World watches handling of Kavanaugh nomination

CNN's National Security analyst Sam Vinograd breaks down President Trump's comments on his "love" for Kim Jong Un, as well as the reaction to the Senate Judiciary hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Posted: Oct 1, 2018 5:31 PM
Updated: Oct 1, 2018 5:53 PM

Every week, I offer a glimpse of the kind of intelligence assessments that are likely to come across the desk of the President of the United States. Modeled on the President's Daily Briefing, or PDB, which the director of national intelligence prepares for the President almost daily, my Presidential Weekly Briefing focuses on the topics and issues President Trump needs to know to make informed decisions.

Here's this week's briefing:

North Korea: Love hurts

Your recent description of your love of Kim Jong Un, based on your letter-writing exchange, will likely hurt prospects for making a successful deal with North Korea. Kim probably thinks you are less likely to take a hard line against his failure to take any actual steps toward denuclearization because you don't want to admit that your love affair is rife with problems.

Leaving denuclearization aside, according to the United Nations, Kim continues to starve his own people and stockpile illegal chemical and biological weapons, and you've not taken Kim to task for either abuse recently.

And because North Korea is also still attacking us directly in cyberspace and trying to interfere in our elections, it also looks like you're willingly part of an abusive relationship.

Your loving language will empower Kim and other "bad dudes" to think they can act maliciously, so long as they remember to write you a sycophantic letter while they do.

US elections: Securely insecure

With just over a month before midterms, our elections remain insecure. There are a series of threats to our physical voting infrastructure -- largely unchanged from 2016 -- which means there are significant opportunities for election interference. State spending on election security upgrades will take place over five years, so improvements to cybersecurity and infrastructure upgrades won't be complete by the midterms.

Even if attempts to interfere in our elections aren't at the level seen in 2016, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued a public statement, saying the warning lights on attempts to interfere in our election are "blinking red."

You and other members of your team have cited several countries' activities as concerning, including Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. While they may be supporting different candidates and objectives, all these countries have advanced cybercapabilities.

We know that Russia tried to interfere in the voting systems of 21 states during the 2016 election. We should assume the Russians (and other state actors) may try to exploit voting systems again moving forward, especially as it is public knowledge that they remain insecure.

While disclosures about Russian hacking attempts -- against targets such as Congress, think tanks and potentially even congressional campaigns -- abound, information warfare is also a popular domain. You accused China of meddling in our elections. Because you have not publicly disclosed evidence supporting that statement -- other than Chinese propaganda in American media, which is not a new practice for the Chinese -- analysts around the world may think you put overt Chinese propaganda in local newspapers on the same level as covert Russian cyberattacks and information warfare.

Meanwhile, physical voting systems in more than half of US states contain exploitable vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to compromise voting machines. These voting machines don't contain enhanced security features of newer models.

This will make audits of voting machines post-election important given the high risk of tampering. And, because our defenses aren't up to speed, clearly articulating the costs of interference so you deter enemies from election meddling may resonate with them more strongly than any reference to our defensive posture.

NATO: Say my name

We assess that Russia is likely behind efforts to try to derail Macedonia's path to becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Macedonia tried to clear one of the hurdles in this process with a referendum on Sunday in support of officially changing its name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia. The name change is part of an agreement with Greece, which had previously barred Macedonia from joining the alliance -- stipulating that with an official name change the objection would be dropped. In order for the vote to be valid, 50% of eligible voters had to participate. So, opponents of the name change and opponents of expanding the NATO alliance were motivated to suppress voter turnout.

In the run-up to the referendum, information warfare attacks picked up. One report found that the number of bots focused on spreading content supporting efforts to boycott Macedonia's referendum and against politicians or officials who backed it was higher than the number of bots discussing elections in Mexico or Italy.

Russia has not taken responsibility for these information warfare attacks, and it will deny involvement. While Vladimir Putin is not the only person against the referendum -- Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov is also against the name change -- Putin has the motivation to launch this attack. He is opposed to anything that makes NATO bigger, stronger or more stable. He also has the skills and resources; we have previously assessed that Putin directed attacks on our 2016 elections, including by using social media, and countries like Spain have accused Russia of interfering in other referendums, like one on Catalonia's independence.

Russia will up its game as Macedonia's NATO membership proceeds. If the reality of a new NATO member grows, Putin may apply more direct resources to stop the process. There are allegations that Putin, for example, was behind the coup plot and assassination attempt against Montenegro's Prime Minister while Montenegro was in the process of becoming a NATO member. Putin denies these allegations, but denial is one of his favorite words.

Iraq threat assessment

We are providing you with an updated threat assessment after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's decision to order US diplomatic personnel to depart the US Consulate in Basra, Iraq. We assess the threat to US personnel in Iraq will increase in the weeks ahead. As Pompeo noted in his statement, threats are emanating from the "government of Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, and from militias facilitated by and under the control and direction of the Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani."

Despite statements by your team that you are after a change in regime behavior, your remarks at the United Nations last week and the newly released State Department report on the "outlaw regime" in Iran look like a campaign for regime change.

So, in addition to feeling violated because you withdrew from the Iran deal, the regime also feels under attack. Iran will probably continue to attack where it has an edge -- and that's against our people in the region.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36578

Reported Deaths: 2258
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion10188604
Lake3876207
Allen181071
Cass15919
Elkhart158528
St. Joseph135838
Hendricks120478
Hamilton119194
Johnson1125113
Madison60061
Porter56233
Clark53942
Bartholomew53139
LaPorte44824
Howard44236
Tippecanoe4344
Jackson4012
Delaware39741
Shelby39722
Hancock35427
Boone32436
Floyd31941
Vanderburgh2913
Morgan28626
Noble27821
Montgomery24917
Clinton2471
White2399
Decatur23132
Grant22923
Dubois2113
Kosciusko2052
Harrison19622
Marshall1872
Henry18512
Vigo1828
Greene17226
Dearborn17122
Monroe17113
Lawrence17124
Warrick16729
Miami1461
Putnam1427
Jennings1324
Orange13122
LaGrange1282
Scott1263
Franklin1168
Ripley1086
Daviess10416
Carroll952
Wayne906
Steuben902
Wabash812
Newton8010
Fayette797
Jasper741
Jay580
Clay533
Randolph523
Rush513
Fulton511
Washington501
Pulaski500
Jefferson491
Whitley453
DeKalb451
Starke423
Perry390
Huntington382
Sullivan371
Wells350
Owen341
Brown331
Benton320
Knox310
Blackford272
Tipton261
Crawford250
Adams231
Switzerland220
Spencer221
Fountain222
Gibson202
Parke180
Posey160
Martin140
Warren131
Ohio130
Vermillion100
Union100
Pike60
Unassigned0180

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37758

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin6323295
Cuyahoga4789265
Hamilton2811171
Marion268832
Lucas2329263
Pickaway209938
Summit1529181
Mahoning1486191
Butler97532
Columbiana89453
Stark803102
Montgomery73417
Lorain73061
Trumbull60052
Belmont44915
Warren40721
Medina37624
Tuscarawas3714
Ashtabula36938
Miami36730
Delaware36014
Portage33557
Lake32512
Clark3237
Fairfield3188
Wood30649
Geauga30334
Wayne29651
Licking27110
Mercer2278
Richland2224
Allen22133
Clermont2195
Darke19023
Erie18416
Madison1647
Washington11819
Crawford1184
Morrow1081
Ottawa10717
Greene1065
Putnam9514
Sandusky9112
Monroe8015
Auglaize773
Hardin730
Ross732
Hocking705
Jefferson672
Huron611
Williams581
Holmes573
Union561
Muskingum561
Hancock531
Coshocton480
Wyandot482
Clinton471
Shelby473
Fulton450
Logan430
Fayette410
Preble391
Guernsey382
Carroll353
Defiance342
Brown311
Lawrence301
Highland291
Champaign281
Seneca262
Knox251
Ashland230
Vinton212
Perry191
Athens181
Scioto180
Henry170
Jackson150
Paulding140
Adams111
Harrison100
Pike90
Gallia81
Van Wert70
Meigs60
Noble60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 63°
Angola
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 61°
Huntington
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 60°
Decatur
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 64°
Van Wert
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 64°
Sunny Sunday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events