Senate Intel committee calls on Facebook to release Russian ads

Saul Bowman
October 5, 2017

For its part, Facebook tried to get ahead of Wednesday's press briefing, printing a full page ad in the Washington Post as damage control for whatever Burr and Warner said about the company's role in the election and its interactions with the committee.

"Questions that you might have surrounding Comey's firing are better answered by the general counsel or by the Justice Department, not the Select Committee of Intelligence in the United States Senate", Burr continued.

Senator Burr said that Russian Federation also created false accounts to "drive interests toward stories or groups ... to drive division".

Burr and Warner said they have largely confirmed the conclusions the intelligence community reached under the Obama administration that the Russian government meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.

However, the Senate Judiciary Committee - which is also conducting its own Russian Federation probe - was able to interview the man who hired Mr Steele to compile the report, Glenn Simpson, behind closed doors.

"Those offers have gone unaccepted", Burr said.

Burr said he had a message for witnesses who are reluctant to speak to the committee: "If you don't voluntarily do it, I can assure you today, you will be compelled to do it".

But despite their efforts, the committee has still not been able to interview Christopher Steele, the author of a controversial dossier containing explosive allegations about Mr Trump and top members of his campaign. Facebook said Wednesday that it had accepted invitations from both committees.

Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort was interviewed, as was senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, who also is Trump's son-in-law.

The FBI has also reportedly used some materials from the dossier in its successful request for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to conduct surveillance on Trump personal friend and associate Carter Page.

During a Wednesday press conference, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen.

"The committee can not really decide the credibility of the dossier without understanding things like who paid for it, who are your sources and sub-sources", Burr said.

Facebook on Monday provided Congress with copies of the 3,000 Russian-linked election ads it identified, as well as data including where the ads were targeted. Some of the Russian-bought Facebook ads specifically targeted swing states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida, as well as other states whose Electoral College votes were not truly contested during the election, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.

Alongside several other congressional committees, it is also looking into any connections between Russian meddling and Mr Trump's campaign.

He said at least 25 more interviews are scheduled and more work is needed to determine whether the Trump campaign worked with Russian Federation to disrupt the election.

Also questioned were senior executives of social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter, which displayed numerous Russian-supported advertisements that were meant to exacerbate divisions among voters on hot-button issues before the election.

This story has been edited and will continue to update with additional developments.

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