Bill Browder Testifies With Unwitting Help from Kremlin-Oriented Twitter
2017 July 29
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In the course of preparing my July 27, 2017 RIOT Report

1/ RIOT: Russian Information Operations on Twitter
Thu 27 Jul 2017, 08:40hrs CDT
Content being amplified by RIOT

— (((aweisburd))) (@webradius) July 27, 2017

I noticed that the Kremlin-oriented Twitter accounts were amplifying an article on the Fox News website that had the potential to work against the Kremlin's own best interests. The headline was clear enough...

Russia probe: Democrats block key witness against shadowy firm Fusion GPS

...and knowing that most people most of the time will not read past the headline, I coded this article as

US Partisan Politics > Anti-Democratic Party > Bill Browder vs Fusion GPS

Being familiar with the issues in play, I took a closer look at the article. The article and the effort made to promote it, combined with what actually happened - Browder's testimony was not in fact blocked, and did in fact cast the Kremlin in an unfavorable light - combined to happy effect. The good guys won this battle.

Introduction

Senate Democrats used a parliamentary maneuver Wednesday to cut short a high-profile hearing, where a key witness was set to testify on Russia's misdeeds and also raise fresh allegations against the company behind the infamous anti-Trump dossier.

Double-dealing Russians and Fusion GPS

Bill Browder, the CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital, was set to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that the co-founder of the firm Fusion GPS was hired to conduct a "smear campaign" against him. Further, he planned to testify the campaign was orchestrated by Natalia Veselnitskaya -- the Russian attorney who sought the highly scrutinized Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort in June 2016.

The Dirty Democratic Parliamentary Deed

Browder released written testimony ahead of the hearing but his public remarks were delayed when Democrats invoked the "two-hour rule" to protest Republican efforts to repeal ObamaCare. The seldom-used rule bars committees from meeting more than two hours after the full Senate begins a session.

Senator Grassley's Two Bits

“I don’t know if the minority is intentionally trying to block testimony that may be critical of a firm behind the unverified Trump dossier, but I’ll bet two bits that had Paul Manafort or Donald Trump, Jr. appeared at today’s hearing, it would not have been prematurely shut down," Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement. "The Democrat leadership is playing politics, plain and simple."

Dastardly Democrats Foiled Again

Browder now is expected to testify Thursday...

And testify he did. In the current hyper-partisan political climate, it would be difficult to script a better effort to get Republicans to pay attention to Browder's testimony and give it a sympathetic hearing. That the Kremlin's minions on Twitter were duped into promoting something that works against the Kremlin's own interests is humorous, and worth keeping in mind when working on countermeasures.

Browder's Testimony

Browder's Written Remarks

© 2015-2017 Andrew Aaron Weisburd