Political News

Who is @TEN_GOP from the Russia indictment? Here's what we found reading 2,000 of its tweets

The posts read like a "Who's Who" of right-wing and libertarian media icons: links to Alex Jones. Pamela Geller. Breitbart.

Posted Updated

Aaron Kessler (CNN)
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The posts read like a "Who's Who" of right-wing and libertarian media icons: links to Alex Jones. Pamela Geller. Breitbart.

The mysterious Twitter accounts named in Robert Mueller's indictment Friday were long-suspected of being sock puppets of a Russian influence operation. Now, a federal grand jury has agreed.

So just what did @TN_GOP tweet about? And what's the story with another named in the indictment, @March_for_Trump?

Both accounts have been suspended by Twitter, but more than 2,000 archived tweets from the accounts obtained by CNN show they helped spread numerous stories aimed at helping Trump or attacking Hillary -- sometimes at the same time.

In one particularly meta instance, "March for Trump" retweeted a post by Donald Trump himself -- which in turn linked to a Breitbart article about Bill Clinton rape allegations.

It was one of at least three times the account retweeted Trump directly last year, according the posts reviewed. Another involved Trump touting his post-debate poll numbers, while a third -- on Election Day itself -- featured a video of Trump urging his supporters to get out the vote.

On Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for allegedly running a wide-ranging influence operation spearheaded by a group known as the Internet Research Agency. It allegedly included the two fake accounts and social media pages and groups designed to attract American audiences, the indictment states.

"The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Friday.

The "Tennessee GOP" account was prolific in sharing pro-Trump content, including postings that linked to the Alex Jones site InfoWars and another run by Pamela Geller.

"Ohio HONOR KILLING: Muslim Father Shoots Daughter in the Head!!! BAN ISLAM!" the account tweeted in July, linking to this post on Geller's site. Another tweet directed readers to an InfoWars article saying that Hillary Clinton facilitated an arms sale to ISIS.

Brietbart content was particularly popular, with the account posting at least five tweets that included links to Brietbart, and at least another two retweets of Brietbart's posts directly.

"BREAKING! MI6 Spy Found Dead in Bag in Bath Had Hacked Clinton Data" read one.

The account even shared at least one article written by Russia's own state-controlled news agency, Russia Today, known as RT. In July @TEN_GOP touted a supposedly salacious scoop by RT: "Leaked: Sanders wanted to get plane in exchange for backing Clinton!" it posted.

Though "Tennessee GOP" was not immune from sharing, er, inaccurate fake news: one tweet breathlessly said "Trump campaign denies report Mike Pence picked as VP!"

Among the other Twitter handles most frequently mentioned or replied to by @TEN_GOP, many of them are allegedly fake Russian accounts of their own - run by the same operation.

The account @tpartynews was mentioned at least 19 separate times, the CNN analysis found. That handle, as CNN previously reported, is a fake account tied to the very same Internet Research Agency that attracted more than 20,000 followers.

Among them was former Trump administration official Sebastian Gorka.

Copyright 2023 by Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.