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Brutal new Senate report on Russian meddling in 2016 election shows just how extensive the attack was on democracy

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The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the extent of the 2016 election meddling at the hands of the Russians.

According to a copy obtained by the Washington Post, Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project worked with the network analysis firm Graphika to detail the impacts Russian agents had using every social media platform available.

The Russians attempted “to influence online discourse both in support of President Donald Trump’s candidacy and “to confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members [of Trump’s main opposition groups] from voting,” the report said.

The study reviewed the millions of posts provided by major technology companies and is the first of its kind.

The operations reportedly “shifted over time, peaking at key political moments, such as presidential debates or party conventions,” the Post said, citing the report.

“What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party — and specifically Donald Trump,” the report says. “Trump is mentioned most in campaigns targeting conservatives and right-wing voters, where the messaging encouraged these groups to support his campaign. The main groups that could challenge Trump were then provided messaging that sought to confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members from voting.”

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Some Republicans still refuse to believe Russia had any impact on the election, and Trump maintains it did not influence the votes cast, must less his win. The report disputes that, however. If the election seemed overly toxic and divided, it was part of the plan to anger and then mobilize the GOP base.

“The Russians aimed particular energy at activating conservatives on issues such as gun rights and immigration while sapping the political clout of left-leaning African American voters by undermining their faith in elections and spreading misleading information about how to vote,” the Post reported. “Many other groups — Latinos, Muslims, Christians, gay men and women, liberals, Southerners, veterans — got at least some attention from Russians operating thousands of social media accounts.”

Facebook and Twitter have faced the majority of the public attacks, but for the first time, this report found the impact sites like Google+, YouTube and Tumblr also had.

It’s unclear if the Senate Intelligence Committee will endorse the report, but they are planning to release it publicly with another study this week.

Read the full report here.

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Hope Hicks’ latest obstruction just gave the Democrats a major weapon: report

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Hope Hicks didn't provide much information for Democrats in her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee -- but she may have cracked the stone wall the White House has built around former staffers.

President Donald Trump's former communications director -- and perhaps his most trusted aide outside his family -- claimed blanket immunity throughout her closed-door testimony, but Hicks still gave Democrats something in their legal battle against the White House, argued Margaret Carlson for The Daily Beast.

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2020 Election

A number of Democrats running for president are kind of weird about food

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The New York Times has posted a series of short videos of the Democratic candidates for president answering important questions, like what they propose to do about our broken health care system and just how crooked Donald Trump is. Because campaign coverage demands candidates be allowed “human” (debatable!) moments, the Times also asked the participating candidates about their go-to comfort foods on the campaign trail.

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Reparations, concentration camps and racial slurs: Republicans want to turn all discussion of race into pointless culture war debates

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It wasn’t slavery. They are concentration camps. Racial slurs are not a youthful indiscretion.

This week has seen a series of culture-war debates dominate the discourse only to be derailed by bad faith arguments about semantics.

First, on Monday, nearly all of the right-wing ecosystem was engaged to defend the honor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior and gun rights activists Kyle Kashuv after he revealed that his admission to Harvard had been rescinded. At least one of Kashuv’s classmates in Parkland, Florida, released a number of text messages from him which included racist and misogynistic attacks on fellow students, including the description of black athletes as “niggerjocks.”

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