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The Journal Gazette

Friday, September 08, 2017 1:00 am

No collusion, Trump Jr. tells panel

Associated Press

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Russian accounts bought Facebook ads

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of fake Facebook accounts, probably run from Russia, spent about $100,000 on ads aimed at stirring up divisive issues such as gun control and race relations during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the social network has disclosed.

The 470 accounts appeared to come from a notorious “troll farm,” a St. Petersburg-based organization known for promoting pro-Russian government positions via fake accounts, according to two people familiar with the investigation. While the ads didn't specifically reference the election, a candidate or voting, they nevertheless allowed “divisive messages” to be amplified via the social media platform, the company's chief security officer, Alex Stamos, said in a statement Wednesday.

Facebook has turned over its findings to federal authorities investigating Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's eldest son cast his meeting with a Russian lawyer last year as simply an opportunity to learn about Hillary Clinton's “fitness, character or qualifications,” insisting Thursday to Senate investigators behind closed doors that he did not collude with Russia to hurt her campaign against his father.

Donald Trump Jr.'s description of the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York, delivered in a statement at the outset of a Senate panel's staff interview, provided his most detailed account yet of an encounter that has drawn close scrutiny from Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller.

He tried to dismiss concerns about one comment he made in emails leading up to the meeting. He said he was just being polite when he emailed “I love it” to Rob Goldstone, the publicist who was setting up the meeting with a Russian who was said to have election-season dirt on Clinton.

Trump Jr. said it was “simply a colloquial way of saying that I appreciated Rob's gesture.”

Thursday's interview at the Capitol was the first known instance of Trump Jr. giving his version of the meeting in a setting that could expose him to legal jeopardy. It's a crime to lie to Congress.

Multiple congressional committees and Mueller's team of prosecutors are investigating whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the outcome of the election. A grand jury used by Mueller as part of his investigation has already heard testimony about the meeting, which besides Trump Jr., included the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

Trump Jr. spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee for about five hours.