Russia

Report: Mueller Team Investigating Links to Fake News

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Fake news was a major factor in the 2016 election and, in some cases, fake stories about Hillary Clinton written by teenagers in Macedonia were more widely shared on Facebook than stories from legitimate news outlets.

We also know Russian social media trolls and bots targeted Americans to spread fake stories and shift public opinion, but how exactly did they target us? How did they identify which Americans may be susceptible to fake news?

According to Politico, investigators led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller are investigating whether or not data collected and used by the Trump campaign was shared with or used by the Russians.

The special counsel’s team is stacked with prosecutors and FBI agents well equipped to investigate the Moscow-connected Twitter bots and Facebook trolls that churned out campaign-related headlines boosting Trump’s candidacy. And more than a dozen sources from Congress, law enforcement and white-collar criminal cases who are familiar with such probes say the question of potential collusion between Trump’s aides and the invasive social media accounts is a crucial one. [...]

But Mueller — who is keeping mum on the scope of his investigation — faces a steep challenge. He has to prove that Trump’s aides and allies directly assisted the Russia-linked mischief makers, thereby running afoul of a federal law that prohibits presidential campaigns from accepting or coordinating contributions or expenditures — directly or indirectly — from foreign nationals.

Much has been made about Trump's data operation which was run by a Texas-based company and overseen by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, but the Trump campaign itself employed a skeleton crew and did not even have staff in many states. What did they use the data for?

Microtargeting of voters? Yes, but who did the targeting?

  • Badgerite

    And…..the Donnie Jr. emails vindicate the intelligence community assessment of Russian interference and hacking campaign. (see Deep State)
    Oh Greenwald. Taibbi. Heads up.
    https://twitter.com/JohnJHarwood/status/884888226212831233

  • Badgerite

    How far will the GOP go down the rabbit hole for trump/Putin? Well…there’s this.
    https://twitter.com/jrsalzman/status/885348503613919236

  • Badgerite
  • Badgerite

    The left (I’m sorry, progressives) has actually been dead wrong about where the next threat on a level of J. Edgar and his “confidential files” operation is coming from.
    They went off on their Snowden adventure dreaming dreams of COINTELPRO and the 70’s when they ‘stopped the war’ which went on for another 4-5 years for us and more for the Vietnamese, and didn’t even notice that the real threat to their freedoms and whatever in their private lives they want to keep private is coming from Russia and China and their spy operations via cyber warfare. There are reports that Russian hackers have over time acquired material that compromises many high level people in the US both public and private. Just like J. Edgar Hoover had. And now, there are rumblings that reporters who don’t give the trump monster and his mobbed up family favorable coverage will be subjected to blackmail.
    Could the left, please, for the love of God, get over the 70s and see, for a change, what is right under their noses. Please.

  • Badgerite

    Here’s the thing about this particular meeting, if one were to take it as a one off meeting with no follow up, perhaps you could chalk it up to “they’re new at this” inexperience though one would have to wonder what was Manafort’s excuse.
    But I don’t think it can really be characterized that way. After all, to do so is to take the word of someone who changed his story three times in as many days and only comes clean about something that is already publicly released by someone else.
    I think this meeting was the opening salvo in an operation by Putin to determine what, if anything, the trump people would be willing to do and especially what they could get the GOP to agree to go along with, in return for their help in the election. And by help, I mean the illegal activities that all of the US intelligence community agree Russia engaged in on behalf of trump. This was the opening negotiation in a conspiracy with a hostile foreign power to corrupt the American electoral process. I mean really, come on. Who would send an email basically saying” we have sensitive information (deleted emails) from the former US Secretary of State gathered illegally by the Russian government. Wanna see? ” Fredo trump responding to that email as he did and actually setting up and attending the meeting in itself would constitute an opportunity by the Kremlin for blackmail. Especially so in the midst of the campaign. And especially so if trump were elected. Putin was hedging his bets. To say there was no follow up is to ignore all the subsequent meetings by top level people in the trump campaign with Kislyak which everyone involved subsequently lied about. Often. To ignore Roger Stone’s contacts with Gucifer 2.0. After this probably initial meeting to feel out trump people, the nature of the campaign seemed to change. At the convention, the GOP platform which had condemned Russian aggression in Ukraine was changed and neutralized at the behest of top people in the trump campaign. They, of course, vehemently denied this, until much later when they had to admit that that was the case or call a lot of people on the GOP platform committee liars. Then the rhetoric of the campaign changed from just slamming illegal immigrants and Muslims to slamming NATO and NATO allies. This was so disconcerting that the GOP sent a Senate delegation over to reassure our allies that our commitment to them was still solid. But even with this, the GOP didn’t bail on trump. There were meetings with Sessions, subsequent appointed by trump as US Attorney General and others. Putin went all in after that. Hacking state election officials and sending using cyber bot farms to infect the American political debate with invective, lies and propaganda. After the G20 summit, and his disgraceful and damaging behavior there, the GOP is so heavily invested in trump that even after the big show of a the Senate bill to ensure that the sanctions on Russia cannot be lifted, Paul Ryan is running interference on that in the House and obstructing its progress so that trump will not have to veto it to do Putin’s bidding.
    Rachel Maddow has addressed just exactly what the quid pro quo is and it aligns perfectly with what trump did at the G20. And the GOP is going along with this.
    This was always the question for Putin. He knows how venal and characterless trump and his family are. The question mark for him as for us Americans now, was and is the GOP.
    http://twitter.com/kylegriffin/status/884983392063942657

  • Aynwrong

    This is a good example of what’s surprised someone even as jaded as myself. Fake news is the clearest evidence of Russian involvement in our election (never mind collusion) and there has been no outrage, NONE from the vast majority of Republican voters. Instead, at least half of them have responded by falling in love with Russia.

  • muselet

    It is possible the various trolls and bots in Russia and Macedonia and other Russian-dominated countries were working on behalf of Vladimir Putin and not Donald Trump. Despite all the smoke—and it’s awfully thick—there may be no fire. There may not have been collusion between the Trump campaign and foreign entities.

    On the other hand, all of Trump World (as Steve Benen styles it) is acting pretty damn’ guilty about something. Maybe that’s just a matter of style: bluster five or six mutually-contradictory excuses, blame someone else, insult unfriendly reporters, then insist the matter has been resolved. Certainly, Donald Trump has done that in the past. I tend to doubt this is merely the old, familiar Trump pattern, though, because the administration is leaking like a proverbial, everyone who is someone has lawyered up, and everyone’s lawyer is advising that some other lawyer’s client take the fall for … whatever it is that’s supposed to be a scandal but there’s no scandal here no sirree bob hey look over there!

    For reference, remember that Sean Hannity was bleating about Barack Obama’s unconscionable use of “fancy mustard” at about this point in the previous administration.

    –alopecia

    • JMAshby

      bluster five or six mutually-contradictory excuses, blame someone else, insult unfriendly reporters, then insist the matter has been resolved

      This is basically how every legal fight Trump has ever engaged in has proceeded.

    • Aynwrong

      As Driftglass has pointed out, it was a mere 10 weeks (2½ months) when Jon Stewart began mocking the Tea Party for all it’s “We want our country back” nonsense.

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