As expected, social media giant Facebook handed over thousands of Russia-funded political ads to Congress yesterday that were purchased during the 2016 election and geared toward helping popular vote loser Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton for the White House. Many of the ads never even mentioned Trump’s name.
The head of one congressional committee also just acknowledged that the ads are about to become public, which should have Trump & co. more than a little worried.
Richard Burr, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman, has told CNN that the Facebook will not be made public by him. He explains that he views them as evidence in Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation.
The interesting part is that there’s literally no reason at all for Burr to publicly state the ads won’t be made public by him, unless he expects the ads to quickly leak out to the public and he is simply covering for himself and his committee.
Bill Palmer explains further:
This also raises the question of whom he’s trying to reassure.
Burr is a Republican, but it’s doubtful that he’s worried about what his constituents might think on something that’s so narrow in scope. Instead, it seems more likely that he’s trying to make sure the people running Facebook know the inevitable leaks aren’t coming from him. That way, he can maintain a trusting relationship with Mark Zuckerberg and company, which will be needed as the Trump-Russia investigation continues to dig deeper into how the Kremlin used social networks to dishonestly influence voters. But it seems fairly clear that the ads will become public soon.
In fact that same CNN report quotes House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, also a Republican, as saying he can’t see a reason why he won’t end up releasing them himself. So this may be the new congressional good cop / bad cop routine. The House Intel Committee leaks the Russian Facebook ads so the public can see just how damning they were, burning its trust with Facebook’s leaders in the process, but the Senate Intel Committee maintains its own relationship with Facebook for the future. In any case, get ready to see those Russian Facebook ads.
The digging goes deeper by the day.
It’s unclear if Special Counsel Robert Mueller also has access to these ads, but he seems to be more focused on Trump’s finances these days than on his Russia connections. Either way, it’s looking more and more like Trump could be brought down from many different angles.