- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Pentagon conducted a campaign that resulted in Russian trolls being unable to use the internet while Americans voted in the 2018 midterm elections, a report said Tuesday.

The Internet Research Agency, or IRA, the so-called “troll farm” accused of meddling in the 2016 elections, was on the receiving end of a U.S. military effort that briefly disrupted operations at the group’s St. Petersburg headquarters, The Washington Post reported.

Conducted by U.S. Cyber Command using intelligence collected by the National Security Agency, the effort culminated in the IRA being effectively blocked from using the internet during and immediately after the November midterms, the report said.

“They basically took the IRA offline,” an individual familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity. “They shut ‘em down.”

Representatives for both CyberCom and NSA declined to comment, the report said.

Russian internet trolls meddled in the 2016 election by using social networking platforms including Facebook and Twitter to spread misinformation and sow discord, the U.S. intelligence community previously concluded.

The efforts are being investigated by the Department of Justice as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into the alleged election meddling, and federal prosecutors have previously filed criminal charges against several Russians in connection with the troll farm’s activities.

Concord Management and Consulting, the IRA‘s parent company, declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation in the U.S., the report said.

CyberCom hackers targeted the IRA to keep the trolls from spreading disinformation as Americans cast ballots in the midterms and while the results of those votes were calculated, The Post reported.

“The fact that the 2018 election process moved forward without successful Russian intervention was not a coincidence,” said Sen. Mike Rounds, South Dakota Republican. Without CyberCom’s efforts, he told the newspaper, there “would have been some very serious cyber incursions.”

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