Senator James Lankford (R-OK), has claimed that Russian trolls are attempting to cause anger and outrage over the recent NFL #TakeAKnee protests.
The Daily Mail reports that Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma stated recently that he believes that paid Russian troll farms are using social media to stoke anger and debate over the recent NFL protests where many NFL players took a knee during the U.S. national anthem. “We watched, even this weekend, the Russians and their troll farms, their internet folks, start hashtagging out #TakeAKnee and also hashtagging out #BoycottNFL,” said Lankford, who currently sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“They were taking both sides of the argument this weekend… to try to raise the noise level of America and make a big issue seem like an even bigger issue as they are trying to push divisiveness in this country,” Lankford said during a hearing with the heads of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center.. He did not provide any evidence whatsoever to back up his claims. The current head of the FBI, Christopher Wray who was at the hearing did not speak directly about Lankford’s claims but did discuss the ongoing investigations into Russia.
“We are surging more resources, specifically focused on the upcoming elections,” Wray said. “We are collecting more intelligence. One of the things we know is that the Russians and Russian state actors are trying to influence other elections in other countries.” A Lankford spokesman stated that the senator has been receiving information on Russian troll farms for more than a year, “Senator Lankford made an individual decision to start talking about this publicly, because he believes the American people should know,” said the spokesman.
It was recently revealed that during the 2016 presidential election, Russian sources purchased political advertisements on the Facebook social media platform.Facebook claims that the advertisement sales were linked to a “troll” farm based in Russia called the Internet Research Agency that reportedly spread propaganda online. Most of the advertisements did not contain information about particular political candidates but rather focused on key political issues.