- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Russian bots and internet trolls are stoking the U.S. debate over family separation, a Republican senator said Wednesday, dropping a bombshell into the middle of the immigration debate.

“Trolls and bots are still active on Twitter trying to deceive us. They’re even using the current family separation & immigration debate to sow discord among Americans,” Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, said on Twitter.

He added: “It is important for social media companies to expose it so everyone knows what is fake.”

He linked to a Wall Street Journal report that detailed ongoing Russian efforts to troll hot-button issues in U.S. politics such as comic Roseanne Barr.

Mr. Lankford’s office declined to share the tweets that spurred his new warning.

A congressional source said the intelligence community and Facebook and Twitter are aware of the controversial posts in question.

SEE ALSO: Kirstjen Nielsen, Homeland Security secretary, drafts plan to end family separation

Twitter declined to comment on Mr. Lankford’s tweet but said in a statement that it “takes proactive measures to promote healthy conversations and to combat abuse and manipulation on our platform.”

Mr. Lankford is a particularly powerful messenger, as both a member of the Senate intelligence committee and also one of the first Republicans to publicly oppose separation of families at the border.

The separations are part of the fallout of President Trump’s new zero tolerance policy for illegal border crossers. He’s using a law that’s been on the books for decades that deems jumping the border a crime, and is pursuing prosecutions. But since federal jails can’t hold families together, parents who jump the border with their children have to be separated, as the children are sent to Health Department dorms for care.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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