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USC Price Hosts Intelligence Analyst to Discuss Mueller Report

Published by Anne Johnson on

By Matthew Kredell

Intelligence analyst and commentator Malcolm Nance joined USC Price Professor Erroll Southers on April 30 for an Unredacted conversation about the Mueller Report findings.

Watch the live webcast here.

The USC Bedrosian Center on Governance and USC Safe Communities Institute hosted the event to examine key findings in the report and its implications for the nation’s democracy and future.

Photos by Deirdre Flanagan, more on Flickr

USC Price Dean Jack H. Knott called it a responsibility of the School to sponsor open debate and discussion about the issues facing our country.

“When we look at the culmination of the Mueller report, it comes at a time when politicians are treating opponents really as enemies and existential threats,” Knott said. “There’s intimidation and denigration of the free press, as well as raising doubts about the validity of our electoral system. That’s the kind of political context in which we operate. That’s why I feel our School and its history are so important, and why I’m pleased with this this event today, because it’s right on that topic.”

Speaking publicly about the Mueller Report findings, Nance, an analyst with NBC/MSNBC, stated that his opinion was that the investigation pulled a lot of punches.

“I was expecting Eliot Ness,” Nance said of the American prohibition agent famous for his efforts to bring down Al Capone and his gang. “How many of you were expecting Eliot Ness to come busting through the door and start arresting people? This report, for some people, was supposed to be the end-all, be-all.”

In his book The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election, which was released six weeks before the election, Nance detailed how a foreign counter-intelligence operation in the United States attempted to essentially break our democracy.

“I was one of the first people to say this investigation started because we had suspicions that American citizens were working with a foreign intelligence agency and may have been trying to affect the fundamental system of our democracy – elections,” Nance said.

Photos by Deirdre Flanagan, more on Flickr

Last year, he followed that book up with The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West. Nance disclosed that he is currently working on a third book in the “Plot” series.

Nance noted that the Mueller Report identifies the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company engaged in online influence, as starting full-scale operations in 2014, two years prior to the election.

“Russia had a strategic plan and this report spells out in horrific detail how they move from strategic framing to use the Internet Research Agency to do what we call meta-narrative framing,” Nance said. “That’s where you build an information bubble around your opponents.”

Nance pointed out that the report indicates that the Internet Research Agency had 470 Facebook accounts that put out over 80,000 posts that reached 126 million Americans, as well as 3,800 Twitter accounts that put out 1.4 million tweets intending to impact the U.S. election.

Southers asked why the Russians didn’t attempt to hack the voting system. Nance explained that different counties use such a variety of voting machines that it can’t be done.

However, he warned for the next election that all the vote tabulations going from precincts to counties to states eventually arrive on one computer, where there is a danger of vote totals being hacked.

Photos by Deirdre Flanagan, more on Flickr

Nance scoffed at the report’s rejection of the word “collusion” in favor of “coordination,” then defining the latter word as requiring “more than two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other’s actions or interests.”

“I am not going to try to convince you that there was no collusion in this report because collusion is a term the President has chosen,” Nance said. “But what is a fact in here and what most of this report will tell you in great detail is that there was a massive, multiyear Russian intelligence operation to break the American system of democracy and choose a President of the United States.”

Southers, director of the USC Safe Communities Institute and Homegrown Violent Extremism Studies, stressed that, even though the Mueller Report is complete, the investigation into the hacking of the elections and any connection to American citizens will continue.

“The importance of having Malcolm here is you’ve got a person who has tracked and cataloged and written about this issue since it started,” Southers said. “We had a packed house, and I’m really encouraged by the diversity of people that came out in terms of age, gender, nationality, ethnicity and religion. I don’t think it’s a partisan issue. The American public wants to know what exactly is happening to our government and, more importantly, what this means for 2020.”

Bedrosian Center