Calvin Freiburger reports that we’ve all heard about Russian meddling before the 2016 presidential election. But what about meddling after the selection of America’s next president?
The Hill reports that on November 12 of last year, between five and ten thousand disgruntled leftists rallied in Manhattan Union Square and marched to Trump Tower to register their outrage that Donald Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton, with a total of sixteen thousand saying on Facebook they planned to attend.
Little did they know, however, that the group organizing the event, BlackMattersUS, was a front for the very Kremlin they had convinced themselves was propping up Trump:
The BlackMattersUS-organized rally took advantage of outrage among groups on the left following President Trump’s victory on Nov. 8, to galvanize support for its event. The group’s protest was the fourth consecutive anti-Trump rally in New York following election night, and one of many across the country.
“Join us in the streets! Stop Trump and his bigoted agenda!” reads the Facebook event page for the rally. “Divided is the reason we just fell. We must unite despite our differences to stop HATE from ruling the land.”
While the focus has been on Russian efforts ahead of the election, the BlackMatters rally days after Trump’s victory shows that Russian-linked social media influence efforts continued after the election.
The BlackMatters organizing group was connected to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian “troll farm” with ties to the Kremlin, according to a recent investigation by the Russian Magazine RBC. Facebook has identified the IRA as the group responsible for purchasing 3,000 political ads on Facebook’s platform and operating 470 accounts that appear to have attempted to influence the perspectives of Americans during the 2016 elections.
The report goes on to note that BlackMattersUS also attempted to stoke left-wing discontent over issues such as police brutality, race, and abolishing the Electoral College. Similar Russia-backed pressure groups also stoked pro-Trump sentiment prior to the election.
TFPP previously covered the activities of BlackMattersUS and the company behind it, the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, earlier this month. It seems the Kremlin was very active in trying to recruit and co-opt Black Lives Matter activists and amplify their message, to varying degrees of success.
Still, the question remains: why? What did the Russians hope to gain?
It’s easy to project onto this activity motives that reaffirm any narrative one wants. Russians propping up the opposing side can be seized upon as a a clear attempt to strengthen that cause, whereas Russians propping up one’s own side can be readily written off as attempting to provoke a backlash from the opposition.
A more objective reading would be that the Kremlin wanted to play both sides off against one another, inflaming tensions and division for the purpose of keeping a major geopolitical foe distracted. As JD Rucker puts it at NOQ Report:
We are a divided house. Russia doesn’t care whose responsible for division as long as it’s happening. It would have happened had Hillary won as well. Either would just be a leader in DC that Russia hoped to sway. That’s what they really wanted. That was their end game. It’s not that they wanted one over the other. They wanted sow discord and have leverage regardless of the winner.
Obviously, meddling meant to alter the election outcome would have ended with the election. For it to continue afterward would seem to reinforce the theory that the Kremlin’s aim was general discord, not a Trump win or a Clinton win.
Does this make sense to you, or do you think there’s something else at work here? Share your thoughts below!