February 22, 2018

The Senate Intelligence Committee will not release Russian-bought Facebook ads

05 October 2017, 12:43 | Denise Dawson

Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted Michigan and Wisconsin

Report: Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted Wisconsin in the 2016 campaign

"Given that we have interviewed everybody that had a hand in the ICA [Intelligence Community Assessment], I think there is general consensus among members and staff that we trust the conclusions of the ICA", Senate Intel Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) said in a briefing to update reporters on the status of his committee's Russian Federation investigation.

Asked at the briefing whether his committee had seen "any evidence of a nexus between these Russian Facebook ads" and any political campaign, Burr put off answering. "And we're not in a position to come to any type of finding".

Russian Federation has repeatedly said it does not interfere in the affairs of other countries.

But Warner painted a picture of widespread Kremlin-driven activity.

The Russian efforts, Warner said, "did not end on Election Day in 2016". He did not elaborate, except to say that the committee had not come to any conclusions and that the investigation is ongoing. He warned that the media has only gotten "glimpses" into their investigation.

"You can't walk away from this and believe that Russia's not now active in trying to create chaos in our election process".

The "collusion issue is still open", said Republican Senator Richard Burr, standing alongside the committee's top Democrat, Mark Warner.

"The committee can not really decide the credibility of the dossier without understanding things like, who paid for it?" They referred further inquiries into the emails to special counsel Robert Mueller III.

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Russia-based hackers targeted 21 states during the presidential election - including large political battleground states such as Florida - attempting to gain access to elections systems, according to the Department of Homeland Security. They've also interviewed Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and confidant.

The Senate intelligence panel has also invited Facebook, Twitter and Google to testify at a public hearing next month on Russia's use of social media in elections, which has become a major focus of the panel's probe in recent weeks.

Maybe it could be this year, but at the latest Burr said he wants it to appear before next year's congressional midterm elections.

The company made the announcement after turning over 3,000 ads to congressional investigators examining Russian interference in the U.S. election.

News of those 3,000 ads came a month after Facebook revealed it had discovered 450 accounts and about $100,000 in ad spending linked to Russian Federation on divisive issues during the US presidential campaign. Twitter last week said that it shut down more than 200 accounts linked to Russian sources that were also involved in placing ads on Facebook.

Burr said, however, that there was still much more work to do, even as he hoped to finish the investigation by the end of the calendar year. "Their response was frankly inadequate on every level".

The report also said Russian Federation aimed to help Trump win the election.

Burr said Wednesday that the panel is close to determining the assessment is accurate.

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