Maxine Waters demands info on Russia-linked Twitter accounts she says targeted her

Maxine Waters demands info on Russia-linked Twitter accounts she says targeted her
© Greg Nash

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) is demanding Twitter provide information on Russia-linked accounts she says targeted her and her congressional district.

In a statement released Thursday, Waters said she has never publicly discussed this before now but has suspected for a while that she was a target.

"I have been aware for some time that I was targeted by Russian operatives whose interests were aligned with Donald Trump," Waters said in the statement.

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"I have often noticed that every time I tweeted about Trump and Russia, dozens of strange accounts would immediately tweet various lies and falsehoods that fringe alt-right websites would subsequently use as a basis to write fake news stories."

Waters, a vocal critic of President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE, said she wants the American people and Congress to understand they may also be "vulnerable to this type of foreign disruption."

She specifically mentioned the @TEN_GOP account, a popular Twitter handle claiming to belong to the Tennessee Republican Party but which BuzzFeed News reported was actually run by Russian internet trolls.

Twitter took nearly a year to shut down the account despite repeated notifications from the state's real Republican Party pointing out that the account was fake, according to the report.

Waters said the account tweeted out an "Impeach Maxine Waters" hashtag during a town hall meeting she held earlier this year.

"The hashtag appeared to be coordinated with large, elaborate posters that were posted outside the town hall venue by disrupters, who were probably given the financial resources and assistance necessary to carry out their campaign of disruption," she said.

"It is for this reason that I am now calling upon Twitter to provide detailed information regarding all Russian-linked accounts that targeted me and my congressional district."

Waters emphasized the importance of "free-flowing political discourse" as the "bedrock" of American democracy.

"But foreign propaganda disguised as discourse has the potential to crack that bedrock," she said.

"Full and open transparency on the part of social media companies like Twitter can help to combat this foreign threat. I therefore urge Twitter and other social media companies to provide that transparency to the American people.”  

In the letter she wrote — addressed to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey — Waters requested information on the "total number of accounts linked to Russia" that mentioned her name and the "manner and number of tweets" that mentioned her.

Top social media companies, including Facebook, Google and Twitter, are under scrutiny for their role in Russia's attempt to influence and sow discord during the 2016 presidential election.