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Cyber expert drops Senate intel bombshell: Russia targets Trump with fake news because he’ll repeat it

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A cybersecurity expert testified that Russian “bots” pushed their disinformation campaigns during times when President Donald Trump was likely to be on social media — and he dutifully hyped those conspiracy theories.

Clint Watts, a former FBI agent and counterterrorism instructor at West Point, explained Thursday that Trump as a presidential candidate helped Russia take active measures to interfere with the election, whether he realized it or not.

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“Part of the reason active measures have worked in this election is because the commander-in-chief has used active measures at times against his opponents,” Watts testified.

Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and George Washington University, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Trump and his campaign’s use of Russian active measures happened in plain sight — even if most Americans were unaware at the time.

He testified that Paul Manafort, then Trump’s campaign chairman, promoted a bogus story Aug. 14 about a terrorist attack on a NATO base in Turkey, which originated on the Russian propaganda websites RT and Sputnik.

Trump then cited a Sputnik article Oct. 11 about Benghazi that later disappeared from the internet, and Watts pointed out that the president denies the conclusions of U.S. intelligence about Russian election interference.

Watts also testified that Trump claimed repeatedly that the election could be rigged, which he said was the No. 1 theme pushed by RT, Sputnik and other Russian propaganda outlets.

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“He’s made claims of voter fraud, that President Obama’s not a citizen and, you know, Congressman (Ted) Cruz is not a citizen,” Watts said. “Part of the reason active measures works, and it does today in terms of Trump Tower being ‘wiretapped,’ is because they parrot the same lines.”

He told the senators that Putin was exploiting the inability of social media users to properly weigh evidence — and he said those efforts were specifically targeted to the most famous and powerful Twitter user in the world.

“I can tell you right now, today, that gray outlets, that are Soviet-pushing accounts, tweet at President Trump during high volumes when they know he’s online, and they push conspiracy theories,” Watts testified.

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He explained that Russia planned the operation more than a year in advance and targeted specific groups of voters — both likely Trump supporters and Bernie Sanders voters — in swing states with anti-Clinton propaganda.

“They play all sides, much like how in infantry school about how they use artillery,” Watts testified. “They fire artillery everywhere, and once they get a break in the wall, that’s where they swarm in and focus.”

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WATCH: John Oliver exposes Trump’s lies about vote-by-mail — and the Fox News ‘cult’ claiming the election is already ‘rigged’

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver's main story Sunday refuted President Donald Trump's latest crusade against vote-by-mail. Trump announced on Twitter that the more people who vote in an election, the more Republicans tend to lose. So, he wants fewer people to have access to the ballot in November, even if people are too scared to go out during the coronavirus crisis.

Oliver called out Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R-MO), who outright told people not to vote if they were too afraid to vote in the local elections next week.

"Well, hold on there," Oliver interjected. "Voting is a right. It has to be easy to understand and accessible to anyone."

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John Oliver rips Fox News’ Tucker Carlson for urging ‘order’ from people of color — but never demanding it of police

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John Oliver opened his Sunday show, shredding Fox News host Tucker Carlson for uring "order" among protesters, but refusing to urge "order" to police and "wannabe police" who can't stop killing people.

It's a lot, Oliver explained. "How these protests are a response to a legacy of police misconduct, both in Minneapolis and the nation at large and how that misconduct is, itself, built on a legacy of white supremacy that prioritizes the comfort of white Americans over the safety of people of color."

While some of it is complicated, Oliver conceded, most of it is "all too clear."

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Cars set on fire blocks from White House as DC protests turn violent

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The Washington, D.C. protests turned violent as the city approached the 11 p.m. curfew the mayor instituted Sunday afternoon.

The policy of D.C. police is that when they are attacked, they advance forward. So, when fireworks were fired, the line of officers began pushing the protesters back further from the White House. Behind the line of police officers also stand a line of National Guard troops that President Donald Trump has demanded stand watch in the city.

Lights that normally shine on the White House have also been turned off, reporters revealed.

https://twitter.com/markknoller/status/1267291138655956992

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