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Russian Trolls Make Resurgence on Social Media to Interfere with Special Counsel Probe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Russian-linked social media accounts that spread immeasurable propaganda during the 2016 presidential election are making a comeback in an escalating campaign to influence the investigations of possible ties between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.

Two top Democrats sent a letter to Twitter and Facebook earlier this month, warning that Russian-linked accounts are cropping up in alarming numbers to spread information intended to undermine investigations by congressional committees and  special counsel Robert Mueller.

“It is critically important that the Special Counsel’s investigation be allowed to proceed without interference from inside or outside the United States,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff, both of California, in the letter, according to CNBC.

Each serves on a committee investigation Russian interference during the election.

Thousands of automated accounts, called bots, have cropped up lately in response to the widening investigations that have reached the White House.

Many of them have joined a viral hashtag campaign – #ReleaseTheMemo – to press for the public disclosure of a Republican memorandum that claims the FBI and Justice Department are tainted by political biases. On Monday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to publicly release the secret, much-disputed memo that alleges the agencies abused their authority by extending surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser and suspected Russian agent Carter Page.

The vote, along party lines, ignored Justice Department warnings that the release would be “extraordinarily reckless” because the memo draws from classified information. 

The lawmakers expressed concern that the reemergence of Russian bots “are intended to influence congressional action and undermine Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation,” of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Russian-linked trolls also are spreading content from Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has relentlessly blasted the intelligence agencies for alleged anti-Trump biases, Mother Jones reported, basing the information on data compiled by the nonpartisan Alliance for Security Democracy. 

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last year that Russia launched an aggressive, sophisticated smear campaign designed to disseminate disinformation on social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Google. The propaganda targeted controversial subjects such as police brutality, Black Lives Matter, immigration and Muslims.

Wired reported earlier this month that Mueller’s team interviewed at least one member of Facebook’s team connected Trump’s campaign as part of the investigation into Russian interference.

During a series of congressional hearings last year, Twitter, Facebook and Google were criticized by lawmakers for failing to take steps to eliminate the Russian propaganda campaign.

Twitter plans to notify nearly 700,000 users who interacted with suspected Russian propagandists.

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