FISA Memo: Everything You Need to Know: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy statement and video

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy statement on the declassification of a memo prepared by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence majority:

“It is Congress’s constitutional duty and responsibility to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch.  The American people deserve to know the facts and have a transparent and open government—even when it comes to the delicate balance between security and privacy. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) provides our government with the ability to utilize surveillance resources to protect American citizens. Because of the sensitivity of this process, it is imperative the American people have the utmost faith that applications to obtain warrants against American citizens are based on ironclad facts that provide strong evidence of a threat to the country. In this case, the Intelligence Committee’s FISA memo makes clear that the full disclosure of facts to the court did not occur. Most notably, it was omitted that the author of an unverified political document disclosed to the court was an ardent and paid-political opponent of President Trump. Protecting against this type of politicization of the intelligence process is a primary reason why the Intelligence Committee in the House of Representatives was created. As the committee prepares for the release of the minority memo, we must recommit that despite political differences, our single greatest responsibility is to protect the American people. Our law enforcement agencies do that dutifully every day and this oversight work ensures they will be able to continue to do that every day moving forward.”  

Video Transcript

REP. TREY GOWDY: You have a right to know what happened with this FISA process and whether reforms are warranted.

REP. DEVIN NUNES: The American citizens that are represented before this court, have to be protected. And the only place that can protect them is the U.S. Congress.

NEWS CLIP 1: It has been the talk of Washington for weeks and today Republicans released a memo

NEWS CLIP 2: The memo reveals partisan bias at the Justice Department.

NEWS CLIP 3: Grassley and Graham confirmed the information and went further. Revealing that information was passed from British spy Christopher Steele through an intermediary close to the Clinton’s, and then to the State Department.

REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE: The Republican memo fairly raises questions about why certain facts were never disclosed to the FISA court.

NUNES: Political dirt was used by the FBI, and they knew it was political dirt to open a counter-intelligence investigation into the other campaign.

GOWDY: This dossier was paid for by the Democrat National Committee and Hillary Clinton.  They hired a political opposition research firm, who hired Christopher Steele, who wrote it. See how easy and straightforward that is? It tells you the source with clarity and specificity. Now contrast that with the way it was presented to the court. For reasons the Democrats never can explain, the FISA application went to great lengths to avoid identifying a material point about the financial source behind the dossier.

NEWS CLIP 4: Neither the initial FISA application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts.

GOWDY: The Democrats claim Chris Steele was a reliable source.  But he wound up being dismissed as a source by the FBI for two different reasons. And in addition to that, Steele’s reliability isn’t really the seminal issue.  He didn’t know of the facts firsthand. He repeated what sources in Russia were telling him. So for that matter, a parrot could have been the source. If all you are going to do is repeat back what nameless, faceless people in another country are telling you, your experience and expertise aren’t nearly as important as the reliability of the people you are listening to.

RATCLIFFE: The DOJ and FBI had four opportunities to disclose these facts in the original FISA application in each of three subsequent renewal applications over a nearly year-long period—but never did. Now the Democrats on the intelligence committee, who opposed the release of our Republican memo, have since prepared their own “counter” memo.

GOWDY: Every single Republican on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release the Democrat memo. Every, single one. On the other hand, not a single, solitary Democrat voted to release the Republican memo. Not, a single one.

The lead Democrat most responsible for the drafting of the Democrat memo is Rep. Adam Schiff. Rep. Schiff didn’t have much interest in finding out how much of the dossier was used, whether it was vetted before it was used, whether it was vetted for that matter after it was used, or who paid for it. Keep in mind they went to court to keep you from finding out who paid for the dossier.

RATCLIFFE: The American people will learn that the Democrats memo attacks Republicans for questioning the integrity of DOJ lawyers like Bruce Ohr and FBI agents like Peter Strozk, who have either been demoted or removed. The Democrats memo also defends the integrity of Christopher Steele as a reliable and credible source even though the FBI and Department of Justice terminated him.

NEWS CLIP 5: In September of 2016, Christopher Steele admitted to Justice Department official Bruce Ohr his feelings against then candidate Trump. Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being President.”  

GOWDY: After all, we have FISA only because you consented to have it. With that consent comes the obligation of those entrusted with power to exercise that power judiciously and to answer legitimate questions when you have them. And asking questions of those in positions of power used to be something everyone could agree on.

House Intelligence Committee Minority Response to Release of “Misleading Memo”

Washington, February 2, 2018 

Washington, DC – Today, the Minority of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence responded to the release of HPSCI Chairman Nunes’ memo:

“Chairman Nunes’ decision, supported by House Speaker Ryan and Republican Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to publicly release misleading allegations against the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation is a shameful effort to discredit these institutions, undermine the Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation, and undercut congressional probes. Furthermore, their refusal to allow release of a comprehensive response memorandum prepared by Committee Democrats is a transparent effort to suppress the full truth.

“As the DOJ emphasized to Chairman Nunes, the decision to employ an obscure and never before used House rule to release classified information without DOJ and FBI vetting was ‘extraordinarily reckless.’ The selective release and politicization of classified information sets a terrible precedent and will do long-term damage to the Intelligence Community and our law enforcement agencies. If potential intelligence sources know that their identities might be compromised when political winds arise, those sources of vital information will simply dry up, at great cost to our national security.

“The Republican document mischaracterizes highly sensitive classified information that few Members of Congress have seen, and which Chairman Nunes himself chose not to review. It fails to provide vital context and information contained in DOJ’s FISA application and renewals, and ignores why and how the FBI initiated, and the Special Counsel has continued, its counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s election interference and links to the Trump campaign. The sole purpose of the Republican document is to circle the wagons around the White House and insulate the President. Tellingly, when asked whether the Republican staff who wrote the memo had coordinated its drafting with the White House, the Chairman refused to answer.

“The premise of the Nunes memo is that the FBI and DOJ corruptly sought a FISA warrant on a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, and deliberately misled the court as part of a systematic abuse of the FISA process. As the Minority memo makes clear, none of this is true. The FBI had good reason to be concerned about Carter Page and would have been derelict in its responsibility to protect the country had it not sought a FISA warrant.

“In order to understand the context in which the FBI sought a FISA warrant for Carter Page, it is necessary to understand how the investigation began, what other information the FBI had about Russia’s efforts to interfere with our election, and what the FBI knew about Carter Page prior to making application to the court – including Carter Page’s previous interactions with Russian intelligence operatives. This is set out in the Democratic response which the GOP so far refuses to make public.

“The authors of the GOP memo would like the country to believe that the investigation began with Christopher Steele and the dossier, and if they can just discredit Mr. Steele, they can make the whole investigation go away regardless of the Russians’ interference in our election or the role of the Trump campaign in that interference. This ignores the inconvenient fact that the investigation did not begin with, or arise from Christopher Steele or the dossier, and that the investigation would persist on the basis of wholly independent evidence had Christopher Steele never entered the picture.

“The DOJ appropriately provided the court with a comprehensive explanation of Russia’s election interference, including evidence that Russian agents courted another Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos. As we know from Papadopoulos’ guilty plea, Russian agents disclosed to Papadopoulos their possession of stolen Clinton emails and interest in a relationship with the campaign. In claiming that there is ‘no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos,’ the Majority deliberately misstates the reason why DOJ specifically explained Russia’s role in courting Papadopoulos and the context in which to evaluate Russian approaches to Page.

“The Majority suggests that the FBI failed to alert the court as to Mr. Steele’s potential political motivations or the political motivations of those who hired him, but this is not accurate. The GOP memo also claims that a Yahoo News article was used to corroborate Steele, but this is not at all why the article was referenced. These are but a few of the serious mischaracterizations of the FISA application. There are many more set out in the Democratic response, which we will again be seeking a vote to release publicly on Monday, February 5th. Unlike Committee Republicans, however, we will ask the relevant agencies to propose any necessary redactions to protect any sources and methods not already disclosed by Chairman Nunes’ document.

“It is telling that Chairman Nunes put out this memo without bothering to read the underlying materials, and that he ordered changes to the document without informing his own committee members. It is a terrible lapse in leadership that Speaker Ryan failed to intervene and prevent the abuse of classified materials in this way. It is tragic, if all too predictable, that this President would allow the release of the memo despite FBI and DOJ’s expressions of ‘grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the [Republicans’] memo’s accuracy’. But most destructive of all may be the announcement by Chairman Nunes that he has placed the FBI and DOJ under investigation, impugning and impairing the work of the dedicated professionals trying to keep our country safe.”

The memo and letter from the White House can be found here.

Judicial Watch Sues for Russia Collusion FISA Documents

(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department for FBI documents regarding the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrant application submitted to – and responses from – the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court related to alleged collusion between Russia and Trump campaign associates (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00245)).

Judicial Watch filed suit in the United States District Court of the District of Columbia after the agency rejected a July 19, 2017, FOIA request seeking:

Copies of all proposed and all final signed FISA applications submitted to the FISC relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election, allegations of collusion between people associated with the Trump campaign and Russia, and any known Trump associates regardless of context;

Copies of all FISC responses to the above-mentioned applications in which the Court notified the FBI or Justice Department that it would not grant the proposed applications or recommended changes. If any such FISC responses were provided orally, rather than in writing, please provide copies of FBI or Justice Department records memorializing or otherwise referencing the relevant FISC responses;

Copies of all FISC orders relating to the above mentioned applications, whether denying the applications and certifications, denying the orders, modifying the orders, granting the orders, or other types of orders.

“Today’s House Russia FISA memo makes a compelling case that the FISA court was misled and severely abused by top officials in the Justice Department and FBI,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The American people should be able to see for themselves the details of how the Obama administration officials (and Rod Rosenstein of the Trump administration) justified spying on the Trump team. From what we know publicly, this may be the worst government abuse scandal in a generation – which makes it urgent the Justice Department stop stonewalling the release of the alleged Trump-Russia collusion FISA documents.”

Feinstein, Schiff Request Twitter & Facebook Conduct Investigation of Russian Bot Activity in #ReleaseTheMemo Campaign

UPDATE: Read below for a second letter dated Jan 31 2018
———————————-
 Jan 23 2018

Washington – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee sent a letter today to Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In the letter, Feinstein and Schiff request that Twitter and Facebook immediately conduct an in-depth forensic examination of the reported actions by Russian bots and trolls surrounding the #ReleaseTheMemo online campaign and how users were exposed to this campaign as a result of Russian efforts. According to the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, this effort gained the instant attention and assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations.

In the letter, Feinstein and Schiff write: “If these reports are accurate, we are witnessing an ongoing attack by the Russian government through Kremlin-linked social media actors directly acting to intervene and influence our democratic process. This should be disconcerting to all Americans, but especially your companies as, once again, it appears the vast majority of their efforts are concentrated on your platforms. This latest example of Russian interference is in keeping with Moscow’s concerted, covert, and continuing campaign to manipulate American public opinion and erode trust in our law enforcement and intelligence institutions.”

The full letter is below:

Dear Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Zuckerberg:

We seek your companies’ urgent assistance. Public reports indicate that accounts linked to the Russian government are again exploiting Twitter and Facebook platforms in an effort to manipulate public opinion. These recent Russian efforts are intended to influence congressional action and undermine Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, which has already resulted in the indictments of two Trump campaign officials and guilty pleas from two others, who are both now cooperating with prosecutors.  It is critically important that the Special Counsel’s investigation be allowed to proceed without interference from inside or outside the United States. That is why we seek your assistance in our efforts to counter Russia’s continuing efforts to manipulate public opinion and undermine American democracy and the rule of law.

Specifically, on Thursday, January 18, 2018, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Majority voted to allow Members of the U.S. House of Representatives to review a misleading talking points “memo” authored by Republican staff that selectively references and distorts highly classified information.  The rushed decision to make this document available to the full House of Representatives was followed quickly by calls from some quarters to release the document to the public.

Several Twitter hashtags, including #ReleaseTheMemo, calling for release of these talking points attacking the Mueller investigation were born in the hours after the Committee vote. According to the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, this effort gained the immediate attention and assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations. By Friday, January 19, 2018, the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag was “the top trending hashtag among Twitter accounts believed to be operated by Kremlin-linked groups.” Its use had “increased by 286,700 percent” and was being used “100 times more than any other hashtag” by accounts linked to Russian influence campaigns. These accounts are also promoting an offer by WikiLeaks to pay up to $1 million to anyone who leaks this classified partisan memo.

If these reports are accurate, we are witnessing an ongoing attack by the Russian government through Kremlin-linked social media actors directly acting to intervene and influence our democratic process. This should be disconcerting to all Americans, but especially your companies as, once again, it appears the vast majority of their efforts are concentrated on your platforms. This latest example of Russian interference is in keeping with Moscow’s concerted, covert, and continuing campaign to manipulate American public opinion and erode trust in our law enforcement and intelligence institutions.

We understand Facebook and Twitter have developed significant expertise in identifying inauthentic and malicious accounts.  Further, your forensic investigations into Russian government exploitation of your platforms during the 2016 U.S. election have helped expose to the American public the vast extent of Russia’s covert influence efforts. We therefore request that your companies conduct an in-depth forensic examination of this real-time activity on your platforms to determine:

  • Whether and how many accounts linked to Russian influence operations are involved in this campaign;
  • The frequency and volume of their postings on this topic; and
  • How many legitimate Twitter and Facebook account holders have been exposed to this campaign.

Given the urgency of this matter, we ask that you provide a public report to Congress and the American public by January 26, 2018.  In addition, we urge your companies to immediately take necessary steps to expose and deactivate accounts involved in this influence operation that violate your respective user policies.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate

Adam Schiff
United States House of Representatives

###

UPDATE: Feinstein, Schiff Send Follow Up Letter to Twitter and Facebook on #ReleaseTheMemo Campaign

Washington — Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, today sent a follow up letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg after the companies provided an incomplete response to their initial questions about the online #ReleaseTheMemo campaign. Late last week, Facebook and Twitter responded to Feinstein and Schiff’s initial letter — those responses can be found here and here).

In the initial letter, Feinstein and Schiff requested that Twitter and Facebook immediately conduct an in-depth forensic examination of the reported actions by Russian bots and trolls surrounding the #ReleaseTheMemo online campaign and how users were exposed to this campaign as a result of Russian efforts.  According to the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, this effort gained the instant attention and assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations. In this follow up letter, Feinstein and Schiff asked additional questions of Facebook and Twitter, and provided additional information to follow up on for the requested analysis.

Feinstein and Schiff write in this follow up letter: “Although we are encouraged by your companies’ continued willingness to work with Congress to raise awareness about potential abuse of your platforms by agents of foreign influence, your replies have raised more questions than they have answered.

“It is unclear from your responses whether you believe any of the Russian-linked accounts involved in this influence campaign violated your respective user policies,” the leaders wrote. “We reiterate our request that you immediately take necessary steps to expose and deactivate such accounts if you determine that they violate your respective user policies.  We ask that you notify users who may have seen these foreign influence postings, and provide us with a description of proactive steps your companies are taking to identify, prevent, and thwart such foreign influence campaigns on your platforms in the future.”

Full letter is below – to see a PDF version click here:

January 31, 2018

Jack Dorsey
Chief Executive Officer
Twitter, Inc.
1355 Market Street
Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94103

Mark Zuckerberg
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Facebook Inc.
1 Hacker Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Dear Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Zuckerberg:

We appreciate your companies’ respective responses on January 26, 2018 to our joint letter dated January 22, 2018 seeking assistance to understand the role and extent of Russian-affiliated social media accounts involved in promoting the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag. Although we are encouraged by your companies’ continued willingness to work with Congress to raise awareness about potential abuse of your platforms by agents of foreign influence, your replies have raised more questions than they have answered.

It is unclear from your responses whether you believe any of the Russian-linked accounts involved in this influence campaign violated your respective user policies.  We reiterate our request that you immediately take necessary steps to expose and deactivate such accounts if you determine that they violate your respective user policies.  We ask that you notify users who may have seen these foreign influence postings, and provide us with a description of proactive steps your companies are taking to identify, prevent, and thwart such foreign influence campaigns on your platforms in the future.

The response from Facebook fails to indicate whether the company has conducted any analysis of the issue we raised concerning possible Russian-affiliated attempts to amplify calls to release a misleading, classified memo written by Republican staff on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (an online effort we will refer to broadly as the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign). And as more fully described below, Twitter inexplicably confined its response to “original content” and neglected to answer the question of whether Russian sources were actively engaged in promoting the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag, as illuminated by the Hamilton 68 dashboard of the German Marshall Fund.

As that dashboard made clear in the findings we asked you to investigate: “Content is not necessarily produced or created by Russian government operatives, although that is sometimes the case. Instead, the network often opportunistically amplifies content created by third parties not directly linked to Russia.” By failing to address whether Russian-tied online accounts on Twitter or Facebook were – or still are – amplifying the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign and related messaging, we are no closer to understanding Russia’s continuing interference in our democratic affairs.

On January 19, 2018, Twitter transmitted to Congress an update to its retrospective review of Russian activity on its platform and identified an additional 1,062 accounts connected to Russia that attempted to influence an American election that took place well over a year ago. We cannot wait another year to learn how Kremlin-linked trolls and bots are currently exploiting your platforms to influence debates going on in Congress today.

It is our belief that the core questions raised in our first letter remain largely unaddressed:

  • whether and how many accounts linked to Russian influence operations were involved in the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign;
  • the frequency and volume of their postings on this topic; and
  • how many legitimate Twitter and Facebook account holders have been exposed to this campaign.

We remain gravely concerned about any foreign attempts to undermine or discredit the ongoing inquiries by Congressional committees and Special Counsel Mueller into Russian active measures during the 2016 U.S elections. To that end, we are submitting a series of new questions stemming from our original request about any pro-Russian or Kremlin-linked efforts to promote the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign – whether through original content generation orthrough content amplification via automated, false, or “troll” accounts.

Although some of these questions and requests may appear more relevant to one platform or the other, we ask that your companies nonetheless provide responses with any information, data, or context that is relevant to our underlying concern: that Moscow has persevered undeterred in its attempts to manipulate or exploit social media conversations on politically divisive topics. As the 2018 election season begins in earnest, we cannot allow Russia or any other outside power to manipulate U.S. public opinion or degrade Americans’ trust in the authenticity of domestic political and policy debates.

We therefore ask that you provide responses to the following:

  1. To the extent possible, please explain the analysis undertaken to assess the role that Kremlin-affiliated or -directed Twitter or Facebook accounts played in the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign online.  Please provide relevant specific data for posts on your platform that referenced the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign and related messaging, including the volume of posts of original content versus reposts, and a geographical breakdown of original posts versus reposts.
  2. Were these analyses limited only to those users previously identified as affiliated with the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) troll farm? Did your companies look at other Russian-linked online operatives or propagandists, including trolls, automated accounts, and “botnets?”
  3. What types of “geographic data,” did your companies rely on, if any, to analyze potential Russian involvement in the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign? For instance, in its responses to Questions for the Record dated January 15, 2018 to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Twitter wrote that “there are technological limits to what we can determine based on the information we can detect regarding a user’s origin.” In this instance, did your companies’ analyses take into account IP addresses, users’ self-identified locations, or other data points? Did a focus on a limited set of geographic indicators for identifying Russian-affiliated users involved in the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign circumscribe the universe of social media accounts you examined? For instance, were accounts with European indicators included in your analyses?
  4. Did your companies’ analyses focus solely on those accounts responsible for producing “original content” tied to the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign? Or did those analyses fully account for any efforts by online Russian-linked operatives or propagandists to re-share, retweet, or otherwise amplify the hashtag and related content – even if those social media accounts did not create the “original content?”
  5. Did your companies identify any #ReleaseTheMemo-related content or discussion linked to Russian-affiliated accounts “jumping” or otherwise moving across your platforms? For instance, we know during the 2016 election that similar IRA-generated socially divisive content and messaging appeared on both of your platforms. Was any comparable analysis conducted in this case?
  6. A recent media report suggested that more than 1,000 new Twitter accounts that were created between Thursday, January 18 and Sunday, January 21 combined to tweet or retweet the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag almost 5,000 times. That report also found “about 200 of the accounts had only sent four or fewer tweets by Sunday night, with at least one featuring the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag.” Did any of these accounts suggest linkages to Russian influence operatives engaging in manufactured amplification of the hashtag?
  7. Another recent media report spotlighted how individuals and entities can purchase fraudulent or fake social media users to artificially raise their profiles online. To what extent have your companies analyzed if and how agents connected to the Russian government’s influence operations have employed this technique to boost Moscow’s disinformation campaigns online? And are you able to verify whether such inauthentic social media accounts bought in bulk were used by Russian-linked influence networks online to promote the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign?
  8. As noted in our previous letter, Kremlin-linked social media accounts amplified WikiLeaks’ offer of $1 million for the misleading, Republican-authored memo. Did your companies specifically analyze the accounts retweeting or sharing WikiLeaks’ request for someone to leak the memo for potential links to Russian social media operatives or online agents?

Given the continued urgency that Congress and the public at large fully understand these matters, we ask that you provide a response to our original questions, as informed by our follow-up requests for additional information, by February 7, 2018.

Sincerely,

Bot Checking: It’s Not Easy, But Here’s Some Advice From Twitter Users

The “Release the Memo” hashtag has been suppressed by Twitter because Twitter suspects the topic is being artificially amplified by Russian-linked propaganda bots.

One of the sources used as a bot checker is “Hamilton 68,” a website maintained by The Alliance for Securing Democracy, which claims to have created an algorithm based on 600 accounts–which it will not identify—that seem to manipulate data and promote propaganda and disinformation.

http://dashboard.securingdemocracy.org/about

Media Bias Fact Check gives the Alliance for Securing Democracy and very good rating, but Julian Assange tweeted today that Hamilton 68 is biased and is itself a source of propaganda.

Based on Hamilton 68’s secretive methodology as explained on their website, it does seem as though it’s sort of a “trust us, we know what we’re doing” approach to its data analysis.

Twitter also began sending out emails warning users they may have been affected by disinformation:

The problem is that it is difficult to recognize a disinformation bot. Here are some tips from the Twitter account The Botline:

Twitter users seem enthusiastic about Botcheckme, but there are reports by some that they have checked their own accounts and the service has said they are themselves a bot, when they are in fact humans. Others say they will check on one day and they’re not classified as a bot–then the next day they are.

https://botcheck.me/

Botometer also gives likelihood of bot-like characteristics and allows you to check your followers.

https://botometer.iuni.iu.edu/

A few users recommended makeadverbsgreatagain, but I personally did not find it helpful.

https://makeadverbsgreatagain.us/mlp/

So… I think the best advice is the one given by Botline—learn to recognize the signs and then employ these other services realizing they are imperfect.

This does not solve the issue of what is really trending however–Twitter is able to dismiss a trending hashtag at will–with an awful lot of conservative and centrist voices right now feeling a bias against their ability to speak freely under Twitter’s current rules. Which brings us back to “Release the Memo”–my opinion–when Wikileaks offers a one million dollar reward, yeah, the trending hashtag is legit.

“Release the Memo” Firsthand Reports; Wikileaks Offers $1million Reward

“Release the Memo” Firsthand Reports; Wikileaks Offers $1million Reward