Russians didn't just try to hack the 2016 election for Trump. A new report says they knew exactly where to do it — and might well have had help.
When Donald Trump publicly begged Russia to help him win the 2016 presidential election, Russia was listening. And it wasn't just sorting through Hillary Clinton's emails about "The Good Wife" and gefilte fish either.
A jaw-dropping new report from CNN says Russia-linked ads used Facebook to target voters in Michigan and Wisconsin — two of the closest states that Trump oh so narrowly won, even as polls had shown him behind. Those ads, which Facebook recently admitted reached as many as 10 million voters, "appeared highly sophisticated in their targeting of key demographic groups," CNN reported.
While Trump and his apologists continue to dismiss the very real fact of Russia's election meddling as a "hoax," even Republicans involved in these investigations know better.
"We're just looking at the tip of the iceberg," said Texas Republican John Cornyn, who sits on both the Senate intelligence and judiciary panels, which are investigating Russia's election meddling.
He said the latest revelations of Russia's use of Facebook for targeted ads are "consistent with everything else we've seen in terms of Russian active measures — a combination of cyber, of propaganda and paid and social media."
And the ads certainly were intended were intended to hurt Clinton and help Trump, after all, with "divisive messages" that promoted "anti-Muslim messages."
This latest report raises further questions about how Russian operatives could have carried out such sophisticated tactics that suggest an intimate understanding of U.S. elections and voting demographics.
It's almost as if Russia had help from the inside.
That's part of what special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating, according to CNN. Did someone from the Trump campaign or his inner circle advise Russians on where and how to target its ads to help him?
Trump has long denied his campaign had any involvement with Russia. But investigations have already shown that to be false. His son Donald Jr. — as well as his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his campaign manager Paul Manafort — met with Russian operatives for the explicit purpose of obtaining dirt on Clinton. A number of Trump's team met with various Russian officials, and each of them failed to disclose those meetings and contacts.
The entire U.S. intelligence community has said, repeatedly, that Russia certainly did seek to not only interfere in the election, but specifically, to ensure Trump's election. That's not a hoax; it's a terrifying fact. As the evidence grows that Russia might have had help doing so, the real question is just how far Trump and his team went to win.