How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016Screen Shot 2016-12-14 at 9.34.46 AM

Good Wednesday morning.
• A Times investigation takes a close look at Russian meddling in the election.
Like another famous American election scandal, it started with a break-in at the Democratic National Committee. This time, the burglary was conducted from afar, directed by the Kremlin, with spear-phishing emails and zeros and ones.
Our examination of the Russian operation — based on interviews with dozens of players targeted in the attack, intelligence officials who investigated it, and Obama administration officials who deliberated over the best response — reveals a series of missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack.
• Concerns mount about Mr. Trump’s pick for secretary of state.
Just hours after he was announced as President-elect Donald J. Trump’s choice for secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson has already become the subject of a congressional proxy fight over Mr. Trump’s embrace of Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin.
Mr. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, drew sharp criticism on Tuesday from Democrats and a few Republicans, who are concerned about his ties to Moscow. In particular, Mr. Tillerson’s vocal opposition to American sanctions imposed on Russia as he pursued oil and gas deals there could become a sticking point.
• Mr. Trump picks two more candidates for cabinet posts.
The president-elect plans to nominate former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who competed with Mr. Trump in this year’s Republican primary, to lead the Energy Department. Famously, Mr. Perry once could not remember the name of the agency, which he said he wanted to eliminate.
Mr. Trump has also offered the position of interior secretary to Representative Ryan Zinke, Republican of Montana and a former Navy SEAL commander, according to two officials familiar with the decision. Among other things, the agency oversees energy exploration on the nation’s public lands and waters — a priority for Mr. Trump on the campaign trail.
• Kanye West visits Trump Tower.
Mr. Trump welcomed a handful of well-known black leaders from the worlds of sports and entertainment to Trump Tower on Monday. The headliner: Kanye West, who met privately with the president-elect and then posed for pictures. Asked what he and Mr. West talked about, Mr. Trump said: “Life. We discussed life.”
Mr. Trump sat down later with Darrell Scott, a Cleveland pastor who supported Mr. Trump’s candidacy; Jim Brown, the Cleveland Browns football great, actor, and sportscaster; and Ray Lewis, the former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and sportscaster, to discuss Mr. Brown’s Ameri-I-Can program, which works with young people to develop skills.
• Recounts in two states are concluded.
The 2016 recount effort officially came to an end on Monday, when Pennsylvania and Wisconsin completed their efforts and declared Mr. Trump was still the winner.
Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, said on Tuesday that the effort had revealed deep shortcomings in the elections system. “We do not have a voting system we can trust, and the recount was essentially stopped in its tracks,” she said.

What We’re Watching

Mr. Trump will hold a meeting of technology leaders at Trump Tower on Wednesday afternoon. Attendees will include Larry Page and Eric E. Schmidtof Alphabet, Google’s parent; Jeff Bezos of Amazon; Timothy D. Cook of Apple; Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook; Satya Nadella of Microsoft; and Elon Musk of Tesla. The agenda: jobs, jobs, jobs.
The Federal Reserve is expected to raise its benchmark rate on Wednesday for the first time since last December in light of new economic data.
Cocktail season, continued: President Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, will host Hanukkah receptions at the White House.
Rex W. Tillerson during a meeting of shareholders in Dallas in May.
Rex W. Tillerson during a meeting of shareholders in Dallas in May. Ben Torres for The New York Times

Meet Rex Tillerson

Mr. Trump’s selection on Tuesday of Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, for secretary of state was the latest instance in which the president-elect has tapped an executive from corporate America for a high-level cabinet position.
Mr. Tillerson, 64, is a Texan by birth, with a twang to show for it. His extensive deal making for Exxon has plunged him into global politics, and he is a conservative known to be a quick study and a decisive leader.
He has spent the past 41 years at Exxon, where he began as a production engineer and went on to strike deals for a company that explores for, buys and sells oil and gas in some of the world’s most troubled corners.
Mr. Tillerson has needed some sharp diplomatic skills. He has worked with leaders of numerous countries, including Nigeria and Qatar, and Exxon has been dominant in many countries, including Equatorial Guinea and Sudan. He has long had friendly relations with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
Of course, being a representative of a corporation and being a secretary of state are very different. Mr. Tillerson will now face a fuller range of issues, including human rights, strengthening NATO and other alliances, and brokering a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians. He is a supporter of free trade who has acknowledged that climate change is a challenge, but his opinions on most issues are not known. He will have a lot of thinking and learning to do.
Without foreign policy experience outside his business dealings, Mr. Tillerson may have to take more instruction from State Department experts and direction from the White House. He will need to exert his authority early on.
“He’s much more than a business executive,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Tillerson in an interview with Fox News on Sunday. “He’s a world-class player.”
Read more about Mr. Tillerson’s record on climate change, Russia and human rights.

Russian Hacking

A filing cabinet broken into in 1972 as part of the Watergate burglary sits beside a computer server that Russian hackers breached during the 2016 presidential campaign at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in Washington.

Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times

A Times investigation reveals missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of a campaign to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

Annette Taddeo lost a Democratic primary for a House seat in Florida after documents uncovered by Russian hackers were published by reporters and bloggers.

Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

The fallout for nearly a dozen congressional candidates underscores the effect of the Russian influence operation on the American electoral system.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, right, has been praised by Donald J. Trump, who has repeatedly promised to realign the United States with Russia.

Pool photo by Sergei Karpukhin

A guide to separating fact from rumor and speculation in the swirl of news about Russia’s electoral interference.

The Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Moscow had deployed computer hackers to help elect Donald J. Trump.

What We’re Reading

“Barack Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012 were dismissed by some of his critics as merely symbolic for African-Americans. But there is nothing ‘mere’ about symbols,” writes The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehesi Coates in his 17,000-word first-cut history of the first black president.
The Washington Post reports that some environmental scientists, concerned that a Trump administration led by climate change deniers could limit access to research, are frantically making copies of decades of climate data that are stored in government databases.
And in case you missed it, be sure to read the first two parts of a New York Times series looking at how money undermines reforms to America’s criminal justice system. In these installments, we take a look at pretrial diversion programs: Often intended for low-risk or first-time offenders, they can spare participants a criminal record — but money can get in the way and the programs can resemble a dismissal-for-sale scheme, leaving participants facing difficult dilemmas.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia presented Rex W. Tillerson, Exxon Mobil’s chief executive, with a medal in 2012 in St. Petersburg.

Under Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil Forged Its Own Path Abroad


President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nomination for secretary of state has said that the United States’ sources of oil should be “of little consequence to us.”

Rex W. Tillerson. His ties to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, made while working at Exxon Mobil, have raised questions.

Trump Lines Up Establishment Republicans to Vouch for Tillerson


The president-elect’s team is rolling out prominent endorsements for his pick for secretary of state, hoping to ease concerns over his ties to Russia.

President-elect Donald J. Trump with Vice President-elect Mike Pence at a rally in West Allis, Wis., on Tuesday.

From Kanye West to the Midwest, the Presidential Reality Show Rolls On


Donald J. Trump visited Wisconsin as part of his victory tour after a day spent meeting with, among others, Mr. West, Bill Gates and the football great, Jim Brown.

Rex W. Tillerson, chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobile, is President-elect Donald J. Trump’s pick for secretary of state.

Secretary of State Nominee Is a Flexible Pragmatist


Rex W. Tillerson, Exxon’s chief, has extensive international business experience and has argued for gay rights, but is a target of environmentalists.

Rick Perry, a former governor of Texas, in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York on Monday.

Rick Perry, Ex-Governor of Texas, Is Trump’s Pick as Energy Secretary


Mr. Perry is an enthusiastic supporter of oil and gas extraction, but the Energy Department is far more focused on national security and basic science.

Representative Ryan Zinke, Republican of Montana, at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Monday.

Trump Is Said to Offer Interior Job to Ryan Zinke, Montana Lawmaker


Mr. Zinke, a former Navy SEAL commander, would be charged with carrying out the aggressive pro-drilling agenda championed by the president-elect.

A member of Syria’s government forces in Aleppo.

George Ourfalian/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

After a four-year struggle, the last rebel fighters agreed to turn over their territory. The United Nations reported that scores were killed as pro-government forces moved in.

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio last month at the White House. He called the state’s 20-week ban the “best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life.”

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Gov. John R. Kasich signed a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, but rejected a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.


The message from broken mailboxes: Fair-housing advocates say Fannie Mae lets homes deteriorate more in certain neighborhoods.

Mark Peterson/Redux, for The New York Times

The second-term Democratic senator, who once made a living satirizing politicians, envisions an unfunny future.

The Federal Reserve Bank in Washington. The Fed is expected to raise its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday for the first time since last December.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The more President-elect Donald J. Trump stimulates growth, the faster the Federal Reserve is likely to increase rates to avoid overheating the economy.

Donald J. Trump speaking in Sarasota, Fla., on Nov. 7. By one analysis, the 2,584 counties where Mr. Trump won generate only 36 percent of America’s economic activity.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Donald J. Trump won the support of blue-collar whites outside urban areas in part because nearly all the gains from the economic recovery passed them by.