So far, I’ve written about the indicted Russians who organized Miners for Trump rallies like perhaps the one businessman Bob Bolus hosted in Scranton in October 2016.
Obviously, as the indictment says, their organizing didn’t end there.
The indictment handed up last Friday by a Washington, D.C., grand jury against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities also noted other rallies they tried to influence, including maybe a Donald Trump rally in Wilkes-Barre Twp.
In July 2016, the indictment says, the Russians and “their co-conspirators” used Facebook to organize “Florida Goes Trump” rallies on Aug. 20, 2016.
The Russians used “false U.S. personas” to ask real people in the U.S. to do certain things at these rallies, the indictment says.
“For example, defendants and their co-conspirators asked one U.S. person to build a cage on a flatbed truck and another U.S. person to wear a costume portraying (Democratic presidential nominee Hillary) Clinton in a prison uniform,” the indictment says. “Defendants and their co-conspirators paid these individuals to complete the requests.”
After the Florida rallies, they used false personas to organize and coordinate rallies in New York and Pennsylvania.
“Defendants and their co-conspirators used the same techniques to build and promote these rallies as they had in Florida, including: buying Facebook advertisements; paying U.S. persons to participate in, or perform certain tasks at, the rallies; and communicating with real U.S. persons and grassroots organizations supporting then-candidate Trump,” the indictment says.
Now the indictment doesn’t specifically say where the Pennsylvania rallies happened, but Trump spoke at a rally Oct. 10, 2016, at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre Twp.
After reading the indictment, New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel tweeted out a photo of someone in a prison uniform at the arena rally.
“DOJ indictment says this guy at Trump rally in Wilkes Barre, PA in Oct 2016 was paid by Russia,” Gabriel’s tweet says.
Not sure how he knows that. I asked Gabriel in a Twitter message and he pointed to section 56 of the indictment. Section 56 doesn’t say specifically that guy outside the arena got paid by Russia, but Gabriel’s assumption certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
I googled but couldn’t find any pictures of a flatbed truck with a cage outside that rally.
After my story about Bob Bolus’ Miners for Trump rally ran, I got a couple of calls accusing me of liberal bias.
Special counsel Robert Mueller certainly has taken a few of those, but the indictment shows an even-handedness that I haven’t heard talked about much.
It points out that after Trump won the election, the Russians organized rallies supporting Trump and rallies opposing him. More than anything, they really aimed to sew dissension among Americans. Classic KGB trickery. Vladimir Putin can certainly appreciate that. He was KGB, even followed President Ronald Reagan around once. Here’s what section 57 of the indictment says:
“After the election of Donald Trump, in or around November 2016, defendants and their co-conspirators used false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies in support of then president-elect Trump, while simultaneously using other false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies protesting the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
For example, in or around November 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally in New York through one organization-controlled group designed to “show your support for President-Elect Donald Trump” held on or about November 12, 2016. At the same time, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through another organization-controlled group, organized a rally in New York called “Trump is NOT my President” held on or about November 12, 2016. Similarly, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally entitled “Charlotte Against Trump” in Charlotte, North Carolina, held on or about November 19, 2016.”