Saturday, 16 December, 2017

The Senate Intelligence Committee will not release Russian-bought Facebook ads

Would Zuckerberg wear a suit in court Would Zuckerberg wear a suit in court?Image Paul Marotta Getty Images
June Sullivan | 05 October, 2017, 00:40

Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) led the announcement by saying that their inquiry has "expanded slightly" though there is no definite conclusion in sight yet.

Burr said Senate investigators have interviewed 100 people, with another 25 interviews scheduled.

"I also strongly believe that the RT ads on Twitter should be made public; a review of a representative sample reveals that they are nearly entirely created to push Russian news coverage adverse to Secretary Clinton's campaign", said Schiff in a statement.

The Senate intelligence committee has said it has confidence in an USA agency finding earlier this year that Russian Federation intervened in the U.S. presidential election in an effort to skew the vote in Donald Trump's favour. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, warned that the investigation has indicated that Russian agents are continuing efforts to influence results at the ballot box.

The senators added that they are not ready to say whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

Burr said many social-media companies did not take seriously the threat by Russian Federation to influence the democratic process ahead of the elections, and added that officials from Google, Twitter, and Facebook will appear in a public hearing "so that Americans can hear how they are going to protect [the election process in the future] and know whether an ad was generated by a foreign entity". "The committee can not really decide the credibility of the dossier without understanding things like who paid for it, who are your sources and sub-sources", Burr added.

A Facebook spokesperson told BI early last month that the company was "unable" to release the ads "due to both federal law and the fact that investigations are ongoing with the relevant authorities".

Warner complained that he has seen no evidence that the Trump administration has mounted a government-wide effort to make sure that no foreign power can ever again interfere in an American election. But he added that the 2016 election demonstrated "the Russian intelligence service is determined, clever and I recommend every campaign and every elected official take this seriously".

"We have not come to any determination on collusion or Russia's preferences", Burr said.

Burr said the panel wanted to finish its investigation by the end of the year.

But the signal Burr gave that his committee's investigation had not found reasons to push back on the intelligence community's conclusions, which it issued in a report in January, runs counter to some doubts that President Trump and his allies have cast that Russian Federation sought to interfere in the election.

For its part, Facebook tried to get ahead of Wednesday's press briefing, printing a full page ad in the Washington Post as damage control for whatever Burr and Warner said about the company's role in the election and its interactions with the committee. The President and senior White House officials have long insisted they did not collude with Russian Federation.

Washington has accused Russian Federation of meddling in the November 8 election, with United States congressional investigators launching a probe into alleged interference.

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