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22 bonkers revelations from Mueller’s long-awaited indictment of Russian meddlers.

22 bonkers revelations from Mueller’s long-awaited indictment of Russian meddlers.


On Friday, the Justice Department announced that Special Counsel Robert Mueller III and a D.C. grand jury have indicted 13 Russian nationals for their criminal, professional trollery during the election.

The indictment writes out just how deeply, and how widely, Russian efforts to f**k up American political discourse was.

The 37-page indictment detailed the ways in which Russian trolls catfished Americans with false identities and inflammatory messages, organized and funded by a group called the Internet Research Agency. Here are the most bonkers details that are so ridiculous, they have to be true.

1. The mission started in 2014.

The indictment says:

Defendant INTERNET RESEARCH AGENCY LLC (''ORGANIZATION") is a Russian organization engaged in operations to interfere with elections and political processes.

From in or around 2014 to the present, Defendants knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other (and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury) to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.

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Not everyone is who they claim to be.

2. Russians pretended to be Americans to get an American audience.

Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and creating false U.S. personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences. These groups and pages, which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists when, in fact, they were controlled by Defendants. Defendants also used the stolen identities of real U.S. persons to post on ORGANIZATION-controlled social media accounts. Over time, these social media accounts became Defendants' means to reach significant numbers of Americans for purposes of interfering with the U.S. political system, including the presidential election of 2016.

3. They had helpers in the States to know just whom to troll.

4. The Russian had the clear intention of helping Trump and hurting Hillary.

Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by early to mid-2016, Defendants' operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump ("Trump Campaign") and disparaging Hillary Clinton.

5. Trolling is EXPENSIVE.

These Russians made BANK, and I'm expected to troll for free?

6. They really took the time to study Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and their users.

Starting at least in or around 2014, Defendants and their co-conspirators began to track and study groups on U.S. social media sites dedicated to U.S. politics and social issues. In order to gauge the performance of various groups on social media sites, the ORGANIZATION tracked certain metrics like the group's size, the frequency of content placed by the group, and the level of audience engagement with that content, such as the average number of comments or responses to a post.

7. Many trolls even traveled to the States for research and meetings.

Defendants and their co-conspirators also traveled, and attempted to travel, to the United States under false pretenses in order to collect intelligence for their interference operations.

They visited Nevada, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Texas, and New York to gather intelligence, and told the State Department it was just for funsies.

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8. They knew to focus on swing states.

9.The Internet Research Agency created groups they knew would get people going.

10. One Donald Trump Jr. was known to share the fake "Tennessee GOP's" fake news.

11. Russian trolls stole Americans' identities to conduct their activities.

In or around 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators also used, possessed, and transferred, without lawful authority, the social security numbers and dates of birth of real U.S. persons without those persons' knowledge or consent. Using these means of identification, Defendants and their co-conspirators opened accounts at PayPal, a digital payment service provider; created false means of identification, including fake driver's licenses; and posted on ORGANIZATION-controlled social media accounts using the identities of these U.S. victims.

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12. They got reprimanded by the boss if their posts weren't sufficiently Anti-Hillary.

On or about September 14, 2016, in an internal review of an ORGANIZATION created and controlled Facebook group called "Secured Borders," the account specialist was criticized for having a "low number of posts dedicated to criticizing Hillary Clinton" and was told "it is imperative to intensify criticizing Hillary Clinton" in future posts.

13. The trolls were all over the hashtags, including the often used #TrumpTrain and #MAGA.

Certain ORGANIZATION-produced materials about the 2016 U.S. presidential election used election-related hashtags, including: "#Trump2016," "#TrumpTrain," "#MAGA," "#IWontProtectHillary," and "#Hillary4Prison." Defendants and their co-conspirators also established additional online social media accounts dedicated to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, including the Twitter account "March for Trump" and Facebook accounts "Clinton FRAUDation" and "Trumpsters United.''

14. They co-opted the phrase "Woke Blacks" to try and suppress the minority vote, encouraging them not to vote.

15. Russians pretending to be Americans knew to coordinate their efforts with the proper U.S. time zones.

16. They paid sites like Twitter and Facebook to promote these political ads.

17. Russians organized rallies, and even met Trump campaign staff on the ground.

Starting in approximately June 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized and coordinated political rallies in the United States. To conceal the fact that they were based in Russia, Defendants and their co-conspirators promoted these rallies while pretending to be U.S. grassroots activists who were located in the United States but unable to meet or participate in person. Defendants and their co-conspirators did not register as foreign agents with the U.S. Department of Justice.

18. After the election, they organized anti-Trump rallies to keep the chaos alive.

After the election of Donald Trump in or around November 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies in support of then president-elect Trump, while simultaneously using other false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies protesting the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. For example, in or around November 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally in New York through one ORGANIZATION-controlled group designed to “show your support for President-Elect Donald Trump” held on or about November 12, 2016. At the same time, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through another ORGANIZATION-controlled group, organized a rally in New York called “Trump is NOT my President” held on or about November 12, 2016.

19. The trolls worked to destroy the evidence of trolling.

In order to avoid detection and impede investigation by U.S. authorities of Defendants’ operations, Defendants and their co-conspirators deleted and destroyed data, including emails, social media accounts, and other evidence of their activities.

20. They organized a pro-Trump flash mob using the stolen identity of a real American.

21. A fake American persona they used was named “Matt Skiber."

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22. They used fake bank account numbers with these created email accounts to evade PayPal's security measures.

Look at those email addresses. Woke Aztec?

It's like bad sketch comedy, but for attacks on democracy.

Sources: h/t The Atlantic
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