Federal and congressional investigators are looking into whether the Trump campaign’s digital team, under the leadership of the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, coordinated with Russia to direct fake news stories to specific districts in swing states, McClatchy reported Wednesday.
Several of the people quoted by McClatchy, including the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner (D-VA), noted that swarms of social media bots flooded the same districts that Hillary Clinton’s campaign famously overlooked—and Trump’s team targeted—with damaging, false stories about Clinton.
“There appears to have been significant cooperation between Russia’s online propaganda machine and individuals in the United States who were knowledgeable about where to target the disinformation,” Mike Carpenter, who earlier this year left a Pentagon post where he worked on Russia-related issues, told McClatchy.
Carpenter did not mention any U.S. individuals by name, but a source familiar with the special counsel’s investigation told McClatchy that Kushner’s “role as a possible cut-out or conduit for Moscow’s influence operations in the elections,” including his role overseeing the digital operation, is under scrutiny.
The House and Senate Intelligence Committee’s and the special counsel’s interest in the Trump campaign’s digital operations have been previously reported, and the House panel reportedly wants former digital director Brad Parscale to testify about his work for the campaign.
Investigators in both Congress and the Justice Department are interested in Kushner for a host of reasons, including his real estate company’s finances and his previously undisclosed meetings with Russian officials and operatives. In one revealed over the weekend, he joined Donald Trump, Jr. and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort to hear from a “Russian government attorney” who claimed to have incriminating information about Clinton to offer as part of the Kremlin’s efforts to help the Trump campaign.