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Facebook turns over Russian ad information to special counsel Robert Mueller

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Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating Facebook ads bought by bogus Russian-linked accounts.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has obtained a search warrant for Facebook accounts associated with Russian operatives responsible for their attempts to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller’s probe into Russian influence is a key turning point into the direction taken in the investigation, specifically the range and scope of inquiry and the legal strategy of the key players in the special counsel’s inner circle.

As the special counsel gathers proof of Russian meddling into the 2016—amid the search warrant—Facebook turned over information about Russian advertising purchases to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office to include documentation from centered on advertising purchases on the social media network with ties to Russia.

Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence and possible connections to the Trump campaign cites the propagation of fake information on social media. Two weeks ago, Facebook confirmed that an internal investigation found $100,000 in ad spending by fake accounts and pages, likely operated out of Russia, which aimed to affect political division during the election.

“We are providing information to (the) Special Counsel, including ads and related account information,” Facebook said in a statement to USA Today.

Before news of the Facebook search warrant, Mueller appeared to center inquiry on discrete areas of inquiry, such as potentially false disclosures by former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, alleged obstruction of justice and potential tax charges related to President Donald Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

Amid the most recent news from Facebook, the trajectory of the investigation has shifted, specifically with the possibility that the Mueller investigation, could result in charges against Americans colluding with Russians and their operatives to commit a crime. Recent reports in The Wall Street Journal and CNN about the Facebook search warrant and the significance of that development cannot be overstated.

The latest developments could mean special counsel Mueller presented sufficient evidence to a federal magistrate judge—who concluded “there was a good reason” to believe that foreign individuals committed a crime— in connection with the election and that evidence of such a crime existed on Facebook.

Facebook reportedly withheld copies of the ads to Congressional investigators during meetings last week because its privacy policy requires a search warrant before it would turn over stored contents of an account, according to the Journal and CNN.

According to according to a blog post published late Wednesday by Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, the ads “appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.”

Some ads ran between June 2015 and May 2017 but did not specifically mention the election, however, a small number of the ads named and then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.

The ads traced to a Russian “troll farm,” with a history of pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda, could cause considerable legal implications for any American purchasing ads with a foreign entity.

To help counter future disinformation campaigns—Reuters reported on last week that Facebook would begin tightening controls over who can advertise on its platform.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Sunday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos that Facebook, Twitter, and Google should come and testify before Congress on the issue. “There are a lot of unanswered questions,” Schiff said.

Every patriotic American should be furious the Kremlin so cynically sought to divide & manipulate us on Facebook. Tech firms should testify: pic.twitter.com/FXrYkMKhlg

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) September 17, 2017

The acknowledgment by Facebook comes as special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional investigators are probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, including allegations that the Kremlin may have colluded with the Trump campaign.

By LeNora Millen   09-18-17

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Business

Former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Fired by Morgan Stanley for Alleged Misconduct

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Harold Ford Jr., a former congressman, was fired by the financial services firm Morgan Stanley following allegations of misconduct, NBC confirmed on Thursday.

Morgan Stanley declined to say specifically what prompted the firing. The allegations were presented after a woman who was not employed at the firm accused Mr. Ford of acting inappropriately in a professional setting.

Mr. Ford’s termination reported by HuffPost as an exclusive has been challenged by the former Congressman as “false claims.”

Harold Ford Jr., a former congressman, was fired from his position as a managing director at the financial services firm Morgan Stanley for what the company described as behavior “inconsistent with our values.”CreditMike Groll/Associated Press

In a statement provided by his lawyer, Mr. Ford denied the sexual harassment allegations, stating in a tweet on Thursday that he will be bringing legal action against the reporter, for making false claims against him, as well as Morgan Stanley for wrongful termination.

“This simply did not happen,” Mr. Ford wrote. “I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life.” He added that socializing with members of the press was part of his job, and said that “false claims like this undermine the real silence breakers.”

Mr. Ford served five terms in Congress as a Democrat representing a Tennessee district after first being elected in 1996—serving as Congressman from 1997 to 207.

He joined Morgan Stanley as a managing director and senior client-relationship manager in 2011 as a vice chairman and senior policy adviser at Bank of America.

Amid the heightened scrutiny of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior toppling key figures in the entertainment and political arena, Mr. Ford is the latest high profiled man to lose his job in recent days for similar allegations.

Time magazine on Wednesday named the “Silence Breakers” its Person of the Year. They shared personal stories about harassment and assault and sparked the #MeToo movement.

According to Time, the #MeToo became a hashtag, a movement, a reckoning. But it began, as great social change nearly always does, with individual acts of courage.

In a tweet acknowledging his thoughts on the “Silence Breaker” quite pointed in his statement, Mr. Ford said the following in regards to news of his firing on Thursday, “This simply did not happen.  I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life.”

In another tweet, Mr. Ford spoke about his professional demeanor and his tremendous respect for the brave women speaking out “in this important national dialogue.”  Mr. Ford was pointed in stating that false claims alleged against him “undermine the real “Silence Breakers.”

Mr. Ford appeared as a frequent guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” MSNBC – which is owned by NBC 4 New York’s parent company.

“We are looking into the report about Harold Ford Jr.,” a spokeswoman for MSNBC said. “During that time he won’t be a guest on MSNBC.”

LeNora Millen            12-7-17

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Business

TV One Cancels Roland Martin’s Morning Show ‘News One Now’

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TV One is canceling Roland Martin’s morning show “News One Now,” Roland made the announcement in a tweet Wednesday.

“Fam, the sad news is true. The staff of @tvonetv #NewsnewOneNow was informed this afternoon that after four years of doing groundbreaking and award-winning work, the show will cease production at the end of the year,” Martin tweeted.

Martin, who thanked audiences for their support, said the last episode will air on Dec. 21.

Roland Martin’s morning show “NewsOne Now” was cancelled due to budget cuts according to various reports from reliable sources.

“They called a meeting on Wednesday and told the staff they were canceling the show. They’re having significant financial problems and they have to scale back,” a source said. “After four years of award-winning programming and distinguished service to our viewers as the only black daily newscast on television, the network has made the difficult decision to suspend the production of NewsOne Now as a daily morning news show. The last live show is scheduled [Dec. 21],” TV One’s interim GM, Michelle Rice wrote in a memo.

Host of “News One Now” Roland Martin speaks on stage during ColorofChange.org 10 Year Anniversary Gala. (Rob Kim/Getty Images for ColorOfChange)

The news of “NewsOne Now” cancellation shocked Martin and staffers according to sources. The network had recently expanded the morning show to two hours in September.

The memo added: “While we will continue our long-standing partnership with Roland Martin to ensure his important voice can be heard across all Urban One platforms examining issues of importance to the black community, we regret this decision adversely affects several of our valued colleagues whose positions will be eliminated with the suspension of the show.”

The network issued a statement on Twitter that read, “We are committed to providing quality news to our viewers and to our long-standing relationship with @rolandsmartin #NewsOneNow who will continue to have a voice on #TVOne.”

LeNora Millen         12-07-17

 

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Editor Picks

President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

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Why declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is so controversial?

The final status of Jerusalem has always been one of the most difficult and sensitive questions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If the United States declares Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it would be seen as prejudging that question, deciding an issue that was supposed to be left to negotiations and breaking with the international consensus on the holy city.
Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital also moves the United States one major step closer to relocating the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would be seen as cementing Israeli sovereignty over the city.

More from CNN…

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