- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2017

Both President Trump and a Kremlin spokesman on Friday separately denied that Russian government operatives purchased political ads on Facebook meant to sway the 2016 White House.

“The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook,” Mr. Trumptweeted Friday morning. “What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary,” he added, using his nickname for former White House hopeful Hillary Clinton.

“We do not know … how to place an advert on Facebook,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told separately told reporters Friday. “We have never done this, and the Russian side has never been involved in it,” Mr. Peskov said in a conference call, Reuters reported.

Facebook announced earlier this month that an internal investigation found that Russian operatives likely spent $100,000 on politically-charged ads shown to social-media users during the 2016 U.S. presidential race, supporting the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Moscow meddled in Mr. Trump’s election last November. Details involving the ads are being given to congressional investigators examining Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 race, and Facebook has adopted new rules meant to make political ads as transparent as possible, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday.

Mr. Trump has publicly contested the intelligence community’s findings about Moscow’s involvement in last year’s race, and CNN reported Friday that he’s used the phrase “Russia hoax” at least once a month since March.

The White House did not immediately return an email Friday seeking clarification on Mr. Trump’s tweet.

The president’s comment “doesn’t merely deny collusion with Russia, as one might expect,” conservative commentator and frequent Trump critic Bill Kristol tweeted Friday. “He seems to deny the fact of Russian interference.”

Mr. Putin authorized state-sponsored hackers and propagandists to interfere in last year’s election in order to hurt Mrs. Clinton’s presidential ambitions, according to the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Moscow’s alleged involvement as well as any collusion on the part of Mr. Trump’s transition team and administration are currently the subject of separate investigations underway in the House, Senate and Justice Department. The Kremlin and White House have both denied interfering in last year’s race.

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