A Facebook comment argued that mail-in ballots “will lead to fraud for this election,” while an Instagram comment amplified the erroneous claim that 28 million ballots went missing in the past four elections.
The messages have been emanating in recent months from the accounts of young people in Arizona seemingly expressing their own views — standing up for President Trump in a battleground state and echoing talking points from his reelection campaign.
Far from representing a genuine social media groundswell, however, the posts are the product of a sprawling yet secretive campaign that experts say evades the guardrails put in place by social media companies to limit online disinformation of the sort used by Russia during the 2016 campaign.
The health department’s top spokesperson Michael Caputo called an emergency staff meeting on Tuesday to apologize for drawing negative attention to the Trump administration’s health care strategy and signaled that he might be soon departing his role, according to five people with knowledge of the meeting.
The departure of Caputo, who has closely controlled the health agencies’ dissemination of information about coronavirus, would be a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to promote a possible vaccine, if one is approved in the fall.
What he’s saying: “I would have rather taken him out. I had him all set. Mattis didn’t want to do it,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends.” His comments confirm a detail reported in journalist Bob Woodward’s 2018 book “Fear.”
“No, I don’t regret that. I could have lived either way with that. I considered him, certainly not a good person. But I had a shot to take him out if I wanted and Mattis was against it. Mattis was against most of that stuff. He’d keep you in military but he didn’t know how to win.”
Reality check: Trump’s comments Tuesday contradicted his own statement to reporters in 2018, when Trump said an operation to kill Assad “was never even contemplated.”
Context: Trump wanted the assassination after it was believed the Syrian government used chemical weapons in an attack in Douma, Syria, according to Woodward’s reporting.
The administration instead eventually conducted targeted airstrikes on Syria’s chemical weapons sites.
Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, confirmed that the planes are Russian MiG-29s, and also said the soldier on the far right in the ad carries an AK-74 assault rifle.
The Trump Make America Great Again Committee is run by both the Republican National Committee and the campaign. Most of the low-dollar and digital donations raised by the committee goes to the campaign.
The image in the ad is a stock photo available on Shutterstock.com with the title “Military silhouettes of soldiers and airforce against the backdrop of sunset sky.” The creator of the image, named “BPTU,” says they are based in Andorra, but did not respond to a Facebook message.
Louis DeJoy’s prolific campaign fundraising, which helped position him as a top Republican power broker in North Carolina and ultimately as head of the U.S. Postal Service, was bolstered for more than a decade by a practice that left many employees feeling pressured to make political contributions to GOP candidates — money DeJoy later reimbursed through bonuses, former employees say.
Five people who worked for DeJoy’s former business, New Breed Logistics, say they were urged by DeJoy’s aides or by the chief executive himself to write checks and attend fundraisers at his 15,000-square-foot gated mansion beside a Greensboro, N.C., country club. There, events for Republicans running for the White House and Congress routinely fetched $100,000 or more apiece.
Two other employees familiar with New Breed’s financial and payroll systems said DeJoy would instruct that bonus payments to staffers be boosted to help defray the cost of their contributions, an arrangement that would be unlawful.