Russian troll accounts on Facebook sent messages to the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, The New York Times reported Thursday.
At least one account messaged the Facebook page for the Florida arm of the Trump campaign, called “Florida For Trump.”
The employee who responded to one of the Russian accounts thanked the person for their “enthusiasm, creativity and support” for Trump. The staffer then gave the account the email address for the Trump campaign’s Florida communications director.
The Times obtained a copy of the Facebook interaction. However, the Russian account has since been deactivated, meaning only the messages from the Trump campaign page can be seen.
“Nobody reasonably would have asked — or even thought to ask — ‘Are you sure you’re not with Russia?’” Karen Giorno, the GOP operative who was the Florida state director for the Trump’s campaign when it was contacted by the Russian account, told The Times. “It’s just not something that normally you would think you have to watch out for.”
Giorno said she would have been more concerned about opposing candidates trying “to infiltrate our campaign, or whether someone who was trying to represent the campaign had a criminal record, or had the right character or background.”
Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups last month for interfering in the 2016 election.
The indictments allege that a Russian “troll farm” knowns as the Internet Research Agency created fake accounts to try and interfere in or influence the U.S. election. The Facebook account that reached out to the Florida Trump campaign Facebook page appears to be one of those fake accounts, the Times reported.
Court documents outlining the indictments against Russians did not state whether or not the accounts succeeded in getting involved in the campaign. Florida Trump campaign staffers told the Times that they don’t recall receiving or responding to any messages.