Diary Day 668: a sizzling hot weekend. A confused weekend in which people spent a great deal of time puzzling over Donald Trump’s bizarre outpourings, including about Brexit.
Just before the President met the Queen, in Washington special counsel Robert Mueller filed criminal charges – grand jury indictments – against 12 Russians, all operatives of the GRU intelligence agency, for hacking and leaking the emails of senior Democrats during the 2016 presidential election campaign. This relates to the leaking of thousands of Hillary Clinton’s private emails just after Mr Trump, then a candidate, had said in a campaign speech: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens, that’ll be next.”
Rod Rosenstein, the deputy US attorney general, said at a press conference in Washington that the 12 accused had “corresponded with several Americans through the internet”, including an associate of the Trump campaign.
Mr Trump did not meet any royals other than the Queen. Apparently they declined to meet him. He went off to play golf in Scotland, from where he tweeted that the hacking incident had happened under President Obama’s presidency and sought to blame him for not doing anything about it. (In fact, Mr Obama had done something about it but was obstructed by Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate.)
Theresa May, who is looking increasingly under threat from her own party’s enemies within, said on the BBC’s Marr show that the President had told her to sue the EU.
Why? What for? In what court?
That 62,984,828 Americans voted for this man is a reproach to America.
Anyway, the President left the UK, amid an outpouring of bile against minorities from the likes of the white supremacist Steve Bannon, who for some reason was given airtime, and an outpouring of wit from the good people of Britain who turned up to demonstrate just how much Mr Trump was not wanted here. Some of the placards were a delight.
His next stop is Moscow where he will meet Mr Putin.
Earlier in the week the Information Commissioner’s Office issued an interim report on the Cambridge Analytica affair and announced a £500,000 fine against Facebook, the maximum it could impose, for letting personal data be leaked on a massive scale.
The Observer reported that Britain’s information commissioner Elizabeth Denham and her deputy James Dipple-Johnstone spent last week with law enforcement agencies in the US including the FBI. Mr Dipple-Johnstone told the Observer that “some of the systems linked to the investigation were accessed from IP addresses that resolve to Russia and other areas of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States]”.
It was a recent discovery, he said, but an explosive one.
The Observer stated that the newly discovered IP addresses are “potential evidence of a direct link between the company at the heart of the Trump campaign – and files holding information of 220 million US voters – and the Russian government’s disinformation campaign.”
One American citizen, Professor Carroll, whom I’ve read about before, has used UK law to sue over the use of his data, gathered in the UK, to target him in the US election in 2016. (He could not invoke any US law on this issue, as none exists.) This claim brought the ICO into the investigations into US politics.
Links between the meddling in the US presidential election and the meddling in the referendum will come down to data trails, and there’s no dismissing those as fake news. They are just data trails.
France won the FIFA World Cup, beating the valiant EU newcomer Croatia, while Belgium beat England in the contest for third place. Nigel Farage, who had expressed the opinion that Belgium was not a real country, will have to work out for himself how that happened. The Wimbledon ladies’ singles final was won by a German and the men’s by a Serbian. All very disappointing for English exceptionalism.
In London there was a violent demonstration calling for the release from prison of a far right activist, who calls himself Tommy Robinson. Thugs wielding baseball bats injured police, surrounded and damaged a tourist bus and intimidated the driver, a woman.
Some moron put a picture of crowds in Tahrir Square on social media and claimed it was a picture of Robinson supporters in London.
As the prisoner admitted contempt of court and is being punished for it, it is not clear on what basis he could be released early, even if the Government wished it.