November 8, 2019

Both impeachment witnesses who had their deposition transcripts released Friday mentioned Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney as being involved in coordinating an alleged quid pro quo with Ukraine.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, in his testimony told Congress that at a meeting with Ukrainian officials, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland mentioned Ukraine conducting investigations President Trump wanted was "required in order to get a meeting" between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump, and that "I heard him say that this had been coordinated with White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney."

In the impeachment inquiry, House investigators are probing whether Trump improperly withheld aid to Ukraine in order to secure investigations involving former Vice President Joe Biden and his son and the 2016 election, and whether a White House meeting between Trump and Zelensky that Ukraine wanted was conditioned on the opening of these investigations. When asked precisely what investigations Sondland said were needed, Vindman testified, "he was talking about the 2016 elections and an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma," the gas company where Biden's son served on the board.

Sondland in his testimony said he did not recall discussing a White House visit for Zelensky with Mulvaney, The Washington Post reports.

Fiona Hill, President Trump's former top Russia and Europe adviser, also mentioned Mulvaney in her testimony, saying Sondland said "in front of the Ukrainians" that "he had an agreement with Chief of Staff Mulvaney for a meeting with Ukrainians if they were going to go forward with investigations."

Mulvaney during a press conference last month initially admitted to tying aid to Ukraine to the opening of an investigation related to the 2016 election Trump wanted, saying, "we do that all the time." He later backtracked and claimed, "there was never any condition on the flow of aid related to the matter of the DNC server." Brendan Morrow

August 19, 2019

Twitter on Monday announced it has suspended nearly 1,000 accounts after discovering a "state-backed" campaign to "sow political discord" in Hong Kong, with Facebook finding similar behavior on its platform as well.

Twitter said that 936 accounts originating in the People's Republic of China were "deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground." The platform goes on to say that it has "reliable evidence" that this was part of a "coordinated state-backed" operation.

"Covert, manipulative behaviors have no place on our service," Twitter says in its announcement. An example tweet associated with this alleged state-back campaign calls the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong "violent" and "radical." About 200,000 accounts were "proactively" suspended before being "substantially active," Twitter also said.

At the same time, Facebook on Monday also said that it was removing multiple pages, groups, and accounts that were engaging in "coordinated inauthentic behavior" and posting about the Hong Kong protests, and like Twitter, it said that that "our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government." Facebook discovered these fake accounts "based on a tip shared by Twitter," according to the announcement.

BuzzFeed News had previously reported on Monday that Chinese state-run media outlets have been buying ads on both platforms painting the protesters as the "public enemy." Twitter is now updating its policies and will no longer accept advertising from state-controlled news media. Brendan Morrow

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