US justice department charges four Chinese nationals in Microsoft Exchange hack – live – The Guardian
1.50pm EDT 13:50
Earlier today, Joe Biden made some comments on Facebook and the spread of misinformation when it came to vaccinations. He had to clarify, saying that the company “isn’t killing people”, but misinformation and the spread of misinformation is.
At today’s briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki clarified a bit further, not quite letting Facebook off the hook but not making any blatant accusations.
“Our fight is not with one social media platform. It is with the virus,” Psaki said. “We have a role, everybody has a role, in combating misinformation. In terms of monitoring whether there have been steps that have been taken (to combat misinformation), there are all things you all can assess. There is no secret monitoring…do you have access from these companies on who is receiving misinformation? I don’t think that information has been released.”
1.40pm EDT 13:40
White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated at today’s press briefing the Biden administration’s commitment to closing down Guantanamo Bay.
“Our goal is to close Guantanamo Bay,” Psaki said.
This comes as the administration transferred a detainee out of the controversial detention facility for the first time. Psaki noted that 39 individuals remain at Guantanamo: 10 eligible for transfer, 17 eligible for periodic review board, 10 involved in the military commissions process and two who have been convicted.
at 1.41pm EDT
1.25pm EDT 13:25
At today’s press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki went a little more in depth on any differences between Russia and China when it comes to cyberattacks and economic sanctions imposed by the US because of cyberattacks. “We are not differentiating,” she said.
The elephant in the room though is that the US is much more economically dependant upon China than on Russia. The US received $163bn in exports in 2019 from China, as compared to the $10.9bn in exports from Russia. Imposing sanctions on China that are similar to the sanctions imposed on Russia could actually turn around and harm the US in the long run.
Psaki denied that this played a factor in the country’s response, pointing out that the US joins with an “unprecedented” group of allies in “exposing and criticizing” China, in addition to filing charges against four of the accused hackers.
“We take cyber actions against our country and against private sector entities quite seriously,” she said. “We are not holding back. We are not allowing any economic circumstance or consideration to prevent us from taking actions where warranted. We reserve the option to take additional actions where warranted as well. This is not the conclusion of our efforts as it relates to cyber activities with China or Russia.
12.47pm EDT 12:47
DoJ won’t prosecute Ross for misleading Congress on Census
A government investigation has found that Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump’s commerce secretary, misled Congress about why he wanted to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Cencus.
It is a federal crime to make false statements before Congress, but Joe Biden’s Department of Justice will not prosecute Ross.
Critics said the Trump administration was trying to influence districting for elections by adding a question about citizenship to the Census, as undocumented people would therefore avoid the survey and cities with high populations of such people, which tend to vote Democratic, might consequently lose seats.
The AP explains:
According to critics, the citizenship question was inspired by Republican redistricting expert Tom Hofeller, who had previously written that using citizen voting-age population instead of the total population for the purpose of redrawing of congressional and legislative districts could be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.
In congressional testimony, Ross said the Department of Justice requested adding the citizenship question to the census form in late 2017 for the purpose of enforcing federal voting rights law. The inspector general said that “misrepresented the full rationale”.
The supreme court blocked adding the question ahead of the 2020 Census.
Here’s Sam Levine on what ultimately happened regarding districting after the Cencus was done:
at 12.48pm EDT
12.26pm EDT 12:26
When asked about the Microsoft hack, Joe Biden said one reason the US has not imposed sanctions against China over the cyberattacks – but did so against Russia in connection to the SolarWinds hack – was that the investigation is still ongoing.
When asked on the difference between the two governments’ involvement, Biden responded: “My understanding is that the Chinese government, not unlike the Russian government, is not doing this themselves, but are protecting those who are doing it and maybe even accommodating them being able to do it,” he said. “That may be the difference.”
12.14pm EDT 12:14
Joe Biden touted his administration’s efforts to get Americans vaccinated and pass a rescue plan. He talked up the child tax credit under the American Rescue Plan: for the first time this month, working families with children under the age of 6 will receive $300 for each child and working families with children between the ages of 6 and 17 will receive $250 for each child.
“That money is a game changer. For some it’s a life changer,” Biden said. “That’s just one example of how we’re building an economy: from the bottom up and the middle out.”
He addressed issues with price increases, and concerns that the the recent increases may be asign of persistent inflation.
“Our experts believe and the data shows that most of the price increases we’ve seen were expected and are expected to be temporary,” he said. “The reality is you can’t flip the global economic light back on and not expect this to happen. As demand returns, there are going too be global supply chain challenges.”
12.07pm EDT 12:07
Joe Biden used this moment to ask Americans to not get complacent with the pandemic. “Our economic recovery hinges on getting the pandemic under control,” he said. “We can’t let up, especially with the Delta variant.”
“The data couldn’t be clearer: If you’re unvaccinated, you are not protected,” Biden said. “Please, please get vaccinated. Get vaccinated now. It’s safe. It’s free. It’s convenient. This virus doesn’t have to hold you back any longer. It doesn’t have to hold our economy back any longer. The only way we put it behind us is if more Americans get vaccinated.”
11.55am EDT 11:55
Biden: Capitalism is alive and ‘very well’
Joe Biden has taken the podium to laugh off all the predictions of “doom and gloom” that electing him to office would bring about depression and the death to capitalism.
The US went from a low of creating 60,000 jobs per per month to 60,000 jobs every three days – in total, more than 600,000 jobs per month, or “more than 3 million jobs all told.”
“That is the fastest growth, I’m told, in any administration’s history,” Biden said.
“Six months into my administration, the US economy has experienced the highest economic growth rate in almost 40 years,” Biden said. “And now the forecasters have doubled their projections for growth in the economy to 7% or higher. In fact, the US is the only developed country in the world where growth projections today are stronger than they were before the pandemic hit.”
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11.22am EDT 11:22
The Senate rules committee is holding its first field hearing in two decades today, discussing voting rights in Atlanta after Senate Republicans blocked the sweeping For the People Actlast month.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell categorized the hearing as the Democrats “bringing their own partisan circus to town”.
11.00am EDT 11:00
Joe Biden is set to speak on the economy and the bipartisan infrastructure plan at 11.30 local time. CNN is reporting that the president will use this speech to counter concerns that his economic plan will accelerate inflation.
The speech comes with the bipartisan group working on the bipartisan infrastructure plan at odds over spending, and as Democrats hope to pass a $3.5tn human infrastructure bill alongside it – a bill Republicans are already balking at because of its size.
Biden will likely spend time during his remarks touting the more than 3 million new jobs created since he took office and unprecedented projected growth. But the speech comes
10.46am EDT 10:46
5 Texas Dems in Washington test positive for Covid
Texas Democrats made headlines when they fled the state for Washington to prevent quorum on a restrictive voting bill dubbed “Jim Crow 2.0” by the left.
Now, however, five of them have since tested positive for Covid-19. All the lawmakers have been vaccinated. “When my Texas House Democratic colleagues and I broke quorum to stop anti-voter legislation, we knew that tactic would come with real personal sacrifice,” said Texas state representative Trey Martinez Fischer in a statement.
However, he noted that he is experiencing “extremely mild symptoms” and is quarantining until he tests negative.
“Just as these new variants sweeping the country are more aggressive than ever, the wave of anti-voter legislation in this country is worse than we’ve seen in generations,” the lawmaker said. “That’s why, I will continue the fight for voting rights with every single fiber of my being.”
“That is the beauty of being vaccinated,” said Democratic Texas state representative Gene Wu. “Every single person who has tested positive so far have little to no symptoms, which is the point of the vaccine. If nothing else, we want this to be a reminder to all Americans: get your stupid shot now.”
10.30am EDT 10:30
Biden and Democrats push for infrastructure
This week marks six months that Democrats have held the majority in the Senate, and it kicks off with a lot of legislating on the joint pieces of infrastructure legislation that Joe Biden hopes to pass.
To recap: We have the $1.2tn bipartisan infrastructure deal focused on improving roads, bridges and public transit that Democrats worked out with Republicans. Then we have the $3.5tn human infrastructure bill focused on improving social services and environmental measures.
Republicans were upset over the bundling of the two bills after the lengthy negotiating over the bipartisan deal. In particular, they balked at the size of the human infrastructure bill. In an interview on Fox News’s Sunday Morning Futures, Republican senator Lindsey Graham said he would advise his fellow Republicans to “learn something from our Democratic friends in Texas when it comes to avoiding a $3.5tn tax and spend package: Leave town.” Graham, of course, is referencing how Texas Democrats thwarted a restricting voting bill by fleeing the state and preventing quorum.
But first: the bipartisan deal. The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, is expected to file cloture today on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, in an attempt to speed things up so that Democrats can then turn their focus on passing the human infrastructure bill.
Cloture is basically the procedure for ending debate and taking a vote. Yet senators in the bipartisan group that came up with the plan spent the weekend trying to solve a $100bn hole that arose after Republicans took issue with plans to beef up IRS enforcement, Politico is reporting.
“How can I vote for cloture when the bill isn’t written?” the Republican senator Bill Cassidy said on Fox News Sunday.
10.13am EDT 10:13
Secretary of state Antony Blinken has issued a statement on the People’s Republic of China and its “destabilizing and irresponsible behavior in cyberspace.”
This is in regards to the Microsoft hack that resulted in the Department of Justice filing charges against the four Chinese nationals working for the Ministry of State Security.
“Responsible states do not indiscriminately compromise global network security nor knowingly harbor cyber criminals – let alone sponsor or collaborate with them,” Blinken said. “These contract hackers cost governments and businesses billions of dollars in stolen intellectual property, ransom payments, and cybersecurity mitigation efforts, all while the (Ministry of State Security) had them on its payroll.”
10.13am EDT 10:13
DoJ charges four Chinese nationals in Microsoft hack
Howdy, liveblog readers. Happy Monday.
The Biden administration has joined with allies – including the EU, the UK and Nato – in accusing Chinese state-based hacking groups of being behind the exploitation of an estimated 250,000 Microsoft Exchange servers worldwide earlier this year.
The US Department of Justice charged four Chinese nationals working with the ministry of state security of the People’s Republic of China with global computer intrusion campaign targeting intellectual property and confidential business information.
The White House said China’s “pattern of irresponsible behavior in cyberspace” was “inconsistent with its stated objective of being seen as a responsible leader in the world”.
More to come on this and more from Washington today.