The latest Twitter Files release shows how prominent Democrats had pushed a false Russiagate-related narrative about “Russian bots” promoting a key House Intelligence Committee memo that detailed efforts to spy on the Trump campaign.
The 14th installment of the Twitter Files was released on Jan. 12 by journalist Matt Taibbi, who explained in a series of posts that, at a key moment in the Trump-Russia investigation, Democrats alleged that “Russian bots” were spreading an explosive report from then-Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).
“At a crucial moment in a years-long furor,” Taibbi explained in one of the posts, “Democrats denounced a report about flaws in the Trump-Russia investigation, saying it was boosted by Russian ‘bots’ and ‘trolls.’”
“Twitter officials were aghast, finding no evidence of Russian influence,” Taibbi continued.
In support of this take, Taibbi shared screenshots of correspondence from Twitter executives to several Congressional Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), confirming that Twitter had “not identified any significant activity connected to Russia with respect to Tweets posting original content to this [#ReleaseTheMemo] hashtag.”
The #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag had spread like wildfire on Twitter, topping its trending list starting on Jan. 18, 2018 and reflecting the widespread call to publicly release a then-classified memo submitted by Nunes, who at the time was the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Widely referred to as the Nunes memo (pdf), it was later declassified under then-President Donald Trump’s order on Feb. 2, 2018.
The memo showed how the FBI under the Obama administration used unverified opposition research—the infamous “Steele Dossier” funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee—to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page as part of an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The claims made in the Nunes memo were confirmed by Justice Department Inspector-General Michael Horowitz in his report, released on Dec. 9, 2019.