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How Trump and his surrogates used Russian propaganda to promote fake doubts about Hillary’s health



We now know the broad outlines: Russian trolls create false reports (or exaggerations of actual events) on the Internet that are favorable to Donald J. Trump and unfavorable to his enemies. Trump then cites them, in spoken remarks or on twitter; his surrogates do the same. These lies are believed by his credulous, low-information supporters, and repeated endlessly in right wing media. Then, Trump says supportive, admiring things about Vladimir Putin, who in turn instructs his trolls to post more lies that are favorable to Trump. It’s a nice little looping mechanism. We don’t know exactly what Trump’s level of involvement is, but we understand how this stuff works.

Here’s one example. You remember the reports from last year about Hillary Clinton’s health? During the first two weeks of September—when American voters were really starting to pay attention to the upcoming election—those reports received massive media coverage. I’ve created a timeline that connects a lot of the dots, and shows how extensive, murky and nefarious this Russia-Trump connection really is. Some of the websites I cite have been identified as covert Russian propaganda by the nonpartisan website, which describes itself as a resource for people who want to understand Russian influence operations targeted at US audiences.” Here’s their most current list of Russian propaganda media, in Russia, England and America.

The Timeline

Mid-December, 2012: Hillary Clinton faints, has concussion. Thus begins the Republican chatter that Hillary is too ill to serve in high office. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity immediately go on the attack.

Dec. 20, 2012: InfoWars, an alt.right conspiracy site on propornot’s propaganda list, reports Hillary “faked her concussion…to avoid testifying” about Benghazi. InfoWars is owned by Alex Jones, a conspiratorialist with ties to Steve Bannon; among other absurdities, Jones has claimed that the Sandy Hook massacre was “staged,” the U.S. Moon landing was fake, and the American government was behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

[Fast-forward four years, to early 2016. As Hillary’s lead in the polls increases, right wing rumors alleging her poor health pick up in intensity.]

Jan. 16, 2016, Breitbart News: “Something seriously wrong with her health.” Breitbart cites right wing radio talk show host, John Cardillo: Strong source just told me something I suspected. Hillary’s debate ‘bathroom break’ wasn’t that, but flare up of problems from brain injury.” The source is not identified. No evidence of the alleged “brain injury” has ever been offered.

Aug. 7, 2016: via twitter, a tweet from NiaRussianBot [@nia4_trump]. “Watch her [Hillary] short circuit again…medic-handler has to coach her back to reality.” [That’s “medic,” as in doctor.] Who is NiaRussianBot? Her twitter handle, @nia4_trump, leads to a pro-Marine Le Pin page with violently nationalistic content. Ann Coulter is a follower and  retweets Nia.

Aug. 8, 2016: Russia Today (RT), the Putin-controlled Russian outlet on propornot’s list, publishes that Hillary has “trouble with stairs [amidst] rumors of bad health.”

Aug. 8, 2016, anonymous post on Twitter from “a Donald Trump supporter” publishes doctored Hillary medical records (later deleted) suggesting serious problems.

Aug. 11, 2016. Hannity, on Fox, carries out a weeklong “healthcare investigation” of Hillary, alleging major health issues.

Aug. 13, 2016: As part of his exposé, Hannity calls Hillary’s behavior “seizuresque.”

Aug. 26, 2016, Karl Rove, on Fox, asserts Hillary lacks “mental and physical stamina.”

Aug. 27, 2016. InfoWars again: “Report: Google Censors ‘Hillary Clinton Health Problems’ Search Results”

Aug. 28. Enter Trump, on twitter: He demands “Crooked Hillary” release her medical records.

Sept. 9, Tea party Republican congressman Louis Gohmert calls Clinton “mentally impaired.”

Sept. 11, 2016, Trump again, on Fox & Friends, calls Hillary’s health “an issue…something is going on.”

Sept. 11, The Washington Times, a right wing newspaper owned by the Korean cult leader, Sun Myung Moon, reports on “cover-up” of Clinton’s health problems.

Sept. 12, World Net Daily, another propaganda outlet on propornot’s list, reports “Two doctors speculate Hillary has Parkinson’s Disease.”

Sept. 12, 2016: Hillary stumbles at a Ground Zero event, reveals she’s had pneumonia.

Sept. 12: Trump, on CNBC re: the pneumonia: “We have to see what’s wrong. She was coughing very, very badly…it’s quite sad, to be honest with you.”

Sept. 12, 2016: Julian Assange’s Wikileaks publishes twitter poll asking people which of the following things Clinton is suffering from: “allergies and personality”, “Parkinsons”, “MS” or “Head injury complications.” Wikileaks later deletes the tweet.

Sept. 12, 2016: Trump campaign co-chairman Daniel Tamburello wrote on his Facebook page that “Hillary has been rumored to have Parkinson’s for some time.”

Sept. 13, 2016: Hillary Clinton has Parkinson’s” from Russia Insider, which is on’s propaganda list. The Russian publication is edited by “Charles Bausman,” who claims to be “an American expat,” but who was described by Forbes Magazine as in reality “a Russian business executive…in the game of creating a faux news organization to advance Russia’s interests.”

Sept. 18, 2016: Sputniknews, a Putin-controlled Russian media outlet on propornot’s list, reports only “39% of [Americans polled] responded that Hillary’s health is good enough to serve” as President.

Sept. 20, 2016, Trump tweet. “Clinton is taking the day off again, she needs the rest. Sleep well Hillary – see you at the debate!”

Sept. 23, 2016, More on Hillary’s “abnormalities of the nervous system” from InfoWars.

Sept. 24, 2016: Liberty Writers, another online site on’s Russian propaganda list, reports “Hillary Clinton cannot get through a speaking engagement without having her health interfere.”

Nov. 4, 2016: Election Day. Donald J. Trump is elected President of the United States. Were the fake reports of a sick Hillary Clinton in part responsible? We’ll never know for sure, but it seems reasonable to assume that some people concluded she was too ill to vote for.

This research is merely what I was able to pull together in a few hours—a solo reporter in Oakland, utilizing only search engines. I hope that the FBI and the Senate Intelligence Committee, with all their power, will do a far more thorough job in exposing just how Donald J. Trump and his associates cooperated with Russia—and vice versa—to get Trump elected, in compliance with Putin’s wish.

  1. Bill Dyer says:

    Impressive for just a few hours of work. I hope the FBI sees it just in case they are not as up to speed. Come to think of it, I will post it on their Facebook page just to make sure they do!

  2. Bill Dyer, I would hope they already know this stuff! And far more.

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