Tim Mak

Tim Mak covers national security and politics for NPR.

His reporting topics include investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as the potential for future interference by foreign actors; challenges to America's democratic institutions; as well as the conservative movement and Republicans in the context of the 2018 elections.

Before joining NPR, Mak worked as a senior correspondent at The Daily Beast, covering the 2016 presidential elections with an emphasis on foreign affairs. He has also worked on the Politico Defense team, the Politico breaking news desk, and at the Washington Examiner. He covered the rise of the Tea Party movement in 2009 and 2010 for FrumForum. He has reported abroad from the Horn of Africa and East Asia.

Mak graduated with a B.A. from McGill University, where he was a valedictorian. He also holds a national certification as an Emergency Medical Technician.

Most of the Twitter accounts that spread disinformation during the 2016 presidential campaign remain active now, according to an ambitious new study released on Thursday.

Knight Foundation researchers examined millions of tweets and concluded that more than 80 percent of the accounts associated with the 2016 disinformation campaign are still posting — even after Twitter announced back in July that it had instituted a purge of fake accounts.

Russia's influence campaign on Twitter pushed pro-gun and pro-National Rifle Association messages during the 2016 election and beyond — a rare example of consistency in a scheme that mostly sought to play up extremes on the left and right.

On every issue, from race to health care, women's rights to police brutality, gay marriage to global warming, accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency sought to amplify controversy by playing up conflict.

Russian social media agitators who pushed pro-gun messages in the United States sometimes copied the language of the National Rifle Association. And sometimes, the NRA copied them.

What isn't clear is whether there was any relationship between the social media users or whether the duplication was done without the other's awareness, part of the broader tide of advocacy about gun rights.

What is clear is that, at times, the Russians followed so closely behind the American gun rights group that it duplicated its content word for word.

Maria Butina, the Russian woman accused of working as an unregistered foreign agent, encouraged pro-gun demonstrations in the U.S. as early as 2014, according to messages provided to NPR.

Butina's work has been linked to Russia's attack on the 2016 election, but people who know her say she began trying to make her mark inside America years before.

NPR examined thousands of people who make up Butina's Facebook network, and reached out to a sample of more than two hundred individuals.

Updated at 5:55 p.m. ET

House Speaker Paul Ryan called on the author of the widely read New York Times op-ed critical of President Trump to resign, arguing that the individual was "living in dishonesty."

The essay, posted Wednesday afternoon and attributed to a senior administration official, suggested that there is a group of high-level Trump administration officials working to stymie the president behind the scenes.

The 2016 campaign was a nightmare for Democrats.

So Democratic National Committee Chief Technology Officer Raffi Krikorian was brought in to the DNC in 2017 to make sure embarrassing breaches — and the subsequent leak of internal communications — weren't repeated.

But with fewer than 70 days to go until the midterm elections, there's still a lot of room for improvement, he acknowledged, both inside and outside the organization.

Senate intelligence committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., summed up how lawmakers and Trump administration officials have failed to acknowledge the dangerous problem of foreign influence operations in America on Wednesday, with a description of an Internet meme.

Updated at 2:20 p.m. ET

Facebook announced Tuesday afternoon that it has removed 32 Facebook and Instagram accounts or pages involved in a political influence campaign with links to the Russian government.

The company says the campaign included efforts to organize counterprotests on Aug. 10 to 12 for the white nationalist Unite The Right 2 rally planned in Washington that weekend.

Updated at 6:34 p.m. ET

Republican attacks on federal law enforcement have helped the Russian effort to spark chaos within the United States, an embattled top FBI counterintelligence agent told Congress on Thursday.

"Russian interference in our elections constitutes a grave attack on our democracy," Peter Strzok told lawmakers in his prepared opening statement.

Russia's information attack against the United States during the 2016 election cycle sought to take advantage of the greater trust that Americans tend to place in local news.

The information operatives who worked out of the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg did not stop at posing as American social media users or spreading false information from purported news sources, according to new details.

They also created a number of Twitter accounts that posed as sources for Americans' hometown headlines.

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David Koch, one half of the billionaire duo that built one of the nation's largest privately owned companies and one of its most controversial political networks, has announced his retirement from politics and business.

In a letter to Koch Industries employees written by his brother Charles Koch, the men announced that David was stepping down due to health concerns.

Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen is facing legal peril, including an FBI raid of his home and office — and involvement in a civil lawsuit with adult film star Stormy Daniels.

But in the past, it was Cohen who sought to put legal pressure on others to solve problems for his boss.

For the first time, audio recordings of Cohen's legal threats, from a 2015 Daily Beast interview, are being published.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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