According to a communication disclosed in a new Senate Intelligence report that outlines Russia’s social media efforts to help Trump win the 2020 presidential election, Russian operatives opened champagne when Trump won.
“We uncorked a tiny bottle of champagne … took one gulp each and looked into each other’s eyes …. We uttered almost in unison: ‘We made America great,’” one operative at the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency stated in a message obtained by the Republican-led committee.
The Intelligence panel concluded that Russia directed an aggressive social media campaign to harm Democrat Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the 2016 election. The operative also stated that similar efforts to interfere in U.S. politics are still underway.
The report, which was two years in the making, found that the Internet Research Agency “was overtly and almost invariably supportive of then-candidate Trump to the detriment of Secretary Clinton’s campaign.”
Chairman Richard Burr states that the Russian interference campaign hasn’t ended and added that other adversaries are engaged in similar attacks.
“Russia is waging an information warfare campaign against the U.S. that didn’t start and didn’t end with the 2016 election,” he said. “Their goal is broader: to sow societal discord and erode public confidence in the machinery of government.”
Burr said that Russia floods social media with false reports, conspiracy theories, and trolls to breed distrust.
“While Russia may have been the first to hone the modern disinformation tactics outlined in this report, other adversaries, including China, North Korea, and Iran, are following suit.”
Senator Mark Warner of Virginia warned of more interference to come in the 2020 election. “There’s no doubt that bad actors will continue to try to weaponize the scale and reach of social media platforms to erode public confidence and foster chaos,” he said.
The report claims that operatives posing as U.S. political activists also “sought help from the Trump campaign to procure campaign materials and to organize and promote rallies.”
Trump has cited Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assurances that Russia didn’t meddle in the 2016 election and he called investigations into the situation a “witch hunt.”
The report recommended that the Trump administration “publicly reinforce the danger of attempted foreign interference in the 2020 election.” The committee suggested creating a task force to monitor other nations’ social media interference efforts.
Senator Kamala Harris, a member of the Intelligence Committee said in a statement that the Russian tactics were “designed to suppress the votes of black Americans in particular” and that social media companies must step up their efforts to fight disinformation. She said they need to “ensure their workforces are diverse enough to identify and understand the cultural nuances that foreign actors exploit to divide and harm Americans.”