A new Washington Post article describes the mechanics of disinformation underlying portions of the smear campaign to which Rudy Giuliani claimed credit as a private citizen working for Trump. Colludy or Conspiry? 'I needed #Yovanovitch out of the way' so malign actors in Arms for Dirt created fake lists
The story that appeared on The Hill website on March 20 was startling.Marie Yovanovitch, the American ambassador to Ukraine, had given a “list of people whom we should not prosecute” to Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, according to a write-up of an interview Lutsenko gave to the conservative columnist John Solomon.Five days later, an image of that purported list appeared in a post on the website Medium and on a number of other self-publishing platforms in locations as disparate as Germany, South Africa and San Francisco. In less than a week, the Medium essay had been translated into Spanish and German and posted to other websites.
Now, a social media analysis firm, Graphika, has traced those posts to a Russian disinformation campaign — in the first evidence that a network of accounts involved in spreading disinformation before the 2016 election also participated in circulating the false claims about Yovanovitch that led earlier this year to her recall from the U.S. embassy in Kyiv.
The Russia-based operation, which also sought to blame Britain for interfering in the 2016 election, represents a warning about the evolving methods and wide-ranging goals of disinformation as Americans enter a volatile election season, four years after Russian actors used social media to sow discord and boost Trump’s candidacy for the White House. The “known Russian operation,” as Graphika called it, involved doctored visuals and sought to cover its tracks using single-use accounts on discussion forums and other crowdsourced websites, as well as on the news aggregation site Reddit.
Allegations about the (“do not prosecute”) list are significant because they inflamed the false narrative that Yovanovitch was involved in covering up wrongdoing in Ukraine. In fact, she said in sworn testimony last month, Ukrainians threatened by her anti-corruption work were the ones who sought her dismissal. They found an ally in the president’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who conducted what witnesses described as a “campaign full of lies and incorrect information” against the diplomat, who was recalled on May 20.
— Nicholas Burns (@RNicholasBurns) December 17, 2019
— Tom Joseph (@TomJChicago) December 17, 2019