Kasparov believes Trump may expect Election Day hacking


Last Friday’s massive online attack that caused widespread internet outages for companies such as Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, Reddit, Etsy, SoundCloud and The New York Times, made Garry Kasparov angry. Although investigators haven’t said publicly who they think instigated the attack, Kasparov, the former Soviet chess champion and critic of Vladimir Putin, believes the Russians may be behind the latest sophisticated cyber assault.

“This was just a general rehearsal for Election Day,” he warned in an interview with “They want to see what they can do to cause panic and confusion around vote counting on Election Day.”

Kasparov said that an attack of this scale requires a giant state actor with the necessary resources behind it to carry off such an assault on the internet’s infrastructure. That state actor, he believes, is Russia.

More ominously, Kasparov believes there is at least a “50-50 chance” that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump knows in advance about a coming Russian online assault on Election Day. Although he doesn’t have proof, Kasparov believes that is why Trump made his remarkable statement during the third presidential debate: that he won’t commit to accepting the results of the election if he believes it was rigged against him. His refusal to accept the results could sew confusion on Election Night and cast doubt on the integrity of American democracy, which is precisely what Kasparov says the Russians want to do.

As technology site Slash Gear and others have reported, “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are apparently both investigating, in fact, though no official indication has been given as to potential actors. Neither organization has made a statement on the investigation yet.”

Kasparov is troubled by Trump’s consistent support for Putin. Trump has never backed away from his favorable statements about Putin, despite the urging of many Republican office holders. Nor has Trump ever acknowledged that U.S. intelligence officials have said the Russians are behind the email hacking of the Democrats, with the resulting stolen emails later released in a steady stream by WikiLeaks.

Kasparov says he follows Russian news carefully, and so far, “Trump has faithfully followed Putin’s propaganda line.” For example, Trump’s disparaging comments about a rigged U.S. election offers Putin a “golden opportunity to spread rumors and confusion about the American election,” Kasparov says – and a besmirched American democracy in the eyes of the world would be a Russian success.

Kasparov speculates that Trump’s questioning the election might be part of a plan where the Russians are able to hack the results and otherwise disrupt Election Day vote-counting in many states – giving Trump the excuse he needs to refuse to accept the results of the voting. Even an attack on the American electrical grid with widespread power outages would result in the potential for confusion and doubt about voting and vote counting, Kasparov says, giving Trump a reason to assert the election results are not valid. And if Trump does not concede, against the tradition of all previous losing presidential candidates, Trump could make the winner look less legitimate and himself seemingly a victim of a stolen election.

As security expert Ryan Duff said in Newsweek last week, it doesn’t take much of a hack to sow doubt: “You only need to mess it up a little bit, and as soon as people don’t have faith in it, the whole system can start to crumble,” said Duff, a former U.S. Air Force tactician now working in the private sector. “You don’t even need to sway it one way. You just have to make people think it could happen.”

Kasparov points to recent Kremlin practice of interfering in European political life by supporting ultra-nationalists and radical left-wing groups around elections, and also buying favors from mainstream European politicians. A chance to discredit American democracy would be a big win for Putin, and last Friday’s online dress rehearsal shows what can be done.

Kasparov acknowledges he has no proof of the collusion between Putin and Trump for an Election Day disruption, but he says: “It is better to warn people now about what is about to happen, than to keep silent and be sorry later on November 9 that there was massive Election Day hacking. … This threat is too high to ignore.”

Sources:  The New York Times, Politico, Slash Gear, CNN, The Washington Post

(Photo courtesy Garry Kasparov)

Trump still denies Russian hacking; labeled Putin ‘puppet’


The third presidential debate featured the expected fireworks between the candidates – and Republican Donald Trump repeated his claim several times that “I don’t know Putin,” despite his previous statements bragging about a relationship with the Russian strongman.

But the most extraordinary moments came when moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace pressed Trump for specific answers on two critical issues around national security and democracy: the interference of the Russian government in the U.S, presidential election and Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting this year’s election results.

Russian interference in the election:

Democrat Hillary Clinton said this question might be the most important one in the debate. She raised the issue first when Wallace read a quote from one of her speeches on border security – a quote that came from hacked Democratic National Committee emails that have been released by WikiLeaks. In the debate, Clinton used the opening to denounce interference by a foreign power in the presidential election: “What’s really important about WikiLeaks is that the Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans. They have hacked American websites, American accounts of private people, of institutions.”

A heated exchange followed – which included Clinton claiming Trump would be Putin’s “puppet as president” and Trump firing back, “You’re the puppet!” But throughout, Trump again refused to acknowledge that U.S. government officials have accused the Russian government of orchestrating the hacking attacks – repeating a stance he made in the second debate. Trump on Wednesday night: “She has no idea whether it’s Russia, China, or anybody else. … And our country has no idea.”

Wallace, to his credit, set the record straight: “The top national security officials of this country do believe that Russia has been behind these hacks.” And he pressed the point with Trump: “Even if you don’t know for sure whether they are, do you condemn any interference by Russia in the American election?”

Trump still refused to say that Russia is behind the hacks – but he did say he would condemn interference “by Russia or anybody else.” And then for good measure, he repeated: “I don’t know Putin.”

Undermining American democracy:

With all of Trump’s talk over recent weeks claiming that the election is rigged, Wallace reminded the Republican that both his running mate Mike Pence and his daughter Ivanka had said this week that Trump  “will absolutely accept the result of this election.”

Wallace: “Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely – sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?”

Trump: “I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now. I’ll look at it at the time.”

Wallace: “But, sir, there is a tradition in this country – in fact, one of the prides of this country – is the peaceful transition of power and that no matter how hard-fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you’re necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?”

Trump’s response was like a cliffhanger from one of his reality shows: “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense. OK?”  It was a remark that critics charge undermines American democracy.

After the debate, world chess champion and Putin critic Garry Kasparov tweeted: “Trump refusing to accept election results & his loyalty to Putin are the same plan to weaken US. He’s Putin’s stooge.”

Once again, Trump was given the opportunity to name Russia as interfering in the American election, and to criticize Putin, and he declined to do so. And he was given a chance to say that he fully supports U.S. democracy no matter who wins, and he failed to do so. At this late point in the 2016 campaign, both of these remarkable statements have to be considered deeply held positions taken by Trump in the face of the evidence against Russia and against the history of 44 peaceful presidential transitions throughout American history. By taking these stands, Trump is once again rejecting values held across the American political spectrum.

Sources noted inline, and also include the Washington Post debate transcript

Round 2 and Trump’s denial: ‘I don’t know Putin’


Republican Donald Trump admitted he has avoided paying taxes for many years, and he dismissed his horrific language about women caught on tape as simply “locker-room talk” during a more controlled performance in the second presidential debate Sunday night.

And when it came to the critical national-security issues that we are watching closely at, Trump developed a sudden case of amnesia about his oft-repeated praise for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, as well as his own business dealings with Russian oligarchs. He also flatly denied the U.S. intelligence community’s charges that Russia is attempting to interfere with the U.S. election by cyber hacking – and even contradicted his running mate on the best approach to Russia in dealing with ISIS.

Here’s what Trump said in Sunday night’s debate and what the record actually shows in response:

Statement 1: “I don’t know Putin.”

Politifact called Trump on this back in August when he first started to distance himself from the Russian strongman. Here are some direct quotes from Trump over the past three years:

“I do have a relationship, and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today.” (MSNBC, 2013)

“…I own Miss Universe, I was in Russia, I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success.” (National Press Club address, 2014)

And of course Trump has repeated time and again that he believes Putin is a “stronger leader” than President Obama.

Statement 2: “I think it would be great if we got along with Putin so we could fight ISIS together.”

Last week, during the vice presidential debate, Trump’s running mate Mike Pence was singing a completely different tune on the threat Putin represents: “And the small and bullying leader of Russia is now dictating terms to the United States to the point where all the United States of America – the greatest nation on Earth – just withdraws from talks about a cease-fire while Vladimir Putin puts a missile defense system in Syria.”

On Sunday night, when moderator Martha Raddatz reminded Trump of Pence’s strong words on Russia, Trump said: “He (Pence) and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree.”

Statement 3: “ … she doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking.

In July, Trump explicitly invited Russia to hack into American systems to find emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s servers – and he hit the missing-email issue hard again in Sunday’s debate. His dare came amid questions around the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s emails: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Also in July, Trump refused to call on Putin to stay out of the election, “I’m not going to tell Putin what to do. Why would I tell him what to do? Why do I have to get tough on Putin? I don’t know anything other than that he doesn’t respect our country.”

On Friday, the U.S. government officially accused Russia of hacking the campaign in order to influence the election. “The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations,” said a joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence. “. . . These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.” The DNC had previously reported that its investigation had pointed to Russian hackers.

And hacks into two state election systems have been tracked to servers in Siberia, confirmed by the owner of the servers.

Statement 4: “I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia. I don’t deal there. I have no businesses there.

As pointed out last month on, there is an abundance of evidence of Trump’s business dealings with Russian investors and oligarchs. Slate has reported extensively about Trump’s relationships with Russian investors going back two decades. And even Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., has bragged: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

A recent ABC News investigation suggests Trump’s business ties with Russia are vast, potentially in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Up next: As the campaign intensifies over its final four weeks, look for Trump to continue to be at odds with his running mate about the Russian threat, or try to forget or fudge his positions on Russia and his relationship with Putin. The final face-off between the presidential candidates will be Wednesday, Oct. 19, in Las Vegas.

Sources: The Washington Post, Politifact, CNN, The New York Times, Slate, ABC News, The Independent