Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn not only followed Russian troll accounts on Twitter but also repeatedly retweeted their propaganda in the weeks before the 2016 election.
The former three-star general is one of the figures under investigation in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the election. Flynn spent just 24 days in Trump’s Cabinet before he was forced to resign after lying to Vice President Mike Pence about the extent of his dealings with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. Flynn had denied privately discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia with Kislyak before and after Trump took office, although it was later revealed he had.
Even before he joined the administration, Flynn followed at least five Twitter accounts purporting to be U.S.-based Trump supporters but were actually run out of Kremlin-backed troll factory the Internet Research Agency, The Daily Beast reported on Wednesday. The Russian-controlled Twitter accounts were among more than 2,750 made public by U.S. investigators Wednesday.
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In the days ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election last year, Flynn repeatedly retweeted the Russian troll accounts, amplifying their messaging to his 166,000 followers and tagging other Trump backers.
On Nov. 5, Flynn retweeted a post from the Russian troll account @TEN_GOP and added “Yup, this is a great add…needs to be RT’d frequently” along with the requisite “#draintheswamp” and “#MAGA3X” hashtags. He also tagged pro-Trump figures, including the campaign’s social media director Dan Scavino and alt-right provocateur Mike Cernovich.
Flynn again retweeted the @TEN_GOP account just a day before the election, tagging Trump and Pence.
The original tweets by @TEN_GOP are no longer available, as the account has been suspended, along with others identified as troll accounts. But Flynn’s posts in which he quotes the troll’s tweets remain.
Other Trump campaign figures including Donald Trump Jr., campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, and campaign digital director Brad Parscale also retweeted the troll account in the month before the election.