Senate intel committee still looking into Russian Federation

Leigh Mccormick
October 5, 2017

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 USA presidential campaign.

Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) led the announcement by saying that their inquiry has "expanded slightly" though there is no definite conclusion in sight yet.

Burr said that he still holds hope of reaching a conclusion to their investigation by the end of the year and to make their findings public prior to the start of the primaries for 2018 midterm election races. "And we're not in a position to come to any type of finding".

Committee officials reportedly believe they can not wait until the probe is completed before emphasizing to the public that Russian Federation will likely interfere again.

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

The committee has been examining how fake accounts on Facebook and Twitter were used by Russians to promote propaganda and misinformation during the 2016 election. "In many cases, [the Russians] didn't even take advantage of the most technical targeting tools that exist within those social media companies, so I would defer answering your question until we've completed the investigation".

Warner said the aim was to "sow chaos and drive division in our country". He warned that the media has only gotten "glimpses" into their investigation.

Third, "you ought to be able to go down and take a look at an ad run for or against you like you'd be able to get a look at that content on TV", Burr said.

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While both Burr and Vice Chairman Sen. It was a significant statement from a senior Republican, as the president has dismissed accounts of Russian meddling in the election as "a hoax".

The committee appeared to leave any further probing of the Comey memos to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading an independent investigation on behalf of the Justice Department.

Federal authorities notified 21 states last month that their election systems had been targeted by Russian government hackers during the 2016 election - a year after the efforts were first discovered.

The senators added that they are not ready to say whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin. Later this month, longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is slated to testify in open session before the Senate committee.

The source pointed to the rationale Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch gave last month for not publicly releasing the ads, saying it meant to protect user information. Facebook turned over the 3,000 involved ads to congressional investigators.

The probe also includes investigating Russian active measures.

Facebook has not made the ads public, but said that they have identified about 3,000 ads, primarily those that are issue-oriented rather than advocating for a specific candidate.

Shortly after he said that, a Facebook source told CNN that the company has not changed its position, either, and it will not be releasing the ads. "Their response was frankly inadequate on every level".

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