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Former FBI official: Russians had ‘cheap and effective’ way to sow discord during election

A former FBI official said Sunday that Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election was cheap and effective in sowing discord between Americans.

Leo Taddeo, the former special agent in charge of the Special Operations/Cyber Division of the FBI’s New York office, told AM 970’s John Catsimatidis that the Russian meddling described in indictments filed by Robert Mueller’s special counsel office “really undermined” American democracy.

“I think it’s fairly clear the Russians have a cheap and effective way to sow discord and confusion and really undermined the basic principles of democracy,” Taddeo said. “It really wouldn’t matter what the issue was, as long as people were disagreeing.”

Taddeo went on to say that Russian intelligence operatives sought to “amplify” domestic political disputes in the U.S. in order to distract from Russian foreign policy initiatives, such as military activity in Crimea.

“They’re going to target whatever makes people passionate, whatever will get them out. And they’re going to try to amplify that disagreement and create the kind of division that creates a distraction from America focusing on what Russia thinks is important — things like Ukraine and other foreign policy issues,” he said.


“If Americans aren’t so confident in their president or the Congress or their government in general, then it makes America weaker when it comes time to act on the foreign stage … It’s a brilliant use of a simple technique that’s cheap relative to other intelligence operations [designed] to weaken us,” Taddeo added.

His remarks follow indictments from Mueller’s office targeting 13 Russian nationals and three organizations on charges of using false U.S. personas and stealing the identities of real citizens in order to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller’s indictment accused the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency of operating thousands of fake social media profiles to push false or divisive information in key swing states during the election.

“This indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the internet,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters while announcing the indictments.

“The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy,” the deputy attorney general added.

Tags Donald Trump FBI Hillary Clinton Internet Research Agency Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein Rod Rosenstein Russian interference during the 2016 election

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