POLITICS

Kushner Claims Russian Interference In 2016 Election Was Not 'Impactful'

The president's son-in-law claimed Tuesday the investigation into Russian efforts harmed democracy more than the Russian efforts themselves.

Jared Kushner thinks the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was more harmful to the U.S. than the interference itself.

Speaking with Time White House correspondent Brian Bennett in an interview Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser characterized Russian efforts as little more than “a couple Facebook ads.”

“The notion of what they were doing didn’t even register to us as impactful,” he said. “In the campaign we didn’t know that Russia was doing what it was doing.”

“You look at what Russia did ― buying some Facebook ads to try to sow dissent, and it’s a terrible thing,” he said, “but I think the investigations and all of the speculation that’s happened for the last two years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple Facebook ads.”

As a refresher, here’s a summary of Russian disinformation efforts on social media in 2016, as documented by New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company based in Austin, Texas:

  • about 10.4 million tweets (of which some 6 million were original) across 3,841 Twitter accounts ƒ
  • about 1,100 YouTube videos across 17 account channels ƒ
  • about 116,000 Instagram posts across 133 accounts ƒ
  • about 61,500 unique Facebook posts across 81 pages

Thanks to Facebook alone, more than half of all eligible voters in the U.S. were exposed to and interacted with Russian propaganda between January 2015 and August 2017. Some 20 million more people were exposed to similar content on Instagram.

In addition to the organic content, Russia also paid Facebook $100,000 (in rubles, no less) to promote 3,000 ads across the network. That effort was rewarded with an audience of around 10 million people ― a population roughly the same size as the entire state of Michigan.

And it goes without saying, but Russian malfeasance spread far beyond the digital realm. Jared Kushner of all people should know that: He attended the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, having been lured ― along with Donald Trump Jr. ― by a Kremlin operative who promised to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton.

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