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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

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.

 

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:

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.”

In testimony Tuesday morning before the House Intelligence Committee, former CIA Director John Brennan gave the most straightforward explanation to date as to why U.S. intelligence agencies embarked last summer on a now-sprawling investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential coordination between Russian officials and individuals connected to the Trump campaign.

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Amid an avalanche of daily revelations about the investigation into links between Donald Trump’s inner circle and Russia, the House Intelligence Committee will hear testimony on Tuesday from former CIA Director John Brennan. The lawmakers plan to question Brennan about “Russian active measures during the 2016 election campaign” designed to aid Trump and damage the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

Watch live below:

When the Justice Department announced Wednesday evening that it was appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, both Republicans and Democrats cheered the news.

But less than 24 hours later, after a classified briefing from the man who appointed Mueller—Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—many senators were angry, frustrated, and fearful that both they and the American public will remain in the dark as the federal investigation unfolds.

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Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.

An avalanche of developments fell this week onto the congressional committees digging into the connections between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

In the span of just 24 hours, lawmakers learned that the Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to take over the Russia investigation; that the Trump campaign knew even before inauguration day that then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was under federal investigation; that Trump contacted Flynn in April, against his lawyers’ warning, to tell him to “stay strong”; and that ousted FBI Director James Comey had not yet responded to several requests for him to testify on Capitol Hill.

With a new twist in the saga nearly every hour, the senators tasked with investigating the Trump-Russia connection are scrambling to determine how they can get to the bottom of a host of unanswered questions without stepping on the toes of the FBI’s work in the same area.

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