The troll group, known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA), also successfully used fake accounts on Twitter to provoke reactions from high profile American users from across the political spectrum.
The report makes clear that Mueller’s team found no evidence that Americans who had interacted with the accounts knew they were tied to Russia or any other foreign country.
But whether those Americans knew — and even whether they were retweeting the fake accounts to support what they had said or publicly disagreeing with them — may not have mattered to the trolls. Any interaction between one of the accounts and someone with a significant number of Twitter followers would have gotten the account in front of more people, and likely led to new followers. The more followers the accounts got, the more legitimate they would have looked to both regular users and high-profile ones alike.
The report names former Ambassador Michael McFaul, political operative Roger Stone, Fox News host Sean Hannity, and Michael Flynn Jr., the son of Trump’s former national security adviser, as either responding to or retweeting tweets sent by the Russian group.
Tweets from one troll account, @TEN_GOP, which was designed to look like it was associated with the Republican party of Tennessee, were cited or retweeted by multiple Trump campaign officials or surrogates. Among those who interacted with the account were Trump’s sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, along with Kellyanne Conway, who is now counselor to the president, and Brad Parscale, who is now the campaign manager for Trump’s reelection campaign.
“The investigation identified no similar connections between the IRA and the Clinton Campaign,” the report noted.
Trump’s own social media account interacted with an IRA account in September 2017, according to the report. Responding to a tweet from the Russian-controlled account @10_gop that read, “We love you, Mr. President,” the president’s account tweeted back, “So nice, thank you.”
Employees of the Russian troll group were monitoring the reaction of the Trump campaign, and later the Trump administration, to its posts, according to the Mueller report. After Trump’s Facebook page posted about the Florida event, an IRA employee, using a false persona, sent a message to a real American Tea Party activist, saying, “Mr. Trump posted about our event in Miami! This is Great!,” according to the report.
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