Russia's online disinformation campaign targeted 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 on multiple social media platforms, posting messages that sought to frame Mueller as corrupt and untrustworthy, according to a new report prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Researchers with the firm New Knowledge found that the Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA) posted images and memes seeking to discredit Mueller as one method of sowing discord in the U.S.
One meme posted on Instagram claimed that Mueller had worked in the past with "radical Islamic groups," as first noted by The Washington Post.
Across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms, Russians sought to amplify negative messages about Mueller.
Mueller earlier this year indicted the St. Petersburg-based IRA, along with other Russian bodies involved in the disinformation campaign, on criminal charges.
The disinformation campaign overall targeted some of the most divisive topics in U.S. politics, including distrust in the media, minority rights, feminism, law enforcement, and more, researchers found.
Russians used Instagram broadly in the first six months after President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE was elected, according to the New Knowledge researchers. Some anti-Mueller messages circulated on the image-sharing app, which is owned by Facebook.
The New Knowledge analysis was submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee this week alongside another report conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford and the digital analytics firm Graphika.
Together, the analyses provide insight into the IRA's efforts to spread disinformation and confusion among U.S. voters during and after the 2016 campaign.
Both reports concluded that the Internet Research Agency sought to promote Trump and the Republican Party, in part by seeking to suppress African-American voters and spreading conspiracy theories.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating Russia's election interference for almost two years, mostly in private.
The Post reported that a Clemson University research team operating independently from the work done for the Intelligence panel found that Russians tweeted about Mueller more than 5,000 times, with some calling for him to be fired and others saying his "fake investigation" should be ended.