Russian efforts to alter the course of the 2016 presidential election were pervasive, no matter how many times that the president wants to insist otherwise.
Despite ample evidence to the contrary, Trump has repeatedly insisted that the scandal over Russian election meddling is a “hoax” made up by Democrats as an “excuse” for losing the presidential election to him.
In March, he wrote on Twitter:
‘The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!’
He’s called the story of Russian meddling in the 2016 election a hoax over and over again.
Trump’s insistence that the Russia scandal is a hoax is connected to his paranoia over the ongoing investigation into his own team for possible collusion with Russia in their meddling efforts.
Even still, no number of tweets from the president will negate the fact that Russia was successful in spreading disinformation and strife across Trump’s own favorite social media network, Twitter.
A new report from the Daily Beast details a stunning new revelation — popular online right wing personality Jenna Abrams does not exist.
Her persona was created by professional Russian trolls working as a part of the “Internet Research Agency,” an organization that worked to spread disinformation throughout the months ahead of the 2016 election.
“Abrams” rose to prominence like any Twitter user might, posting an array of clever-sounding quips that went viral and made their way into some of those “Check Out These Interesting Tweets” articles that pepper the internet.
In April of 2016, as the Daily Beast documents, the Jenna Abrams Twitter account posted a message reading:
‘To those people, who hate the Confederate flag. Did you know that the flag and the war wasn’t about slavery, it was all about money.’
Internet users unsurprisingly bristled at this sentiment — which is exactly what those behind the account wanted. Those engaging with the account were not engaging in a public debate with a fellow American — they were getting fired at by a Russian troll farm.
Historian Kevin Kruse is one of those who got duped into thinking Abrams was a real person.
Explaining his reasoning for responding to one of Abrams’ tweets blaming the Civil War on monetary disputes, Kruse told the Daily Beast:
‘I responded to the tweet because it echoed an argument I’ve heard many times: that the Civil War was somehow not about slavery, even when the seceding states and the Confederate government made it quite clear, in their own words at the time, that it was entirely about slavery.’
Kruse is hardly alone in having been duped by the Abrams Twitter account.
In a viral tweet, journalist Al Letson responded to the aforementioned tweet from “Abrams” about the Civil War being supposedly about money by writing:
‘It’s much easier to say the Civil War was about money, when your ancestors weren’t the currency.’
The Daily Beast lists the news outlets that cited a tweet from Abrams. They include outlets from USA Today and Breitbart, to The Washington Post and The New York Times. As one example, a tweet of “Abram’s” — which has since been deleted — was included in a CNN article from August 2016 about the controversial “joke” of quipping “Black Olives Matter.”
What adds a disturbing face to Abrams’ spread of misinformation and strife is that the president’s chief of staff, the retired Gen. John Kelly, recently echoed the same sentiments as “Abrams” in an appearance on Fox.
He told host Laura Ingraham that the Civil War was fought because of a lack of ability to “compromise” — even though it’s not as though we should be interested in compromising on the issue of slavery. Concurrent to that, it’s not as though Confederate leadership did anything but make their allegiance to slaveholding abundantly clear.
Kelly’s comments came in the context of a defense of statues honoring Confederate military leaders.
Besides the already mentioned abrasive opinions posted by “Abrams,” the account also posted sentiments including an article on Medium calling for a return to segregation.
‘Humanity has gone full circle. Never mind how many activists of any color died to get rid of segregation, and fought for inclusion, black people want it back. 100% free people made their choice, and their choice is segregation.’
For now, the investigation into Russian meddling in the American electoral processes is continuing. Their impersonations of American political interests on social media extend far beyond “Jenna Abrams.”
Check out a selection of internet ads funded by the Russians and identified as such recently by the House Intelligence Committee below.
Featured Image via Barcroft Media/ Getty Images