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The press conference centered around menacing emails that had been sent to Democratic voters warning them to vote for Trump “or we will come after you.”

Ratcliffe attributed the emails to Iran but said they were “designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump,” raising immediate questions about how threatening Democrats to vote for Trump could be aimed at damaging the president’s re-election bid — and how the intelligence community had made that determination within 24 hours of the messages.

Ractliffe also contrasted Iran’s actions with those of Russia, adding, “although we have not seen the same actions from Russia, we are aware that they have obtained some voter information just as they did in 2016.”

Ratcliffe, who has come under fire from Democrats since his confirmation in May, had decided on his own earlier on in the day to hold the press conference about the spoofed emails, the officials said. The FBI and CISA joined in on the briefing so that the warning about Iranian and Russian interference in the presidential election would be seen as independent and apolitical.

Journalists were given a roughly 30-minute warning about a forthcoming “election security” announcement. The seven-minute briefing, during which the officials didn’t take any questions, was hastily arranged and rushed, officials said, to avoid conflicting with a rally Trump was scheduled to give that night.

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The unusual announcement prompted days of leaks and counterleaks over whether Iran or Russia represented the greater election threat, and set off a fresh round of criticism from Democratic lawmakers.

It wasn’t the first time Ratcliffe has raised hackles on Capitol Hill: He received bipartisan criticism last month when he declassified a Russian intelligence assessment that was previously rejected by Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee as being potential Russian disinformation. He also scaled back election security briefings to lawmakers over the summer because of leaks, prompting outrage from Democrats. And earlier this month he appeared to reveal that the FBI was investigating a matter related to Joe Biden’s son Hunter in remarks that some law enforcement veterans deemed inappropriate.

Last week’s briefing about Iran and Russia was meant to be a kind of victory lap — government analysts and private sector investigators had been able to attribute the influence operation to Iranian hackers within a matter of hours, whereas it usually takes months for investigators to confidently determine the origins of a foreign cyberattack. The attribution was aided by a series of clumsy mistakes the hackers made, Krebs told reporters in a separate briefing last week.

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In their intimidating emails, the Iranian hackers had posed as the Proud Boys, a far-right group that gained national notoriety at last month’s first presidential debate when Trump, asked to denounce white supremacists, instead told the Proud Boys to “stand down and stand by.”

That is another area where Ratcliffe went off script, the officials said: He omitted any references to the Proud Boys during last week’s briefing, even though the group was named in his prepared remarks.

A senior intelligence official said that Ratcliffe’s remarks were being edited “until mere moments before he went on stage” and that “the broad strokes were shared with agencies who had equities in the press conference to make sure everyone was on the same page.”

Officials at the FBI and CISA referred questions to ODNI. DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Literally no one is disputing the 100 percent factual accuracy of the DNI’s remarks,” said Amanda Schoch, the assistant DNI for strategic communications. “The rest of this is just pointless process noise, most of which is inaccurate or taken out of context.”

Schoch noted an Aug. 7 statement by Bill Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

Evanina said the intelligence community had assessed that Iran “seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections.”

“What the DNI made clear last week is that Iran is executing activities to influence the U.S. election,” Schoch said. “The [intelligence community] has not changed our assessment on Iran’s intent.”


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Trump super PAC to hold first fundraiser at Bedminster

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A pro-Donald Trump super PAC is holding its first fundraising event on May 22 at the former president’s Bedminster golf club, according to two people familiar with the planning.

The event will benefit Make America Great Again Action, a super PAC spearheaded by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Trump is expected to attend the event, which will include reception and a dinner. The minimum price for entry is $250,000.

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Trump tapped Lewandowki earlier this year to oversee the super PAC as part of his post-White House political operation. It’s the second big money group Trump has formed. Shortly after the election, he launched Save America PAC, a leadership PAC that has raised tens of millions of dollars.


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Pierre ‘Pete’ du Pont IV dies; ran for president in 1988

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“I was born with a well-known name and genuine opportunity. I hope I have lived up to both,” du Pont said in announcing his longshot presidential bid in September 1986.

As a presidential candidate, du Pont attracted attention for staking out controversial positions on what he hoped would reverberate with voters as “damn right” issues. They included random drug testing for high school students, school vouchers, replacing welfare with work, ending farm subsidies, and allowing workers to invest in individual retirement accounts as an alternative to Social Security.

Some of those ideas have since become more mainstream.

He won the endorsement of New Hampshire’s largest newspaper but failed to gain traction among voters. He ended his campaign after finishing next-to-last in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

Afterward, du Pont remained engaged in politics. He frequently wrote opinion pieces for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and co-founded the online public policy journal IntellectualCapital.com. He also served as chairman of Hudson Institute, the National Review Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonpartisan public policy research organization.

Pierre du Pont IV was born Jan. 22, 1935, in Delaware. After attending Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, he graduated from Princeton University in 1956 with an engineering degree. Following a four-year stint in the Navy, he obtained a law degree from Harvard University in 1963.

He joined the Du Pont Company, where he held several positions, resigning as a quality control supervisor in 1968 to begin his political career.

After running unopposed for a state House seat in 1968, he immediately set his sights on Congress, running as a fiscal conservative and winning the first of three terms in 1970.

Elected governor in 1976, du Pont fought successfully to restore financial integrity to a state he had declared “bankrupt” shortly after his inauguration. He presided over two income tax cuts; constitutional amendments restricting state spending and requiring three-fifths votes in the legislature to raise taxes; and establishment of an independent revenue forecasting panel.

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After a rocky start with Democratic legislators, including an embarrassing override of a 1977 budget veto, du Pont forged successful relationships with lawmakers from both parties to tackle thorny issues including prison overcrowding and corruption and school desegregation. He was re-elected in a landslide in 1980, winning a record 71 percent of the vote and becoming the first two-term governor in Delaware in 20 years.

In his second term, du Pont signed landmark legislation that loosened Delaware’s banking laws, including removing the cap on interest rates that banks could charge customers. The Financial Center Development Act made Delaware a haven for some of the country’s largest credit card issuers.

Under du Pont’s leadership, Delaware also established a nonprofit employment counseling and job placement program for Delaware high school seniors not bound for college. It served as the model for a national program adopted by several other states.

Prohibited by law from seeking a third term, du Pont briefly withdrew to the private sector, joining a Wilmington law firm in 1985. A year and a half later, he announced his bid for the GOP presidential nomination, becoming the first declared candidate in the 1988 campaign.

During an appearance at the Hotel du Pont in downtown Wilmington, where du Pont announced he was abandoning his presidential campaign, he praised an electoral process that gave a shot at the White House to a former small-state governor with unorthodox ideas.

“You’ve given me the opportunity of a lifetime. You listened, you considered and you chose. I could not have asked for any more,” du Pont said. “For in America, we do not promise that everyone wins, only that everyone gets a chance to try.”

Du Pont is survived by his wife of over 60 years, the former Elise R. Wood; a daughter and three sons; and 10 grandchildren.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a memorial service will be held at a later date, Perkins said.


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Larry Hogan decries ‘circular firing squad’ within GOP

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday the Republican Party experienced its “worst four years we’ve had, ever” under President Donald Trump, noting the party’s losses in both chambers of Congress and the White House.

“We’ve got to get back to winning elections again. And we have to be able to have a Republican Party that appeals to a broader group of people,” said Hogan, a Republican, on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” “Successful politics is about addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division.”

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Hogan’s comments comes as Republicans deliberate on the future of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in the party’s House leadership, particularly over her repeated criticisms of Trump, which many Republicans view as breaking ranks and distracting from the party’s opposition to President Joe Biden. House Republicans are expected to strip Cheney of her role as conference chair and replace her with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).


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