Brian Ach / Getty Images for TIME
In a rare public appearance on Tuesday, President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and one of his closest advisors said that multiple investigations into Russian electoral disruptions hurt American democracy more than the original failure itself.
Whole is just a big distraction for the country, "said Kushner at a Time Magazine in New York City. "You look at what Russia has done – buy some Facebook ads to try to sow dissidents, and it's a terrible thing, but I think the investigation and all the speculation that has been going on over the last two years Our democracy has influenced much harder. "
In describing Russia's pre-election efforts in 2016, Kushner emphasized how he described the relatively small amount of money Russian agents had spent on social media advertising.
"They said they spent $ 160,000 and I spent $ 160,000 on Facebook for three hours during the campaign," Kushner said. "If you look at the magnitude of what they did and what they achieved, I think the investigation was far more damaging to our country."
Fact Check: Has Facebook seen the extent of Russian interference in the elections?
The short answer: No.
The Long Answer: The revised version of the special adviser to the Ministry of Justice, Robert Mueller, revealed a year-long conspiracy of the Russian government In the US, the investigators are bothered by "sweeping and systemic".
Regarding the amount of money for Facebook ads, the company said Russian activists spent less than $ 200,000 on advertising on the platform – but that does not do the organic content that people created and shared.
In Russia's Internet Research Agency, not only were influencers buying normal ads, they also wrote their own posts, memes, and other content when contributing to their American users.
They also turned to politically active Americans, pretended to be like-minded followers, and helped organize rallies and other events in the real world.
Facebook says the IRA has reached 126 million people. Regardless, Twitter announced that approximately 1.4 million people may have had contact with IRA-controlled accounts.
The social media aspect of interference was just one dimension. Cyber-attackers also tracked political victims in the United States whose e-mails and other data were publicly released to embarrass them. There may also have been other means of interference:
The origins of the system
Russian activists had lied about reaching the US in 2014 on "reconnaissance missions." They traveled across the country to gain the land before attempting to influence American politics. 19659008 By September 2016, two months before the US presidential election, the IRA was working with a total budget of over $ 1.25 million. Hundreds of employees were employed, a graphic department, a data analysis department, a search engine optimization department, an IT department, and a finance department, according to an indictment filed by Mueller's team last year.
And it did not stop.
The US military has reportedly blocked IRA access to the Internet during the midterm elections last year to prevent it from interfering with the midterm elections. The US Cyber Command also targeted Russian cyber activists, according to a report from The New York Times with direct messages that let them know that American intelligence is following them.
In October, a Russian woman was charged with filing a plea in the federal system for plotting to sow discord and division in the US political system.
This conspiracy, so the complaint, "continues to this day".