Mueller questions raise new hacking tangles for Trumps
The New York Times obtained a copy of the questions special counsel Robert Mueller submitted to President Trump's lawyers and among them was this subtle bombshell: "What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?"
Why it matters: The old saw is that good lawyers don't ask questions they don't know the answers to. The phrasing — outreach to Russia rather than outreach from — suggests Mueller may have reason to believe the Trump campaign requested Russian assistance in the campaign.
Manafort started with the Trump campaign in March of 2016. In April, the believed Russian hackers registered the DC Leaks website, a WikiLeaks clone that appears to be the original plan for releasing hacked emails before the group pivoted to Wikileaks. That summer, the Democratic National Committee would announce it had been hacked.
- Yes, but: The DNC hackers had already burrowed into the DNC network before Manafort joined the campaign, and the question certainly doesn't imply this was Manafort's first move as campaign manager. Reaching out does not mean a Russian plan was already in the works.
Meanwhile: The other Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., may have violated the U.S.'s major antihacking law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, writes Orin Kerr in Lawfare.
- Of an anti-Trump website, Trump Jr. wrote in an email released by Congress: "Guys I got a weird Twitter DM from [W]ikileaks. See below. I tried the password and it works and the about section they reference contains the next pic in terms of who is behind it."
- Kerr is a leading expert in what the CFAA means and should mean, and has taken a narrower view than some judges about what kinds of activities the law forbids. But he has argued that the CFAA should be taken to ban illicit access to a computer beyond any measures intended to cut off access — like a password prompt.