House Intel Committee plans to release Russian Facebook ads

The House Intelligence Committee plans to release the Facebook ads purchased by Russian groups during the 2016 presidential race.

The Wednesday announcement from the panel's leaders comes a week after Facebook revealed that Moscow purchased online ads that specifically targeted swing states such as Michigan and Wisconsin as well as particular demographic groups in an attempt to influence the presidential election.

Roughly 10 million Facebook users saw the ads, the company says, which were purchased by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency.

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"We will be releasing them from our committee," Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist Jan. 6 panel may see leverage from Bannon prosecution MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters.

"We are going to ask for Facebook’s help to help scrub any personally identifiable information, but it is our hope that when they get conclude, they will be released publicly," he continued.

Chairman Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayEx-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm If Congress can't work together to address child hunger we're doomed Ex-Rep. Mike Conaway, former aide launch lobbying firm MORE (R-Texas) said he hopes to release the ads “as quick as we can.”

The announcement comes after they met with top Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg.

Google and Twitter were reportedly both also used by Russian actors in their efforts to meddle in the election. Twitter has suspended more than 200 accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency, and The Washington Post reported Monday that Google's Moscow-related ads appeared on YouTube and Gmail, among other platforms.

While both the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating Russia's attempts to influence the election, the House decision to make the ads public is a break with their Senate counterparts.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrTexas Democrat Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson announces retirement at end of term On The Money — IRS chief calls for reinforcements Burr brother-in-law ordered to testify in insider trading probe MORE (R-N.C.) strongly stated during a press conference last week that his panel would not be releasing the ads to the press.

"Let me just say many of you have asked us, are we going to release the Facebook ads? We don't release documents provided to our committee, period. Let me say it again: The Senate Intelligence Committee does not release documents provided by witnesses, companies, whatever the classification, it's not a practice that we're going to get into," Burr said as he updated reporters on the panel's Russia probe.

"Clearly, if any of the social media platforms would like to do that, we're fine with them doing it because we have already got scheduled an open hearing because we believe the American people deserve to hear first-hand," Burr continued. 

Schiff told CNN earlier this month that the panel plans to develop a "stronger partnership" with social media companies in order to identify foreign entities trying to sow division within the country.   

The California lawmaker also called for a review of how the "Russian intelligence services manipulated and took advantage of online platforms to stoke and amplify social and political tensions."

Russia's election meddling is being investigated by multiple congressional panels as well as an independent Justice Department probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller.