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March 12, 2018 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Trump’s AmeЯica

The Department of Justice appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including any matters that “may arise directly from the investigation”. Operating under this broad spectrum, Mueller has uncovered criminality that includes money laundering, cyber attacks, hacks, and multiple cases of obstruction of justice over the last nine months. His most recent indictments of thirteen Russians and the three organizations that have facilitated them – with no expectation of extradition to lead to their arrest – is an unprecedented move in American history.

At the heart of the charges is the Internet Research Agency (IRA), which creates and circulates propaganda in order to create the illusion of mass support for a cause. Interviewed by the Washington Post, ex-employees have described it as an ‘Orwellian’ institution, with over 1000 Russian workers turning the ‘telling [of] untruths into an industrial assembly line’. The agency originally formed in 2013 to rally behind the separatist insurgency in Ukraine and against Russian sanctions, before turning its focus to the West in 2015. Mueller revealed that “they engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump,” in order to “promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy”.

Twitter has officially announced that as of January 2018, 50,000 Russian accounts posing as US citizens have been identified, of which, 3,800 were thought to be linked to the IRA. It is estimated that 1.4 million people directly interacted with these accounts throughout the election. In February 2018, Facebook admitted to an investigative Senate Committee that they had underestimated the manipulation of their platform, which led to IRA propaganda inadvertently being recommended by Facebook algorithms to as many as 126 million Americans. Last week, Reddit announced they removed a “few hundred” accounts, and that a “few thousand” Americans appeared to have unwittingly promoted Russian propaganda. Reddit are otherwise keeping details of the interference silent, stating they want “to be careful to not tip [their] hand too much while [they] are investigating. Mueller has obtained search records to further investigate any complicity in this activity.

Having won the Presidency by a margin of 80,000 votes across three crucial states, President Trump has dismissed accusations that his win may not have been legitimate. He has claimed undocumented immigrants casting votes for Clinton explained her 2.8 million popular vote lead. Only in the past month has he abandoned his adamant stance that Russia had not interfered in the 2016 election, instead tweeting that “The results of the election were not impacted” by their presence. Trump has also refused to enforce a bill of sanctions against Russia, and has made no comment on potential threats of sabotage to the upcoming US midterm elections this year.


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