The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Russian ratfucking in the 2016 election was released today and it didn’t tell us much we didn’t already know, or hadn’t already intuited, but it told us a lot more about what we already knew or already had intuited. What is significant, of course, is that this comes from the Republican-majority Senate. From the report itself:
The Committee found that the IRA sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin. The Committee found that the IRA targeted not only Hillary Clinton, but also Republican candidates during the presidential primaries. For example, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were targeted and denigrated, as was Jeb Bush.
So they were serving vodka and herring in the club car of the Trump Train ever since it first left the station. The details throughout make it clear that this was no beta test. It was a full-blown, balls-to-the-wall intelligence attack. And it wasn’t just aimed at the election itself. It was designed to create a cultural and political context, especially online, wherein the election of Donald J. Trump as president was not as ridiculous a prospect as it obviously was. And they didn’t miss any chance at doing so.
The IRA’s influence operatives coordinated across these Twitter account classifications to attack and defend both sides of socially divisive issues, particularly with respect to race relations and cultural divisions. An example of the IRA’s ability to capitalize on both sides of a public debate can be found in the issue of NFL players kneeling in protest of police brutality and racism. Twitter accounts tied to the IRA from both the left and right side of the ideological spectrum used the topic to channel inflammatory content toward targeted, and ideologically like-minded, audiences.
It’s worth reading the whole thing, including the recommendations at the end which, of course, will be ignored entirely by the Executive Branch. They will be bogged down in the whole Senate from hell ’til breakfast. But, it’s worth reading the whole thing, like a tip sheet, for 2020.