Russia

Inside the Russian Troll Factory

The Washington Post spoke to Marat Mindiyarov, one of the 13 Russians indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller last week, who described what it was like at the “troll factory” where he worked:

I arrived there, and I immediately felt like a character in the book 1984 by George Orwell — a place where you have to write that white is black and black is white. Your first feeling, when you ended up there, was that you were in some kind of factory that turned lying, telling untruths, into an industrial assembly line. The volumes were colossal — there were huge numbers of people, 300 to 400, and they were all writing absolute untruths. It was like being in Orwell’s world.

My untruths amounted to posting comments. I worked in the commenting department — I had to comment on the news. No one asked me my opinion. My opinions were already written for me, and I had to write in my own words that which I was ordered to write.

Trump Slams FBI for Too Much Time on Russia Probe

President Trump lashed out at the FBI Saturday night, saying the agency “missed all of the many signals” sent by the suspect in the Florida school shooting and arguing they are “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign,” USA Today reports.

Said Trump on Twitter: “This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

Fox & Friends amplifies: “I think what President Trump does is what he always does, which is he channels what we are all thinking.”

U.S. Must Fight Russian Meddling Without a Leader

New York Times: “After more than a dozen Russians and three companies were indicted on Friday for interfering in the 2016 elections, President Trump’s first reaction was to claim personal vindication… He voiced no concern that a foreign power had been trying for nearly four years to upend American democracy, much less resolve to stop it from continuing to do so this year.”

“The indictment secured by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, underscored the broader conclusion by the American government that Russia is engaged in a virtual war against the United States through 21st-century tools of disinformation and propaganda, a conclusion shared by the president’s own senior advisers and intelligence chiefs. But it is a war being fought on the American side without a commander in chief.

“In 13 months in office, Mr. Trump has made little if any public effort to rally the nation to confront Moscow for its intrusion or to defend democratic institutions against continued disruption.”

Russia Attacked U.S. Troops In Syria

Eli Lake: “If you’ve been listening just to the Kremlin and the Pentagon, you probably didn’t know that Russia attacked American forces and their allies in Syria last week, suffering heavy casualties.”

“Yes, all sides admit that there was an incident at a U.S. base in Deir Ezzor. And that elements of the Syrian regime and Shiite militias participated in the assault. The Pentagon and Kremlin both acknowledge that Russian “mercenaries” participated, too. But the line for now is that those contractors had gone rogue, and Moscow didn’t know anything about it.”
“But make no mistake: There is overwhelming evidence that those Russian contractors were working at the behest of the Kremlin.”

Trump Hasn’t Asked Intelligence Chiefs to Stop Russia

When Sen. Angus King (I-ME) asked CIA Director Mike Pompeo if President Trump had asked him specifically “to try and stop the Russian meddling in the midterm elections, Pompeo dodged, feigning an inability to understand the question,” Defense One reports.

Said Pompeo: “I’m not sure how specific.”

Adm. Michael Rogers, the outgoing head of U.S. Cyber Command and the NSA, agreed: “I can’t say that I’ve been specifically directed.”

Top U.S. Spy Issues Dire Warning to Congress

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress that this year’s midterm elections are a “potential target” for Russian influence operations, Bloomberg reports.

Said Coats: “We assess that the Russian intelligence services will continue their efforts to disseminate false information via Russian state-controlled media and covert online personas about U.S. activities to encourage anti-U.S. political views.”

Just days after President Trump signed a $300 billion budget hike, Coats also warned that the national debt is “unsustainable” and a “dire threat” to national security.

U.S. Secretly Negotiated to Buy Stolen NSA Documents

“The United States intelligence community has been conducting a top-secret operation to recover stolen classified U.S. government documents from Russian operatives,” according to The Intercept.

“The operation has also inadvertently yielded a cache of documents purporting to relate to Donald Trump and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.”

“The channel started developing in early 2017, when American and Russian intermediaries began meeting in Germany. Eventually, a Russian intermediary, apparently representing some elements of the Russian intelligence community, agreed to a deal to sell stolen NSA documents back to the U.S. while also seeking to include Trump-related materials in the package.”

Russia Already Interfering In Midterm Elections

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Fox News that Russia is already trying to interfere in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.

But he said there are few ways to stop it.

Said Tillerson: “The point is, if it’s their intention to interfere, they are going to find ways to do that. We can take steps, but this is something that, once they decide they are going to do it, it’s very difficult to preempt it.”

Senator Seeks Documents on Russia Links to the NRA

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) “is seeking documents from the National Rifle Association and the Treasury Department following reports of an FBI investigation into whether a Russian central banker funneled money to the group during the 2016 presidential campaign,” the AP reports.

Said Wyden: “I am specifically troubled by the possibility that Russian-backed shell companies or intermediaries may have circumvented laws designed to prohibit foreign meddling in our elections.”

Trump Administration Cribbed List of Oligarchs

“The striking similarity between a newly-released Treasury Department report of Russian oligarchs and a 2017 list of wealthy Russians published in Forbes Magazine is no coincidence,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“On Tuesday, a Treasury Department spokesperson confirmed… that the unclassified annex of the report was derived from Forbes’ ranking of the ‘200 richest businessmen in Russia 2017.'”