An investigation into possible connections between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign will apparently include an examination of what may have been similar contacts involving some right-wing news organizations in the United States. One of these organizations, known as Breitbart, was once run by Steve Bannon, who currently serves as President Trump’s strategic adviser.
FBI Director James Comey has confirmed a federal probe into the possibility that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election and that members of the Trump campaign may have colluded with the foreign power to help their candidate. According to an inside source, investigators are examining the possibility that, as a way of helping Trump defeat Hillary Clinton, Russia sent out computer commands containing information considered vital to both candidates. Known as “bots,” these commands sent countless posts to such internet sites as Breitbart and also InfoWars, which is published by conservative commentator Alex Jones. Many of these posts contained misinformation or outright lies about Clinton.
Stories about Clinton included an exaggeration of a health condition related to an incident, which was videotaped and widely shown, in which she collapsed on a street in New York City. Diagnosed with pneumonia, Clinton would recover and was able to continue her campaign. A completely fictional story that was circulated reported that Clinton had been involved in a child-sex ring in the nation’s capital.
According to a former member of the administration of President Barack Obama, this information was released in such a way to deflect public attention away from negative stories about Trump, including a videotape in which the Republican candidate boasted about grabbing the vaginal area of a woman.
The “bots” were also believed to have included email messages that had been stolen from Democratic National Committee staff members, including John Podesta, who served as chairman of the Clinton campaign. Reportedly, investigators are attempting to determine whether the news organizations were complicit in the misinformation campaign. Significantly, a U.S. Senate committee plans to closely examine the “fake” news issue.
Bannon joined the Trump campaign last year, after serving as the executive chairman of Breitbart for more than four years, and was selected to the serve in the administration shortly after the election.