The Justice Department official who is supervising the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible complicity of the President Donald Trump’s campaign in Russian efforts to meddle into last year’s election claimed that he doubts that advertising by foreign countries would influence the American voters, Politico reports.
“You know, American citizens are pretty savvy, and they decide who to vote for. I don’t think they’d be influenced by ads posted by foreign governments,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said to J.J. Green, a national security reporter for WTOP-FM. “I think people are more thoughtful about that in the way that they make their decisions. But nonetheless, you know, if we have foreign countries that are seeking to interfere in our elections, I think we need to take appropriate actions in response.”
Rosenstein’s remarks minimizing the potential influence of foreign government ads come as lawmakers are mainly focused to discover how the Russian government allegedly used social media during the 2016 presidential race. Three congressional committees are set to hold hearings next week with executives from tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter to discuss Russian use of their platforms that affected the election race.
Rosenstein’s comments did not clearly state whether he was rejecting the idea that Russian actions indeed affected the election results or challenging the belief that ads alone had a significant impact. An intelligence community evaluation discovered no proof that vote sums were modified by hackers, but did not attempt to address indirect effects on the electorate or the political discussion.
In recent weeks, congressional investigators have changed their focus somewhat from social media advertising to the so-called organic content — unpaid material posted through ordinary use accounts. Some experts believe such actions may have had more influence than advertising that was paid for. A Justice Department spokeswoman did not right away gave an answer to the request for clarification of Rosenstein’s remarks, which took place as part of Green’s “Target USA” podcast.