Senator says Russian Internet trolls pushing NFL anthem discord

This is a turn you didn’t expect the NFL national anthem demonstration story to take (and we’ve seen it take a few odd turns, haven’t we?).

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), in a hearing with the leaders of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center, said Russian trolls were taking to social media and playing up both sides of the raging debate in an effort for further divide Americans.

“We watched even this weekend, the Russians and their troll farms, and their Internet folks, start hash-tagging out ‘take a knee’ and also hash-tagging out ‘Boycott NFL,’” Lankford said, according to the Washington Post.

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According to the Post, Lankford said the Russian trolls wanted to “raise the noise level” and “push divisiveness” in the United States. He warned this will happen again during elections. Lankford said he has been getting information on “Russian troll farms and bots” for more than a year, and the trolls latch onto divisive issues in America and push them. According to the Post he cited a Twitter account from “Boston Antifa” that originated in Russia and used the hashtag “#TakeTheKnee.” That account has been suspended.

We all could figure out that the issue has caused a lot of conflict on its own, especially after President Donald Trump called out the NFL and its players last week. It seems like the Russians are enjoying the dissension from afar.

A Cleveland Browns fans holds a sign following the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Colts and Browns. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!