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  • Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A longtime federal prosecutor who specializes in cyber crimes and fraud has joined Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and alleged collusion between Trump associates and Russian operatives.Ryan Dickey, who has worked for the Justice Department for several years, was added to the team in November, Mueller spokesman Peter Carr confirmed to ABC News. He recently served in the criminal division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.The move was first reported by The Washington Post. Dickey is now working with about two dozen lawyers, investigators and administrative staffers who comprise Mueller’s office.It’s unclear exactly why Mueller wanted a prosecutor with Dickey’s experience in cyber-related crimes, but it’s not unusual in such a wide-ranging investigation.In 2016, Dickey helped prosecute the Romanian hacker known as “Guccifer,” who pleaded guilty to hacking into the emails and social media accounts of numerous high-profile victims.“Guccifer” previously made headlines when he told reporters he had hacked into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server, but he later admitted to the FBI that he was lying.His true victims, however, included former Secretary of State Colin Powell and family members of former President George W. Bush. According to prosecutors, Guccifer, whose real name is Marcel Lehel Lazar, hacked into the computers and social media accounts of about 100 Americans and then publicly released some of the information, including private email correspondence, medical and financial information and personal photographs.He ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer and one count of aggravated identity theft. He was sentenced to 52 months in prison. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Vacclav/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With an eye on bolstering cyber security protocols and cracking down on leaks to the media, Chief of Staff John Kelly issued a memo to staff on Wednesday outlining the administration's new ban on personal cell phones within the West Wing complex of the White House.In the internal memo obtained by ABC News and verified by a senior White House official Kelly said the policy — set to take effect January 16 — is intended "to protect White House information technology infrastructure from compromise and sensitive or classified information from unauthorized access to dissemination."The policy goes further than originally expected and is not just limited to personal cell phones. It also includes laptops, smartwatches and "devices with WiFi, Bluetooth, radio, or cellular capabilities" and "any portable device that emits an electric signal and was not issued by the White House Communications Agency," according to the memo.Staff has previously been warned against using personal cell phones for official business but this memo appears to take the first formal steps outlining disciplinary actions for staffers who skirt the rules."Violations of this policy by EOP staff are security incidents that may indicate knowing, willful, or negligent conduct in violation of security policy and may therefore result in disciplinary action and, for other Federal employees and visitors, may include being indefinitely prohibited from entering the White House complex," the memo reads.Kelly advises staff working in the West Wing to leave the prohibited devices at home, in their vehicles or their non West Wing offices. There are also lockers available for storing the devices.The policy isn’t without precedent in federal buildings. For example, due to security concerns, personal cell phones are not permitted on the seventh floor of the State Department where the senior executive offices are located.A former senior White House official familiar with the decision tells ABC News that this has been a discussion since the early stages of the administration with a focus on protecting national security.“I know that there are other reasons like the leaking, but this does come out of a concern with national security issues. The Chinese and Russians using personal cell phones and compromising them as listening devices,” the former official said, predicting that the ban will not stop the leaking as staffers will be able to use their devices outside the West Wing facility.“For the purposes of this memorandum, the West Wing means the facility generally located between the President’s Executive Residence and West Executive Drive,” a footnote of the memo reads. “For purposes of this policy, the West Wing does not include the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, any White House Press Corps work spaces, or any outdoor common area, such as the Rose Garden or the North Lawn media positions.”White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said last week that the new ban has nothing to do with leaks to the press or the revelations in Michael Wolff’s book Fire & Fury.“Absolutely not. That’s a ridiculous characterization. This is about the security and the integrity of the technology systems here at the White House,” Sanders said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • (Credit: Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC) Michael Wolff spoke to "The View" about his book the 'Fire and Fury.'(NEW YORK) -- A day after Steve Bannon unceremoniously stepped down from Breitbart News, Michael Wolff, author of the politically-disruptive book on the Trump White House that publicized many of Bannon’s frustrations, claimed responsibility for the former chief strategist's ousting.“It certainly wasn't something I expected," Wolff said on ABC's The View Wednesday. "It's certainly not something I feel good about,”Bannon was a key source in Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, and offered sharp criticism of the president and others, including his adult children.“Shortly after arriving in this White House, [Bannon] began to understand that … Trumpism and Donald Trump were at a significant distance from each other,” Wolff said. “I think Steve wrestled with that in very, very tough ways. Ultimately, I was the recipient of his enormous frustration.”“So you're the reason he's out?” Joy Behar, one of the hosts on The View, asked.“I'm the reason he's out,” Wolff responded.But the tense White House dynamics went far beyond Bannon and the president, Wolff said. From his time sitting on a couch in the West Wing waiting for appointments with different members of the administration -- a position he said he got because he “slipped through the cracks” -- Wolff said he noticed three "factions."One of the factions was "Jarvanka," the disparaging term Bannon sued for Jared and Ivanka Trump. The other competing ideas came from Bannon himself and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.“They regarded -- each of these factions, the 'Jarvanka' side, the Bannon side and Priebus side -- regarded the others as assassins,” he said.Wolff has been on the television circuit promoting the book and an explosive excerpt in New York Magazine since they were published. The book currently sits at No. 1 on the Amazon books best-sellers list.He has faced a number of questions about his reporting in the wake of the salacious details that have emerged from the book, but has steadfastly stood by his work. White House officials have disputed his claim that he held "something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing," and have called the book "fiction."Meghan McCain, co-anchor on The View, raised the credibility question to Wolff.“Traditionally, in situations like this, it’s the disgruntled staffers who aren’t loyal to their principal that give interviews like this. So I’m curious, when you talk about staff, you didn’t talk to his cabinet? Did you ever interview Jared and Ivanka?” McCain asked.She also expressed skepticism about the quotes attributed to Tony Blair, Tom Barrack, Kate Walsh, Anna Wintour, all of whom denied their quotes and attribution in the book.“I think you have to look at the other people who aren't denying, a great number of people,” Wolff responded.Last week, the book prompted a cease-and-desist letter from one of Trump’s lawyer. In the days following, the president released a Tweet-storm about the credibility of the book and the questions it raised over the president’s own mental stability.Charles Harder, the Trump lawyer who called for the cease-and-desist, wrote that he was "investigating numerous false and/or baseless statements" about the president contained within the book. He also said it included defamatory statements and could be considered an "invasion of privacy."In response Monday, a lawyer for Henry Holt & Company, which published the book, responded to Harder, saying there is "no reason to doubt...that Mr. Wolff's book is an accurate report on events of vital public importance" and that Harder's letter "provides no reason to change this conclusion.""Though your letter provides a basic summary of New York libel law, tellingly, it stops shor
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In a significant reversal of the hostile rhetoric he has engaged with North Korea over the first year of his presidency, President Donald Trump signaled a willingness to take part in diplomatic negotiations with the rogue Asian nation during a phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in Wednesday.A readout of the call from the White House said that Trump "expressed his openness to holding talks between the United States and North Korea at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances." The two leaders additionally "underscored the importance of continuing the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea," according to the White House.South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported similar details about the conversation, writing that Moon's office issued a press release in which it said that Moon and Trump "agreed to closely consult on the direction of talks between the South and North Korea in the future.The conversation between Trump and Moon came as representatives from South Korea and North Korea met on Tuesday for diplomatic discussions for the first time in more than two years. Moon credited Trump for facilitating those talks, saying in an address Wednesday prior to his call with the U.S. president that Trump played a "big" role."I extend my gratitude to President Trump," Moon said.The relationship between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has featured persistent threats and personal attacks over the course of the past year as North Korea has continued to engage in missile tests.Most recently, in response to Kim's claim that a "nuclear button" sits on his desk, Trump tweeted a request that, "someone from [Kim's] depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"Prior to Wednesday's call between Trump and Moon, the U.S. president has been inconsistent in his position about whether diplomatic action could be successful in curtailing North Korean aggression.In October, he tweeted that he told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson -- whom he described as "wonderful" -- "that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man," using his nickname for Kim.He added in a subsequent tweet, "Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!"
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  • Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(LOS ANGELES) -- Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., will not seek re-election to his Orange County congressional seat, he announced Wednesday, the latest in a string of retirements from Republican House members in recent weeks.Issa was first elected to the House in 2000, and served as chairman of the House Oversight Committee from 2011 to 2015.“I am forever grateful to the people of San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties for their support and affording me the honor of serving them all these years,” Issa wrote in a statement Wednesday.“While my service to California's 49th District will be coming to an end, I will continue advocating on behalf of the causes that are most important to me, advancing public policy where I believe I can make a true and lasting difference, and continuing the fight to make our incredible nation an even better place to call home," he added.Issa’s announcement comes just a day after another high-profile Orange County Republican congressman, Ed Royce, announced that he too was retiring in 2018.Issa’s decision makes him the 30th Republican House member to not seek re-election this year, a number that has steadily grown in the last several months.Of those 30, 11 are seeking a U.S. Senate seat or the governor’s mansion in their respective state.Districts like Issa’s are key for Democrats to take back the House in 2018, and the party was quick to capitalize on the news of his departure.“Secretary Clinton won this district by a huge margin in 2016, and the cohort of strong Democratic challengers, unprecedented grassroots activism, and historic investment by the DCCC in Southern California means we are in a strong position to elect a Democrat to the 49th District this fall,” Drew Godinich, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), wrote in a statement Wednesday.The National Republican Congressional Committee expressed optimism that the seat will remain red.“As evidenced by his work as Oversight Chairman, Congressman Darrell Issa is a fearless protector of integrity in government. His retirement is a great loss for the institution and the American people. We are truly grateful for his service," said Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the NRCC. "In the 49th district, Democrats are locked in what is fast becoming one of the bloodiest primaries in America. While Democrats fight with each other, Republicans will focus on fighting Democrats – and that's how we plan to win.”
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