Trump's digital campaign and Russia's Internet Research Agency: a fully integrated operation.
In November, the special counsel’s office filed court documents stating that Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had breached his plea arrangement with that office. In connection with that filing, both the government and Manafort’s attorneys have filed a series of documents. In the process, a number of items have come to light (including that Manafort’s attorneys don’t know how to use redaction).
What’s also emerged is that Manafort’s actions in support of the Trump campaign included traveling to Europe, meeting with Russian operative Konstantin Kilimnik, and providing him with internal polling data from the Trump campaign. The Russians clearly placed a high value on this information, or Manafort would not have offered it to them. It seems very likely that Russia used information collected by the digital operations team at the Trump campaign to feed and refine its models for social media operations—data that could easily include stolen information used by Cambridge Analytica.
Most recently, the special counsel’s office produced a response running to over 180 pages. Unfortunately for those wanting a peek, Mueller’s team does know how to use the redacted feature, resulting in pages that look a lot like this.
Section from Jan. 15 court filing
So much of the document is redacted that it sometimes feels as if the few words left visible are only there for the amusement of the attorneys marking up the document, an intentional tease for the would-be reader. But amidst all of these black bars and many, many pages that simply bear the word “redacted,” there’s one section that suggests, not for the first time, that the flow of information between the Trump campaign and Russia’s Internet Research Agency wasn’t simply a matter of Manafort dropping off some data in Madrid. Or even the occasional meeting in Trump Tower. It suggests that the Trump campaign’s digital operations and Russia’s efforts on behalf of the Republican candidate were combined in a closely integrated operation.