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Alice Ollstein

Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.

Articles by Alice

White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced Wednesday in a off-camera briefing that he will no longer answer any questions on the federal investigation into Russian election interference and alleged collusion with the Trump campaign, and will instead refer everything to President Donald Trump’s private attorney Marc Kasowitz.

Both the hiring of private counsel and the referral of questions to Kasowitz signal the beginning of a whole new chapter in the President’s ongoing legal saga—with some echoes of the tension between the private lawyers and White House counsel who defended President Bill Clinton when he came under multiple investigations.

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Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member on the House oversight committee, has opened up a new front in the ongoing, sprawling investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, possible collusion with the Trump campaign, and alleged attempts by the White House to obstruct those investigations.

On Tuesday, he sent letters to Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers demanding “all documents, communications, memoranda, notes, and recordings” the officials may have from their conversations with President Trump regarding the Russia investigation. The request comes after the Washington Post reported that Trump asked both men to publicly “push back” on reports that the FBI was investigating members of his campaign for collusion with Russian officials. Both men reportedly refused the president’s entreaty.

Coats refused to confirm or deny this report while testifying before the House Armed Services Committee last week, but did say: “If I am called before a investigative committee, I will certainly provide them with what I know and what I don’t know.”

Cummings’ letter to Coats references this promise, and asks both him and Rogers if the president did in fact ask them “to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.” Cummings requested a response by June 2.

Read the letters below:

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As the sprawling federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election intensifies, President Donald Trump is assembling a team of outside lawyers to defend him against the allegations. The first tapped to join the team is Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s longtime private attorney who has for decades represented him on everything from his casino bankruptcies to the fraud allegations surrounding Trump University to his many standoffs with the media.

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A Republican political operative in Florida asked the alleged Russian hacker who broke into Democratic Party organizations’ servers at the height of the 2016 campaign to pass him stolen documents, according to a report Thursday by the Wall Street Journal.

In return, that operative received valuable Democratic voter-turnout analyses, which the newspaper found at least one GOP campaign consultant took advantage of the information. The hacker went on to flag that same data to Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of Donald Trump’s who briefly advised his presidential campaign, and who is currently under federal investigation for potential collusion with Russia.

The Wall Street Journal’s report presents the clearest allegations to date of collusion between people connected to Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Cybersecurity experts were sounding the alarm as early as last July that Guccifer 2.0, which had tapped into both the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic National Campaign Committee, was connected to the Russian military intelligence apparatus. However, in September, Florida GOP consultant Aaron Nevins wrote to Guccifer 2.0 to tell the hacker to “feel free to send any Florida based information,” according to the Journal.

Guccifer 2.0 ended up passing Nevins 2.5 gigabytes of stolen documents, including information about Democrats’ get-out-the-vote strategy in Florida and other swing states, the Journal reported. Nevins then posted the documents on his blog, HelloFLA.com, under a pseudonym.

The stolen documents Nevins published on his blog and then passed along to Florida journalists included detailed analyses commissioned by the DCCC of specific Florida districts—reports that revealed how many dependable Democratic voters, likely Democratic voters, and frequent-but-not-committed voters resided in each area.

Stone told the Journal that while he did receive a link to Nevins’ blog from Guccifer 2.0, he didn’t share the stolen data published on the blog with anyone.

The Journal originally reported that one Florida Republican campaign consultant said he used the stolen information. The newspaper initially said a campaign consultant for U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), Anthony Bustamante, ramped up his TV ad buys and dialed back a mailer effort. The Journal subsequently updated its story to reflect that a Mast spokesman said Bustamante stopped working for the campaign in June 2016, months before the stolen documents were published, and noted that it could no longer reach Bustamante.

This post has been updated.

 

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Former FBI Director James Comey told Congress in early May that he felt “mildly nauseous” at the idea that he may have influenced the outcome of the U.S. election by speaking publicly about Hillary Clinton’s “carelessness” in using a private e-mail server as secretary of state.

The Washington Post on Wednesday shed more light on why he chose to make that announcement, which broke FBI protocol not to comment on closed cases where no charges are brought. Before Comey’s July announcement, the FBI obtained a Russian intelligence document of dubious origin and veracity that claimed to cite communications between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Clinton’s campaign, in which Lynch assured a campaign staffer that the Justice Department would not closely investigate the email server.

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Efforts in both chambers of Congress to get information from ousted national security adviser Mike Flynn are escalating this week after Flynn refused requests from the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to testify and turn over documents on his contacts with Russian officials.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters Wednesday that he expects to issue subpoenas as soon as this week.

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In the wake of reports that President Donald Trump asked National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers to publicly push back on reports of an expanding investigation into whether his campaign staffers colluded with Russia, Rogers will testify Tuesday afternoon before the House Armed Services Committee.

Though the hearing is officially on the topic of the NSA’s budget request, Rogers is expected to face pointed questions about his past conversations with Trump regarding the Russia investigation.

Watch live below:

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Former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday morning that President Donald Trump violated protocol when he reportedly shared highly classified Israeli intelligence with Russian officials in an Oval Office meeting in early May.

Aside from reports that the U.S. was not authorized to share the intelligence at all—information about an ISIS plot involving explosives concealed in laptops—Brennan says the manner Trump did so was a breach of procedure.

“Such intelligence, classified intelligence is not shared with visiting foreign ministers or local ambassadors, it’s shared through intelligence channels because it needs to be handled the right way and needs to make sure it’s not exposed,” he said. “He didn’t do that, again if the press charges are accurate.”

“Secondly,” Brennan continued, “before sharing any classified intelligence with foreign partners, it needs to go back to the originating agency to make sure that the language in it is not—even just providing the substance—going to reveal sources or methods and compromise the future collection capability. It appears as though, at least from the press reports, that neither did it go in the proper channels nor did the originating agency have the opportunity to clear language for it. That is a problem.”

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