Russian hackers did more than just crack open the email accounts of the DNC and Democratic consultants. They also created a host of accounts in social media for the express purpose of spreading “genuinely fake news.” That aspect of Russia’s disinformation campaign is being singled out not only as the most effective part of their 2016 operation, but the greatest threat going forward. But to make it work, the Russians needed help from an American source.
Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Russia ultimately had thousands of human agents and many times more automated “bots” busily creating stories that slammed Clinton and boosted Trump. The stories that this cyber army stuck together were not tossed randomly onto the net. They were carefully and directly targeted, often hitting potential Trump voters in the states and districts where they were most needed. A fact noted by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
[Senator Mark Warner] “It’s been reported to me—and we’ve got to find this out— whether they were able to affect specific areas in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, where you would not have been receiving off of whoever your vendor might have been, Trump versus Clinton, during the waning days of the election, but instead, ‘Clinton is sick’, or ‘Clinton is taking money from whoever for some source’ … fake news.
In Florida, GOP organizer Aaron Nivens already talked publicly (and joyfully) about how he assisted Russian hackers with just such a problem in his state.
… going through what the hacker sent as someone who “actually knows what some of these documents mean,” the GOP consultant said he “realized it was a lot more than even Guccifer knew that he had.” …
More impressed after studying the voter-turnout models, Mr. Nevins told the hacker, “Basically if this was a war, this is the map to where all the troops are deployed.”
And for anyone still pondering the “anything of value” portion of laws against colluding with foreign powers in an election, Nivens fills in that blank.
At another point, he told the hacker, “This is probably worth millions of dollars."
Nivens helped the Russians determine the value of the documents, and showed them how to weaponize the district level models for maximum damage. Did Kushner play this role at a national level?
As the guy who both drove away many of its former reporters and took the New York Observer digital, Kushner has both experience in the fake news business and in and using tabloid stories as blackmail.
Kushner said the story could be stopped if Scarborough and his co-host, who are engaged to be married, apologized to Trump for their negative coverage of his first months in the White House.
Kushner also headed up Trump’s digital operations during the campaign.
Trump son-in-law Kushner, now a senior adviser to the president and the only current White House aide known to be deemed a “person of interest” in the Justice Department investigation, appears to be under the microscope in several respects. His real estate finances and December meetings with Russia’s ambassador and the head of a sanctioned, state-controlled bank are also being examined.
And, of course, there’s a new reason to be interested in Kusher’s role when it comes to all things Russia.
Junior found the prospect of obtaining Russian information on Hillary so enticing that he invited both adviser Jared Kushner and campaign chair Paul Manafort to be present. This was pre-Bannon. At this point, Kellyanne Conway was still working for Ted Cruz. On June 9, bringing together Kushner, Manafort, and Trump Jr. constituted an all-hands on deck meeting of the Trump campaign.
Trump Jr. and the attorneys have been insistent that the meeting didn’t lead to anything, but there’s no reason to believe them. And even if the meeting was as brief as indicated, there was plenty of time to provide Jared Kushner with details on a preferred method of communication. The whole meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rob Goldstone has been passed off as Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting. But it was also Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort’s meeting.
Were either, or both, involved in providing Russia with the information it needed to use its fake news writers and army of bots to not just enrage potential Trump voters against Hillary, but suppress the turnout of Democrats?
The Russians targeted women and African-Americans in two of the three decisive states, Wisconsin and Michigan, “where the Democrats were too brain dead to realize those states were even in play,” Warner said.
Twitter’s and Facebook’s search engines in those states were overwhelmed, he said, meaning they couldn’t discern fake news from real news.
This effort actually started early in 2016, before Donald Trump secured the nomination, and before Rob Goldstone’s letter to Donald Trump Jr. Meaning that Trump Jr might well have already known there was a Russian effort to help his pop before that letter. Which would go a long way to explaining his utter lack of a reaction when that scheme appeared in the email.