The Finance 202: Playbook to kill tax overhaul already written before bill’s debut – Washington Post

THE TICKER

President Donald Trump talks with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). (AP /Evan Vucci)

Today’s note will self-destruct in roughly two hours. And then again — and likely again.

That’s when House Republican leaders are expected — finally — to release the first draft of a tax code overhaul they’ve spent months developing behind closed doors. The debut time has been set for 11:15 a.m. this morning.

The last few days suggest the project remains in what could charitably be described as rough shape. Scrambling to find sources of revenue to pay for a sprawling, $5 trillion wish list of tax cuts, GOP tax writers on Wednesday also appeared to be scaling back their ambitions — both on the individual and corporate side of the code.

Here’s what we can say at this point: The successful pushback against efforts to kill the state and income tax deduction — as well as lobbying to kill pre-contribution taxing of 401(k) retirement contributions — has established a playbook for every industry group or business that combs through the forthcoming text and decides they’d be better off under the status quo. Simply cobble together a couple dozen of the most like-minded Republicans and convince them to threaten to bolt if leaders don’t drop the offending provision. 

After such efforts, today’s bill could abandon a central aim of the entire effort — to permanently chop the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent — in favor of a temporary cut. Or not.

Per my colleagues Mike DeBonis and Damian Paletta:

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) “said he had to make changes to keep his upcoming bill in line with rules Republicans need to abide by if they hope to pass the measure through the Senate without Democratic support. He added he hopes to make changes during negotiations with the Senate at some point to make the cuts long-term, but at this time he is unable to propose a permanent cut.”

“It’s going to take several steps through the process to achieve” permanence on the corporate rate, Brady said, citing what he termed “those awfully funny” Senate rules. “That will enter into the discussion.”

But Axios’s Jonathan Swan reported late Thursday that the corporate rate cut will in fact be permanent, and when I asked Brady about it shortly before 11 p.m., he said, “12 hours,” indicating the time until Republicans unveil the details. By Thursday morning, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg were also reporting that the rate cut in fact will be permanent.

And the New York Times reports the move to a temporary cut itself is intended to be temporary — a “place holder” until Republicans can rustle up the revenue to offset the estimated $1.6 trillion cost of embedding the cut in the code for good. 

Nevertheless, backing off such a central pillar of the original plan would mark a defeat — and could spook investors who are counting on a wholesale reduction in the corporate rate to help turbocharge economic growth. 

Republicans on the Ways and Means panel, for their part, broadcast cheeriness about the imminent launch of the package as they filed out of a Wednesday night meeting that stretched for over three hours as they reviewed the fine print. 

“We’re doing great — on schedule for the morning and excited,” Brady said. “We’ll continue to listen. We’re going to make improvements at every step. We’re going very bold, so we expect people and families and businesses to respond and tell us what they think.”

Want your own copy of the bill text (to fight or rally behind, as the case may be)? Text TAXES to 50589 and it’s all yours:

Don’t forget! Text TAXREFORM to 50589 to be the first to see our new #taxreform plan. pic.twitter.com/KJixW88xFz

— CathyMcMorrisRodgers (@cathymcmorris) November 1, 2017

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). (AP /J. Scott Applewhite)

But the chaos spilled over into proposed changes to the individual side of the tax code, as well. Republican leaders were still struggling Wednesday to forge a compromise with their rank-and-file from high-tax states like New Jersey and New York — a cohort threatening to oppose the package because it proposes to eliminate the federal deduction for state and local taxes (otherwise known as the SALT deduction).

More from Damian and Mike: “Several members said Wednesday that Republicans were looking at capping the property tax deduction at around $10,000, though discussions remained fluid. Still, several members said the changes weren’t sufficient. If enough Republicans refuse to accept the adjustment, they could oppose the bill and potentially kill it on the House floor.”

And the AP reports that Republicans are likewise backing off plans to wring out some new funding for their proposal by limiting tax-free contributions to retirement plans, including 401(k)s, after the idea met resistance both from President Trump and some of their own in the chamber. 

Furthermore, following what can only be termed as  unhelpful pre-rollout tweets from President Trump, Republicans are considering including the elimination of the individual mandate to buy health care — though the language isn’t expected to be in today’s draft.

Damian and Mike, again: “Three Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee and a GOP leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations, said that there has been serious discussion about including the individual mandate repeal in the tax bill. But they said that the committee is divided on the issue and that it is unlikely to be included in the initial draft.”

Republican leaders have held their plans close in part to forestall that bloodletting. Even still, the process wasn’t airtight, and the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors both are already putting their considerable muscle behind opposition campaigns.

Untold others will begin laying plans to join them in the hours ahead. Buckle up. 

And President Trump, as always, is a wildcard that could upend the negotiations at any moment.

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MARKET MOVERS

The rental truck used by Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant, who drove down a bike path for twenty blocks killing eight people and injuring several more, is hauled away on a New York City Police flatbed on Wednesday. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

NEW YORK TERROR ATTACK: 

Charges filedNYT: “Federal prosecutors on Wednesday filed charges accusing the driver in the Manhattan truck attack of carrying out a long-planned plot, spurred by Islamic State propaganda videos, to kill people celebrating Halloween. The charges, filed just over 24 hours after the deadliest terror attack on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001, placed the case in the civilian courts even as President Trump denounced the American criminal justice system as ‘a joke’ and ‘a laughingstock.’ The charges describe the driver, Sayfullo Saipov, 29, as a voracious consumer and meticulous student of ISIS propaganda, and detail how he said he was spurred to attack by an ISIS video questioning the killing of Muslims in Iraq.”

Trump dispatched with the presumption of innocence late Wednesday to declare that Saipov should get the death penalty: 

NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2017

That followed a day in which Trump used the attack to renew a push for his hard-line policies. David Nakamura and Ed O’Keefe: “The president said he would move to eliminate a popular “diversity lottery” for foreigners seeking U.S. visas and direct the State Department to ramp up “extreme vetting” of immigrants. He also suggested he would consider sending the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, a legal permanent resident of the United States, to the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

Terror by truck. The method is now a go-to for ISIS, used seven times in Western cities over the last year. The Post: “The results of the Halloween attack underscore the reasons for its popularity, terrorism experts say: The tactic requires no special skill or instruction, or formal membership in a terrorist group. And it is nearly impossible to prevent or stop.” … Neighbors say they saw Saipov practice driving a truck around his suburban New Jersey neighborhood in recent weeks. 

FED WATCH: 

Jerome Powell. (Zach Gibson / Bloomberg)

Powell gets the rose. The announcement is coming today. WSJ offers some historical perspective: “Mr. Powell’s nomination would mark the first time in nearly four decades that a new president hasn’t asked the serving Fed leader to stay on for another term, even though that person was nominated by a president of a different party. The last time a first-term president didn’t do that was in 1978, when President Jimmy Carter chose G. William Miller to succeed Arthur Burns… Reached by phone Wednesday, both Mr. Powell and Ms. Yellen declined to comment. A Fed spokeswoman also declined to comment.” 

Investors cheer continuity. Bloomberg’s Sarah Ponczek and Elena Popina: “Investors enjoying the fruits of a decade-long bull market in equities expect to find an ally in Jerome Powell… Barring the reappointment of Yellen, Powell was viewed as one of the best options for bulls, an extension of the dovish policies that helped the S&P 500 rise 45 percent during her tenure… Equities have been on an upswing since Bloomberg News reported Trump was leaning toward Powell on Friday, with the biggest exchange-traded fund rising three of four days. S&P 500 Index futures were little changed late Wednesday after the Wall Street Journal earlier reported that Trump intends to nominate the 64-year-old Fed governor on Thursday. The dollar and Treasuries showed little reaction.”

Fed leaves rates alone. In the shadow of Thursday’s big announcement, the central bank on Wednesday left interest rates unchanged. WSJ’s David Harrison: “Officials have penciled in one more move for 2017 if the economy stays on track. The Fed has one more meeting scheduled before the end of the year, on Dec. 12-13. The central bank has raised its benchmark federal-funds rate four times since late 2015, in quarter-percentage-point steps, to a current range between 1% and 1.25%.”

The former Goldman Sachs president, now Trump’s top economic adviser, was a front-runner for the Fed job until August, when he publicly broke with the president over his handling of fatal neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Politico

Goldman Sachs economists on Wednesday upgraded their forecast on U.S. nonfarm payrolls for October to a 340,000 increase from a 325,000 gain, based on the latest data on company hiring from ADP and factory activity from the Institute for Supply Management.

Reuters

MONEY ON THE HILL

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). (Alex Wong/Getty)

TAX FLY-AROUND:

Today’s schedule for the tax bill’s unveiling. Courtesy of Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) press office: 

  • 9:00 am: GOP Conference meeting to walk members through text.
  • 10:30 am: Ways and Means’ off-camera reporter briefing, embargoed until 11:15 a.m.
  • 11:15 am: GOP Leadership/Ways and Means press conference.
  • 12:00 pm: Speaker Ryan interview with CNN’s Phil Mattingly airs.
  • 1:30 pm: Speaker Ryan/Ways and Means members meet with President Trump at the White House.
  • 2:30 pm: Speaker Ryan interview with Fox News’ The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino airs.

More GOP infighting ahead. Bloomberg’s Anna Edgerton: “A leading House Republican conservative warned that the unveiling of the tax bill Thursday would unleash dissent ‘like you’ve never seen.’ But that doesn’t mean Republicans will fail, said Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. ‘It may be a little messy, it may not be as fun as we would all have liked to have seen it be over the past few weeks,’ Meadows told reporters Wednesday after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. ‘But we’re going to get it done, and failure is not an option.'”

Trump throws a curveball. Damian: “Trump on Wednesday said congressional Republicans should make a major change to their upcoming tax cut bill by including changes to the Affordable Care Act, an idea that has divided the GOP for months. The idea had already been rejected one day earlier by… Brady, who had said it risked bogging down the process. But Trump, in two Twitter posts Wednesday, pushed the idea, which has gained currency with some Senate Republicans. The biggest proponent of the idea is Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).”

Wouldn’t it be great to Repeal the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate in ObamaCare and use those savings for further Tax Cuts…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017

….for the Middle Class. The House and Senate should consider ASAP as the process of final approval moves along. Push Biggest Tax Cuts EVER

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017

Mnuchin resists corporate fade-in. Bloomberg’s Saleha Mohsin  and Jennifer Jacobs: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is resisting a gradual phase in of the proposed 20 percent corporate rate out of concern the move wouldn’t boost economic growth as much as he’s anticipated, according to a Trump administration official and another person familiar with Mnuchin’s thinking. Mnuchin is worried that a slow reduction of the corporate rate from its current 35 percent would also make the U.S. less competitive, as other countries cut their rates faster and foreigners delay their investments in the U.S., said the official, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.”

He’s got history on his side, a new analysis suggests. “Ladling out corporate tax cuts bit by bit is a bad idea. Look at history,” Bloomberg’s Sarah Ponczek writes. “So goes an argument being pushed by analysts at Strategas Research Partners, who say Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush came to regret their gradualist approaches in 1981 and 2001. ‘Phasing in the corporate tax rate cut for five years is a terrible idea,’ the analysts, led by Daniel Clifton, head of policy research at Strategas, wrote in a note Tuesday. ‘Taxpayers will delay their economic activity in anticipation of the lower tax rate in future years.'”

Colleges, charities on Senate menu. Politico’s Brian Faler: “Universities, charities, life insurance companies and others could all lose cherished tax breaks under a Senate plan to rewrite the tax code. Senate Republicans are considering a number of sure-to-be controversial changes, including imposing a new 2 percent excise tax on the endowment earnings of private universities, according to a summary POLITICO obtained.

They may reduce the tax breaks people receive for fringe benefits at work, such as a deductions for entertainment- and transportation-related expenses. Another proposal, apparently aimed at Silicon Valley firms, would limit write-offs businesses can take for providing meals to employees. Uber drivers, people who rent their homes through Airbnb and others participating in the ‘gig economy’ could see tougher income reporting requirements that make it harder for them to avoid paying taxes. Insurance companies could lose a host of tax breaks worth more than $31 billion.”

WH blasé about delay. Politico’s Nancy Cook reports that the administration was okay with the fact that House Republicans missed their initial target of a Wednesday rollout, “provided it doesn’t extend into the weekend, according to three senior administration officials—and Trump even told Ryan he’d be fine if it takes until Friday, said two people briefed on their conversation.” 

But Trump wouldn’t be accepting responsibility if another of his priorities goes down. Here he was Wednesday making clear he will blame Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn if the tax overhaul fails:

Cut, cut, cut. ABC News: “Ryan’s office initially asked the White House for input because of the president’s knack for branding, according to a senior Hill aide. Trump has been insistent that the bill be called the ‘Cut Cut Cut Act’ according to the administration officials. Ryan and Brady have pushed back on the name of the bill. However, Trump has held firm.”

— A new $100 million force. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt: “Trump’s super PAC is drawing up plans to spend $100 million on an all-out push to sell tax reform and elect pro-Trump Republicans in 2018. The group, dubbed America First Action, is expected to host a fundraiser in the coming months that will be attended by Vice President Mike Pence and is in talks with the administration to get Trump to headline an event. It has tapped oil and gas mogul Harold Hamm, a Trump ally whose net worth exceeds $11 billion, to boost its fundraising campaign. And it is recruiting major Republican Party donors across the country.

Last week, America First officials met with top Trump advisers at the White House to brief them on a multimillion dollar campaign to promote tax reform and discuss how the legislative battle is likely to play out. But the stepped-up activity, which strategists revealed in interviews for the first time, is an abrupt change for the super PAC. The group has been dormant for much of the year, much to the frustration of the White House. America First has suffered from infighting, leadership shake-ups, and questions over its strategy and approach since its founding after the 2016 election.”

Former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.). (AP /Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Garrett’s rough day. WSJ’s Andrew Ackerman: “Trump’s choice to head the Export-Import Bank didn’t appear to sway waffling Republican senators on a key panel into supporting him, putting his confirmation at risk. Lawmakers from both parties criticized Scott Garrett during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Wednesday, saying his past votes to shut down the bank while serving in the House made him unsuitable to run the agency.

Mr. Garrett reversed his prior opposition to the agency in testimony before the committee, pledging to keep the bank ‘fully functioning.’ But lawmakers indicated they weren’t satisfied by his remarks. No Democrats on the committee are expected to back Mr. Garrett, meaning attracting enough Republican support is crucial to getting his nomination through the panel and advancing it to the full Senate. Industry groups that benefit from the Ex-Im Bank, which provides financing for U.S. exports, are pressuring lawmakers to oppose Mr. Garrett.

‘What would have made you change your mind about whether or not the Export-Import Bank should exist?’ asked Sen. Mike Rounds (R., S.D.) who said he had met with Mr. Garrett twice and hadn’t received a satisfactory answer. ‘This is critical, that you be able to share what has changed your mind.’… Mr. Scott bantered with Mr. Garrett during the hearing but later told reporters he was still undecided.”

TRUMP TRACKER

President Trump. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

RUSSIA WATCH: 

Trump isn’t angry. He says so himself. The NYT’s Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker: “Trump projected an air of calm on Wednesday after charges against his former campaign chief and a foreign policy aide roiled Washington, insisting to The New York Times that he was not ‘angry at anybody’ and that investigations into his campaign’s links to Russia had not come near him personally. ‘I’m not under investigation, as you know,’ Mr. Trump said in a brief telephone call late Wednesday afternoon. Pointing to the indictment of his former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, the president said, ‘And even if you look at that, there’s not even a mention of Trump in there.’ ‘It has nothing to do with us,’ Mr. Trump said.  He also pushed back against a report published Monday night by The Washington Post, which the president said described him as ‘angry at everybody.’ ‘I’m actually not angry at anybody,’ Mr. Trump told The Times.”

He might be a little bit angry. Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman: “Trump… has reacted to the deteriorating situation by lashing out on Twitter and venting in private to friends. He’s frustrated that the investigation seems to have no end in sight. ‘Trump wants to be critical of Mueller,’ one person who’s been briefed on Trump’s thinking says. ‘He thinks it’s unfair criticism. Clinton hasn’t gotten anything like this. And what about Tony Podesta? Trump is like, When is that going to end?’ 

According to two sources, Trump has complained to advisers about his legal team for letting the Mueller probe progress this far. Speaking to Steve Bannon on Tuesday, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that led to Mueller’s appointment, according to a source briefed on the call.

When Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed, according to someone familiar with the conversation. ‘Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,’ Nunberg said. ‘I’m only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate and Congress.'”

Tech giants face more Hill heat. The Post: “Senators from both parties took tech company officials to task in a hearing Wednesday for failing to better identify, defuse and investigate Russia’s campaign to manipulate American voters over social media during the 2016 presidential campaign. In the second of three Capitol Hill hearings this week on Russian’s online information operation, members of the Senate intelligence committee challenged Facebook, Google and Twitter in strikingly direct terms that, at times, seemed to carry the implicit threat of legislation that could rein in the nation’s wildly profitable technology industry.

‘I don’t think you get it,’ said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), whose home state includes all three companies. ‘What we’re talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we’re talking about is the beginning of cyber-warfare. What we’re talking about is a major foreign power with sophistication and ability to involve themselves in a presidential election and sow conflict and discontent all over this country. We are not going to go away gentlemen. And this is a very big deal.'”

Watch the summary of tech companies’ Senate Intelligence testimony, in three minutes:

One message senators delivered repeatedly to the lawyers sent to represent the companies: Next time, bring your CEOs

The day wasn’t all bad for Facebook, at least. The company posted a 79 percent surge in profit to $4.7 billion, beating Wall Street expectations. 

THE REGULATORS

The Securities and Exchange Commission took a first step on Wednesday to head off the recent trend of celebrities endorsing new virtual currencies, warning that they could be breaking laws.

NYT

CHART TOPPER

Here’s an example of what Russian Facebook ads you might have seen if you were a Hillary Clinton supporter. The Post’s Dan Keating, Kevin Schaul and Leslie Shapiro take a look at a few other examples of how people were targeted on Facebook based on interests, political leanings, location, age and other traits.

DAYBOOK

POST PROGRAMMING ALERT: The Post and Live Nation will bring the “Can He Do That?” podcast to a live audience at the Warner Theatre on Tuesday, Nov. 7. In this live taping, political reporters Bob Woodward, David Fahrenthold and Karen Tumulty will join host Allison Michaels to review the past year in President Trump’s White House and the biggest moments that made people wonder “Can He Do That?” Tickets can be purchased now at Live Nation. Attendees will also receive a free 30-day digital subscription to The Washington Post. 

Today

Coming Up

  • The Heritage Foundation holds an event on reforming the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority on Friday.

  • The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities and Investment holds a hearing on “Legislative Proposals to Improve Small Businesses’ and Communities’ Access to Capital” on Friday.

  • The Washington Examiner holds an event on the tax bill with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) on Nov. 8.

THE FUNNIES

From the New Yorker:

BULL SESSION

Here are the ads that Russian-linked groups posted on social media:

Donald Trump Jr.’s Halloween socialism lesson, according to the Internet:

Hillary Clinton chats with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show:

[embedded content]

Samantha Bee says chief of staff John Kelly is not the adult in the White House:

[embedded content]

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New York terror suspect was radicalized domestically, governor says – CNN

A 29-year-old man plowed into a crowd of bicyclists and pedestrians just blocks away from the World Trade Center Tuesday afternoon. Mangled bicycles littered the street as medics rushed to the victims.
Six victims were killed instantly. Two others died later. And more than a dozen are trying to recover as the country grapples with yet another terror attack.
How the New York City truck attack unfoldedHow the New York City truck attack unfolded
“This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The suspect has been identified as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, according to two law enforcement sources. The Uzbekistan native — who came to the US legally in 2010 — allegedly drove a rented pickup truck onto a busy bike path, crashed the truck into a school bus, then stepped outside brandishing imitation firearms.
Saipov was “radicalized domestically” in the US, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday morning.
“The evidence shows — and again, it’s only several hours, and the investigation is ongoing — but that after he came to the United States is when he started to become informed about ISIS and radical Islamic tactics,” Cuomo said.
“We have no evidence yet of associations or a continuing plot or associated plots, and our only evidence to date is that this was an isolated incident that he himself performed.”
A police officer shot Saipov in the abdomen, but the suspect survived and underwent surgery Tuesday evening.
Saipov has been linked to social media accounts that contain ISIS-related material, a law enforcement official said Wednesday morning. The official also said Saipov has been somewhat cooperative with FBI and New York police investigators who questioned him in the hospital overnight.

Here are the latest developments in the attack:

  • Authorities conducted search warrants overnight at Saipov’s home in New Jersey.
  • Saipov had been an Uber driver in New Jersey for over six months, the company told CNN. Uber is cooperating with authorities in the investigation.
  • The President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev said in an open letter published Wednesday that his country will use all “means necessary” to help the investigation. The suspect came to the US from the central Asian nation in 2010.
  • The New York police officer who shot and apprehended Saipov has been identified as 28-year-old Ryan Nash, a law enforcement source told CNN.
  • Authorities found a note near the truck used in the attack claiming the action was taken in the name of ISIS , a senior law enforcement official said.

The suspect

Officers were able to talk to Saipov before the surgery, but it was unclear if he told them anything, a law enforcement source told CNN.
Saipov came to the United States in 2010 from the central Asian nation of Uzbekistan, a law enforcement source said.
Most recently, he lived in New Jersey, according to a law enforcement source. Neighbors said he recently lived at least part-time in Paterson, New Jersey, not far from New York.
Just over six months ago, Saipov began driving for Uber in New Jersey, the company told CNN. He passed a background check and did not have any rider complaints about his safety as a driver, according to Uber.
He once listed his occupation as a truck driver, his marriage license shows.
Saipov had multiple run-ins with law enforcement in several states, online records show. He had traffic citations issued in Missouri and Pennsylvania and was arrested by the Missouri State Highway Patrol in October 2016 after failing to show up in court for a misdemeanor offense.
He paid a $200 bond, which he forfeited when he didn’t show up in court for his next hearing in November. A guilty plea was entered on his behalf.

The victims

Among the eight people killed, five were friends from Argentina celebrating their high school reunion in New York City, Argentina’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
Note found in truck claims Manhattan attack done for ISIS, source saysNote found in truck claims Manhattan attack done for ISIS, source says
“The Argentine Government expresses its sincere condolences for the death of Argentine citizens Hernán Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damián Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferruchi which occurred as a result of the dramatic terrorist attack in New York this afternoon,” the ministry said in a statement.
They had traveled to New York from Rosario, a town nearly 200 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, to mark the 30th anniversary of their graduation from the Polytechnic School, a technical high school in Rosario.
A sixth Argentine national who was also part of the group was injured during the attack. He was out of danger, the ministry said, but as of Tuesday night, he was still recovering at New York-Presbyterian’s Lower Manhattan Hospital.
“Deeply moved by the tragic deaths this afternoon in NY,” Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri tweeted. “We put ourselves at the disposition of the families of the Argentinian victims.”
Didier Reynders, deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister for Belgium, said a Belgian national was also among those killed.

Vehicles as weapons

Tuesday’s attack turned an ordinary vehicle into a lethal weapon, a tactic used in other recent attacks in the West.
In 2014, an ISIS spokesman called for lone wolf attacks using improvised weaponry. “If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock or slaughter him with a knife or run him over with your car or throw him down from a high place or choke him or poison him.”
Since 2014, there have been 15 vehicular attacks in the West by jihadist terrorists, killing 142 people, according to a count by New America, a nonpartisan research institution. Those figures include Tuesday’s attack in Manhattan.
Vehicles as weapons: New York City crash is part of a deadly trendVehicles as weapons: New York City crash is part of a deadly trend
For the past few years, police in New York have reached out to businesses that rent vehicles to warn them about possible terror threats and to let them know about ways to come forward.
“We did extensive outreach to the truck rental business. We visited over 148 truck rental locations in this area,” New York Police’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said at a Tuesday news conference. “The industry has had a high level of awareness on this matter from the NYPD.”
Miller said that if a company is suspicious of a would-be renter, they usually delay or simply deny a rental to let police investigate it.
The suspect drove a Home Depot rental truck he drove from New Jersey, Miller said.
A spokesman for Home Depot confirmed one of the company’s rental trucks was part of an incident in lower Manhattan and said the company is “cooperating with authorities” in the investigation.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect the note claiming that the attack was made in the name of ISIS was found near the truck.

CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz, Brynn Gingras, Topher Gauk-Roger, Paul Murphy, Curt Devine and Patricia DiCarlo contributed to this report.

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How young Trump aide became key player in Russia probe – The Hill

Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTime cover shows Trump Cabinet as wrecking balls ‘dismantling government as we know it’Overnight Finance: Trump, GOP open to 401(k) changes | White House eyes gas tax hike for infrastructure | Republicans flex power over consumer agency | Cohn reportedly out of running for Fed chiefThe Hill’s 12:30 ReportMORE’s campaign manager, Barry Bennett, was desperate to add to his list of foreign policy advisers in November 2015.

More than 100 people had just been killed in the Paris terrorist attack, and Carson’s campaign was in a tailspin after one of his foreign policy advisers described the candidate as clueless on national security to The New York Times.

As Bennet scanned resumes, one name jumped out to him: George Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos’s resume was thin. He listed his participation in a model United Nations class exercise on his LinkedIn profile.

But Bennett was only looking for a short-term rental — a gun for hire whose name could go on a list of advisers to make it look like they were taking one of Carson’s shortcomings seriously.

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Papadopoulos claimed to have worked as a research assistant at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, for five years. Bennett says he called Ken Weinstein, the president and CEO of the Hudson Institute, and received a positive reference.

“All of the foreign policy establishment, the A-listers were working for Jeb [Bush] or Marco [Rubio],” Bennett said. “So here’s this 28-year-old kid who is not terribly sophisticated, but he solved my problem of needing to put a bunch of names on a list. I’m sure he wrote some things for us, but I don’t know that we used any of it.”

As it turns out, Papadopoulos was exaggerating even the meager experience listed on his resume.

A representative for the Hudson Institute told The Hill that he signed on as an unpaid intern in 2011 and only did research on a contractual basis between 2013 and 2014.

“Mr. Papadopoulos was never a salaried employee of Hudson Institute, and the Institute has had no relationship with him since 2014,” the representative said.

Papadopoulos is now becoming a household name. He pleaded guilty in early October to lying to federal investigators about his contacts with Russians, according to court documents unsealed on Monday by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The young Trump campaign aide has been described as a “proactive cooperator” by investigators, a sign he’s being used by Mueller’s team to form a case against other aides — including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was indicted on Monday. 

President Trump and the White House have sought to minimize Papadopoulos’s involvement with the campaign, casting him as little more than an errand boy.

“Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar,” the president tweeted Tuesday morning.

Yet it is clear from his guilty plea that Papadopoulos conversed with a Russia-linked professor who cited “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBlumenthal: Trump-tied data firm reaching out to WikiLeaks ‘significant’Tillerson eliminates key State Department sanctions office: reportIntel Dem: What’s in dossier more important than who paid for itMORE and that other emails showed him discussing potential meetings with Russian officials with older, more experienced campaign aides.

Papadopoulos first surfaced as part of Trump’s campaign in March 2016.

Bennett says he did not introduce Papadopoulos to the Trump campaign. He suspects that Sam Clovis, a policy adviser to the Trump campaign, was in a similar position of needing to show that Trump had a list of foreign policy advisers and that Papadopoulos likely played the role of adviser in name only.

“My guess is that Trump pulled out a list that Sam Clovis had typed up and read off the names and that’s how his name popped up,” said Bennett, who advised Trump’s transition team.

Several media outlets have pegged Clovis as the campaign supervisor that Papadopoulos emailed with about his Russian contacts. Clovis allegedly told Papadopoulos he was doing “great work” and encouraged him to set up a meeting with the Russians.

Clovis is now Trump’s nominee to be a science adviser to the Department of Agriculture. He faces a Senate confirmation hearing in November.

NBC News reported Tuesday that Clovis met with Mueller and his team of investigators last week, but the White House is sticking by him, at least for now.

“I’m not aware that any change would be necessary at this point,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday when asked whether Clovis’s nomination might be withdrawn.

Bennett downplayed the idea that Papadopoulos could be the man to bring the Trump presidency down.

“Not to be disrespectful to him, but he is a nobody,” he said. “This idea that he was wearing a wire — I don’t think he knew anyone else in the campaign. If he’s the smoking gun then they don’t have anything.”

Papadopoulos was one of five foreign affairs advisers named by Trump during a meeting with The Washington Post’s editorial board, a group that also included Lt. Gen. Keith Kellog, now chief of staff in Trump’s National Security Council, and Carter Page, who has also emerged as a key figure in the Russia probe.

At the time, Trump cheered Papadopoulos as an “excellent guy.” Papadopoulos was also photographed alongside Trump and others at a purported national security meeting in Washington publicized by the campaign last April.

For months, Papadopoulos engaged with a foreign professor and a Russian woman whom he initially believed to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s niece, according to the indictment unsealed Monday, in hopes of brokering a meeting between the campaign and Moscow. The professor also told Papadopoulos in late April 2016 that the Russian government had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”

While investigators say the meeting Papadopoulos sought never materialized, his efforts are likely to be the focus of Mueller’s investigation, and legal experts believe that Papadopoulos may have had several months to gather intelligence for the special counsel before it became public that he had pleaded guilty and possibly become a state witness.

Papadopoulos has largely remained out of the media spotlight until now, meaning individuals in Trump’s orbit wouldn’t necessarily have their guard up around him during the period he was cooperating.

“[This] means that he was out in the world for three months presumably while he was cooperating,” observed Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. “We obviously don’t know the scope or the nature of the cooperation, but one suspects it was more than nothing.”

“It’s pretty clear that yesterday was the opening act of what by all accounts is a very well orchestrated production,” Vladeck added.

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Five Argentines among 8 dead in New York City terror attack – Washington Post

NEW YORK — A 29-year-old man driving a rental truck plowed down people on a Manhattan bike path Tuesday in what authorities described as a terrorist attack that killed eight and injured 11 before the suspect was shot and arrested by police.

A sunny fall day along the Hudson River erupted in chaos just around the time students were getting out from nearby Stuyvesant High School, when a rented Home Depot truck turned on to the bike path along the West Side Highway.

Witnesses say the speeding truck struck unsuspecting bicyclists and pedestrians while onlookers screamed and scattered. The truck then veered left toward Chambers Street, where it collided with a small school bus, injuring two adults and two children inside, officials said.

Foreign ministries of Belgium and Argentina said five Argentines and a Belgian were among the victims. The Argentine nationals were part of a group of friends celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation, the Argentine Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

According to a video from the scene, the man then jumped out of the wrecked vehicle brandishing what appeared to be handguns. Some witnesses said he shouted “Allahu akbar’’ meaning “God is great’’ in Arabic.

Law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an open investigation, identified the suspect as Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant who had been living in Tampa.

The attack could intensify the political debate over immigration and security. President Trump has argued for much tougher screening of immigrants to prevent terrorism, and opponents of those policies have sought to block his efforts in the courts. Uzbekistan was not among the countries named in any version of the president’s travel ban, which largely targeted a number of majority-Muslim countries.

[ New York vehicle attack: Everything you need to know ]

Trump responded to the attack on Twitter, saying it “looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person.’’ He tweeted a short time later: “We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!” ISIS is an acronym for the Islamic State.

On Tuesday night Trump said he was tightening immigrant screening, tweeting: “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”

I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017

There was no immediate indication that the attack had been directed by the Islamic State. However, the group has called on its supporters in Western countries to launch their own attacks, using anything at hand as weapons, including vehicles.

Inside the rental truck, investigators found a handwritten note in which Saipov had declared his allegiance to the Islamic State, according to officials.

Saipov is expected to survive, meaning investigators will likely have a chance to question him about his motive for the attack, but so far, they said, he appears to have been a “lone wolf’’ suspect – someone who acted alone after being inspired, but not directly instructed, by the Islamic State.

He had been living in Paterson, New Jersey before the attack, and rented the vehicle in that state before driving it into Manhattan, officials said.

The violence was terrifyingly similar to vehicle attacks carried out in Europe, where Islamic State supporters have used cars and trucks to strike pedestrians in crowded streets, a tactic that has been employed in France, Britain, Germany, Sweden and Spain.

“This certainly bears all the hallmarks of an ISIS-inspired or al-Qaeda-inspired attack,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, whom the FBI briefed on the attack Tuesday evening. “We have to expect that as the capital of the caliphate has now fallen, there are going to be increasing efforts to show that they remain dangerous and lethal, and to expand the virtual caliphate.”

Antonio Valasquez, 28, said he saw the truck speed by as he left a restaurant and then heard a crash. “I didn’t really understand, you know, at first what was happening,” he said. Valasquez said he heard what appeared to be gunshots shortly after but couldn’t be sure. “I was running away.”

An officer from the 1st Precinct approached Saipov and shot him in the abdomen, police said. He has been taken to a hospital, but officials did not discuss his condition or location. The weapons he was brandishing turned out to be a pellet gun and a paintball gun, police said.

Rabbi Chaim Zaklos was picking up about half a dozen children from school to escort them to Hebrew school nearby when he encountered the scene. Police were pushing people away, and he could see abandoned bikes and what appeared to be uprooted trees nearby. “It was obvious something drastic was happening, so I just wanted to get the kids someplace safe,” said Zaklos, 35.

“This is a very painful day in our city,’’ New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said. “Based on the information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror, a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians.”

Saipov moved to the United States from Uzbekistan about six years ago, said Dilnoza Abdusamatova, 24, who said Saipov stayed with her family in Cincinnati for his first two weeks in the country because their fathers were friends. Some officials said he arrived in 2010.

Abdusamatova said Saipov then moved to Florida to start a trucking company. Her family members think he got married about a year after arriving in the United States and may now have two children. Around that time, she said, he cut off contact with them.

“He stopped talking to us when he got married,” Abdusamatova said.

[ Vehicles as weapons of terror: U.S. cities on alert as attacks hit the West ]

Saipov had lived in an apartment complex, Heritage at Tampa, near the Hillsborough River. On Tuesday evening, two plainclothes investigators were seen departing the community, having interviewed several residents and others in the surrounding neighborhood. The investigators declined to answer any questions.

“Four FBI agents came and told me he used to live here,” said Venessa Jones, who said she lives in an apartment above the one Saipov rented. Neighbors at the complex said they didn’t know Saipov.

Officials said they had no information to suggest that the attacker had any accomplices or that there was a further threat to the city.

Nevertheless, they said, extra police would be posted around the city as a precaution, particularly along the route of the Halloween Parade, a long-standing tradition in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village that attracts big crowds. Officials said sand trucks, police vehicles and other equipment would be used to deter any vehicle attacks at the parade.

Authorities stand near a damaged Home Depot truck after a motorist drove onto a bike path near the World Trade Center memorial, striking and killing several people Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The investigation is being led by the FBI with the assistance of the New York Police Department.

“We have recently seen attacks like this one throughout the world,’’ said acting homeland security secretary Elaine Duke. “DHS and its law enforcement partners remain vigilant and committed to safeguarding the American people.’’

The Argentine Foreign Ministry identified the five dead Argentine nationals as Hernán Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damián Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferruchi. It added that a sixth member of the group, Martin Ludovico Marro, sustained injuries and is being hospitalized in the Presbyterian Hospital of Manhattan. He is in stable condition, the government said, citing medical officials.

The group of friends hailed from the city of Rosario, the largest city in the central province of Santa Fe. They graduated from the Instituto Politécnico, a technical high school in Rosario, in 1987.

The Argentine government expressed its “sincere condolences” and said the General Consulate remains in contact with police authorities, hospital staff and the victim’s relatives in Argentina.

“We accompany the families in this terrible moment of deep pain, which all Argentines share,” the government statement read.

Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, tweeted that he was “deeply moved by the tragic deaths” in New York. “We are available to the families of the Argentine victims,” he added.

Rosario’s local newspaper, La Capital, described the vacation to New York as the “trip of their dreams,” and reported that they were riding bicycles in Lower Manhattan before the attack.

The local newspaper’s headline read:  “A trip of camaraderie among friends from Rosario turns into tragedy.”

Barrett, Lowery, Siegel, and Schmidt reported from Washington. Philip Bump in New York, Jon Silman in Tampa, and Julie Tate, Ellen Nakashima, Jennifer Jenkins, Mark Berman in Washington contributed to this report.

Read more:

Washington prepares for the unexpected as Russia investigation unfolds

Russia investigation charges complicate Trump’s Asia trip, ability to sell tax cuts

Facebook, Google and Twitter testified on Capitol Hill. Here’s what they said.

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Police shoot parent who held teacher hostage at elementary school, ending hours-long standoff – Los Angeles Times

Police officers on Tuesday evening swarmed a Riverside elementary school classroom and shot a parent who had taken a teacher hostage, ending an hours-long standoff.

The teacher, identified as Linda Montgomery, was taken to a hospital for a precautionary evaluation, Riverside Unified officials told reporters at the scene. Television footage showed the man being taken away from the school on a stretcher, but details about his condition were not available.

Officers entered the room about 6 p.m., roughly seven hours after the man forced his way past staff in the main office at Castle View Elementary School, Riverside Unified spokesman Justin Grayson said. The shooting occurred shortly after. It’s unclear if the man was armed, but witnesses did not report seeing any weapons.

Officials canceled classes at the elementary school for the rest of the week.

When the parent arrived on campus, he got into a confrontation with a teacher, said Riverside Police Officer Ryan Railsback. The parent did not appear to follow the school district’s safety procedures and check in with the front desk, he added.

The parent was confronted by a male teacher and the parent hit that teacher in the face, Railsback said. A witness told KABC that the teacher’s face was bloodied and his nose was broken. The teacher was treated at a nearby hospital, police said.

The parent then went into an empty classroom and took a female teacher hostage, police said. The door to the classroom was blocked with the parent and a female teacher inside for hours.

Police evacuated all students from the campus and began releasing them to their parents after 1 p.m. All students were accounted for, Grayson said.

Smoke was briefly seen coming out of the room, but Railsback said he didn’t have any information about the smoke. It did not appear to be toxic, he said.

[email protected]

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

[email protected]

Twitter: @AleneTchek

ALSO

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Death toll from San Diego hepatitis A outbreak rises to 20


UPDATES:

7 p.m.: This article was updated with information from a news conference.

6:10 p.m.: This article was updated to reflect that the standoff has ended.

6:05 p.m. This article was updated throughout.

3:30 p.m.: This article was updated with details about the beginning of the incident.

2:20 p.m.: This article was updated with information on student releases.

1:40 p.m.: This article was updated with details about the hostage.

1:15 p.m.: This article was updated with details about the campus evacuation.

This article was originally published at 12:55 p.m.

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New York City Truck Attack Brings Deadly Terrorist Trend to the US – NBCNews.com

For a little more than a year, Americans have watched vehicular terrorist attacks strike Barcelona, Stockholm, Berlin, London and Nice — and on Tuesday, the deadly threat was carried out in America’s most populated city.

“It was really only a matter of time, I think, before these tactics migrated here,” said Colin Clarke, a political scientist with the RAND Institute. “In fact, I’m surprised it took so long for us to experience something like that. It was going to happen here.”

A motorist in a rented pickup truck killed eight people and injured more than a dozen others after barreling down a bike path in lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon. Officials called it an “act of terror,” making it the deadliest terrorist attack in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001, where more than 2,700 people were killed in New York alone.

Clarke said that while law enforcement in New York has “taken great lengths to prevent these types of attacks after 9/11,” the very nature of large urban centers makes them vulnerable.

Related: Truck Driver Kills Eight in Lower Manhattan Terrorist Attack

“If you want to live in a free, liberal democratic society you’re going to be vulnerable to these types of things, because you can’t barricade every bike lane or park or open space or university,” he added.

Former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said that vehicle attacks have “been occurring around the world with increasing frequency.”

Image: NYC Truck AttackImage: NYC Truck Attack

Investigators inspect a truck following a shooting incident on October 31, 2017 in New York.Don Emmert / AFP – Getty Images

“The pace of attacks around the world has been picking up,” he said.

In August, a van plowed into a crowd in Barcelona’s La Rambla tourist hot spot, killing 13 and wounding more than 100. It was the sixth deadly attack in Europe involving a car or truck in a little more than a year. The others occurred in Nice, Berlin,London and Stockholm.

The suspect in Tuesday’s attack was identified as a 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant named Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov who entered the U.S. in 2010, law enforcement officials told NBC News. The gunman hopped out of the truck and shouted “Allahu Akbar” before firing a BB or pellet gun, four senior law enforcement sources said. The suspect was then shot in the abdomen by a police officer.

While authorities are still investigating the attack, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called it a “particularly cowardly act of terror.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo added that this appeared to be the work of a “lone wolf.”

“There’s no evidence to suggest a wider plot,” he said.

Law enforcement sources said he left a note in the truck claiming he committed the attack for ISIS.

Image: Nice Truck AttackImage: Nice Truck Attack

Authorities investigate a truck after it plowed through Bastille Day revelers on July 14, 2016 in the French resort city of Nice, France.Sasha Goldsmith / AP file

Clarke said the rise of using vehicles in terrorist attacks marked a significant shift in tactics from the major attacks orchestrated by al Qaeda and related groups in years past.

“Essentially it’s the full circle of terrorism in many ways,” he said. “Al Qaeda set the bar so high with the attacks of 9/11 that for a while they were reticent to do anything less than that.”

But now extremist groups such as ISIS have called for attacks using simpler means that are easier to carry out.

“A motorized vehicle is an obvious killer weapon and New York City was the perfect target. I’m afraid there will be more like this,” said Michael Nacht, a national security expert and professor of public policy at the University of California Berkeley.

Other types of attacks require more planning or resources and are easier to detect, said Rick Mathews, a homeland security expert at the State University of New York at Albany.

“The things we see now are that when terrorists attack by getting a vehicle or renting a truck, which is not illegal, there is a great deal of difficulty detecting. It makes it harder to stop them,” he said.

Clarke said the increase in such attacks has prompted law enforcement, as well as other officials and even urban planners, around the world to discuss how to best protect cities.

“A broad-based, comprehensive approach is necessary, but again there’s only so much you can do to prevent these type of soft-target attacks,” he said.

While authorities might increase vigilance on vehicle rentals in the near future, it was difficult to assess any long-term policy changes that could arise from Tuesday’s attack, said Erroll G. Southers, a professor of the Practice of Governance at the University of Southern California.

“We may see more vigilance on the part of people who rent vehicles,” he said. “There might be some more screening. But again it’s difficult to stop transactions.”

Clarke added that politicians and police are in a difficult position, trying to enact change but also not wanting to reinforce a sense of fear in communities.

“In my own opinion, terrorists have scored a small victory because this is ubiquitous, the thinking of planning for these attacks, it was really unheard of a year or two ago,” he said.

Bratton said one of the issues with these attacks was the fear they create for communities.

“The whole idea of fear is, all that we try to do in law enforcement and in private security is to replace the fear with awareness,” he said.

“We can live aware and we have to be aware, but the worst thing that could happen would be to be so overcome by fear that we cease to function in normal ways,” he said. “We need to go on with our lives.”

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Note found in truck claims Manhattan attack done for ISIS, source says – CNN

The note was in English, the source said.
A man in a rented flatbed pickup on Tuesday drove down a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center, killing eight people and injuring about a dozen others, police said.
“This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them.”
After crashing the truck into a school bus, the suspect exited the vehicle while displaying imitation firearms and was shot in the abdomen by a police officer, according to the NYPD.
The 29-year-old suspect was taken to a hospital for surgery, officials said.
He was identified by two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov. The suspect is from the central Asian nation of Uzbekistan and came to the United States in 2010, sources told CNN.
The incident is being investigated as terrorism, officials said. Witnesses reported the suspect was yelling “Allahu Akbar,” according to four law enforcement sources. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is taking over the lead of the investigation.
An image taken from Twitter shows what appears to be the suspect, according to a senior law enforcement official.An image taken from Twitter shows what appears to be the suspect, according to a senior law enforcement official.
Here are the latest developments in the attack:
• The suspect is out of surgery, a law enforcement source told CNN. Before going into surgery, law enforcement was able to talk to him, the source said. It is not known if he told them anything.
• A Tampa, Florida, address is connected to the suspect. Investigators are also looking into a possible connection to New Jersey, the sources said.
• The man rented the truck in New Jersey on Tuesday, a person briefed on the investigation told CNN.
• President Donald Trump tweeted that the incident “looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person.” In a later tweet, he wrote, “My thoughts, condolences and prayers to the victims and families of the New York City terrorist attack. God and your country are with you!”
• Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Twitter that Argentine citizens were killed, but did not disclose how many had died. A Belgian national also was a victim of the attack, Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister for Belgium, said on Twitter.
• New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed One World Trade Center to be lit in red, white and blue in honor of freedom and democracy, his office said.

Rented truck used

Authorities think it is an act of terror because the driver said something moments after leaving the truck and the method of the attack were consistent with other terrorist attacks, New York Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said. Vehicles have been used as weapons in a number of terrorist attacks in recent years, including in deadly incidents in Nice, France, and London.
The suspect, driving in a Home Depot rental truck, hopped a curb at West Houston Street and drove south on the bike path on the west side of West Side Highway in Lower Manhattan for several blocks, officials said. A pellet gun and a paintball gun were recovered from the scene, officials said.
A suspect drove a white truck down a heavily trafficked bike path in New York City on Thursday.A suspect drove a white truck down a heavily trafficked bike path in New York City on Thursday.
Just after the incident, news footage showed several mangled bicycles on the popular bike path as medics tended to the wounded in the background.
Six people were declared dead at the scene and two were pronounced dead at the hospital. At lease 11 others were transported to the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
A spokesman for Home Depot confirmed one of the company’s rental trucks was part of an incident in lower Manhattan and said the company is “cooperating with authorities” in the investigation.

Witness accounts

News footage showed crowds of spectators — some capturing the scene with cellphone cameras — gathered behind police lines. A white Home Depot truck with the front end smashed was also visible.
Eugene Duffy said he had just left work at Pier 26 and was waiting on the light to cross West Street when he heard a scream. He thought it might have been a Halloween prank but he said the scream was bloodcurdling.
“I look down and I see a white pickup truck a couple of more blocks down in the bike path,” he said. “Automatically, I know something’s wrong. Then, as I go down more toward where the girl is screaming, I see two gentlemen laying there and they have tire tracks marked across their bodies. You could tell they both weren’t here.”
He continued to walk closer to the scene. Gunshots rang out. He saw cops ducking for cover. A yellow school bus was smashed nearby. Cops descended on the area.
“I thought automatically, this area, I thought it was terrorism,” he said.
Parts of mangled bikes are strewn on the ground in Manhattan on Tuesday.Parts of mangled bikes are strewn on the ground in Manhattan on Tuesday.
Michael Corbin, the assistant real estate manager for District Council 37, the city’s largest public employees union, was standing outside the union’s lower Manhattan offices attending to a woman who slipped and fell on the sidewalk.
“The first responder to the event was a counterterrorism officer,” he said. “We were attending to the victim, getting her onto a stretcher and, at that moment, we heard gunshots. I recalled hearing five gunshots in quick succession and immediately the officer … left to investigate the situation from the direction we heard the noise coming from.”
Another witness, Ramon Cruz, described what he saw.
“What I saw was that the driver — he didn’t look like he was bleeding,” said Cruz. “He was dragging his foot. He looks frustrated, panicked, confused. People are running past me, saying, ‘He’s got a gun. He’s got a gun.’ I didn’t see any gun.
“It was a white pickup truck. He looked pretty bad without bleeding or anything like that. I didn’t see him hit anybody. All I heard was the impact of a crash.”
Tuesday afternoon on Twitter, a user posted an image of a person lying on the ground near the scene of an incident near West & Chambers Streets in Manhattan.

Uzbekistan ties

Authorities are sure to look at whether the suspect visited Uzbekistan since he moved to the United States seven years ago, CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said.
“There has been a significant problem with jihadism in Uzbekistan,” he said.
According to Cruickshank there are two large jihadi groups in the country. One of them is the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is affiliated with ISIS.
In April, an Uzbek man was arrested after a truck attack killed four people in Stockholm.

CNN’s Jessica Schneider, David Shortell, Steve Almasy, Karen Smith and Intisar Seraaj contributed to this report.

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Putin, exposed, may become more dangerous – Washington Post

Has there ever been a covert action that backfired as disastrously as Russia’s attempt to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign?

Granted, we know all the reasons Moscow is gloating: Donald Trump is president; America is divided and confused; Russia’s propagandization of “fake news” is now repeated by people around the world as evidence that nothing is believable and all information is (as in Russia) manipulated and mendacious.

But against this cynical strategy there now stands a process embodied by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, which we will call, as a shorthand: “The Truth.” Mueller has mobilized the investigative powers of the U.S. government to document how Russia and its friends sought to manipulate American politics. We are seeing the rule of law, applied.

Put aside for the moment what the indictments and plea agreement announced Monday will ultimately mean for Trump’s presidency. Already, Mueller has stripped the cover from Russia’s machinations: Trump’s former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos has confessed that he lied to FBI agents about his contacts with individuals connected to Moscow who promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton; Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been charged with laundering $18 million in payoffs from Russia’s Ukrainian friends.

Russian meddling is now advertised to the world. This topic will dominate American debate for the next year, at least. In Europe, meanwhile, a similar reaction to Russian influence operations is gaining force. President Vladimir Putin once imagined that Trump would be Russia’s bridge back from isolation. Not anymore.

Next comes the overtly dangerous part: When covert operations are exposed, nations sometimes adopt more aggressive actions. On the continuum of warfare, Russia has been playing somewhere in the middle, between war and peace. Now, as the world focuses on Russian mischief, will the Kremlin move the dial up or down?

Putin made some comments last week that worry me. Before a meeting of his security council on Oct. 26, Putin announced that he was augmenting cyberwar policies to take into account “that the level of threat in the information space is on the rise.” He proposed “additional measures” to combat adversaries and protect Russia. He argued that Russia was simply protecting its citizens from cybercriminals, but his language was emphatic: “It is necessary to be tough as regards those persons and groups that are using the Internet and the information space for criminal purposes.”

To me, that sounded as if Putin was doubling down on Russia’s bid to shape the “information space,” by whatever means necessary. That was reinforced by his call for a “system of international information security,” in which Russia would seek to impose new rules for the Internet through the United Nations and other pliable international organizations. That’s a threat I noted a week ago, now confirmed explicitly by Putin.

The potential scope of Russia’s cyber-operations was highlighted in a little-noticed report by the Defense Intelligence Agency, “Russia Military Power: Building a Military to Support Great Power Aspirations.” Its conclusion: “Russia views the information sphere as a key domain for modern military conflict . . . critically important to control its domestic populace and influence adversary states.”

The DIA explains how “Russian propaganda strives to influence, confuse and demoralize its intended audience.” The report describes Russian trolls, bots and cover organizations. Among the major themes of Russian propaganda, the DIA says, is this Steve Bannon-esque message: “The West’s liberal world order is bankrupt and should be replaced by a Eurasian neo-conservative post-liberal world order, which defends tradition, conservative values, and true liberty.” And remember, this exposé of Moscow’s hidden hand is coming from Trump’s Pentagon!

Here’s the strategic impact of Mueller’s investigation: He is probing efforts by Russia and its foreign allies to manipulate our political system; he is unraveling a covert action. Trump’s protests of “witch hunt” and “fake news” are similar to
words used by Moscow-controlled media outlets.

Perhaps we begin to see a timeline: In March 2016, Papadopoulos met with a Russian-linked “professor”; in April, the professor said Moscow had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton from her emails; in June, Donald Trump Jr., Manafort and Jared Kushner met with a Russian who had promised “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary”; in July, Trump was touting WikiLeaks’s release of documents about Clinton allegedly supplied by Russian cutouts.

Trump may or may not have colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign; we’ll leave that question for the lawyers. But if Trump seeks to derail Mueller’s probe, he is implicitly colluding with Russia now. By many people’s definition, that would be aiding a foreign power, which might be deemed a “high crime or misdemeanor.” Let Mueller finish his job of exposing Russian manipulation.

Twitter: @IgnatiusPost

Read more from David Ignatius’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

Read more here:

Anne Applebaum: Did Russia teach Paul Manafort all its dirty tricks?

David Ignatius: Russia is pushing to control cyberspace. We should all be worried.

Michael Gerson: Trump’s breathtaking surrender to Russia

David Ignatius: Russia’s election meddling backfired — big-time

Charles Krauthammer: Bungled collusion is still collusion

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Truck attack in Manhattan kills 8 in ‘act of terror’ – CNN

After crashing the truck into a school bus, the suspect exited the vehicle while displaying imitation firearms and was shot in the abdomen by police, according to the NYPD.
The suspect, a 29-year-old man, is in police custody and was taken to a hospital for treatment, officials said.
The incident is being investigated as terrorism, officials said. Witnesses reported the suspect was yelling “Allahu Akbar,” according to four law enforcement sources. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is taking over the lead of the investigation.
The statements made by the driver moments after leaving the truck and the method of the attack were consistent with other terrorist attacks, New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said. Vehicles have been used as weapons in a number of terrorist attacks in recent years, including in deadly incidents in Nice, France, and London.
“This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them.”
The suspect, driving in a Home Depot rental truck, hopped a curb at West Houston Street and drove south on the bike path on the west side of West Side Highway in Lower Manhattan for several blocks, officials said.
Just after the incident, news footage showed several mangled bicycles on the popular bike path as medics tended to the wounded in the background.
Six people were declared dead at the scene and two were pronounced dead at the hospital. 11 others were transported to the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
A suspect drove a white truck down a heavily trafficked bike path in New York City on Thursday.A suspect drove a white truck down a heavily trafficked bike path in New York City on Thursday.
No other suspects are being sought, the NYPD said.
A spokesman for Home Depot confirmed one of the company’s rental trucks was part of an incident in lower Manhattan and said the company is “cooperating with authorities” in the investigation.

Witness accounts

News footage showed crowds of spectators — some capturing the scene with cellphone cameras — gathered behind police lines. A white Home Depot truck with the front end smashed was also visible.
Parts of mangled bikes are strewn on the ground in Manhattan on Tuesday.Parts of mangled bikes are strewn on the ground in Manhattan on Tuesday.
Eugene Duffy said he had just left work at Pier 26 and was waiting on the light to cross West Street when he heard a scream. He thought it might have been a Halloween prank but he said the scream was bloodcurdling.
“I look down and I see a white pickup truck a couple of more blocks down in the bike path,” he said. “Automatically, I know something’s wrong. Then, as I go down more toward where the girl is screaming, I see two gentlemen laying there and they have tire tracks marked across their bodies. You could tell they both weren’t here.”
He continued to walk closer to the scene. Gunshots rang out. He saw cops ducking for cover. A yellow school bus was smashed nearby. Cops descended on the area.
“I thought automatically, this area, I thought it was terrorism,” he said.
Michael Corbin, the assistant real estate manager for District Council 37, the city’s largest public employees union, was standing outside the union’s lower Manhattan offices attending to a woman who slipped and fell on the sidewalk.
“The first responder to the event was a counterterrorism officer,” he said. “We were attending to the victim, getting her onto a stretcher and, at that moment, we heard gunshots. I recalled hearing five gunshots in quick succession and immediately the officer … left to investigate the situation from the direction we heard the noise coming from.”
Another witness, Ramon Cruz, described what he saw.
“What I saw was that the driver — he didn’t look like he was bleeding,” said Cruz. “He was dragging his foot. He looks frustrated, panicked, confused. People are running past me, saying, ‘He’s got a gun. He’s got a gun.’ I didn’t see any gun.
“It was a white pickup truck. He looked pretty bad without bleeding or anything like that. I didn’t see him hit anybody. All I heard was the impact of a crash.”
Tuesday afternoon on Twitter, a user posted an image of a person lying on the ground near the scene of an incident near West & Chambers Streets in Manhattan.

CNN’s Jessica Schneider, Shimon Prokupecz, Steve Almasy and Paul Murphy contributed to this report.

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Police Respond to Reports of Possible Shooting in Lower Manhattan – New York Times

A suspect had been taken into custody after police officers in New York City responded on Tuesday afternoon to reports of a shooting or vehicle collision in Lower Manhattan, the authorities said.

Initial reports said a van on the bike path had run down several people. At one point shots may have been fired, but it was not clear who had fired them. A law enforcement official said there were reports that several people were dead.

A video posted to social media showed bodies and bicycles on a bicycle path near Chambers and West Streets by Stuyvesant High School. Some people were being treated for injuries near a mangled school bus.

Police officers, including the bomb squad, responded to the scene and several nearby buildings, including Stuyvesant, were placed on lockdown, with those inside told to take shelter.

The Fire Department said officials responded just after 3 p.m. to reports of a mass casualty at Chambers and West Streets.

The police said around 3:30 p.m. that they were not looking for additional suspects.

Reports on Twitter indicated that people heard gunfire and a witness said that a school bus had been damaged.

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