SLAYER frontman Tom Araya has shared a supposed Russian intelligence assessment declassified by the Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe that alleges Hillary Clinton devised a plan to tie President Donald Trump to Russian hacking during the 2016 election. The assessment was previously rejected by Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee as having no factual basis.
Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist and former House member, wrote Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham that Clinton, then a Democratic candidate for president, personally approved an effort "to stir up a scandal against U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump by tying him to Putin and the Russians' hacking of the Democratic National Committee." But in his letter to Graham, Ratcliffe noted that the U.S. intelligence community "does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication."
Earlier today, Araya shared a copy of Ratcliffe's letter and included the following caption: "This is interesting has anyone heard about this?!"
A source told Politico the Senate Intelligence Committee — which issued five reports on on election interference — was aware of the allegation but "quickly dismissed it" and did not include it in its work.
A spokeswoman for Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.), Rachel Cohen, blasted the move and called it "Russian disinformation."
"This is Russian disinformation. Laundered by the Director Of National Intelligence and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee," she wrote.
This is not the first time Araya has used his social media to share disinformation targeted at Democrats. Earlier this month, he posted a manipulated video of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden sleeping during a live television interview. The original video, which was of an interview with veteran singer and actor Harry Belafonte almost nine years ago, during which he appeared to doze off, was doctored to show Biden sitting in Belafonte's place.
Araya has a history of generatinf controversy for his political social media posts. Two years ago, he angered some of his fans by sharing an ages-old chain letter that compared liberals' actions unfavorably to those of conservatives on a number of issues. Prior to that, the 59-year-old musician, who was born in Chile, made headlines in 2017 when he said that the United States Of America had become "a nation of crybabies" following the election of Donald Trump as president, with many of its citizens unable to "even laugh at themselves" because they were "mad" that "they didn't get their way."
A few months earlier, Araya drew criticism from some SLAYER fans in January 2017 when a photoshopped picture of Donald Trump and the members of SLAYER appeared on the band's Instagram account. Araya posted the image and later criticized fans who objected to the photo, saying that he "thought it was funny" and that anyone who disagrees should keep quiet.
The same image first appeared on the official SLAYER Instagram account on inauguration day, but was mysteriously removed before being reposted a few days later.
A SLAYER band representative told Rolling Stone that Tom took it upon himself to post the photo and stressed that the image was "not something the band would have posted if asked," insisting that such a picture "does not belong on a SLAYER social page." The representative added: "We all have our personal opinions, some of which we have voiced in the past, but SLAYER has never endorsed any political party or any candidate, and the band intends to keep it that way."
Araya later told Chilean radio station Futuro that he posted the picture after someone sent it to his wife. "She showed it to me," he explained. "I laughed. I thought it was funny. And I thought it was funny because of all the rhetoric that Donald Trump is getting and how everybody hates him. And I decided to post the picture. I knew that some people wouldn't like it. You have to do that, though, you know what I mean? I'm in SLAYER [laughs], and being in SLAYER, sometimes you do stuff like that just to piss people off. [Laughs]"
Even though Araya expected to get some flak for posting the Trump photo, the ferocity of the reaction from SLAYER fans surprised him. "I didn't realize it was gonna be the way it was, which is blown out of proportion and people saying really mean things," he said. "I'm amazed. I was just amazed at the response, as far as people thinking it's funny and they thought it was great and they support Trump, and other people that didn't like it, they thought it was ugly and they can't believe that I support Trump. [Laughs] I don't even support Trump. I didn't vote for Trump and I didn't vote for Hillary [Clinton]. Those are two people that are the furthest from… that I would ever vote for. I was taken aback by the response and how people reacted. But it was all in fun. It was all to make people laugh, 'cause I thought it was funny. And also to piss some people off. I just didn't realize that I was gonna piss so many SLAYER fans off. [Laughs]"
Back in 2016, SLAYER drummer Paul Bostaph called Donald Trump "the biggest joke I've ever seen in my life," and referred to some of Trump's rhetoric as "the scariest shit I've ever seen as an American — in my lifetime." Similarly, SLAYER guitarist Kerry King said that Trump was "the biggest liar I've ever seen in politics," clarifying, "I mean, most of them are liars, but he just outright in-your-face lies." King's words were echoed by fellow SLAYER guitarist Gary Holt who described Trump as a "serial liar" who refused to disavow former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.
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