The unwitting: The Trump supporters used by Russia (CNN link): A Donald Trump supporter who unwittingly helped a Kremlin-linked operation to meddle in American politics says he only learned of his part in the Russian plot when the FBI showed up at his doorstep months later. Harry Miller was paid as much as $1,000 by the Russians to build a cage that was used to depict a person dressed as Hillary Clinton in a prison cell at a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida in August 2016.
The stunt was part of an elaborate scheme run by the Internet Research Agency, a troll group in St Petersburg, Russia with links to the Kremlin, that was designed to undermine the American political system, according to a new federal indictment. The agency and thirteen Russian nationals associated with it were named in the indictment, which was made public by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office on Friday.
In early August 2016, the indictment says, the Internet Research Agency began reaching out to Trump supporters in Florida to organize a statewide "flashmob" that it dubbed "Florida goes Trump."
A Twitter spokesman said, ‘Twitter’s tools are apolitical, and we enforce our rules without political bias. ‘We focus on suspicious account behaviors that indicate inorganic, automated activity, or abusive behavior. Our systems regularly look for suspicious account behaviors and we proactively take action on accounts that behave in spammy ways, including by requesting additional details like asking account owners to confirm a phone number.’
On Thursday, special counsel Robert Mueller filed a new indictment against the pair, substantially expanding the charges. As one former federal prosecutor told the Washington Post, Manafort and Gates’ methods appear to have been “extensive and bold and greedy with a capital ‘G,’ but … not all that sophisticated.”
One new detail from the indictment, however, points to just how unsophisticated Manafort seems to have been. It appears that he created an incriminating paper trail because he needed someone to help him convert a Word doc to PDF.
This marks a decline from the last Quinnipiac poll, released on Feb. 7, which had Trump’s approval rating at 40 percent, the highest it had been in seven months. The lower ratings follow controversy concerning former White House staff secretary Rob Porter’s resignation after being accused by his two ex-wives of domestic abuse. Nearly 60 percent of voters said they disapprove of how Trump handled the Porter case.
Special counsel Robert Mueller also brought charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups last Friday for interfering in the 2016 election. Fifty-seven percent of American voters said they disapprove of how the president responded to the threat of Russian interference in the 2018 elections. The same percentage said Trump is not fit to serve as president.
More than three-fourths of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, said the Russian government did try to influence the 2016 elections and 68 percent said they are concerned that they might try to do it again in 2018.
As the Washington Post noted following the massacre in Las Vegas last October, the majority of Americans favor stricter gun-control laws, but many Republicans continue to block them, for fear of losing the NRA’s considerable financial support. And the association’s leverage has extended much farther than Washington. Across the country, major companies like Hertz, Norton, FedEx, and Wyndham Hotels have partnered with the NRA, offering discounts to NRA members in the hopes of drawing more customers.
On Thursday, First National Bank of Omaha tweeted that it would not be renewing its contract with the NRA. It was soon followed by Alamo Rent a Car (though the tweet seems have been deleted), Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and National Car Rental. The next day, MetLife, Hertz, and Symantec, the cybersecurity company that owns Norton and LifeLock, announced they would no longer be offering discounts to NRA members.
Rubio has been criticized by survivors of the shooting for accepting donations from the NRA. On Wednesday at a CNN town hall with survivors of the shooting, junior Cameron Kasky asked Rubio if he would commit to no longer accepting donations from the gun group.
“Senator Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?” Kasky asked. Rubio didn’t directly answer, telling Kasky that “people buy into my agenda” and saying he supports both the Second Amendment and “the right of you and everyone here to be able to go to school and be safe.”
The Florida senator was repeatedly confronted during the town hall event, with the father of one girl killed during the shooting calling Rubio’s comments “pathetically weak.” Rubio has an "A-plus" rating from the NRA and has received $3,303,355 in donations from the organization over the course of his political career.
As Teen Vogue previously reported, the conspiracy theories in question accuse David of being a "crisis actor," receiving payment from anti-gun groups, and being coached to push an agenda by his dad, who's a former FBI agent.
Earlier this week, Donald Trump Jr. liked two tweets perpetuating these unsubstantiated and false attacks against David, according to The Daily Beast. Now, Lauren is saying Donald Trump Jr.'s Twitter likes directly led to the harassment of her family, and she wants Melania to do something about it.
"Hey @FLOTUS you say that your mission as First Lady is to stop cyber bullying," she tweeted Friday morning, "Well then, don’t you think it would have been smart to have a convo with your step-son @DonaldJTrumpJr before he liked a post about a false conspiracy theory which in turn put a target on my back & created a safe space for people all over the world to call me and my family horrific things that constantly re-victimizes us and our community.
I’m 14, I should never have had to deal with any of this and even though I thought it couldn’t get worse it has because of your family."