Courtesy of WaPo:
In a moment that stunned the hearing room, Watts (Clinton Watts, a senior fellow at the George Washington Center for Cyber and Homeland Security) flatly stated that the president himself has become a cog in such Russian measures. When asked by Oklahoma Republican James Lankford, who appeared visibly dismayed, why, if Russians have long used these methods, they finally worked in this election cycle, Watts’ answer was extraordinary.
“I think this answer is very simple and is one no one is really saying in this room,” he said. Part of the reason, he went on, “is the commander in chief has used Russian active measures at times against his opponents.”
To buttress the claim that Trump (unwittingly or not) aided Russian disinformation efforts, Watts cited several instances. Among them: Trump’s citation of an apparently false Sputnik story at an October 2016 campaign appearance; his ongoing denial before and after the campaign of U.S. intelligence of Russian interference in the election; his claims of voter fraud and election rigging, which Watts said was pushed by RT and Sputnik; and Trump’s questioning of the citizenship of former President Barack Obama and even his primary rival Ted Cruz.
Watts added that one of the reasons such tactics are working is that Trump and/or his surrogates have repeated some of the claims, further spreading them through social media accounts that are owned both by real people and bots. Thus, the disinformation is kept alive and gradually becomes more real and plausible. “Part of the reason active measures work is because they parrot the same lines,” Watts said.
Yesterday was a day when an enormous amount of excrement met the fan blades, but this statement to me was perhaps the most important thing that we heard.
Trump took what was being fed to him by Russian operatives and used it to attack and discredit his opponents in the primary, and Hillary Clinton in the general.
In short he was not simply helped by internet trolls who support him and attacked others, he himself was one of those internet trolls brought to life.