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Report: Investigators turn to Kushner's digital campaign operation

Report: Investigators turn to Kushner's digital campaign operation
© Greg Nash

Investigators are looking into whether the Trump campaign's digital operations, led by son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, helped direct the Russians to use their advanced cyber voter targeting technology to attack Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress Election Countdown: Lawsuits fly in Florida recount fight | Nelson pushes to extend deadline | Judge says Georgia county violated Civil Rights Act | Biden, Sanders lead 2020 Dem field in poll | Bloomberg to decide on 2020 by February What midterm exit polls tell us about 2020 MORE throughout voting jurisdictions in key states last year, McClatchy DC reported Wednesday.

The Justice Department and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are examining whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeath toll in Northern California wildfire rises to 48: authorities Graham backs bill to protect Mueller Denham loses GOP seat in California MORE's campaign guided Russian cyber operatives to these voting jurisdictions in which the campaign detected questionable voter support for their Democratic opponent, several people familiar with the parallel inquiries told the news service.

Kushner’s “role as a possible cut-out or conduit for Moscow’s influence operations in the elections,” as well as his role overseeing the campaign's digital operations, will be scrutinized closely, a person knowledgeable about the Justice Department probe told McClatchy.

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The probes are also investigating whether those ties to the Trump campaign played a role in releasing the hacked emails of Clinton campaign aides or Democratic officials on WikiLeaks during the presidential contest.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffIncoming N.J. Dem lawmaker says she won't vote for Pelosi as Speaker Whitaker saying he won’t cut Mueller funding: report Incoming Intelligence chair wants to release interviews to aid Mueller probe MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, told McClatchy he wants to determine whether the Kremlin's “fake or damaging news stories” were "coordinated in any way in terms of targeting or in terms of timing or in terms of any other measure ... with the [Trump] campaign.”

Russian cyberattacks had utilized "bots," or automated cyber commands, to widely disperse fake or negative news about the Clinton campaign on social media sights during the election. These stories often reached millions of voters, many of whom lived in swing states or important voting precincts, McClatchy reported.

Some amplified stories reportedly came during key turning points in the election, like the baseless conspiracy theory about Clinton running a pedophile ring in a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant that was peddled on social media toward the end of the contest.

One source familiar with the agency's probe expressed doubt at the idea that the Russian news targeting could be so sophisticated as to know "where to specifically target ... which high-impact states and districts in those states."

The news comes after recent reports that Kushner joined Donald Trump Jr. and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort at a meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower last year, in which Trump Jr. was promised compromising information about Clinton.

McClatchy reported that this meeting could "heighten interest in whether there was digital collaboration."

Kushner is already reportedly considered a “person of interest” in the Justice Department's investigation.