Daily News Digest August 16, 2018

The New York Times has a nifty widget for seeing the "Free Press" editorials from around the country. You can sort them by state.

Answering a call last week from The Boston Globe, The Times is joining hundreds of newspapers, from large metro-area dailies to small local weeklies, to remind readers of the value of America’s free press. These editorials, some of which we’ve excerpted, together affirm a fundamental American institution.

Today's Headlines: 

FBI agents in California and Washington, D.C., have investigated a series of cyberattacks over the past year that targeted a Democratic opponent of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). Rohrabacher is a15-term incumbent who is widely seen as the most pro-Russia and pro-Putin member of Congress and is a staunch supporter of President Trump.

The hacking attempts and the FBI’s involvement are described in dozens of emails and forensic records obtained by Rolling Stone.

On a frigid December day in 2017, Oleg Kalugin opens the door of his house in Rockville, Maryland, an upper-middle-class suburb of Washington, D.C., to meet me. Nothing in particular distinguishes his split-level suburban home from those of the other professionals in the neighborhood, but the man who lives there is very much out of the ordinary, a former KGB spymaster who is now an American citizen.

Born in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad), Kalugin, at 83, now lives just half an hour’s drive from the White House, which for decades was dead center in the crosshairs of the KGB, the dreaded secret security forces he served as head of counterintelligence. A genial host, Kalugin gives a guided tour of his sprawling library spread over three rooms and reveals himself to be a man of history, a veritable Zelig of the Cold War.

President Trump has revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan due to "erratic conduct and behavior," according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders at today's press briefing.

Why it matters: Sanders said that Trump was using his "constitutional authority" as president to revoke Brennan's clearance — something that has never been done before, according to Lawfare. Trump is also "evaluating action" regarding the current and former clearances of several other former intelligence and law enforcement officials like James Comey, James Clapper, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.

A mysterious Russian satellite displaying "very abnormal behaviour" has raised alarm in the US, according to a State Department official.

"We don't know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it," said assistant secretary Yleem Poblete at a conference in Switzerland on 14 August.

She voiced fears that it was impossible to say if the object may be a weapon.

It was an angry Paul who last month called for Brennan’s clearance to be yanked, after Brennan called Trump’s appearance at a news conference with Russian leader Vladimir Putin “nothing short of treasonous.”

Paul assailed Brennan in a Fox News interview as “completely unhinged” and a “Trump hater” and in a series of tweets on July 23, said he planned to meet with Trump at the White House and tell him that “John Brennan and other partisans should have their security clearances revoked.”