Sep 28, 2017

Top Senator slams "inadequate" Twitter briefing

Mark Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Thursday he wasn't satisfied with Twitter's Capitol Hill presentation into possible Russian election meddling on its platform — calling it "frankly inadequate on almost every level." The company told congressional investigators earlier today that it had found just over 200 accounts linked to a Russian effort disclosed by Facebook to purchase advertisements that highlighted divisive political issues.

Why it matters: This just increases the pressure on Facebook, Twitter and Google parent Alphabet — all of whom have been invited to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee in early November.

The details: Sen. Mark Warner said during a press conference that he was upset the company had based its search only on the accounts Facebook had disclosed as behind about $100,000 ad buys focused on controversial political issues before and after the presidential campaign.

"The presentation that the Twitter team made to the Senate Intel staff was deeply disappointing," he said. "The notion that their work was basically derivative based upon accounts that Facebook had identified showed an enormous lack of understanding from the twitter team of how serious this issue this, the threat it poses to democratic institutions, and again begs many more questions than they offered."

What's next?: Warner's committee has invited Facebook, Alphabet and Twitter to testify on November 1. Now the pressures are greater than ever.

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In photos: How coronavirus is impacting cities around the world

Revellers take part in the "Plague Doctors Procession" in Venice on Tuesday night during the usual period of the Carnival festivities, most of which have been cancelled following the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has spread from China to infect people in more than 40 countries and territories around the world, killing over 2,700 people.

The big picture: Most of the 80,000 COVID-19 infections have occurred in mainland China. But cases are starting to surge elsewhere. By Wednesday morning, the worst affected countries outside China were South Korea (1,146), where a U.S. soldier tested positive to the virus, Italy (332), Japan (170), Iran (95) and Singapore (91). Just Tuesday, new cases were confirmed in Switzerland, Croatia and Algeria.

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Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

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4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.