Russia

The FBI is Investigating Russian State Media

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

According to Yahoo News, federal investigators are digging into the Sputnik "news" outlet (which is funded by the Russian government) and have even interviewed their former White House correspondent who reportedly handed over documents from the company.

Investigators are trying to determine if employees of Sputnik have violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by acting as foreign agents without formally registering as foreign agents.

As part of the probe, Yahoo News has learned, the bureau has obtained a thumb drive containing thousands of internal Sputnik emails and documents — material that could potentially help prosecutors build a case that the news agency played a role in the Russian government “influence campaign” that was waged during last year’s presidential election and, in the view of U.S. intelligence officials, is still ongoing.

The emails were turned over by Andrew Feinberg, the news agency’s former White House correspondent, who had downloaded the material onto his laptop before he was fired in May. He confirmed to Yahoo News that he was questioned for more than two hours on Sept. 1 by an FBI agent and a Justice Department national security lawyer at the bureau’s Washington field office.

I may be reading too much into this report, but it appears that Feinberg has turned whistleblower unless copying thousands of internal documents right before you're fired is common practice for him.

A spokesperson for special prosecutor Robert Mueller would neither confirm or deny that the investigation of Sputnik is connected to his investigation, but it seems very likely that it is.

During the 2016 election, Sputnik participated in the dissemination of numerous fake news articles the likes of which were shared across social media by fake accounts that we now know were actually Russian trolls posing as Americans.

Investigating members of the media is obviously a slippery slope, but this is no ordinary case and their right to print utter bullshit is not being questioned. The First Amendment doesn't give you a right to act as an unregistered foreign agent nor does it give you a right to possibly commit espionage. If editorial decisions at Sputnik were handed down by Moscow, that would fall under the former category.

  • Draxiar

    Now wouldn’t be interesting if Sputink and FOX were somehow connected in this?

  • Badgerite

    Interesting stuff. Mueller is thorough. And I think that is good. As Malcolm Nance often points out, this is not just a criminal investigation, though it is that. It is also an counter intelligence investigation looking to piece together the particulars of a foreign intelligence operation to disrupt our elections and that foreign power’s own destructive aims.

  • muselet

    Andrew Feinberg might want to hire a good bodyguard.

    And a food taster.

    –alopecia

  • Aynwrong

    It’s amazing. What was done to us is everything conservatives have been fear mongering over since the 50s. Accusations of insidious Russian influence in our political life (particularly directed at journalists whose reporting they didn’t like). This has been central to the conservative critique of liberals & Democrats since that time all the way through and long past the fall of the Berlin Wall, to the point of becoming a kind of pathological trope. Now that that exact thing has literally unfolded before all our eyes those same conservatives play dumb because they see it as having been done in their favor or because their hatred of D’s far outweighs any sense of patriotism they feel (if any).

    As I’ve said before, “20 years of Fox and 30 years of Rush…”

  • ninjaf

    He may have done so in anticipation that the information might come in handy one day. He did not take well to them trying to force him to put his journalistic reputation on the line by using his byline for propaganda, and even quit rather than allow that to happen. I am guessing he downloaded the data to preserve everything he could for a lawsuit or criminal investigation, should it ever arise.