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DAPL protesters in New York. Photo: Kena Betancur / AFP / Getty Images

A congressional staff report from the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology indicates that the Russian-backed propaganda group, the Internet Research Agency that was charged in the Mueller probe, worked on social media platforms to influence energy policy in the U.S., according to the WSJ.

What happened: IRA staffers posted photos and messages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram 9,000 times between 2015 and 2017 to encourage protests of pipeline construction in the U.S., abandoning fossil fuels use, and worked to elevate climate change disputes and controversies. It is not clear that the campaign had any influence on U.S. energy policy and many of the posts were shared by “a handful of followers,” per the WSJ.

  • Facebook and Twitter said they took down the IRA accounts last year because they violated their policies.
  • The report is based on data supplied by Facebook and Twitter, the WSJ reports.

Russia context: Chairman of the House Science Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith, told the WSJ: “To the extent that America produces more energy of any kind, it guarantees Russia more competition…Russia wants to reduce competition from the United States.”

  • "Russia has responded to the growth of American oil production with an unprecedented deal to cut its oil production in coordination with other big exporters, an effort to cap supply and stabilize plunging prices," the WSJ's Georgia Wells Timothy Puko write.
  • The Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. declined comment to the WSJ but sent previous comments from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denying claims of Russia using social media to sow discord in the U.S.

Go deeper: Mueller indicts 13 Russians and 3 Russian entities, including the IRA

Go deeper

13 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.