Hollywood stars launch Russia probe campaign

WASHINGTON • "We have been attacked. We are at war," says actor Morgan Freeman. "This is no movie script."

In a video that shot across social media on Tuesday, the Hollywood star lent his solemn voice to kick off a new effort to highlight Moscow's interference in last year's United States election.

The group called the Committee to Investigate Russia is led by Rob Reiner, actor and director of movies such as When Harry Met Sally... (1989), and former US national intelligence chief James Clapper, who has spent much of the last eight months scolding US President Donald Trump for not admitting Russia interfered in the election last year.

With a website, a Facebook page and a Twitter account that has already pumped out more than 40 Russia-focused tweets to 8,500 followers, the group promises a "non-partisan, non-profit" effort to help Americans understand "Russia's continuing attacks on our democracy".

"We need our President to speak directly to us and tell us the truth" about Russia's election meddling, Freeman says in the video.

The move comes as multiple investigations into possible links between Russia and Mr Trump's staff, family and election campaign officials plod on, amid worries that public concern is fading.

Mr Clapper was one of four top security and intelligence officials who put their names behind a Jan 6 report that said Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind a complex effort of hacking and misinformation to influence the election in Mr Trump's favour.

While Mr Trump continues to downplay the issue, special prosecutor Robert Mueller is interviewing possible witnesses and suspects in an investigation focused on possible collaboration with Moscow and the President's obstruction of the probe.

Meanwhile, three Congressional committees are conducting their own probes.

The website for the Committee to Investigate Russia offered extensive background on Russia's meddling, the most recent news, the role of people around Mr Trump and a primer on the Cold War and "Red Scare".

"I don't know that the public understands the gravity of what the Russians were able to do and continue to do... They are trying to undermine our democracy," Reiner told CNN.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2017, with the headline 'Hollywood stars launch Russia probe campaign'. Print Edition | Subscribe