From June 2016 until the end of the presidential campaign, almost all of the U.S. rallies organized by the IRA focused on the U.S. election, often promoting the Trump Campaign and opposing the Clinton Campaign. Pro-Trump rallies included three in New York; a series of Trump rallies in Florida in August 2016; and a series of pro-Trump rallies in October 2016 in Pennsylvania. The Florida rallies drew the attention of the Trump Campaign, which posted about the Miami rally on candidate Trump's Facebook account (as discussed below).86
86 The pro-Trump rallies were organized through multiple Facebook, Twitter, and email accounts. See, e.g., Facebook ID 100009922908461 (Matt Skiber); Facebook ID 1601685693432389 (Being Patriotic); Twitter Account @march_for_trump; firstname.lastname@example.org. (Rallies were organized in New York on June 25, 2016; Flo1ida on August 20, 2016; and Pennsylvania on October 2, 2016.)
Many of the same IRA employees who oversaw the IRA's social media accounts also conducted the day-to-day recruiting for political rallies inside the United States. Harm to Ongoing Matter 7
6. Targeting and Recruitment of U.S. Persons
As early as 2014, the IRA instructed its employees to target U.S. persons who could be used to advance its operational goals. Initially, recruitment focused on U.S. persons who could amplify the content posted by the IRA.Harm to Ongoing Matter
IRA employees frequently used Harm to Ongoing Matter Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to contact and recruit U.S. persons who followed the group. The IRA recruited U.S. persons from across the political spectrum. For example, the IRA targeted the family of Harm to Ongoing Matter and a number of black social justice activists
At the same time that the IRA operation began to focus on supporting candidate Trump in early 2016, the Russian government employed a second form of interference: cyber intrusions (hacking) and releases of hacked materials damaging to the Clinton Campaign. The Russian intelligence service known as the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Army (GRU) carried out these operations.
89 3/11/16 Facebook Adve1tisement ID 6045078289928, 5/6/16 Facebook Advertisement ID 6051652423528, 10/26/16 Facebook Adve1tisement ID 6055238604687; 10/27/16 Facebook Message, IDHarm to Ongoing Matter
& ID 100011698576461 (Taylor Brooks).
while posing as a grassroots group called "Black Matters US."89 In February 2017, the persona "Black Fist" (purporting to want to teach African-Americans to protect themselves when contacted by law enforcement) hired a self-defense instructor in New York to offer classes sponsored by Black Fist. The IRA also recruited moderators of conservative social media groups to promote IRA-generated content,90 as well as recruited individuals to perform political acts (such as walking around New York City dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask).91
90 8/ 19/16 Facebook Message, ID 100009922908461 (Matt Skiber) to ID Harm to
91 12/8/16 Email, email@example.com to firstname.lastname@example.org (confirming Craigslist advertisement).
Harm to Ongoing Matter as the IRA's online audience became larger, the IRA tracked U.S. persons with whom they communicated and had successfully tasked (with tasks ranging from organizing rallies to taking pictures with certain political messages).Harm to Ongoing Matter 93
93 See, e.g.11/11-27/16 Facebook Messages, ID 100011698576461 (Taylor Brooks) & Harm to
Ongoing Matter(arranging to pay for plane tickets and for a bull horn).