The Russian investigations are getting progressively juicier. On Friday, the special counsel indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities and unveiled that the Department of Justice formally recorded a number of times when Russian assets allegedly tried to sway the 2016 presidential election. Included in the indictment are three claims that Russian operatives attempted to muzzle Hillary Clinton’s support by pretending to be black and Muslim Americans who were doubtful of her.
Through their investigations, the DOJ found that in the second half of 2016, the defendants and their co-conspirators, "began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 US. presidential election or to vote for a third-party US. presidential candidate." Some of the ways in which they did this was through political ads and social media—particularly Instagram—where they painted Clinton as 'Satan.'
On Oct. 16, 2016, the defendants and co-conspirators promoted their viewpoint through the Instagram account "Woke Blacks," where they posted a message to their followers. "[A] particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL." An ad from that month also stated, "Hillary is a Satan, and her crimes and lies had proved just how evil she is."
They used a similar tactic on several other social media accounts, including buying an ad to promote a post from the Instagram handle "Blacktivist" on Nov. 3, 2016, right before the election. The message encouraged voters to back the third-party candidate: "Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote."
Around that same time, they posted anti-vote messages to the "United Muslims of America" social media accounts. "American Muslims [are] boycotting elections today, most of the American Muslim voters refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton because she wants to continue the war on Muslims in the middle east and voted yes for invading Iraq."
The indictment doesn’t try to deduce whether such activities actually manipulated the election’s outcome. There also is nothing in the indictment that alleges that an American citizen knowingly engaged in any of these activities.
The investigations claim that a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency has a “strategic goal to sow discord in the US political system,” including the 2016 presidential election. The Internet Research Agency reportedly first launched its efforts as early as 2014, and by 2016 it moved to support President Trump over Clinton. Trump still argues that the Russians didn’t intervene in the election.