Russian-linked bots on Twitter are pushing for the House Intelligence Committee to release a “shocking” classified memo written by committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that GOP lawmakers claim proves special council Robert Mueller’s Russia probe is influenced by anti-Trump bias in the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Twitter accounts believed to be operated by Kremlin-linked groups have begun promoting the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo, according to Hamilton 68, a website that tracks Russian propaganda online.
The hashtag has spiked by 286,700 percent over the past 48 hours and is being used 100 times more than any other hashtag.
The Russian-linked bots have also been tweeting out links to Wikileaks.org, with the most-shared URL being a link to Wikileaks’ “submit” page.
Wikileaks said Thursday on Twitter that it would “match reward funds up to $1m” for anyone with access to the “FISA abuse memo.”
WikiLeaks will match reward funds up to $1m sent to this unique Bitcoin address: 3Q2KXS8WYT6dvr91bM2RjvBHqMyx9CbPMN
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 19, 2018
Bret Schafer, a communications coordinator at the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy who tracks the Hamilton 68 accounts, said he “certainly can’t remember” the last time they had seen a topic “promoted to this level” by Russian-linked bots.
“On a normal day, our top hashtag is typically used around 400 times in a 48-hour period by the network we track,” he said in an email on Friday.
“As of right now, #ReleaseTheMemo has been used over 3,000 times (and five other related hashtags are in the top 10),” he said. “In total, they’ve easily shared more than 4,500 hashtags on the topic in the past two days, and our top URL is Assange’s offer to pay for a copy of the memo. That certainly seems to be a sign of a coordinated effort by the bots and trolls.”
Republicans have called on the House Intelligence Committee to release Nunes’s memo.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) said the report “raises serious questions about the upper echelon of the Obama DOJ and Comey FBI as it relates to the so-called collusion investigation.”
Democrats, however, have called the Nunes memo “profoundly misleading.”
“The Majority voted today on a party-line basis to grant House Members access to a profoundly misleading set of talking points drafted by Republican staff attacking the FBI and its handling of the investigation,” Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement on Thursday.
“Rife with factual inaccuracies and referencing highly classified materials that most of Republican Intelligence Committee members were forced to acknowledge they had never read, this is meant only to give Republican House members a distorted view of the FBI,” Schiff continued.
A source with knowledge of the document told Business Insider that it was “a level of irresponsible stupidity that I cannot fathom,” adding that it “purposefully misconstrues facts and leaves out important details.”
Schiff said the memo “may help carry White House water, but it is a deep disservice to our law enforcement professionals.”
Business Insider added:
Nunes began investigating the Justice Department and FBI after he traveled to the White House to view classified information in March without telling his committee colleagues. There, he viewed classified information that he said showed FISA abuse by Obama administration officials.
Nunes would neither confirm nor deny that he got the information from the White House.
“We have to keep our sources and methods here very, very quiet,” Nunes said at the time before later confirming to Bloomberg that the information had come from a “network of whistleblowers.”