Feb 14, 2017

The curious case of the Russian missiles leak

Alexei Nikolsky / AP

The story got lost amid the wall-to-wall Michael Flynn coverage, but it hasn't been lost on Republican insiders crafting Russia policy.

The New York Times reports today that administration officials have leaked news that Russia "secretly deployed a new cruise missile despite complaints from American officials that it violates a landmark arms control treaty that helped seal the end of the Cold War."

What Republicans on Capitol Hill are wondering: Republicans have been protesting Russia's violations for a couple of years already; so they're naturally wondering about motive. Was it someone in the Administration who is trying to prevent President Trump's Russia outreach? As one insider pointed out to us, there's no apparent need for urgent action to justify the leak's timing.

"You'll note that the Times says 'Russia now has two battalions'. Two. As in they didn't just rush this out yesterday," the insider added. "Those things take a lot of time to put in place. That's why this story isn't exactly urgent especially when there's really no response we can take."

Why this matters: The Trump Administration is (understandably) rife with paranoia, and the paranoia is seeping out on the Hill and being nourished by the extraordinary series of leaks coming from the intelligence community. On the campaign trail, Trump promised to go to war with Washington. He may have underestimated Washington's powers to fight back.

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Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers as South Korean cases surge

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,100 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 114 new deaths since Wednesday.

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Massive MGM data breach: Guests' personal details posted on hacking site

The MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

An MGM Resorts security breach last summer resulted in the personal details of 10.6 million guests published on a hacking forum this week, ZDNet first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Federal government employees and high-profile guests were affected by the breach, according to analysis by data breach monitoring service Under the Bridge and ZDNet — including officials from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Microsoft staffers and singer Justin Bieber.

George Zimmerman sues Buttigieg and Warren for $265M

George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in November 2013. Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

George Zimmerman filed a lawsuit in Polk County, Fla., seeking $265 million in damages from Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, accusing them of defaming him to "garner votes in the black community."

Context: Neither the Massachusetts senator nor the former Southbend mayor tweeted his name in the Feb. 5 posts on what would've been the 25th birthday of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen Zimmerman fatally shot in 2012. But Zimmerman alleges they "acted with actual malice" to defame him.