What they want to do is use information as a weapon of warfare to undermine U.S. democracy, such that when we crumble from the inside out, we can’t take aggressive foreign policy or stop their foreign policy around the world. So the way they do that is by using what’s called a state-to-people and a people-to-people strategy. They’re going to bypass the U.S. government, go straight to our Democratic electorate, and try and undermine trust, create divisions, and foment chaos. . . .
The new social media that’s out there, Twitter, Facebook, and the way advertisements are done, the way you can demographically target people, the same way we see it with our own political campaigns in the United States, you can use that as an adversary as well. And so what they do is they create automated technology, commonly referred to as bots, to create what look like armies of Americans.
And they can reprogram those. They can make your biography look like you’re a supporter of one candidate or another, and then they’ll push a series of manipulated truths or fake stories through those accounts to where you think I’m talking to someone who supports my candidate, this makes it more believable, and I’m more amenable to that news.
Now there has been obviously part of the investigation is was there any collusion, was there any, essentially, any American support to this operation. What can you tell about that?
Well, I noted in my testimony the two times where there was obvious use of Russian propaganda. One was, Paul Manafort cited it in ’14 August, the fake ancillary campaign we talked about, and then President Trump mistakenly cited what everyone thinks is a Sputnik news story. But beyond that, the synchronization at times, how many times the campaign picked up on lines that were promoted by the Kremlin, or vice versa, created lines that were then the Kremlin promoted back into the U.S. base was ironic. It was hard to see that with any other campaign.
And so was Donald Trump specifically targeted by this Russian operation as a person to help spread this news?
I don’t think they saw him as a person to spread the news. They just knew that he was opportunistic during his campaign. So if you put stuff that helps his campaign, he will likely use it. And they really turned towards him in August of ’15. That’s when you started to see those stories pop up. But they also pushed for Bernie Sanders at times too. They would go on the left and the right. It’s bipartisan.