President Donald Trump on Feb. 18 responded to the revelation that Russian nationals had used fake social media accounts to sow discord in the United States.
On Friday, the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals for using fake social media accounts to sow discord in the United States and undermine confidence in the electoral systems.
The Russian nationals had made preparations for their campaign in 2014 and carried out their actions in 2016 and after the elections.
The Russians’ actions primarily focussed on creating social media pages that supported certain hot-button issues, such as immigration, or black lives matter, and using them to create deeper wedges in society.
According to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Russian efforts did not involve any collusion with Americans, nor did it change the outcome of the elections.
It did, however, add to partisan divisions in the United States.
The methods reflect Soviet-era subversion strategies designed to destabilize societies by driving opposing groups into conflict and to cause the population to lose faith in its institutions.
“If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Feb. 18.
If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
The unproven narrative that Trump colluded with the Russian government to win the 2016 elections dominated news-coverage last year according to analysis by the Media Research Center.
During the monitored period, between June 1 and August 31, 2017, the Russia collusion narrative received more coverage than any other Trump-related topic.
But despite over a year of congressional investigations, as well as investigations by intelligence and law enforcement agencies, no evidence of collusion has been found.
Instead, what has been revealed, is that at the core of the allegations that Trump colluded with Russia is opposition research paid for by the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The so-called Trump dossier, produced by Fusion GPS, was actively spread among politicians and journalists to fuel opposition to Trump.
The dossier first became public in January 2017 when BuzzFeed News published the 35-page dossier in its entirety.
Court documents in the UK, where Christopher Steele—a former British spy who had been hired by Fusion GPS to produce the dossier—is being sued for defamation, reveal that he gave at least two briefings to select members of the media.
Among the journalists included in the briefing, were journalists working for The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and Yahoo News.
Court documents filed by the House Intelligence Committee in November reveal that Fusion GPS also made a number of direct payments to journalists covering Russia-related matters, although it is unclear whether the payments were made in exchange for articles.
A memo published by the House Intelligence Committee earlier this month showed that Steele and the unverified claims contained in the Trump dossier were used by the FBI and DOJ to obtain a spy warrant on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. That warrant could then have been used to spy on more members of the Trump campaign.