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Russian President Vladimir Putin walking while holding a mushroom during a short vacation in August 2018. Photo: Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

In the United States, Russia's social media disinformation campaigns are often seen as an election-tampering issue. There's a good chance we'll spend 2019 talking about propaganda as something we have to prepare for before the 2020 election.

But, but, but: The propaganda isn't going anywhere in 2019. It's simply not tied to elections. Russia uses these campaigns to create discord over divisive issues. There's nothing that says that kind of chaos can't happen outside of an election.

  • So while a report to the U.S. Senate from the University of Oxford and the intelligence company Graphika made headlines this week as a past-tense review of the 2016 election, one of its key findings got overlooked.
  • The study reaffirmed that Russian propaganda peaked after the election, specifically in April 2017.

What they're saying: "The Kremlin won’t stop their efforts to sow chaos and confusion," said Camille Francois, research and analysis director for Graphika. "Our recent investigation for the U.S. Senate shows how tempting it is for the Russians: It’s proven cheap, effective and creates havoc as platforms and governments attempt to get ahead of the threat."

You can confirm Graphika's work in other ways. The Justice Department's indictment of Elena Khusyaynova, the chief accountant of the Russian misinformation campaign, shows that spending increased after the election.

Go deeper: The Russian social media disease spread beyond Facebook and Google

Go deeper

47 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.