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FBI Probed Whether Donald Trump Was Secretly Working For Moscow: Report

Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his Moscow ties

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FBI probed whether Trump was working for Moscow: Report. VOA

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had opened an inquiry in 2017 into whether US President Donald Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia after he fired the agency’s Director James Comey, the media reported.

The New York Times, citing unnamed sources familiar with the investigation, reported on Friday that counterintelligence officials weighed whether Trump’s actions were undermining national security and whether he was knowingly working for Russia or had “unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence”.

Trump has repeatedly denied that he colluded with Russia and called special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt”.

Reacting to the report, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said: “This is absurd. James Comey was fired because he’s a disgraced partisan hack, and his Deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI.

“Unlike President (Barack) Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Donald Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”

In 2016, US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had launched cyberattacks and planted fake news stories on the social media in a bid to boost Trump and damage his rival Hillary Clinton’s chances for the presidency.

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Donald Trump. VOA

The investigation the FBI opened into Donald Trump also had a criminal aspect that whether his firing of Comey constituted obstruction of justice, the report said.

The FBI investigation was later folded into Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow, the paper said, adding that it was unclear if the counterintelligence aspect was still being pursued.

The Times said that the FBI had been suspicious of Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign. But it held off on opening an investigation till the President sacked Comey, who refused to swear his allegiance and roll back the Russia investigation.

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Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the daily that he had no knowledge of the inquiry but said that since it was opened a year and a half ago and they hadn’t heard anything, apparently “they found nothing”.

Nonetheless, the inquiry put some of the President’s closest associates in the dock. His former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for campaign finance and fraud crimes, while his campaign chief Paul Manafort was convicted of financial fraud.

Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his Moscow ties. (IANS)

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We Got Trump Elected, Shouldn’t Stop Him in 2020; Says Facebook Executive

Instead, the Russians worked to exploit existing divisions in the American public for example by hosting Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter protest events in the same city on the same day

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FILE - President Donald Trump departs after speaking with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House July 17, 2019, in Washington. VOA

Facebook Vice President Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth has claimed that it was the social networking giant that got Donald Trump elected as the US President in 2016 because “he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser”.

In a memo obtained by The New York Times, the key Facebook executive in the same vein suggested that the platform with over 2.45 billion monthly active users should not use its enormous reach to block Trump’s reelection in 2020.

Was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected?

“I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons anyone thinks. He didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica. He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period”, said Bosworth who runs Facebook’s hardware group.

“Trump just did unbelievable work,” Bosworth wrote.

“They weren’t running misinformation or hoaxes. They weren’t micro-targeting or saying different things to different people. They just used the tools we had to show the right creative to each persona.

He continued: “I find myself desperately wanting to pull any lever at my disposal to avoid the same result. So what stays my hand? I find myself thinking of the Lord of the Rings at this moment”.

Donald Trump
Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump. Wikimedia Commons

“Specifically when Frodo offers the ring to Galadrial (Galadriel) and she imagines using the power righteously, at first, but knows it will eventually corrupt her,” he wrote.

“As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear.”

“To be clear, I’m no fan of Trump. I donated the max to Hillary,” he tried to clarify his stand.

Bosworth said that it is worth reminding everyone that Russian interference was real but it was mostly not done through advertising.

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“$100,000 in ads on Facebook can be a powerful tool but it can’t buy you an American election, especially when the candidates themselves are putting up several orders of magnitude more money on the same platform (not to mention other platforms),” he wrote.

Instead, the Russians worked to exploit existing divisions in the American public for example by hosting Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter protest events in the same city on the same day.

“Misinformation was also real and related but not the same as Russian interference,” Bosworth mentioned, admitting that Cambridge Analytica was one of the more acute cases where the details were almost all wrong. (IANS)