Tim Mak

Tim Mak covers national security and politics for NPR.

His reporting topics include investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as the potential for future interference by foreign actors; challenges to America's democratic institutions; as well as the conservative movement and Republicans in the context of the 2018 elections.

Before joining NPR, Mak worked as a senior correspondent at The Daily Beast, covering the 2016 presidential elections with an emphasis on foreign affairs. He has also worked on the Politico Defense team, the Politico breaking news desk, and at the Washington Examiner. He covered the rise of the Tea Party movement in 2009 and 2010 for FrumForum. He has reported abroad from the Horn of Africa and East Asia.

Mak graduated with a B.A. from McGill University, where he was a valedictorian. He also holds a national certification as an Emergency Medical Technician.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Updated at 6:34 p.m. ET

Republican attacks on federal law enforcement have helped the Russian effort to spark chaos within the United States, an embattled top FBI counterintelligence agent told Congress on Thursday.

"Russian interference in our elections constitutes a grave attack on our democracy," Peter Strzok told lawmakers in his prepared opening statement.

Russia's information attack against the United States during the 2016 election cycle sought to take advantage of the greater trust that Americans tend to place in local news.

The information operatives who worked out of the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg did not stop at posing as American social media users or spreading false information from purported news sources, according to new details.

They also created a number of Twitter accounts that posed as sources for Americans' hometown headlines.

For the past two decades, Bob Van Ronkel has been the Forrest Gump of U.S.-Russia relations.

He helped introduce Steven Seagal to Vladimir Putin. He helped introduce Jim Carrey to Oleg Deripaska, the now-sanctioned aluminum tycoon.

Then there were Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson, Lara Flynn Boyle and more, all making visits to Russia — Van Ronkel was even there when Donald Trump's Miss Universe pageant visited Moscow.

Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller's office wants to interview the man who has been described as the link between WikiLeaks and Donald Trump's inner circle.

Former radio host Randy Credico — who denies serving as that link but says he has served as a go-between at other times to WikiLeaks — told NPR that a prosecutor working for Mueller had asked him for a voluntary meeting.

Credico said he declined. The special counsel's office declined to comment.

A former senior U.S. official from the Obama administration is warning that Russian efforts to influence U.S. politics have been so successful that other U.S. adversaries like China are beginning to emulate them.

Victoria Nuland told the Senate intelligence committee on Wednesday, "Other countries and malign actors are now adapting and improving on Russia's methodology, notably including China which now runs disinformation campaigns and influence operations in Taiwan, Australia and other neighboring countries."

David Koch, one half of the billionaire duo that built one of the nation's largest privately owned companies and one of its most controversial political networks, has announced his retirement from politics and business.

In a letter to Koch Industries employees written by his brother Charles Koch, the men announced that David was stepping down due to health concerns.

Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen is facing legal peril, including an FBI raid of his home and office — and involvement in a civil lawsuit with adult film star Stormy Daniels.

But in the past, it was Cohen who sought to put legal pressure on others to solve problems for his boss.

For the first time, audio recordings of Cohen's legal threats, from a 2015 Daily Beast interview, are being published.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A federal judge is deciding whether to permit a lawsuit to go forward in which Democrats allege that Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russian government's cyberattacks on the 2016 presidential election.

The parties appeared in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

The three plaintiffs are represented by Protect Democracy, a watchdog group made up primarily of former Obama administration lawyers.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Today is the anniversary of an investigation. It was exactly a year ago when Robert Mueller was named special counsel in the Russia investigation.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Yeah, and you could say a lot has happened since.

The Koch brothers are going rogue.

For years the political network funded by billionaires Charles and David Koch funded politicians on the right, laying the foundation for the libertarian causes the two support. Their support has gone almost exclusively to Republican candidates, with rare exception.

But in the era of Trump, what it means to be on the "right" is changing, and the Koch network's tactics are changing to reflect new realities.

The Senate intelligence committee said Wednesday that it stands by the conclusion of the U.S. spy agencies that Russia's attack on the 2016 election sought to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton — a break with the finding of the House intelligence panel.

Members of the tight-lipped Senate panel backed this conclusion after spending more than two hours with Obama administration officials who were behind the intelligence community's highly classified assessment, made in the immediate aftermath of the election.

Updated at 5:48 p.m. ET

The FBI warned four years ago that a foundation controlled by the Russian oligarch who allegedly reimbursed Donald Trump's personal lawyer might have been acting on behalf of Russia's intelligence services.

Updated at 10:55 a.m. ET

Kremlin-linked Russian politician Alexander Torshin traveled frequently between Moscow and various destinations in the United States to build relationships with figures on the American right starting as early as 2009, beyond his previously known contacts with the National Rifle Association.

As attendees of the National Rifle Association's annual convention ride on the interstate this week from the Dallas airport to their convention hall, they might look out the window to see a billboard questioning why the group has "cozied up" with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

Diamond and Silk caused a spectacle on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

"Facebook along with other social media sites have taken aggressive actions to silence conservative voices such as ourselves," the pro-Trump social media stars charged.

It's a claim Facebook denies, pointing out that the social media network has changed its settings so that users see more content from friends — and less from political groups of all stripes.

Mark Zuckerberg left Capitol Hill last week with his primary mission complete.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

As the Trump administration evaluates potential military operations against Syria, the White House has declined to explain why it believes it has the legal authority to conduct them without authorization from Congress.

But the White House does have a secret seven-page memo that may make the case.

The National Rifle Association has accepted contributions from about 23 Russians, or Americans living in Russia, since 2015, the gun rights group acknowledged to Congress.

The NRA said in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., unveiled on Wednesday, that the sum it received from those people was just over $2,500 and most of that was "routine payments" for membership dues or magazine subscriptions.

The National Rifle Association may have accepted more contributions from Russian donors than it first acknowledged, new documents show.

A Russian citizen who works for a U.S.-sanctioned arms manufacturer was arrested earlier this year when he tried to board a flight from Los Angeles to Moscow carrying a rifle scope — one authorities say requires an export license.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Soon, we might not be able to believe our own ears.

New technologies for creating faked audio are evolving quickly in the era of active information campaigns and their use of "fake news."

This has serious repercussions for politics: Influence-mongers could create fake clips of politicians to undermine them — or politicians could deny they said things they were really recorded saying, calling it fake audio.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Amid all the talk of fake news, the technologies to create fake audio and video are quickly evolving. NPR's Tim Mak has been looking into this, and he brings us this report of how these technologies could impact our politics.

The National Rifle Association acknowledged that it accepts foreign donations but says it does not use them for election work — even as federal investigators look into the role the NRA might have played in Russia's attack on the 2016 election.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The Russia investigation has shown few signs of having an impact in this year's congressional elections, but there's a House race in Orange County, Calif., where Vladimir Putin looms large.

In fact, the congressman running for re-election there says he once arm wrestled the Russian president.

Updated on March 6 at 11:45 a.m. ET

A former campaign aide to Donald Trump appears to have changed his mind and will not fight a subpoena he says he has received in the Russia investigation — after daring special counsel Robert Mueller to arrest him in multiple media appearances.

Sam Nunberg called reporters and TV news programs on Monday and said live that he'd gotten a grand jury subpoena as part of Mueller's investigation asking for communications with other people in the Trump orbit — but that he would not comply.

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