Sen. King ‘reasonably confident’ Russia is behind fake Facebook accounts

Sen. King ‘reasonably confident’ Russia is behind fake Facebook accounts
© Greg Nash

Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOvernight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Democrats grill Army, Air Force nominees on military funding for border wall Bipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year MORE (I-Maine) on Wednesday said he believes Russia is behind the dozens of fake Facebook accounts identified by the company last week.

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"I’m reasonably confident," King said in an appearance on CNN's "New Day." 

King said the coordinated disinformation campaign indicates "they're back" and the Kremlin's strategy is "more sophisticated than it was two years ago." 

Facebook on Tuesday said it removed 32 pages and accounts across Facebook and Instagram involved in "inauthentic behavior" after discovering them last week.

Though the social media platform said it lacked "technical evidence" to blame Russia, it found that the misinformation campaign was similar to the Kremlin's previous campaigns on the platform during the 2016 presidential election. 

Several lawmakers have blamed Russia for propping up the fake accounts before the 2018 midterm elections.

"I think yesterday was a turning point," King said on CNN. "The secretary of Homeland Security yesterday I think made the strongest statement in 18, 19 months that, A, [Russia] is doing it and B, they’re gonna pay a price."

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump says acting Homeland Security chief McAleenan will step down Activists to demonstrate at ICE headquarters after Cameroonian immigrant dies in custody Ex-Citizenship and Immigration Services chief returns to DHS in different role MORE on Tuesday said that "it was the Russians" who conducted a disinformation campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election.

"Two years ago, a foreign power launched a brazen, multifaceted influence campaign to undermine public faith in our democratic process and to distort our presidential election," Nielsen said. "That campaign involved cyber espionage, leaks of stolen data, cyber intrusions into voter registration systems, online propaganda, and more."

"Let me be clear," Nielsen added. "Our intelligence community had it right. It was the Russians. It was directed from the highest levels." 

King said he hopes that Nielsen's comments mean the administration is tackling the issue of cybersecurity head-on.

"That was, I hope, a turning point in terms of the attention to this being paid by the administration because it’s been pretty much radio silence, as you know, since the election," King said.