The President of the United States has reacted to a recent wave of Russia-related news with a tried and tested response: tweeting about a political opponent he defeated 10 months ago. On Friday morning, Sept. 22, President Donald Trump criticized Hillary Clinton on Twitter while referring to reports about Russia influencing the election using Facebook ads a "hoax." Trump said in a tweet,
The Russia hoax continues, now it's ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?
The president then added,
The greatest influence over our election was the Fake News Media 'screaming' for Crooked Hillary Clinton. Next, she was a bad candidate!
With the use of "ads on Facebook," it was clear what Trump was alluding to. Earlier this month, Facebook revealed that over $150,000 worth of election-related ads were purchased by accounts with ties to Russia, and it's clear why the news drew interest.
With Congress conducting four separate investigations related to Russian influence during last year's presidential campaign, newly revealed details about how that influence may have been exercised was bound to attract attention from lawmakers in Washington D.C.
It's no surprise, then, that Senate members -- like Virginia's Mark Warner -- had begun demanding that Facebook reveal even more information about the over 3,000 Russian ads. This week, Facebook acquiesced to the request.
Zuckerberg announced that the company will provide Congress with more information about the ads while stating his expectation that the government will "publish its findings when their investigation is complete."
Our sophistication in handling these threats is growing and improving quickly. We will continue working with the government to understand the full extent of Russian interference, and we will do our part not only to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, but also to give everyone a voice and to be a force for good in democracy everywhere.
Trump's comments on Twitter also come at the end of a week during which reports indicated that the president himself has now become the subject of scrutiny within the FBI's own investigation of suspected ties between the Trump campaign and Russian actors.
Both the New York Times and the Washington Post reported that Robert Mueller, the independent investigator who was hired to take charge of the FBI investigation after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, had begun requesting information and documents related to a number of Trump's most controversial decisions during his young presidency.
Among those decisions is the firing of Comey itself.
The Post's report on the matter cited a "government official" who said,
I am convinced that no matter where they end up, this investigation will run to completion even if they fire Mueller. There is a feeling of inevitability now that we didn't have before — not of the outcome of the investigation but that there will be an outcome. There is no escaping this thing, whatever the conclusions.
Earlier in the week, the Post also reported that a former campaign manager for Trump, Paul Manafort, had offered to provide private briefings to a Russian billionaire with ties to Vladimir Putin's government, two weeks before Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president.
The report states that Manafort wrote in an email,
If he [billionaire Oleg Deripaska] needs private briefings we can accommodate.
All of the above mentioned reports -- the Facebook ads, the increased activity of Robert Mueller and the revelation of Manafort's email -- are all stories that are related to Russia related investigations and information those investigations continue to stumble upon.
In other words, Trump may call all a hoax, but the U.S. government isn't treating it like it is.