Senior members of the U.S. intelligence community are appearing Thursday morning before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The hearing was billed as covering foreign threats to American cybersecurity, and the officials are expected to discuss Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence; Admiral Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command; and Marcel Lettre, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence are testifying before the committee, which is chaired by Arizona Republican John McCain.
Intelligence officials have said Russia deliberately tried to influence the November election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee and into the personal emails of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, among other targets. McCain in particular has been sharply critical of Russia’s meddling, calling the attacks an “act of war.” President-elect Donald Trump, on the other hand, has repeatedly cast doubt on officials’ assessment of Russia’s involvement.
We’ll update this live-blog as the hearing proceeds.
Lindsey Graham: ‘When One Political Party Is Compromised All of Us Are Compromised’
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a frequent critic of Donald Trump during his presidential run, issued a warning to the president-elect on Thursday.
“I want to let the president-elect to know that it’s okay to challenge the intel … but what I don’t want you to do is undermine those who are serving our nation in this arena until you’re absolutely sure they need to be undermined. And I think that they need to be uplifted not undermined,” Graham said at the Senate hearing.
The remarks take aim at Trump, who has cast doubt on the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community. “The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a cast. Very strange!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.
“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s up to no good, and he better be stopped,” Graham went on to say Thursday. “And Mr. President, when you listen to these people, you can be skeptical, but understand they’re the best among us and they’re trying to protect us.” Earlier in the hearing, Graham said: “The foundation of democracy is political parties, and when one political party is compromised all of us are compromised.”
Trump tweeted Thursday that “the media lies to make it look like I am against ‘Intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan!”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, prompted by Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, distinguished between routine espionage and interference in another country’s affairs. Espionage, Clapper said, is the passive collection of information—something all countries routinely do to each other. Retaliating, he said, would be akin to living in a “glass house and throwing rocks.” Interference, though, is active, Clapper added. Graham said the United States should respond to the interference in the U.S. election “with a rock.”
Intelligence Officials Respond Directly to Trump's Comments on Their Work
The officials were asked specifically if Donald Trump's "dismissive attitude" toward the intelligence community—as one Democratic senator characterized it—has affected morale among their employees. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, responded briefly that he "hardly think[s] it helps." But National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers replied in more detail about his concerns:
I don't want to lose good, motivated people who want to help serve this nation because they feel they are not generating value to help that nation. And I'm the first to acknowledge there's room for a wide range of opinions of the results we generated—we don't question that for one minute and every intelligence professional knows that. I have had plenty of times in my career when I have presented my intelligence analysis to commanders and policymakers and they just looked at me and say, “Hey, Mike, thanks, but that is not the way I see it or you're gonna have to sell me on this.” That doesn't bother any of us. What we do, I think, is relevant, and we realize that what we do is—in no small part—driven in part by the confidence of our leaders in what we do. And without that confidence, I just don't want a situation where our workforce decides to walk, because I think that really is not a good place for us to be.
Clapper: 'There's a Difference Between Skepticism and Disparagement'
Senator Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat, asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about who gains when elected officials question the assessments of the intelligence community. She did not explicitly name President-elect Donald Trump, but he seemed to be the target of her query. Clapper responded that skepticism of intelligence information is healthy, but “there's a difference between skepticism and disparagement.”
Those are the most direct public comments yet by an intelligence official about the impact Trump’s sometimes-dismissive remarks are having on the intelligence community.
Senator John McCain asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper whether Julian Assange is a credible source of information. “Not in my view,” Clapper responded.
Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks, the website that came to prominence by publishing classified U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010 and also published the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee. His supporters see him as an advocate for transparency, while his detractors believe he should be tried for publishing secrets. Assange has said the DNC emails did not come from Russia, and that the hack could have been carried out by a “14-year-old.” President-elect Donald Trump, who has been skeptical of the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian hacking, seemed to agree with Assange’s assessment on Wednesday, though he appeared to walk back some of that support Thursday.
The dishonest media likes saying that I am in Agreement with Julian Assange - wrong. I simply state what he states, it is for the people....
More Public Information on Russian Hacks Expected Next Week
In his opening remarks, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, suggested the public will soon learn more about Russia's involvement in the election, when officials release a report with additional details about the hacks. Acknowledging the “great interest” in the election interference, Clapper said officials “plan to brief the Congress and release an unclassified version of this report to the public early next week.” But “until then, we’re really not prepared to discuss this beyond standing by our earlier statements.”
Intelligence officials have also scheduled briefings on the report in the next two days: They’ll meet with President Obama, who requested the report, on Thursday and with President-elect Donald Trump on Friday.
Senator John McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the goal of the hearing isn’t to challenge the results of the election. “As both President Obama and President-elect Trump have said, our nation must move forward,” he said in his opening statement. “But we must do so with full knowledge of the facts.”
But he added, given the scale of Russia’s actions, “every American should be alarmed by Russia’s attacks on our nation. There is no national-security interest more vital to the United States of America than the ability to hold free and fair elections without foreign interference. That is why Congress must set partisanship aside, follow the facts, and work together to devise comprehensive solutions to deter, defend against, and, when necessary, respond to foreign cyberattacks.”
But McCain was quick to add that the cyberthreats the United States faces are a consequence of its own “indecision and inaction.”
“Our nation has had no policy, and thus no strategy, for cyber deterrence,” he said. “This appearance of weakness has been provocative to our adversaries, who have attacked us again and again, with growing severity. Unless we demonstrate that the costs of attacking the United States outweigh the perceived benefits, these cyber threats will only grow.”
In a joint statement timed to today’s hearing, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence; Admiral Mike Rogers, head of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency; and Marcel Lettre, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, said:
Russia is a full-scope cyber actor that poses a major threat to US. Government, military, diplomatic, commercial, and critical infrastructure and key resource networks because of its highly advanced offensive cyber program and sophisticated tactics, techniques, and procedures. In recent years, we have observed the Kremlin assume a more aggressive cyber posture. Russian cyber operations targeted government organizations, critical infrastructure, think tanks, universities, political organizations, and corporations often using campaigns. In foreign countries, Russian actors conducted damaging and/or disruptive cyber- attacks, including attacks on critical infrastructure networks. In some cases Russian intelligence actors have masqueraded as third parties, hiding behind false online personas designed to cause the victim to misattribute the source of the attack. We assess that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized the recent election-focused data thefts and disclosures, based on the scope and sensitivity of the targets. Russia also has used cyber tactics and techniques to seek to influence public opinion across Europe and Eurasia. Looking forward, Russian cyber operations will likely target the United States to gather intelligence, support Russian decision-making, conduct influence operations to support Russian military and political objectives, and prepare the cyber environment for future contingencies.
Workism is rooted in the belief that employment can provide everything we have historically expected from organized religion.
This is Work in Progress, a newsletter by Derek Thompson about work, technology, and how to solve some of America’s biggest problems. Sign up here to get it every week.
Here is a history of work in six words: from jobs to careers to callings.
Until quite recently, we had little concept of “progress” in our labor. Around the world, people hunted or harvested, just as their parents and grandparents had. They hammered nails. They assembled gears and sewed thread and patched homes. Their work was a matter of subsistence and necessity; it was not a race for status or an existential search for meaning. These were jobs. And for hundreds of millions of people everywhere, work is still work—grueling or boring or exploited or poorly paid, or all of the above.
Trump’s indictment presents Republicans, and all Americans, with a clear choice.
The first Catholic. The first African American. Someday, maybe soon, the first woman. The history of the presidency is a history of firsts. Now there is one more: the first former president to be indicted.
It’s a solemn and sad moment. It’s also a fiercely just moment.
Remember that although Donald Trump’s indictment in New York has been confirmed by one of his attorneys, we do not yet know, as of the evening of Thursday, March 30, what he has been indicted for. When Trump himself circulated the first rumors of his pending indictment, many reacted with rapid comments on the inadvisability of indicting a former president for offenses arising from a sexual affair, a reservation I share. But it’s also possible that this reported indictment arises from the Trump Organization’s decades-long practices of criminal tax fraud.
Where do shoppers turn when an industry built on novelty runs out of new ideas?
This article was featured in One Story to Read Today, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a single must-read from The Atlantic, Monday through Friday. Sign up for it here.
Nearly half a decade has elapsed since I last worked in the fashion industry, but one thing from my previous career remains a compulsion to this day: I look at people’s purses. In the brain space that might otherwise be occupied by dear childhood memories or the dates and times of future doctor appointments, I tend to an apparently undeletable mental spreadsheet of who is carrying what. Bottega Veneta Cassette, green padded leather, Soho, 20-something woman. Louis Vuitton Pochette Métis, logo canvas, Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway stop, 40-ish woman. For 10 years, these data points informed my obsessive, detailed coverage of the luxury-handbag market. Now they just accumulate. Rarely do I see something I can’t place.
Owning a home won’t make you happy. Filling it with love will.
“How to Build a Life” is a column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness. Click here to listen to his podcast series on all things happiness, How to Build a Happy Life.
Are you looking to buy a house in 2023? Welcome to hell. The average 30-year mortgage rate has approximately doubled in the past year, following a nearly 8 percent increase in average home prices the year before. How does a two-bedroom fixer-upper a block from the airport sound? It’s just 40 percent over your price range.
Choosing whether and where to buy a home is nerve-racking even if your only concern is your wallet. But the decision is also, in no small part, an emotional one. When I was buying my first home, I remember a stew of feelings: the pride of owning such a huge physical thing (well, 20 percent of that thing—the bank owned the rest); the aggravation of working with a realtor who was angling to run up the price; the fear that I was buying at the wrong time (I was) and would lose money in the end (I did). I also felt excited, because I expected that owning that house would improve my happiness, although I couldn’t say exactly how or why.
This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here.
A grand jury has reportedly indicted Donald Trump on criminal charges stemming from his role in a hush-money payoff to the porn star Stormy Daniels. This historic event is a tragedy for the American republic not because of what it has revealed about Trump, but because of what it is revealing about us as voters and citizens.
First, here are three new stories from The Atlantic:
“It felt like being hit by a truck and dragged along behind,” one mother said.
When Tess Camp was pregnant with her second child, she knew she would need to get to the hospital fast when the baby came. Her first labor had been short for a first-time mother (seven hours), and second babies tend to be in more of a hurry. Even so, she was not prepared for what happened: One day, at 40 weeks, she started feeling what she thought was just pregnancy back pain. Then her water broke, and 12 minutes later, she was holding a baby in her arms.
Needless to say, she didn’t make it into the hospital in time. But the first contraction after Camp’s water broke at home had been so intense—“immediate horrific pain; I could barely talk”—that she and her husband rushed into the car. He drove through town like a madman, running red lights. They were turning into the ER when she saw the baby’s head between her legs. Her husband tore out of the car, yelling for help. A security guard ran over to a terrified Camp in the passenger’s seat, and in that moment, her son slipped out and into the security guard’s hands. His umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. An ER nurse finally appeared to take the baby—still blue and limp—and resuscitated him right on the curb.
The situation might be merely crass if not for the shadow of violence hanging over it.
For months now, it has been apparent that Donald Trump might well become the first former president of the United States to be indicted. Now the once unthinkable has taken place. A grand jury in Manhattan has handed up an indictment of Donald Trump over his alleged coordination of hush-money payments in advance of the 2016 election. The indictment itself remains under seal.
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. For one thing, it wasn’t supposed to happen today. Trump himself had announced earlier this month that he expected to be “arrested” on March 21; on the basis of what information was never clear. For another, of all the ongoing investigations into Trump—and there are many—the Manhattan probe is one of the least legally and factually straightforward. And yet, as is so often the case with Trumpian matters, the most outlandish outcome has somehow managed to come true.
Archaeology has long shied away from describing artifacts as sexual. But things may finally be changing.
This article was featured in One Story to Read Today, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a single must-read from The Atlantic, Monday through Friday. Sign up for it here.
Just south of Hadrian’s Wall, the ancient stone barrier that cuts across England from coast to coast, is a Roman fort called Vindolanda. Built around 85 A.D. and occupied for more than 300 years, Vindolanda was the tense interstice between empire and unoccupied frontier—a largely self-contained city at the edge of the Roman world. Today, surrounded by green, picturesque countryside, it is a wellspring of insight into the human past.
Thousands of wooden objects have been found at Vindolanda, most of them mundane—bits of wheels, remnants of furniture, a toilet seat. Rob Sands, an assistant professor in archaeology at University College Dublin, was recently examining these objects for an upcoming exhibit when he came across one particular artifact and did a double take. The artifact’s official description labeled it as a darning tool, a crafting device that helps secure fibers and can be shaped like a mushroom or maraca. But to Sands, the “darning tool” looked much more like a wooden penis.
The populist right has portrayed New College as a notorious example of indoctrination in higher education—a narrative that does not withstand scrutiny.
Before this year, life at New College of Florida could feel like a retreat into a pleasantly forgotten corner of the country. Students walked on paths that wound past wisps of Spanish moss and a stately banyan tree to a park on Sarasota Bay, where the outside world often felt as distant as the sun setting into the Gulf of Mexico. Then on January 6, Ron DeSantis, Florida’s popular Republican governor, seized control of the college by appointing six new members to its board of trustees.
Suddenly, the Sarasota campus found itself at the center of the culture wars. A DeSantis spokesman declared that the college had been “completely captured by a political ideology that puts trendy, truth-relative concepts above learning.” Christopher Rufo, the most outspoken new trustee, vowed to take it back. “We are now over the walls and ready to transform higher education from within,” he tweeted. In New College, Rufo saw every excess of “wokeness” in academia. He believes that critical theorists spent decades pursuing the “ideological capture” of universities, installing “coercive ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ programs.” At New College, he charges, the students and faculty faced something like “a hostage situation.”
A man of borderless corruption must prepare to face the consequences.
We can’t seem to escape his dark shadow.
Donald Trump has added another shameful chapter in the life of this nation. On Thursday he became the first ex-president to be indicted, by a New York grand jury investigating alleged hush-money payments to a porn star.
The wisdom of the indictment depends in large part on the facts of the case, which right now we know very little about. Is this a selective prosecution, which would be a grave injustice, or is the evidence in this case strong and the indictment, if made against a Donald Jones rather than Donald Trump, defensible? We’ll learn more about the answers to these questions in the days and weeks and months ahead.
If the full ramifications of the indictment are impossible to know at this point, there are some things we can count on. One of them is that in the short term, the indictment will inflame our politics, further outrage the former president’s supporters, and create in them an even greater sense of grievance and vengeance. This will become their rallying cry; Trump will become their martyr.