Russian operatives not only bought ads on Facebook in support of Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, but also ads that were supportive of Bernie Sanders and Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
“Other advertisements paid for by shadowy Russian buyers criticized Hillary Clinton and promoted Donald Trump. Some backed Bernie Sanders and his platform even after his presidential campaign had ended, according to a person with knowledge of the ads.”
The ads favoring Stein were purchased late in the presidential race, and were meant to make voters question if Hillary Clinton was too hawkish and might get the United States into a war with Iran. The ad copy read:
“Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein. Trust me. It’s not a wasted vote. … The only way to take our country back is to stop voting for the corporations and banks that own us. #GrowaSpineVoteJillStein.”
Stein, it should be noted, is known to have connections to Russia. She, along with disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, attended a 2015 gala held in Moscow and sat at a table with Russian president Vladimir Putin. A widely-circulated photo proving Stein and Flynn had been at the dinner has been a touchy subject with Stein when she’s been asked about it:
While there is currently no evidence suggesting that either Sanders or Stein knew about the ads which were taken out by Russians to promote their campaigns, it would seem to be part of a larger strategy by Russia to muddy the waters in the hopes they could block Clinton from winning.
All of this information will provide even more evidence for Special Counsel Robert Mueller as he continues his investigation into what role Russia may have played in the presidential race. It could also offer more insight into whether or not President Trump or any members of his campaign actively colluded or conspired with Russian agents to swing the election in Trump’s favor. To date, Trump has refused to criticize Putin for any of the dictator’s aggressive actions in Crimea or Ukraine.
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