More and more, Republicans look to foreign operatives to push the party's domestic messaging.
Poll after poll shows Americans blame Republicans for shutting down the federal government. But if the GOP is looking for any consolation, they at least appear to have Russian bots on their side.
Russian-influenced Twitter accounts have gone all in trying to help Republicans and the White House promote the #SchumerShutdown hashtag in a desperate attempt to shift the blame for the shutdown to Democrats.
"#SchumerShutdown ? the hashtag that GOP leaders and the White House are using to accuse Democrats of causing the shutdown ? on Sunday night became the top trending hashtag being promoted by Russian bots and trolls on Twitter, according to the Alliance for Securing Democracy," HuffPost reports.
It's all part of a larger, disturbing trend in which Republicans now regularly rely on operatives in foreign countries to drive the GOP's domestic messaging via social media.
Indeed, the second most popular Russian bot hashtag is part of another GOP messaging campaign. That one is aimed at vilifying the FBI while special counsel Robert Mueller probes Donald Trump's Russian ties during the 2016 campaign, and whether Trump obstructed justice in 2017 trying to cover up the potential collusion.
The Russian trolling surrounding the shutdown was confirmed by a second source.
"In the last 48 hours, Russia-linked Twitter accounts tweeted #schumershutdown more than any other hashtag, according to Hamilton 68, a project run by the German Marshall Fund think tank that tracks tweets "tied to Russia-linked influence networks," according to Quartz.
Just last week, Twitter confirmed that 677,775 people during the 2016 campaign were exposed to social media posts from more than 50,000 automated accounts that have links to the Russian government.
Of those people, at least one was a United States senator: Texas Republican John Cornyn.
Finally social media is waking up to manipulation of public opinion by our adversaries. All of us need to step up to meet this challenge, especially the Press. pic.twitter.com/BuRRvUVcRP
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) January 20, 2018
As for the White House, it needs all the messaging help it can get for the shutdown.
Despite its attempt to attack Schumer on Twitter, and despite the White House's aggressive support from Russian bots, it was the #TrumpShutdown hashtag that reigned as the No. 1 hashtag worldwide over the weekend, as that message careened around the globe.
The GOP controls all three branches of the federal government, and yet they continue to insist it is the Democrats who are to blame for the shutdown debacle.
As Fox News Shep Smith has stressed, "Never in the history at least modern history of the country has there been a government shutdown when a single party is in charge of Washington."