Facebook hands over Russian ad details to Mueller

Former Trump aide liquidated children’s college fund to pay for Russia defense report

Mariotti said Mueller would have needed to do two things to secure the search warrant: prove there's good reason to believe a crime occurred and lay out evidence that the crime existed on Facebook.

In addition, the company also found $50,000 in ad purchases linked to Russian accounts.

The Facebook analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russian Federation.

Both CNN and the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook did not give the same information to congressional committees also investigating Russian interference, and that Facebook's policy states that it will only turn over the "stored contents" of an account in response to a search warrant. The information provided to Congress included copies of the ads and buyers' identities.

Those funds bought more than 5,000 ads on Facebook, the company said.

Mueller has his team are investigating possible Russian influence in the 2016 USA presidential election. Facebook said approximately one-quarter of the ads were geographically targeted and ran mostly in 2015 rather than 2016.

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"This is big news", said former Federal Bureau of Investigation counterintelligence agent Asha Rangappa, "and potentially bad news for the Russian election interference 'deniers'".

It might help uncover whether Moscow had any help from President Donald Trump's campaign team in running its so-called "disinformation" campaign to swing the election into Trump's favour. "That means that he has uncovered a great deal of evidence through other avenues".

Mariotti said that the Facebook warrant "means that Mueller has concluded that specific foreign individuals committed a crime by making a "contribution" in connection with an election". Instead, the ads focused on spurring divisive social and political views, from topics like LGBT, race, immigration and the Second Amendment.

The report said a Facebook spokesperson said the company was continuing to investigate and was cooperating with authorities, and that a spokesperson for Mueller declined to comment.

Warner wants a public hearing to force Facebook to account for what happened on its platform during the election, and has been frustrated at the company's disclosures to date. US intelligence officials say the Kremlin directed online propaganda and hacking efforts meant to help Donald Trump take the victory.

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