Russia – Hacking Allegations; FBI Investigates. Last week, law enforcement officials reported the FBI and Justice Department are investigating a hack of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign computers, along with their investigations into previously-reported cyber intrusions of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Some U.S. officials suggested last week that there is strong evidence indicating the DNC cyber intrusion is the work of hackers working on behalf of Russian intelligence.
While speaking with reporters last week, Mr. Trump said of Hillary Clinton’s missing communiques during her time as Secretary of State:
Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by the press.”
Mr. Trump’s statement sparked widespread condemnation by Democratic Party leaders and warnings that Russia was seeking to influence U.S. elections. House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-New York), who leads the House Democratic effort to keep pressure on Russia for its activities in Ukraine, lambasted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for his remarks.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisconsin) office offered a simple statement:
Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”
Cyber Security – New PPD Issued. On 26 July, the White House issued a new Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-41) on “United States Cyber Incident Coordination.” PPD-41 sets out principles meant to govern a coordinated approach by the Federal government in responding to cyber incidents, involving government and/or private sector entities. PPD-41 distinguishes between “cyber incidents” and “significant cyber incidents,” the latter of which is “likely to result in demonstrable harm to the national security interests, foreign relations, or economy of the United States or to the public confidence, civil liberties, or public health safety of the American people.” PPD-41 is available here. The White House fact sheet is available here.
TPP – Obama Administration Moving Forward, Despite Opposition. Both presidential candidates continue to campaign on their opposition to the TPP agreement in its current form. Despite the opposition, White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said on Friday:
The president is acutely aware of the politics around this, but that’s not going to stop him from getting this done.”
Brexit/TTIP – Obama Administration Again Prioritizes TTIP. On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with U.K. Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, who was making his first trip abroad in his new role. While both emphasized the importance of U.S.-U.K. commercial ties and the special relationship, Secretary Pritzker reiterated that the Obama Administration has prioritized completion of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) this year. Secretary Fox also met with Ambassador Froman, who also emphasized that the United States is prepared to engage in conversations with the United Kingdom to develop a trade and investment relationship at the appropriate time, while noting it is too premature to enter formal trade negotiations.
The political will of the EU and the United States in negotiating TTIP is being questioned on both sides of the Atlantic. With the current negotiations being viewed as hamstrung, some question that any concessions granted this year could be subject to renegotiation under the next U.S. Administration.