Did Russia’s “troll army” steal the 2016 election? Daniel Denvir, host of Jacobin Radio’s The Dig, spoke to the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald about Russiagate, mass surveillance, and “the resistance” to Donald Trump. The following is a condensed version of their conversation.
DD: Let’s start with the Russian troll army. What did Robert Mueller charge in February of this year, and what do you make of it?
GG: The most recent indictment charges thirteen Russian nationals, individuals and entities, with two things. One, creating fake identities for social-media usage with the intention of sowing discord in the American political landscape by disseminating inflammatory messages — sometimes supporting Bernie Sanders, sometimes supportive of Donald Trump, sometimes encouraging minorities not to vote, maligning Hillary Clinton, those sorts of things. So fake Facebook identities, fake Twitter identities, designed to make people who are actually Russian appear to be American, communicating to fellow Americans about the election with the intent, according to Mueller, of sowing discord. Secondly, according to Mueller, they organized various political events that were designed to make it look like it was Americans who are orchestrating these events. Some of these events were anti-Hillary, some of them were pro-Trump, but then some of them were anti-Trump, including two that were held once Trump was elected. The big question is: what was the magnitude of this operation? Adrian Chen, who did the earliest work on so-called Russian troll factories, has been very adamant about the limited impact that this kind of activity has because it’s primitive and pales in comparison to the amount of money spent on messaging by political campaigns, let alone US corporations and lobbyists.So there does seem to be a fairly small quantity of disinformation campaigns — sometimes the information was actually accurate in critiquing certain candidates or supporting others. So if you believe the indictment — and of course it hasn’t been yet proven, they’re just allegations by one prosecutor — but if it turns out to be true, it will establish that at least some Russian citizens, whose connection to the Russian government is at best murky and in some cases appears to be nonexistent, engaged in some relatively limited degree of social-media campaigning that was deceitful in its nature because of the identity of who was doing it, and according to Mueller, was designed to create discontent and discord.
Read the full transcript from Jacobin here.