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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Russia and Secession

 In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign

Robin Abcarian at LAT:

Texas Republicans, who just lost their bid to have the Supreme Court overturn the legitimate results of our recent presidential election, talk constantly about secession. They call it #Texit.

In 2018, Teo Armus reported at The Texas Tribune:

A sprawling Russian disinformation campaign aimed at influencing the 2016 elections found success with social media accounts promoting the idea of Texas secession, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Senate that was released Monday.

When it came to stirring up social divisions and exerting political influence, two accounts about the Lone Star State proved especially effective: a “Heart of Texas” Facebook page and a @rebeltexas account on Instagram.

Both accounts were created and managed by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company that’s been characterized by the U.S. government as a “troll farm” and was indicted by a federal grand jury.

Heart of Texas, which amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook, promoted an image of the state as a land of barbecue and guns while sharing posts that attacked immigration.

An example of the Russians' work:

In 2015, Casey Michel reported at Politico:

Nathan Smith, who styles himself the “foreign minister” for the Texas Nationalist Movement, appeared last Spring at a far-right confab in St. Petersburg, Russia. Despite roaming around in his cowboy hat, Smith managed to keep a low-key presence at the conference, which was dominated by fascists and neo-Nazis railing against Western decadence. But at least one Russian newspaper, Vzglyad, caught up with the American, noted that TNM is “hardly a marginal group,”and quoted Smith liberally on the excellent prospects for a partial breakup of the United States. Smith declared that the Texas National Movement has 250,000 supporters—including all the Texans currently serving in the U.S. Army—and they all “identify themselves first and foremost as Texans” but are being forced to remain Americans. The United States, he added, “is not a democracy, but a dictatorship.” The Kremlin’s famed troll farms took the interview and ran with it, with dozens of bots instantly tweeting about a “Free Texas.”