We've read the Mueller report. Here's what you need to know: ██ ██ ███ ███████ █████ ███ ██ █████ ████████ █████
Trump predicted he was 'fucked' – but he hadn't reckoned on ██████████
Analysis It's 448 pages of which roughly 50 have been blacked out.
It demonstrates conclusively that the Russian government went to great lengths to try to sway or interfere with the 2016 US presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, or at least sow seeds of confusion, muddy the waters, and disrupt American political discourse.
It outlines in some detail how the Russians first attacked other Republican challengers and then focused their efforts on both pushing Trump's appeal while doing everything they could to undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
They did so by using and abusing social media networks, primarily Facebook and Twitter, to push and spread false and divisive information; the networks were oblivious.
The headline is, of course, that Mueller did not think there was sufficient evidence to post a criminal charge of conspiracy between the █████████████ government and the █████████ Campaign. Reading through the report, however, two critical aspects emerge:
- There is every reason to believe that given the chance, the █████████ Campaign would have conspired with Russia. █████████ ███████ himself clearly feels it was a possibility. And while he remained confident that his way of doing business was going to make it very hard for anyone to prove a conspiracy – in which he was proven right - he still went to significant lengths to block and stymie the investigation. When he learnt of the special counsel report, █████████ slumped in his chair and said, 'Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.'
- Given the extraordinary willingness of the █████████ Campaign to say and do things that would normally have hastened the end of a political campaign, it’s questionable whether a direct link between the █████████ government and the █████████ Campaign was needed and would have been worth the risk – at least at a campaigning rather than policy level. Leading figures in the █████████ Campaign actively and repeatedly reposted and retweeted obviously false information published online by █████████ intelligence agents through fake accounts. And when it came out that █████████ was trying to sway the election, the █████████ Campaign actively and publicly embraced their efforts because it was in their interests to do so. █████████ said at a press conference: "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press." The subsequent theft and release of confidential emails from the Clinton Campaign through Wikileaks was the result of █████████ intelligence efforts.
- ███████ ████ ███████ ██████ ██ ███████ ███████████████ ███████ █████ █████ ██████ ████████ ████████ ██████████ ████████████ ██████████████████ ████ ██████████ █████████ ██ ███████████████████ █████ ████████████████ ████ ██████████ ███████ ███ ███████████████ ██████ ██████ ████████████████ ███████████████ █████ ███████ ████ ████ ███████████ ██████ ██████████████ ███████████████.
So that's where we stand. What are some of the more intriguing details from the report? Let's go through them.
There was an extraordinary amount of lying on the part of members of the █████████ Campaign. The immediate assumption is that they have something to hide – which in some cases they did – but Mueller was ultimately unable to find something so terrible that it was worth lying to a special counsel over.
Why did they lie so much and so extensively? Mueller is clearly confused by it - and he has a long career at the FBI behind him. The most likely answer is the same one as to why someone senior in a presidential campaign would retweet obvious false information and then go on TV and say with a straight face something that literally everybody knows to be false. It's just the nature of the people that joined the campaign. █████████ is a compulsive liar; follow the leader.
Fake news and ███████████████
A big chunk of the report's digging into Russian propaganda and fake news efforts are █████████, with most of the ████████████████ tagged as "investigative technique" – suggesting that revealed the information could provide people with insights into how the information was gathered by US intelligence.
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The ███████████████ themselves have become a political firestorm, in large part because many suspect they are being used to hide information damaging to the president. But in this case, they do appear to be somewhat legitimate. Where they get more suspicious is in the areas of the █████████ Campaign's interactions with Wikileaks.
But what does emerge is how much effort Russia put into disrupting the election and how attuned they were to what topics would get underneath Americans' skin. That said, some of the propaganda was so blunt and unsubtle that it is hard to imagine that it would have had much of an impact in any prior election.
█████████ came with a populist message and devil-may-care attitude that resonated with angry voters and as a result what would previous have been laughed off as crude or un-American in its message suddenly became a political rallying cry.
The report gives numerous examples – including the names of Facebook groups and specific user accounts – that were used to spread this divisive and false information. And it highlights the senior █████████ campaign members that put a spotlight on these efforts.
The details of the abuse of social media networks and the hacking of Clinton campaign emails, leaked through Wikileaks, are well known but they are outlined in pretty thorough detail in the report. The report also includes lots of juicy details – if hacking and propaganda are your things – but they have been ███████████████.
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