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State Department offers $10 million reward for info on foreign election interference

The State Department is offering a reward of up to $10 million for anyone providing information on foreign interference in the U.S. elections, as the administration provides warnings to Congress in private about the threat.

The agency’s Rewards for Justice program, which offers a similar amount for information on the head of ISIS. It also is used to try to get information on terrorist attacks and bring terror leaders to justice. The payment was issued in a notice posted online. 

‘RFJ is offering up to $10 million for information leading to the identification or location of any person who, while acting at the direction of or under the control of a foreign government, interferes with any U.S. federal, state, or local elections,’ according to a release by the program.

 It cites a statute relating to computer fraud and abuse – indicating a particular interest is election hacking. The program is administered by State’s Diplomatic Security Service.   

‘Persons engaged in certain malicious cyber operations targeting election or campaign infrastructure may be subject to prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030, which criminalizes unauthorized computer intrusions and other forms of fraud related to computers. Among other offenses, the statute prohibits unauthorized accessing of computers to obtain information and transmit it to unauthorized recipients,’ it notes.

The intelligence community concluded that the the Kremlin was behind hacking of Democratic emails during the 2016 elections. 

The posting comes days after the Trump administration provided a classified briefing to lawmakers about election interference threats. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe was among those who met with lawmakers. 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) demanded the information be made public.  

‘Shocked & appalled—I just left a 90 minute classified briefing on foreign malign threats to our elections. From spying to sabotage, Americans need to see & hear these reports,’ he wrote this week. 

Without revealing what precisely he learned, Blumenthal added: ‘Protect our democracy from destruction by declassifying key intel describing the danger of foreign subterfuge to our elections. Congress has been briefed, but sworn to secrecy—unacceptably.’

Senate Democrats who got the briefing Monday say the Intelligence Committee is withholding information from the public even while Homeland Security chair Sen. Ron Johnson, who is probing Hunter Biden, the son of Trump rival Vice President Joe Biden, has received disinformation from Russia. 

‘There’s a clear narrative being perpetuated by Russia and Russia’s allies. I don’t know everybody that the Homeland Security is talking to, but what I know is the narrative they are working off of is the very same narrative that the Russians are trying to push domestically,” Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut Murphy said this week, CNN reported.  “So I remain very concerned about the lack of information that the public has and the damage that may do to the election.” 

Democratic senators wrote in a letter last month that disinformation from a foreign power was being funneled to Johnson’s committee, the New York Times reported.  Johnson denies it. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, and the two top Democrats on the intelligence committees penned the letter.  

The agency posting the reward has a tip line, and its releases are posted in multiple languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, and Russian. 

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