conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government,” according to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday.

Mariia Butina is accused of acting as an unregistered agent on Russia’s behalf between 2015 and 2017, in collaboration with “others known and unknown, including an official of the Russian Federation,” according to the complaint.

The case is being handled by the Justice Department’s National Security Division, not by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team probing Russia meddling in the 2016 election.

Butina is a former assistant of Alexander Torshin, a top official at the Russian Central Bank who has reportedly been under investigation by the FBI for allegedly channeling money to the NRA to benefit Trump’s 2016 campaign. The pair have been under scrutiny by journalists and investigators for months, thanks to a bombshell January report in McClatchy that first revealed the FBI’s financial probe.

Butina and Torshin have close ties to the NRA, which is not referred to by name in the criminal complaint or the supporting affidavit but as a “Gun Rights Organization.”

The NRA did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.

Per the affidavit, Butina’s work allegedly involved “advancing the agenda of the Russian Federation” by forging ties to “U.S. persons having influence in American politics,” including the NRA.

Butina and Torshin both ran The Right To Bear Arms, a group that fashioned itself as a Russian version of the NRA and supported handgun legalization in their home country. As TPM has documented and the new criminal filings lay out, they used that group to establish close ties with Republican officials in the U.S., inviting them to summits in Moscow. As previously reported, one December 2015 trip to Russia funded by the the Right to Bear Arms was attended by former NRA president David Keene, former Wisconsin sheriff and Fox News regular David Clarke, and NRA member and GOP operative Paul Erickson.

Erickson’s background aligns with the description of “U.S. Person 1” in the indictment—”a United States citizen and an American political operative” who helped connect Butina to other influential Republicans.

Emails obtained by the FBI allegedly show that Butina, Erickson, and Torshin—who is not named in the filing but matches the description of “the Russian official”—corresponded regularly about how to “plan and develop the contours of the influence operation.” The trio allegedly recognized the importance of the NRA in shaping conservative political opinion in the U.S. and how the organization could be used to soften the GOP’s view towards Russia, according to the affidavit.

In a March 2015 email to Erickson, Butina allegedly wrote that the Democrats would likely win the 2016 election, so it was an opportune moment “to build konstruktivnyh [sic] relations” and that [c]entral place and influence in the [POLITICAL party 1] plays the [GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION]. The [GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION [is] the largest sponsor of the elections to the US congress, as well as a sponsor of The CPAC conference and other events,” according to the affidavit.

Erickson allegedly responded by sending Butina a long list of “potential media, business, and political contacts,” according to the affidavit.

In another remarkable exchange alleged in the affidavit, this one from October 2016, Erickson told an acquaintance he was working on “securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key POLITICAL PARTY 1 leaders through, of all conduits, the [GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION].”

In the months in between, as the filing alleged, she and Torshin made a number of trips to the U.S., including pilgrimages to the 2016 National Prayer Breakfast and 2016 NRA convention. At the latter, Torshin met with Donald Trump Jr., according to The New York Times.

Butina officially entered the U.S. on a student visa in August 2016 to enroll in graduate studies at American University, the affidavit alleged. Earlier that year, she and Erickson incorporated a company in South Dakota, called Bridges LLC, that Erickson claimed was used to pay for her tuition, according to previous reporting.

That is an “unusual way to use an LLC,” McClatchy noted in its initial story on what it said was a FBI investigation into Torshin allegedly illegally funneling money to the NRA’s lobbying arm. But the complaint and affidavit against Butina make no mention of any possible campaign finance violations or any criminal wrongdoing by Torshin, who was hit with sanctions and barred from traveling to the country by the U.S. Treasury Department this April.

Butina allegedly continued her political work on behalf of Russia through the fall of 2016, according to the FBI affidavit. In Twitter direct messages cited in court filings, she allegedly chatted with Torshin about whether she should serve as a U.S. election observer from Russia and, after Trump officially won the election in November, allegedly asked Torshin for “further orders.”

The Justice Department announced that Butina made her initial appearance at the U.S. District for the District of Columbia on Monday, and is being held pending her next hearing on Wednesday.

The influence operation that she allegedly helped carry out is one of the “low-cost, relatively low-risk, and deniable” ways Russia tries to influence U.S. politics, according to the affidavit.

Her arrest comes just days after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking Democratic targets during the 2016 election.

At a Monday press conference, President Trump and President Vladimir Putin heaped praise on each other and again denied that Russia improperly interfered in the U.S. campaign.

Read the full affidavit below.

This post has been updated.

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A federal grand jury on Friday handed down an indictment in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation that provided new details about Russia hackers’ attempted, and in at least one case, successful infiltration of state and local election systems.

According to the indictment, the personal information of approximately 500,000 voters was stolen in a July 2016 hack, led by a Russian military officer, of an unnamed state’s board of elections website. That is more than double what was previously reported about a hack that began in June 2016 of the Illinois’ voter registration database, where officials said that fewer than 200,000 voter files were infiltrated. The indictment did not say specifically if the hack involved Illinois, but a statement from the state’s board of elections Friday said that was “likely” the attack Mueller was referring to.

The board of elections had previously notified 76,000 voters whose registration data may have been viewed, the statement said, and there have been no cases of suspicious activity with that data reported.

“The figure 500,000 referred to in the indictment may have been arrived at using a different methodology prescribed under federal criminal code,” the statement said. “As part of our review of the indictment, we will be contacting federal law enforcement to obtain more information on the number referenced in the indictment.”

Anatoliy Kovalev, a Russian military officer who worked in a GRU building, allegedly led the cyberattacks on U.S. election administrators, with Aleksandr Osadchuk, a Russian military colonel who headed one of the units of hackers named in the indictment.

[ Who’s who: Decoding the unnamed entities in Mueller’s Russian hacking indictment (Prime access) » ]

“The object of the conspiracy was to hack into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” Mueller said.

The operation allegedy included researching the websites of state boards of election, secretaries of states and other election-related websites for vulnerabilities.

The Department of Homeland Security last year informed 21 states that their elections systems had been among those targeted by the Russians, many in so-called “scans” — a fairly common tactic seeking to identify the vulnerabilities in a website. However, details about the particular intrusion attempts still remain murky.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at a press conference Friday unveiling the charges said that the indictment contained no allegations that vote totals were changed or that election results were affected.

Mueller in his indictment provided details on the attempted intrusions in just a handful of states. He said that county election websites in Georgia, Iowa and Florida were searched for vulnerabilities by the Russian hackers in or around October 28.

Georgia was not one of the 21 states DHS last year informed of being a target of the hackers.

Kovalev and his co-conspirators — some known, and some unknown to the grand jury, the indictment said — used some of the infrastructure they used to hack the state board of elections to hack the computers of a U.S. company, known as Vendor 1, that “supplied software used to verify voter registration information for the 2016 U.S. elections.”

They then used an email account “designed to look like a Vendor 1 email address to send over 100 spearphishing emails to organizations and personnel involved in administering elections in numerous Florida counties,” according to the indictment.

“The spearphishing emails contained malware that the Conspirators embedded into Word documents bearing Vendor 1’s logo,” Mueller said.

The details of the attack on the vendor align with a top secret National Security Agency report obtained by the Intercept last year about a spearphishing attack on a election vendor. The NSA report did not refer to the vendor by name, but The Intercept identified the company as the Florida-based VR Systems. (VR Systems has denied the breach).

The spokeswoman, Sarah Revell, in response to TPM’s inquiry about the details in Mueller’s indictment Friday, said in a statement:

“To be clear, the 2016 elections in Florida was not hacked in any way. As we have stated multiple times, the Department of State was notified by the Department of Homeland Security in September 2017 that Florida was unsuccessfully targeted by hackers in 2016. This attempt was not in any way successful and Florida’s online elections databases and voting systems remained secure.”

Revell added: “The Department is focused on the continued security and integrity of Florida’s elections in 2018 and beyond.”

Asked about the spearphishing emails, she said that it was “widely reported in 2017 that some Florida counties were targeted by a phishing email and we are aware of those reports.”

“Our understanding is that security protocols for phishing emails were followed by all counties. To our knowledge, no evidence exists that any unauthorized access occurred nor were any potential hacking attempts successful,” she said.

It’s not clear yet how much overlap there is between the evidence gatheredDd by Mueller that was unveiled Friday and the probe into election meddling by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which previewed some of its Russian cyber-intrusion findings in May.

The Senate Intel summary released in May said that in at least six states, Russia’s attempts to hack election administrators went beyond the scans for vulnerabilities. A majority of those attempts, according to the committee, were “Structure Query Language (SQL)” injections, a tactic that Illinois officials previously had said was used on their elections system.

“In a small number of states, Russian-affiliated cyber actors were able to gain
access to restricted elements of election infrastructure. In a small number of
states, these cyber actors were in a position to, at a minimum, alter or delete voter registration data,” the committee said.

 

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A grand jury indictment stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe accuses 12 Russian intelligence officers of planning and carrying out the hacks into several Democratic campaign organizations in the 2016 election.

The Russian nationals listed in the indictment worked in two units of the Russian intelligence agency known as GRU to release stolen documents from the Democratic groups, according to the indictment.

Read the allegations made in the indictment about the the 12 officers:

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Trump pal Roger Stone on Friday brushed off the interactions he had with Russian intelligence officers posing as a hacker during the 2016 election, which were detailed in a newly filed indictment brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller’s indictment, which lays out charges against 12 Russian operatives who hacked Democratic targets, does not mention Stone by name. But it quotes conversations he has previously admitted to having with “Guccifer 2.0.” – a fake identity created by Russian intelligence.

“As I testified before the House intelligence committee under oath, my 24-word exchange with someone on Twitter claiming to be Guccifer 2.0 is benign based on its content, context, and timing,” Stone said in a statement to the Daily Beast. “This exchange is entirely public and provides no evidence of collaboration or collusion with Guccifer 2.0 or anyone else in the alleged hacking of the DNC emails, as well as taking place many weeks after the events described in today’s indictment.”

The indictment notes that “Guccifer 2.0” interacted with an individual “who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump” in August 2016, offering assistance.

Stone posted his private Twitter exchange with Guccifer on his personal website last March, after their communications were revealed by the website The Smoking Gun.

According to the new indictment, Stone was one of several U.S. persons to solicit or receive information from this front for Russian intelligence during the election.

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A congressional candidate requested and received documents allegedly stolen from Democratic Party entities by Russian intelligence operatives during the 2016 election, a federal indictment filed Friday alleged.

The indictment brought by special counsel Robert Mueller alleges that the unidentified candidate made the electronic request on Aug. 15, 2016, and in return received “stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.”

This gob-smacking detail was one of many in the 29-page indictment, which alleged that the Russian military intelligence agency or GRU engaged in “large-scale cyber operations to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” The 12 Russians indicted allegedly hacked the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and email accounts of Hillary Clinton campaign officials, and publicly disseminated the stolen information. They concealed their tracks by inventing fake personas including “Guccifer 2.0,” a rogue Romanian hacker who claimed to be behind the hacks, prosecutors alleged.

[ Who’s who: Decoding the unnamed entities in Mueller’s Russian hacking indictment (Prime access) » ]

Mueller charged the defendants with conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S., aggravated identity theft and other charges.

As the indictment makes clear, the stolen information was eagerly received by some U.S. citizens.

The congressional candidate reached out to “Guccifer 2.0” asking for leaks about the candidate’s opponent.

The indictment also mentions “Guccifer 2.0” sending documents to a “then-registered state lobbyist and online source of political news” and to a reporter in August of 2016.

The lobbyist received 2.5 gigabytes of data stolen from the DCCC, according to the indictment, including “donor records and personal identifying information for more than 2,0000 Democratic donors.”

The details about this interaction align with the account of Aaron Nevins, a Florida-based Republican political operative who admitted to asking “Guccifer 2.0” for any stolen documents relevant to his state. Nevins told the Wall Street Journal that he received details about the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote strategy in Florida and other swing state, and posted it on his blog, HelloFLA.com, under a pseudonym.

“Guccifer 2.0” subsequently flagged the blog post to Trump ally Roger Stone, who said he did not share the stolen data with anyone.

The indictment notes that on August 15, “Guccifer 2.0” wrote to someone “who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump” thanking him “for writing back” and asking if the documents were interesting.

Two days later, the Russians asked if they could help the individual, saying “it would be a great pleasure to me.”

“Guccifer 2.0” followed up on September 9, referring to a stolen document about the Democrats’ turnout model and asking for the person’s opinion. The individual replied, “[p]retty standard.”

The reporter, who is also unidentified in the indictment, apparently received documents about the Black Lives Matter movement.

The individual “responded by discussing when to release the documents and offering to write an article about their release,” according to Mueller’s team.

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Friday that a federal grand jury, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, has indicted 12 Russian nationals accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, including the email account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

The 12 defendants named in the indictment are members of the Russian intel agency, the GRU, according to a Justice Department press release about the indictment. The charges were unveiled days before President Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, though Rosenstein told reporters that the timing of the indictment reflected the evidence gathered and the prosecutors’ determination that it was sufficient to bring the charges.

The indictment includes 11 criminal counts and one forfeiture allegation. The criminal counts include conspiracy against the United States, identity theft and money laundering. The indictment names the Russians defendants: Viktor Borisovich Netyksho, Boris Alekseyevich Antonov, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Aleksey Viktorovich Lukashev, Sergey Aleksandrovich Morgachev, Nikolay Yuryevich Kozachek, Pavel Vyacheslavovich Yershov, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk, Aleksey Aleksandrovich Potemkin, and Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev.

The hackers, the DOJ said in its press release, released the hacked information “on the internet under the names DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 and through another entity.”

The GRU officials, according to the DOJ, coordinated to “plan the release of the stolen documents for the purpose of interfering with the 2016 presidential election.”

A group of the GRU agents, according to the DOJ, “also conspired to hack into the computers of state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and US companies that supplied software and other technology related to the administration of elections to steal voter data stored on those computers.”

Rosenstein unveiled the charges at a press conference at the Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“There’s no allegation that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result,” he said.

He also said that in the indictment, there is no allegation that the Americans who corresponded with the alleged hackers “knew they were corresponding with Russian intelligence officers.”

He indicated that there were plans to transfer the case to the Justice Department’s National Security Division while it sought to apprehend the defendants.

His remarks also included an allusion to the attacks the Justice Department has weathered as the Mueller probe heated up  — attacks that were in full view during a Thursday congressional hearing with a FBI agent who worked on the investigation in its infancy.

“I want to caution you, the people who speculate about federal investigations usually do not know all of the relevant facts. We do not try cases on television or in congressional hearings,” Rosenstein said.

He also said he briefed President Trump on the allegations earlier this week, and that “president is fully aware of the department’s actions today.”

Asked by reporters for more information about Trump’s view of the allegations he said he’d let the President speak for himself.

According to the indictment, the hackers “covertly monitored the computers of dozens of” DNC and DCCC employees, starting in or around April 2016, and implanted malware code while stealing the emails of the employees.

The hackers began releasing the documents in or around June 2016, using fake online accounts dubbed Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks, as well as another unnamed entity described as a website that had previously “posted documents stolen from U.S. persons, entities, and the U.S. government.”

That appears to be a reference to Wikileaks.

The indictment describes how the alleged hackers sought to conceal their identities:

The indictment goes into great detail about how the alleged hackers infiltrated Democratic email accounts, including that of Podesta, who is not identified by name in the indictment. It recounts the alleged spearfishing attack on Podesta and other Clinton campaign officials down to the account name the hacker used to mask the link that delivered the phishing attack to the victims’ email inboxes.

Their alleged operation included researching the hacking victims on social media, and they even created an email account that was one letter off from the name of a Clinton campaign staffer.

The spearfishing campaign continued through the summer, according to the indictment, as the hackers also targeted campaign emails hosted on a third party domain provider used by Clinton’s personal office, as well as 76 email addresses hosted by the campaign’s domain.

The effort to hack the DCCC begin in and around March 2016, according to the indictment, and included spearfishing as well as searches for the system’s vulnerabilities. Mueller here too describes that effort in significant detail. The indictment says that the hackers were able to use their access to the DCCC computers to then hack the DNC network.

As the DNC and DCCC became aware, in or around May 2016, that their systems had been hacked, the alleged hackers took countermeasures to conceal their presence in their networks and to maintain access to the networks. That effort included registering a domain name that mimicked the platform that “included a DCCC donations page,” according to the indictment.

The hackers maintained their access to the DNC networks through around October 2016.

The indictment then describes the alleged hackers tactics to release the stolen information. Not only did they create the DCLeaks page that posted many of the stolen emails, according to the indictment, but they created fake Facebook and twitter pages to promote the website.

The creation of Guccifer 2.0 — an online persona that claimed to be a lone Romanian hacker — was in response to the DNC’s announcement in June 2016 that it had been hacked by Russian actors, the indictment said.

The indictment includes terms the hackers allegedly searched for translations while creating the Guccifer 2.0 page, that then appeared on Guccifer 2.0’s blog posts.

According to the indictment, Guccifer 2.0 interacted with a congressional candidate, a lobbyist, and a reporter, sending each of the unnamed individuals some of the stolen materials. The indictment also includes communications that Guccifer 2.0 had with “who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.”

Communications between Guccifer 2.0 and “Organization 1” — presumably a reference to Wikileaks — are also documented in the indictment.

About a week after Guccifer 2.0 successfully transferred some stolen materials to Organization 1, Organization on June 22 released 20,000 emails and other documents hacked from the DNC, with the release timed to the start of the Democratic National Convention, the indictment said.

Read the indictment below:

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Former FBI official Peter Strzok has now sat for 21 hours of congressional testimony, 11 in private and 10 in public.

Thursday’s public joint hearing before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees yielded in-depth textual analyses of the anti-Trump text messages that Strzok exchanged with his former lover and colleague at the FBI, Lisa Page. There were theatrics aplenty, including a Republican threat to hold Strzok in contempt of Congress. The word “douche” was entered into the congressional record.

One lowlight was Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) asking Strzok “how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eye and lie to her.” A Democratic lawmaker interrupted to shout that Gohmert needed his “medication.”

Former FBI officials told TPM that they were dismayed by the marathon pile-on. All of the finger-pointing, props, and raised voices, they said, exemplified the reckless norm-busting and erosion of the rule of law in the Trump era.

“I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” former FBI special agent Mark Pollitt told TPM in a phone interview.

“To me it was just a very sad demonstration of political theater that’s entirely designed to create sound-bites for the press,” Pollitt continued.

“It’s a show,” concurred Clint Watts, a former FBI counterterrorism agent. “I call it investigation theater.”

Things got wild almost immediately after Strzok entered the hearing room Thursday morning and took his seat to answer questions before lawmakers and TV cameras.

In the first minutes, Strzok refused to answer a question from House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) about the number of people he interviewed for the Russia probe in the first week of the investigation. Strzok said that he was following Justice Department policy, which prohibits FBI personnel from publicly discussing ongoing investigations.

But House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) promptly threatened to hold him in contempt of Congress, sparking cries of protest from Democrats on the committees and former FBI personnel.

“How dare they claim to be all for law and protecting secrets whilst at the same violating the law by demanding that an FBI agent break the law?” former FBI agent Mark Rossini asked in an email to TPM. “This is just another attempt to diminish the FBI.”

The hearing then devolved into the familiar rehashing of the text messages. Republicans pointed to Strzok’s words to ask how he could claim not to be biased, while Democrats asked rhetorical questions about whether anything he said to Page altered the material facts of the Russia investigation, which have yielded some two dozen indictments.

Strzok appeared unruffled by the drama, shifting in his seat and smirking occasionally at lawmakers’ lines of questioning. Former FBI officials commended him for keeping calm under pressure.

“I think Strzok did an amazing job of articulating his personal beliefs and how they’re separate from his professional conduct,” Pollitt told TPM. “Not that it’s going to make any difference to anybody but at the end of the day I think he explained it pretty well, and the fact that he was able to do it in a forceful way without getting upset made him look pretty professional.”

“By remaining calm, exhibiting passion only when required, & explaining himself in the face of tough questioning, Strzok looks like the normal one when compared to congressional posturing,” former FBI agent Josh Campbell chimed in on Twitter.

Each sides’ arguments have been exhaustively churned over since the existence of the Strzok-Page texts were first reported late last year. Since both Page and Strzok worked on both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the probe into Russia’s election interference, the anti-Trump messages were proof, they said, that the entire Russia investigation was a biased effort to take down the Republican nominee.

Democrats acknowledged that the messages—which include Strzok calling Trump an “idiot” and saying “we’ll stop” him—were unprofessional and unfortunate. But they’ve countered that there is no evidence that the two FBI officials’ private thoughts impacted their work on the investigation. A months-long DOJ inspector general report concluded as much, Democrats are quick to note, and both Page and Strzok were removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe as soon as their exchanges were discovered.

Above all, as Democrats have argued in hearing after hearing, fixating on the text messages of two former FBI officials is a distraction from Russia’s concerted attempts to meddle with the 2016 U.S. election, which the CIA, FBI, NSA and Senate Intelligence Committee have all concluded occurred.

“I think the most important point was Strzok’s final point in his opening statement, which is that this is a home run for Russia because we’re continuing to fight each other,” Watts said. “In doing so we’re weakening democratic institutions and elected officials, and that’s the real goal of this influence campaign after all. It’s still working, three years later.”

Those former officials noted that the hours of testimony yielded almost no new information.

As Pollitt put it, Thursday’s hearing “didn’t add anything to what we already knew.”

Watts suggested that the charade may “backfire on Republicans,” who long pressed for Strzok to appear in public session.

“They’re dragging him there to bully him but he is now getting an opportunity, like you saw with Rod Rosenstein two weeks ago, to fire back,” he continued, saying GOP lawmakers ended up looking “silly” at both hearings.

But as Watts pointed out, few voters would probably watch the hearings. Of those that did, Republicans and Democrats would likely only see clips favorable to their parties’ narrative.

“Both sides will get what they want,” he said, “but collectively, for the country, it’s a giant waste of time.”

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The Border Patrol agent who grilled a national security reporter about classified leaks from the U.S. intelligence community is under investigation for the improper use of government computer systems, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Jeffrey Rambo was previously identified as the agent who obtained the confidential travel records of reporter Ali Watkins and pressed her to reveal her sources at a June 2017 meeting. Rambo reportedly used details about Watkins’ trip to Spain with her then-boyfriend James Wolfe, former security director of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to pressure her into divulging information.

Per the Times, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general is now investigating whether the California-based agent used Watkins’ travel data improperly or illegally.

Customs and Border Protection announced last month that its Office of Professional Responsibility was also looking into Rambo’s actions.

It’s still unclear whether any other government officials were involved in this extracurricular effort to obtain confidential information from journalists, or if Rambo was acting alone.

Wolfe was arrested last month on charges of lying to the FBI about his contacts with reporters. He has pleaded not guilty.

News of his arrest also revealed that federal investigators secretly seized Watkins’ emails and phone records—the first such incident under the Trump administration.

Watkins was working at Politico in the summer of 2017 and joined the Times in December. The newspaper reassigned her from D.C. to a new beat in New York last month.

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For a second time, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort failed in convincing a judge to throw out evidence from a July 2017 FBI raid on his home.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, who is overseeing Manafort’s case in Virginia, denied Manafort’s motion to keep the evidence gathered in the raid on Manafort’s Virginia residence from use at trial. Ellis in his opinion posted Wednesday said the warrant special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators obtained “satisfied the Fourth Amendment’s particularity and breadth requirements, and as such, suppression of the evidence recovered from the search of defendant’s residence is not warranted. ”

Manafort made a similar request in the case against him in D.C., where U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson similarly ruled in Mueller’s favor. The trial in Virginia is scheduled to begin later this month, while the D.C. trial is slated for September.

Manafort — who is facing charges for an assortment of alleged financial crimes, as well as failure to disclose foreign lobbying — has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

The early morning raid on Manafort’s residence drew attention to what some described as aggressive tactics by Mueller. (Mueller, in court filings, would rebut media reports that it was a no-knock raid).

Manafort, in his suppression request, argued that the warrant wasn’t specific enough in describing the evidence it sought to seize, and that its scope was broader than the probable cause on which it was based.

Read Ellis’ opinion rejecting those arguments below:

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