— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) March 15, 2018
Next Saturday, March 24, hundreds of Texas Democratic Party activists will gather at the Austin Hyatt Regency to nominate candidates for political office in Travis County, a kick-off event leading up to the 2018 midterm elections.
But some people who tried to register will not be attending, among them Candida McGruder. Gustavo Chubb. Geraldo Tinsley. Vincent Amundson. Roxie Male.
That’s because these five individuals and 43 others who signed up to attend don’t appear to be Travis County residents, or Texans, or even Americans. They might not even be real people. They may be pranksters — or they may be Russian trolls, and their appearance in Texas could represent the first public example of foreign probing of the 2018 elections.
Five senior intelligence officers, two current and three former, say the case of the Texas 48 looks like Russian meddling. And they tell NBC News that despite the clumsiness of the failed registrations, the Texas case fits a pattern of Russian behavior seen in its covert operations…
Despite the ham-handedness that announces an obvious Russian origin, said Kanuck, who served as the first national intelligence officer for cyber issues at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from 2011 to 2016, the methods and even the in-your-face nature of the trolling fit the pattern of “a Russian strategic campaign to delegitimize the democratic electoral process.”
“I would speculate that Russia is testing the waters for possible interventions or disruptions in the future,” Kanuck said…
And sure enough, in just the top dozen replies to the original tweet…
That settles it, we need voter ID laws in every state.
We can’t have foreign nationals influencing our elections.
— Jeffrey Richman ☃️ (@jcrichman) March 15, 2018
Require ID/SSN. This is getting ridiculous.
— Jay Reditwright (@reditwright) March 15, 2018
Doesn’t matter, for Repub purposes, whether those commentors are co-conspirators or just misled bystanders — if it helps them divert the conversation from “who benefits from the actions of these Russian trolls?” to “AIEEE brown people voter fraud!”, it’s all to their advantage.