Facebook has 'tentatively' concluded that spammers, not foreign agents, are to blame for the biggest hack in its history (FB)

mark zuckerberg facebook ceo

  • Facebook has “tentatively” concluded that spammers pretending to be a digital marketing firm are responsible for the biggest hack in the company’s history, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
  • Anonymous sources told the WSJ that the company does not believe a nation-state was involved. 
  • The hacker stole personal information of 29 million Facebook users.

Facebook believes that spammers, and not a nation-state, are responsible for a devastating recent hack that stole the personal information of 29 million Facebook users, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

The report, which cites anonymous sources, says that Facebook has “tentatively” concluded the hackers were spammers who were posing as a digital marketing company. 

The hack, which Facebook first disclosed in September, is the largest breach suffered by the social network. The hackers were able to exploit vulnerabilities in Facebook’s code to get their hands on “access tokens” — essentially digital keys that give them full access to compromised users’ accounts — and then scraped users’ data.

Among the user data stolen by hackers were birthdates, phone numbers, search history and even recent locations the users had “checked in” at. 

Facebook and other social media services have increasingly been targeted by malicious actors seeking to use the platforms to spread misinformation and wreak other havoc. Facebook has said it believes Russian operatives were behind a campaign to spread misinformation ahead of the 2016 US Presidential elections.  

The fact that criminal spammers, presumably with commercial motives rather than a political agenda, are behind the recent hack is an unexpected development, though it’s unlikely to quell some of the mistrust the company has earned from a large segment of users.

Interestingly, Facebook noted in an update last week that the FBI had asked it not to publicly discuss “who may be behind this attack.”

A Facebook representative referred Business Insider to the company’s statement from a week ago when it disclosed certain details of the incident: “We are cooperating with the FBI on this matter. The FBI is actively investigating and have asked us not to discuss who may be behind this attack.”

Read more about the massive Facebook hack:

Hackers stole millions of Facebook users’ personal data — here’s why you should be worried

Here’s how to check if you were affected in the Facebook hack — and how to delete your Facebook account

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'This is what happens when you elect a moron to the presidency': Michael Avenatti claps back at Trump's 'Horseface' tweet toward Stormy Daniels

stormy daniels

  • Attorney Michael Avenatti fired a warning shot in response to President Donald Trump’s tweets in which he called Avenatti’s client, adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, “Horseface.”
  • “I’m a father to two daughters … how do you tell your kids to look up to the president of the United States when he behaves in this manner?,” Avenatti said. “It’s an absolute joke.”
  • Avenatti, who has hinted at a 2020 presidential run, also took a jab at what he believed to be “wishy-washy” tactics some Democratic lawmakers have used to counter Trump.
  • “There’s only one way to deal with a bully … and that is when they punch you, you hit them back twice as hard,” Avenatti said. “He better pack a lunch.”

Attorney Michael Avenatti fired a warning shot at President Donald Trump in response to his “Horseface” insult toward adult-film actress Stormy Daniels.

“This is a disgrace,” Avenatti said during a CNN interview on Tuesday evening. “Donald Trump is the president of the United States. Never in my lifetime did I think that I would witness behavior like this from the president.”

“I’m a father to two daughters … how do you tell your kids to look up to the president of the United States when he behaves in this manner,” Avenatti added. “It’s an absolute joke.”

Asked how Daniels reacted to Trump’s insult, Avenatti said she was “incredulous.” 

“She couldn’t believe it,” Avenatti said. “She thought that his account had been hacked or that it was some joke.”

“The rest of the world looks at us, they laugh at us,” Avenatti added. “I don’t care what your politics are. This has no place, this is a complete disrespect to the office of the presidency.”

Avenatti, who has hinted that he might run as a Democrat in the 2020 presidential election, also took a jab at what he called “wishy-washy” tactics he believes some Democratic lawmakers have used to counter Trump.

“There’s only one way to deal with a bully … and that is when they punch you, you hit them back twice as hard,” Avenatti said. “He better pack a lunch.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump took a victory lap after a federal judge dismissed Avenatti and Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against him on First Amendment grounds. In addition to dismissing the lawsuit, US District Judge James Otero ordered Daniels to pay Trump’s legal fees.

“Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer in the Great State of Texas,” Trump tweeted, referring to Daniels and Avenatti. “She will confirm the letter she signed! She knows nothing about me, a total con!”

Trump appeared to be referring to a letter Daniels signed in January, in which she denied having an affair with Trump in 2006. Next week, Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign rally to support Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Daniels’ home state.

Daniels immediately fired back at Trump using some sexual innuendo:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present your president,” Daniels said in a tweet. “In addition to his…umm…shortcomings, he has demonstrated his incompetence, hatred of women and lack of self control on Twitter AGAIN! And perhaps a penchant for bestiality. Game on, Tiny.”

Despite the ruling, Avenatti said in a statement that he would appeal the judges decision and that Daniels’ lawsuits against Trump and Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, would “proceed unaffected.” Avenatti also claimed that the dismissed defamation lawsuit was only “secondary” to his original claim regarding the nondisclosure agreement between Cohen and Daniels.

“The defamation case was a secondary case to the main case, which is the case over the nondisclosure agreement,” Avenatti said. “I don’t think Donald Trump is smart enough to understand that.”

“I mean, this is what happens when you elect a moron to the presidency of the United States, somebody that doesn’t even understand basic law.”

SEE ALSO: Trump scores a ‘total victory’ after federal judge dismisses Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit and orders her to pay his legal fees

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Google cloud boss Diane Greene won't attend Saudi investment event, throwing a wrench into Google's plans to tap new revenue in the country (GOOG, GOOGL)

Diane Greene

  • Diane Greene, Google cloud chief, will not attend an investment event in Saudi Arabia. 
  • Greene is the latest US business leader to pull out of the event following the disappearance of a dissident Saudi journalist.
  • Greene’s decision not to attend the conference comes following a year whe Google has tried to build closer ties to the Saudi government. 

Google is the latest in a still growing number of US businesses to distance themselves from Saudi Arabia following accusations that the government there is behind the disappearance of a dissident journalist.

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene was scheduled to speak at an investment event called the Future Investment Initiative, a conference sponsored by Saudi government, but has now dropped out.

“We can confirm Diane Greene will not be attending the FII Summit,” said a Google spokesperson in a written statement.

A cloud of suspicion has hung over the Saudi government ever since Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, a Saudi citizen, and a well-known critic of the government there, went missing on Oct. 2. The government of Turkey alleges it has proof that Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey. Saudi officials have denied it had anything to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance.

In response to the accusations, several high-profile tech leaders announced last week they had pulled out of the conference dubbed the “Davos in the Desert.” Included among them are Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, Steve Case, an AOL cofounder and venture capitalist, Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, and Andy Rubin, cofounder of Android and former Google executive.  

Dara Khosrowshahi

The controversy comes at an awkward time for Google. The past year, the company has tried to strengthen ties with the Saudis. In April, Google’s leaders met with  Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. According to reports, they discussed cooperating on cloud computing services and the possibility of building a digital hub in Saudi Arabia.    

Later that month, after the company reported earnings, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that Google would roll out cloud services in Saudi Arabia.

“Our global infrastructure continues to expand to support demand,” Pichai told analysts on the call. “We commissioned three new sub sea cables and announced new regions in Canada, Japan, Netherlands and Saudi Arabia, bringing our total of recently launched and upcoming regions to 20.”

Pulling out of the conference could conceivably harm Google’s relationship with the crown prince, though had Greene attended, critics would have likely claimed that Google was once again at odds with the company’s values.

The situation shows just how hard it can be for Greene to build Google’s cloud business, and make up ground on two much larger rivals, Amazon AWS and Microsoft’s Azure, while not running afoul of the company’s moral codes.

Earlier this year, after thousands of the company’s employees rose up in protest, Google stopped working on a military program called Project Maven, an effort that used artificial intelligence to analyze drone surveillance footage.

The company also published a list of principles that would direct its use of AI in the future. Those principles appear to demand some sacrifice from the company. Last week, Google said it would not bid on a $10 billion Pentagon contract due to potential conflicts with the AI principles.

Amazon is currently the favorite to win the contract. And Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took a veiled shot at Google at a conference in San Francisco on Monday: “If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the US Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble,” he said.

SEE ALSO: ‘Things have changed at Google’: An engineer who quit to protest Project Maven explains why the company’s changing values forced him out

SEE ALSO: Individuals and businesses are distancing themselves from Saudi Arabia following the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

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In the Google+ case, the lack of transparency from Google is likely the biggest problem for managers, say experts (GOOG, GOOGL)

Sergey Brin and Larry Page

  • The Wall Street Journal’s bombshell report that Google decided not to disclose a security lapse at Google+ dominated technology news on Monday. 
  • The lack of transparency in Google’s handling of the situation is exactly why the European Union implemented tough privacy regulations this year, say legal and security experts. 
  • They added that following the Cambridge Analytica case at Facebook, the new issue with Google+ gives US lawmakers more reason to adopt rules similar to those in Europe.
  • Google’s explanation that it didn’t report the security lapse because it could find no sign the information was misused doesn’t appear consistent with a memo reviewed by the Journal’s reporters.
  • They suggested that Google wanted to avoid scrutiny by regulators.    


Google erred by not disclosing to users of Google+, the long struggling social network, that their personal data was left exposed to third-party developers, say legal and security experts.

And now, Google could pay serious consequences for not being more forthcoming, the experts said.

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that a software glitch led to the sharing of personal-profile information belonging to 500,000 Google+ users with third-party developers. In addition, the Journal wrote that Google managers  chose not to disclose the security lapse to the public for fear that it might draw the attention of regulators.

Not revealing what happened much earlier was a mistake, according to Joseph Moreno, a former federal prosecutor who now oversees cybersecurity cases at the law firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

“You get out in front of these things,” Moreno said.  “The worst thing is to downplay it or stall or pretend that it didn’t happen. Now, you run the risk of walking into the type of government oversight that you said you were afraid of.” 

‘Get out in front’

Moreno and other legal and security experts who spoke to Business Insider said the situation at Google+ could give  US lawmakers one more reason to adopt the kind of increased oversight that the European Union implemented this year. It’s safe to say that nobody in tech wants more government regulation. 

Google responded to the Journal’s story by downplaying the impacts of the security lapse. Managers could find no sign that anyone did anything nefarious with the exposed information, which in itself was little more than names, email addresses and occupations.

One fact not brought up in the blog post but might have worked in Google’s favor is that Google+ had only limped a long for years and never seriously challenged Facebook.

Margrethe Vestager

The service, launched in 2011, was once compared to a digital ghost town. All this would seem to suggest that there wasn’t much at stake. 

But one of the problems with Google’s explanation is the internal memo that the Journal’s reporters said they reviewed. According to them, Google’s lawyers and policy experts warned managers that if they disclosed the security lapse at Google+, it would potentially harm the company’s reputation and invite “immediate regulatory interest.”

If the security lapse resulted in so little harm, as Google says now, how come the company’s own lawyers feared the lapse might be made public? 

‘The heart of the trust issue’

Whatever happened, it is this kind of  tendency to withhold information that has led regulators in the US and Europe to distrust big US tech companies, says Cory Cowgill, chief technology officer at Fusion Risk Management, which sells enterprise risk-management software.

“When this kind of thing happens,” said Cowgill, “it validates the people who say, ‘We need more transparency and more regulation.'”

Margrethe Vestager, the Danish politician as well as the European Commissioner for Competition, could be among the people who feel validated. In May, the European Union implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR),  a new and stricter set of regulations designed to protect data and privacy. 

It’s hard to know how the EU might respond to the Journal story, says Cowgill. He said that for starters, GDPR went into effect in May and Google fixed the software bug two months before that. He also said GDPR requires site owners to disclose a security breach to users who are impacted within 72 hours. In this case, there’s no proof that Google+ suffered a breach.  

But Cowgill says a lack of transparency goes to the heart of what GDPR and the EU are trying to snuff out.

 “What happened at Google+,” said Cowgill, “goes straight to the heart of the trust issue.” 

SEE ALSO: Google shutters the Google+ social network after Wall Street Journal reports a huge security lapse

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Hackers stole millions of Facebook users' highly sensitive data — and the FBI has asked it not to say who might be behind it (FB)

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg

  • Facebook says 30 million users were affected by the massive hack it first disclosed two weeks ago.
  • On Friday, the social-networking firm revealed more details about the attack — and said the FBI had asked it not to reveal who might be behind it.
  • Hackers accessed millions of victims’ highly sensitive personal data, including locations, relationship information, recent searches, and birthdates.

Thirty million people have been affected by a massive hack of Facebook, with the attackers gaining access to millions of victims’ highly sensitive personal data.

On Friday, Facebook provided more details about the attack that it first disclosed two weeks ago — and said the FBI had asked it not to discuss who might be behind the attack.

In its update, Facebook said that the company was cooperating with the American law-enforcement agency and that 30 million people were affected, down from its original estimate of 50 million. In the case of 14 million victims, the attackers gained access to a variety of data including locations, contact details, relationship status, and recent searches — highly sensitive data that could be used to facilitate identify theft.

It appears to be the worst hack in Facebook’s 14-year history.

The hackers were able to exploit vulnerabilities in Facebook’s code to get their hands on “access tokens” — essentially digital keys that give them full access to compromised users’ accounts — and then scraped users’ data.

“We’re cooperating with the FBI, which is actively investigating and asked us not to discuss who may be behind this attack,” the Facebook executive Guy Rosen wrote in a blog post.

“We now know that fewer people were impacted than we originally thought. Of the 50 million people whose access tokens we believed were affected, about 30 million actually had their tokens stolen.”

For 14 million victims, the attackers accessed a trove of user highly sensitive data, including gender, relationship status, religion, hometown, current city, birth date, devices used to log in, education, locations checked into, pages followed, recent searches, name, and contact details.

For another 15 million, the hackers accessed less information — only name and contact details.

And for 1 million affected users, the hackers did not access any information.

Users can check whether they were affected, and what information was accessed, by visiting Facebook’s help center.

 More on the Facebook hack: 

Here’s how to check if you were affected in the Facebook hack — and how to delete your Facebook account

Hackers stole millions of Facebook users’ personal data — here’s why you should be worried

Here are all the types of personal info hackers stole from 29 million Facebook users, and why it’s so frightening

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Here are all the types of personal info hackers stole from 29 million Facebook users, and why it's so frightening (FB)

hackers america cyberattacks black hat

  • A massive attack on Facebook by unidentified hackers impacted 29 million people.
  • The majority of data taken was personal names and phone numbers.
  • For some people, much more information was taken — date of birth, location, religion, and a variety of other details.

Facebook announced important new details Friday about the massive hack that affected 29 million users of its social network — and it’s much worse than we thought.

A mess of personal information, including details about people’s recent locations, phone numbers and search histories, was taken by the as-yet unidentified hackers. 

After all, Facebook serves as an online identity for many people.

“For 15 million people, attackers accessed two sets of information – name and contact details (phone number, email, or both, depending on what people had on their profiles),” Facebook said in a blog post Friday.

“For 14 million people, the attackers accessed the same two sets of information, as well as other details people had on their profiles,” the post said. 

For anyone who’s filled out a Facebook profile page, those “other details people had on their profiles” can amount to a lot of personal information: Stuff like your birthdate, where you went to school, who you’re in a relationship with — even your religion. It all depends on what you volunteered to Facebook when you filled out your profile page.

Here’s the full list of information that hackers might have gotten if you’re one of the unlucky 29 million impacted people:

  • Username
  • Gender
  • Locale/language
  • Relationship status
  • Religion
  • Hometown
  • Self-reported current city
  • Birthdate
  • Device types used to access Facebook
  • Education
  • Work
  • The last 10 places you checked into or were tagged in
  • Website
  • People or Pages you follow
  • The 15 most recent searches

Wondering whether or not you’re affected? So were we! Head to this Facebook page while logged into Facebook, and scroll to the bottom to find out.

SEE ALSO: Facebook says the FBI has asked it not to reveal who might be behind an hack that affected 30 million people

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Hackers stole millions of Facebook users’ personal data — here’s why you should be worried (FB)

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg

  • Some 30 million Facebook users were victims of the hacking attack it revealed recently.
  • That attack exposed the personal information of many users, including their names, phone numbers, birth dates, and more.
  • That kind of information could be used for identity theft and to compromise users’ financial and other accounts, security and privacy experts say.
  • The exposure of that data can also pose particular and obvious dangers to people who are trying to keep a low profile, such as victims of domestic violence.

If you’re one of the victims of the recently revealed hack of Facebook, you should be extra careful on the internet — and extra watchful of your other online and offline accounts.

The data hackers gleaned from the social network could be used for identity theft, and to access accounts ranging from those at banks and other financial institutions to online stores. It also could be used in so-called spear phishing attacks, in which hackers use the information they know about particular users to send them personalized messages that convince them to leak their passwords or other critical data.

“Given the scale of this — which was really surprising — and how much information was scraped … people can be legitimately concerned,” said Justin Brookman, director of privacy and technology policy at Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports.

Some 30 million accounts were compromised in the attack, which Facebook first announced two weeks ago. The hackers were able to gain access to names and phones numbers of nearly all of those users as well as personal details such as birth dates, relationship status, gender, and education and work histories for 14 million of them.

The exposure of those kinds of personal details can be particularly dangerous to people who are trying keep a low profile, such as those who have been the victims of domestic abuse or protestors worried about reprisals from their governments. It can also create problems for people who were trying to keep certain parts of their lives private from the wider world, such as their sexual orientation or their religious affiliations.

The data from Facebook could be used to access bank accounts

But it can be risky to everyday users as well. That’s because in the hands of malicious actors, this data can be used to hijack accounts on other services besides Facebook.

The password reset feature on many sites asks users to answer certain security questions. Those questions often ask for just the kind of personal details that were revealed in the Facebook hack, Brookman said.

But it’s not just online accounts that are at risk. Information such as names and birth dates can also be used to gain access to banking accounts or medical records over the phone, said John Simpson, director of privacy and technology at Consumer Watchdog, a consumer advocacy group. That kind of information “can be tremendously empowering” to hackers, he said.

“They can take that information and definitely parlay it into information that can scam the individual,” he said. “Potentially, there’s some real damage that can be done to people.”

Even the leak of just a phone number can pose a risk. To protect their accounts on various websites, many users have been turning on two-factor authentication, a security technique that often requires users when logging into their accounts to enter a special code in addition to their passwords. Many sites send that code via the SMS text messaging system to users’ cell phones.

Security researchers have known for years, though, that the SMS system is vulnerable to hacking attacks. By knowing a user’s phone number, a malicious actor could potentially intercept the two-factor authentication code and use it to gain control of the user’s account.

It could also be used in targeted email attacks

Another potential danger comes from spear-phishing attacks. Typically in such an attack, a hacker sends an email that induces a user to click on a link to a spoofed site and enter their login information. The malicious actor usually uses what they know about the target — their friends, their family, their life experiences — to convince them that the email is legitimate.

Even seemingly innocuous information about a person can be used in such attacks. The more data a hacker has about someone, the more believable they can make the email lure. One set of data that was exposed in the Facebook hack was the locations where users had checked in using Facebook’s app.

A hacker might be able to take that information and purport to be a representative of a target’s credit card company, potentially even saying that the company had noticed their card being used on the date and place of the check in, said Michelle Richardson, director of the privacy and data project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, an advocacy group.

“These guys are really crafty,” she said.

Because users often reuse passwords on multiple sites, they may find lots of their most sensitive and valuable accounts at risk if they fall victim to such a scam.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself

You can find out whether you were affected by the Facebook attack by logging into your account and going to a security page the company has set up. If you were affected, there are several steps you should take to protect yourself, security and privacy experts say:

  • Put a freeze on your credit report with the major credit reporting agencies, such as Equifax. That will prevent criminals from using the information they gleaned about your from creating new financial accounts in your name. Thanks to a new law, credit freezes are now available for free.
  • Keep a close eye on your financial statements to look out for mystery charges.
  • Make sure you aren’t using the same password in multiple places, and create new, unique ones if you are. A password manager such as LastPass can make it easier to create and keep track of your login information for different sites.
  • Turn on two-factor authentication whenever you can, but especially on your most sensitive or valuable accounts. Even those such systems can be vulnerable to hacking attacks, they’re still more secure than passwords alone.

Regardless of whether your account was affected, you might also want to consider deleting or deactivating your Facebook account, especially if you don’t use it often. If you plan to keep your account, you should also think about limiting what you share on it.

“People share stuff on their Facebook profiles they wouldn’t want shared with rest of world,” said Brookman. He continued: “There’s historical data that’s out there about you that could potentially be leveraged against you or used to hack your account or compromise your friends’.”

Now read:

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Washington state's Supreme Court just tossed out its death penalty — here are the states that still have the power to execute prisoners

death penalty lethal injection

  • Washington state’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the death penalty violates its constitution.
  • Capital punishment has reached record lows across the US — at both the state and federal levels.
  • Though most states still technically retain the death penalty, very few actually use it.

Washington state’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the death penalty violates its constitution because it has been “imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.”

The ruling declared that all eight of the state’s prisoners who are currently on death row will now serve life sentences instead.

“The use of the death penalty is unequally applied — sometimes by where the crime took place, or the county of residence, or the available budgetary resources at any given point in time, or the race of the defendant,” the justices wrote in their ruling. “The death penalty, as administered in our state, fails to serve any legitimate penological goal.”

Washington isn’t alone — data show that use of the death penalty has steadily declined since the 1970s, and few states still execute prisoners regularly.

Though the majority of states still retain capital punishment, few of them have actually used it in recent years. There are even 16 states that haven’t executed a single prisoner since 1976, according to The Marshall Project.

As the death penalty fades out of use across the country, many states have even put the issue on the ballot in recent years. But voters have been reluctant to abolish capital punishment completely, no matter how rarely it’s used.

death penalty in united states map

Here are all the states that still retain the death penalty, but haven’t executed anyone in at least five years:

states death penalty haven't executed 5 years map

Harvard researchers found in 2016 that the US’s use of the death penalty is mainly fueled by just a handful of counties — they’re known as “outlier” counties and they’re scattered throughout states like Texas, Alabama, and Florida.

The researchers found that the counties that still actively pursue the death penalty tend to have several factors in common: overzealous prosecutors, inadequate defense attorneys, and racial bias.

SEE ALSO: Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Florida shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz

DON’T MISS: Just 16 counties are fueling America’s use of the death penalty

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Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe reportedly butted heads with Rod Rosenstein over the Russia investigation

rod rosenstein

  • Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe reportedly had a tense standoff after Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel for the Russia investigation.
  • The two men reportedly urged each other to recuse themselves from the Russia probe.
  • During one exchange, Rosenstein is said to have pointed to a picture of McCabe wearing a political campaign T-shirt supporting his wife’s run for Virginia state Senate.
  • McCabe in turn criticized Rosenstein and pointed to a memo he wrote for President Donald Trump, in which he criticized FBI Director James Comey and added justification for Trump’s firing of Comey.

A rift between deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe ran deep after Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel over the Russia investigation, according to a Washington Post report published Wednesday.

After Mueller was appointed in May 2017, McCabe was summoned for a meeting that included the special counsel and Rosenstein, current and former officials said to The Post. During this tense meeting, Rosenstein and McCabe reportedly cited several reasons why the other ought to recuse himself from the Russia probe.

Some of the details of the meeting are disputed, but one person familiar with the situation said Rosenstein referenced a picture of McCabe wearing a T-shirt supporting his wife’s campaign for the Virginia state Senate race in 2015. Critics, namely President Donald Trump, have railed against the McCabe’s and alleged that their ties to the Democratic Party tainted the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Andrew McCabe

McCabe brought documents from FBI ethics officials that claimed he followed ethics rules, according to two people cited in The Post.

But another person denied that the dispute was over a T-shirt and claimed that McCabe’s statements following the controversial firing of FBI director James Comey were scrutinized by officials.

After Comey was abruptly fired, McCabe wrote a motivational memo to staffers and urged them to “hang in there.”

“As men and women of the FBI, we are at our best when times are tough,” McCabe wrote in January. “Please stay focused on the mission, keep doing great work, be good to each other and we will get through this together.”

“We all miss him,” McCabe added, referring to Comey, “and I know that he misses us.”

As Rosenstein argued his case, McCabe reportedly pulled out the deputy attorney general’s memo that Trump used to justify his firing of Comey. Legal experts have argued that this memo, which criticized Comey’s handling of the Clinton investigation, was the catalyst for Comey’s firing.

“Andy was angry,” a person familiar with the events said to The Post.

McCabe was fired in March, one day before his retirement date, after an internal investigation on unauthorized media disclosures surrounding the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s emails. Rosenstein is currently the acting attorney general for Mueller’s investigation, despite rumors that Trump has been weighing the possibility of replacing him.

“Well, we’re going to see what happens,” Trump said to Fox News host Shannon Bream on Wednesday night. “Everybody’s working together.”

SEE ALSO: Trump’s anger toward Jeff Sessions is said to run deep, and it could mean his days as attorney general are shorter than anyone thinks

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Top tech industry execs named to a Saudi advisory board amid controversy over reportedly murdered journalist

Mohammed bin Salman

  • More than a dozen high profile tech executives, including famous venture capital investors Marc Andreessen and former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick are part of a newly announced advisory panel for a $500 billion Saudi mega-city project.
  • The panel was announced as much of the focus on Saudi Arabia turns towards the fate of a Saudi dissident who disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. 
  • Apple’s Jony Ive was initially on the list, but Apple says his inclusion was a mistake and he has nothing to do with the project.
  • The other members of the board did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s requests for comment.

An array of high-profile business and technology leaders, including a senior executive from Google’s parent company and the former CEO of Uber, were named to a new advisory board for the Saudi Arabian government on Tuesday, even as controversy swirls over the disappearance of a dissident Saudi journalist.

On Tuesday, the Saudi news outlet Argaam reported that Neom — a $500 billion megacity project being built by the country — has formed a new 19-member advisory board. Members include famed tech industry investor Marc Andreessen; Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Google parent company Alphabet’s urban planning unit Sidewalk Labs; Travis Kalanick, ex-CEO of Uber; former European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes; ex-Dow Chemical Company CEO Andrew Liveris, and Silicon Valley investor Sam Altman.

The list published by Argaam included Apple’s chief design officer Jony Ive, but after reporters reached out to individuals about their involvement, his name was quietly removed from the list, and the announcement was changed to promote a panel of 18 advisors rather than the initial 19. An Apple spokesperson said that the executive’s inclusion was a mistake, and he has no involvement in the project.

While Saudi Arabia was trumpeting its list of high-profile tech advisors, much of the news on Saudi Arabia was focused on the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government who disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey last week. The New York Times and several other news organizations report that Khashoggi was murdered by a team of 15 Saudi agents inside the consulate. A report in the Guardian on Tuesday says that Turkish authorities are focused on a black van seen leaving the consulate that they believe was carrying Khashoggi’s body. 

The panel of tech and policy bigwigs will presumably help turn the sci-fi-like vision of Neom into a reality. According to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Neom will provide a “civilizational leap for humanity” with a foundation of robots, AI and renewable energy.

Business Insider reached out to the members of the advisory board for comment about their involvement and whether they would remain on the board following Khashoggi’s disappearance, and will update this story if they respond. (Timothy Collins, Janvan Hest, and Rob Speyer could not be reached for comment.) 

Here was the initial 19-member list, according to Argaam (including Ive):

1) Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator and the co-chair of OpenAI

2) Marc Andreessen, co-founder and general partner of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz

3) Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO

4) Timothy Collins, vice chairman and CEO of Ripplewood Advisors

5) Alexandra Cousteau, a senior advisor to Oceana

6) Dan Doctoroff, founder and CEO of Sidewalk Labs

7) Norman Robert Foster, founder and CEO of Foster + Partners

8) Janvan Hest, a chemistry professor

9) Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief design officer

10) Travis Kalanick, CEO of City Storage Systems

11) Neelie Kroes, a retired Dutch politician and vice-president of the European Commission

12) Andrew N. Liveris, former CEO and chairman of Dow Chemical Company

13) Ernest Moniz, founder of Energy Futures Initiative

14) Marc Raibert, a former Carnegie Mellon University professor and a founder of Boston Dynamics

15) Carlo Ratti, a professor of Urban Technologies and Planning, and director of SENSEable City Lab

16) John Rossant, founder and chairman of the New Cities Foundation

17) Masayoshi Son, a Japanese business magnate and chief executive officer of Japanese holding conglomerate SoftBank

18) Rob Speyer, Tishman Speyer president and chief executive officer

19) Peter Voser, chairman of ABB.

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