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Are Democrats Behind the Pro-Trump Bot Explosion?

The Hill

A recent Associated Press story asserts, “Over the past 11 months, someone created thousands of fake, automated Twitter accounts — perhaps hundreds of thousands of them — to offer a stream of praise for Donald Trump.” The story’s unanswered question is who’s behind the effort? Maybe pro-Trumpers. But the better guess is Democrats.

According to the AP, Israeli tech firm Cyabra discovered the “sprawling bot network” and shared its findings with the AP. The story provides a helpful discussion of how Cyabra identified the alleged fake bots posing as real Twitter users. 

Fake bots supporting or criticizing U.S. political candidates aren’t new. “Bots, as they are commonly called, are fake, automated accounts that became notoriously well-known after Russia employed them in an effort to meddle in the 2016 election,” the AP reporter, David Klepper, writes.

But in this case Cyabra says that while the identity of those behind the onslaught of pro-Trump bots is unknown, the company thinks they likely originated in the United States.

Since no one seems to know who’s behind the pro-Trump bot-o-rama, we can speculate.

It could be Trump or his supporters, especially since the bots are critical of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley. But I’m skeptical.

A bot attack of this magnitude would cost a lot of money and likely require many well-coordinated, tech-savvy people. That just doesn’t sound like Trump to me. He has money, but he has never been good at tech-savvy coordination.

It could also be foreign actors, such as Russia, China, North Korea or Iran. One or more of them would have the manpower, tech savvy, financial resources and motive to carry out the scheme.

But Cyabra says the attack likely originated from inside the United States. So, who within the United States, besides Trump, would have a strong interest in ensuring that Trump wins the GOP presidential nomination?

The answer is Democrats.

This would not be their first rodeo. Democratic organizations put a lot of money into supporting several Trump-aligned Republican primary candidates in 2022 in the hope of making several state midterm elections a referendum of Trump. That effort may have helped several of the most rightwing, pro-Trump candidates win their respective state primaries. Democrats perceived those candidates would be easier to beat in the general election, and it often worked.

According to, in 2022, “Political groups and nonprofits aligned with the Democratic Party have spent nearly $44 million on advertising campaigns across five states’ Republican primaries to boost the profile of far-right candidates in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Maryland.”

The scheme didn’t always succeed. “In California and Colorado, Democrats spent millions of dollars in several Republican primaries in order to try and elevate more radical right-wing candidates. In these instances, though, Democratic efforts did not succeed,” Open Secrets reports.

But it worked well enough to help Democrats retain control of the U.S. Senate in a midterm election that looked like Republicans might take control.

What’s more, Democrats successfully tapped into “dark money,” $1.5 billion in the 2020 election, according to a 2022 New York Times analysis of 15 politically active groups aligned with the Democratic Party. “The findings reveal the growth and ascendancy of a shadow political infrastructure that is reshaping American politics, as megadonors to these nonprofits take advantage of loose disclosure laws to make multimillion-dollar outlays in total secrecy,” write Times reporters Kenneth P. Vogel and Shane Goldmacher.

Democrats relied on dark money again in the 2022 election to support pro-Trump candidates.

Of course, once the Republican primary winner emerged, Democrats then attacked the candidate, whether that Republican was pro-Trump or not.

Given their newfound embrace of dark money, could Democrats be using those funds to promote Trump for 2024 the way they used that money to promote pro-Trump candidates in 2022? 

We know that 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign funded the now-infamous Steele dossier, which accused Trump of all manner of Russian collusion. Her campaign was eventually fined by the Federal Elections Commission for that scam.

And we know that Democrats have embraced dark money to fund pro-Trump primary candidates who Democrats thought would be easier to defeat in a general election.

And many Democrats, including President Biden, think that if Trump is the Republican presidential nominee, Biden will have a cakewalk back to the White House for four more years.

So, there is reason to believe that Democrats or their surrogates are behind the pro-Trump fake bot explosion.