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Republican lawmaker claims Russian agents worked behind scenes to incite white nationalist rally

A group of protesters known as 'Antifa', or anti-fascists, march near the site of a makeshift memorial where Heather Heyer was killed last year August 11, 2018 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville has been declared in a state of emergency by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam for the one year anniversary of the deadly clash between white nationalists and counter protesters. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A Republican congressman from Virginia said Russian agents worked behind the scenes to stoke violent racial divisions last year at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

What did he say?

During a CNN interview on Saturday, Rep. Tom Garrett Jr. (R-Va.), said FBI officials told him in a briefing about two months ago that Russia was involved in the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville.

Garrett, a member of the House Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees, also said: “The Russian intermeddling is seeking to pit Americans against Americans, to undermine confidence in Western-style democracies."

He also said, “They use events like this divisive racial fight, which really ignores the commonality that we as Americans have with one another regardless of our race or ethnicity or religion. And this is the sort of thing they do.”

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the rally and events are planned in Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville. Hundreds of people are expected to turn out.

Last year’s rally turned deadly when a man plowed his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protesters, and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Additionally, two state troopers were killed when their police surveillance helicopter crashed.

“As a member of Homeland Security, seriously, that’s what scares me most,” Garrett told CNN. "That Americans will be pitted against Americans over real differences but that are minimal in the grand scheme of things.”

Is this classified?

American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election. But this is the first time it was revealed that Russia was involved last year in the white nationalist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville.

Garrett said the FBI indicated the information is not considered classified.

One last thing…
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