Senate demands Twitter disclose WikiLeaks direct messages

Senate demands Twitter disclose WikiLeaks direct messages
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary committee has asked Twitter for documents that include the direct-messaging history of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, days after the probe into “Russian meddling” in the 2016 elections fractured along party lines.

“We made the decision to go and carry it out ourselves,” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) told Mother Jones Tuesday, referring to the committee's Democrats pursuing the Russia probe. She added that the Republicans “can go ahead and do whatever it is they wanted to do.”

Feinstein wrote to the Twitter CEO asking for documents related to "all ads and organic content posted by Russia-connected users and targeted to any part of the United States, regardless of whether the individual or entity violated any Twitter policy."

Feinstein also listed 14 other categories of information in her request to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in the letter dated October 27.

The ranking Democrat on the US Senate Judiciary Committee is seeking information “not routinely shared with Congress,” the letter read. Her disptach also assumes it to be a fact that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, rather than an allegation.

The letter demands all documents forwarded by Twitter to other congressional committees concerning “Russia-linked accounts, misinformation networks, or malicious ‘bots’” that spread “misinformation” during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

READ MORE: Twitter ‘forgot’ to tell US Senate it pushed RT to spend big bucks on election ads

Feinstein also wants Twitter to show how it identified the Russian-linked accounts for which it had previously produced ads or posts.

She is also calling for the release of all content from direct messages and data showing the sender, receiver, as well as date and time of each message for the following accounts: @wikileaks, @WLTaskForce, @GUCCIFER_2, @JulianAssange_, @JulianAssange, and @granmarga.

Feinstein is further seeking advertisements funded, or placed by RT, and anyone associated with the Internet Research Agency, or Teka as it was known at the time of the election.

The senator’s list includes documents sufficient to identify how and when Twitter became aware of, addressed, or responded to voter suppression tweets. Furthermore, the lawmaker wants IP addresses, the number of shares and the number of interactions per ad and tweet to be turned over.
A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear from Facebook, Google and Twitter executives Tuesday regarding alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Communications are also being sought in relation to the Tennessee Republican Party, which complained that the @TEN_GOP account deliberately portrayed itself as the official party. That account was subsequently taken down by Twitter.

The subcommittee on crime and terrorism will host a hearing on “ways to combat and reduce the amount of Russian propaganda and extremist content online,” and witnesses will include Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch, Twitter acting General Counsel Sean Edgett, and Richard Salgado, Google's director of law enforcement and information security, Reuters reported Friday.

Feinstein sent five letters in all Friday, including to White House counsel Donald McGahn; President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen; Facebook and privately-held data company Cambridge Analytica.

In Feinstein's letter to McGahn, the lawmaker specifically asked for documents regarding Trump's discussions with former FBI Director James Comey, along with the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner's foreign contacts, and records in relation to a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. The president's son, Donald Trump JR, attended the meeting in question with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

In a separate letter to Trump's personal lawyer, Feinstein asked Cohen to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, while requesting records related to his own contacts with Russians, along with documents regarding the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's Campaign Chairman John Podesta.

The California lawmaker also sought information from Facebook, relating to Russian connected ads that ran on the platform.

Feinstein's fifth letter was sent to Cambridge Analytica. In the correspondence, she requests any communications made with Russian officials, and documents related to efforts to acquire the hacked emails from Clinton, Podesta and the DNC.

Earlier this month, Twitter handed over to the Senate Judiciary Committee roughly 3,000 ads purchased by alleged Russian election influencers before election day. However, Facebook did not provide any organic content posted by the 470 accounts with alleged ties to Russia.