Senate Intel chair: Russian ads on Facebook targeted 'the right and left'

Senate Intel chair: Russian ads on Facebook targeted 'the right and left'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrTrump: Why isn't Senate looking into 'Fake News Networks'? Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open Special counsel looking into dossier as part of Russia probe: report MORE (R-N.C.), whose panel is probing ties between President Trump's campaign and Russia, pushed back Tuesday on suggestions that ads purchased on Facebook by Russian actors showed collusion between the campaign and Moscow.

The Senate Intelligence Committee chairman said he believes foreign actors who used social media sites like Facebook to interfere in the 2016 election campaign targeted both conservative and liberal groups.

“I think there was an effort to bring some chaos to groups on the right and the left,” Burr told reporters.

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“There’s nothing that could lean towards one candidate versus the other. I think there was equal money spent trying to create some type of chaos on both sides of the ideological spectrum,” the GOP senator continued.

Burr noted that he still has not seen the political ads that Russian actors linked to the Kremlin purchased on Facebook, but said that his staff had seen some of them.

The company said last week that it would turn over to Senate investigators the 3,000 ads purchased by Russian actors during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The overall political bend of the 3,000 ads purchased is still unclear, however initial reports show that both the ideological left and right were targeted.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that Russian operatives used Facebook to highlight support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies DNC, RNC step up cyber protections Gun proposal picks up GOP support MORE among Muslim women and promote groups like Black Lives Matter. The report also suggested such groups were political threats in other advertisements.

Two other ads targeted Trump supporters, the Daily Beast reported. One tried to mobilize them to attend Trump rallies across the state of Florida and another tried to get Facebook users to show up at an anti-Muslim, anti-immigration rally in Idaho.

Burr also said that he wants Facebook to testify before the committee in a public hearing, but said that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t necessarily have to show up.

“I think it’s more important that we get the person who’s most capable of talking about the technical aspects of what they need to do to identify foreign money that may come in and what procedures, if any, need to be put in law that make sure elections are not intruded by foreign entities,” Burr said.

– Katie Bo Williams contributed to this report