Over the past several years, many in the US (government and mainstream media) have argued that the Russian government ("The Russians") interfered with the 2016 US elections through the "Internet Research Agency" - a sort of a social media campaigning company / troll farm. It ran some some small-scale campaigns before, during and after the US 2016 elections, with some content supportive of Trump (although to be honest some of those pro-Trump images seem ridiculous enough to have the opposite effect), some critical of Trump, content in support of or against other causes, including the promotion of events or rallies, etc. Some of this happened before the elections, some after; I've even heard the claim that most effort or money was spent after the elections but I may be wrong on this. At least once they even organized opposing rallies. (see this piece for some examples of IRA-originated memes). The total amount of money they spent in 2016 on promoting such content is said to have been $100,000.
When I initially heard about this, I was unconvinced that it is a Russian government effort to destabilize/undermine the US or to swing the US elections. The amount of money is minuscule (relative to campaigns' media budget), the timing of its spending is off, and subjectively it didn't even seem to me to be a serious effort to get people to support Trump (sometimes more like the opposite). As a lay user, I found this looked more like glorified trolling than international political interference. Several critics (in alternative media mostly) have also expressed such skepticism.
Now that the (redacted version of) Mueller report is out - is there any newly-revealed evidence to support the characterization of these IRA activities as Russian government interference in the US elections? And - what is the new evidence?
- I mean evidence - not estimates, conclusions, non-testimony assertions ("XYZ happened") etc.
- On that note - statements of fact in the report which have no source, or whose source supposedly exists but is redacted - are not evidence revealed by the redacted report. My question is about evidence revealed in this release.
- Circumstantial evidence counts as evidence.
- There is this annoying use of the term "The Russians" to conflate people living in Russia, Russian companies, Russian business owners and the Russian government, all together. I'm specifically asking about the Russian government.