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Agents of Chaos

Agents of Chaos

Photo Credit:  HBO
  • Premiered: 
    September 23, 2020
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: HBO
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Political
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Plot Synopsis

Directed and produced by Alex Gibney, AGENTS OF CHAOS is a two-part documentary that explores Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. With never-before-seen footage inside the Russian troll farms, and videos unearthed from the Russian deep web, the film digs deep into the sophisticated plans to undermine democracy, raising the alarm for the American public, but also proving that these "agents of chaos" weren't Russians alone; they were also key players in the United States who, through venality, corruption or circumstance, furthered Putin's goals, with a vulnerable and unsuspecting American public as their target. Featuring subjects who have never before gone on-the-record, as well as those who have now agreed to speak at length, AGENTS OF CHAOS includes interviews with lead prosecutor for the Mueller Investigation Andrew Weissmann; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; former CIA Director John Brennan; Trump campaign advisor Carter Page; Trump business associate Felix Sater; Margarita Simonyan, Editor-In-Chief of Russian State News Agency; NSC Senior Director Celeste Wallander, who believes the anti-Clinton hacking operation -- led by the GRU, Russia's Military Intelligence -- was approved by Putin himself; and cyber conflict researcher Camille Francois, who explains how the IRA, Russia's online influence agency, intended to weaken democratic institutions in the U.S. and create chaos by exploiting existing divisions, using Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Instagram. By puncturing conspiracy theories from all sides of the political spectrum, the film offers a much more nuanced interpretation of what happened in 2016. There wasn't one conspiracy to interfere illegally in the election -- there were many -- and the confusion and secrecy surrounding all of the many actors and events has made it difficult to discern the truth.

AGENTS OF CHAOS features the following ground-breaking accounts, many of which have been confirmed by the recent bipartisan report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on August 18, 2020:

- An in-depth cinematic account of Paul Manafort's secret communications with Russia during the campaign from the man who brought him down -- Robert Mueller's lead prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann. Manafort's actions were, in the words of the recent Senate report, "a grave counterintelligence threat [that] created opportunities for the Russian intelligence to exert influence over...the Trump Campaign."

- Revealing insight into how the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane investigation into Trump campaign officials really started -- not as a partisan scheme to attack Trump, but rather as a reaction to reports that the Trump campaign knew about Russian hacking of the Democrats at a time when only the FBI was aware that the hacks had occurred. As former acting director of the FBI Andrew McCabe recounts, the irony of the "witch hunt" narrative is that "there's no organization in DC that had more of an impact on helping Donald Trump get elected than the FBI."

- The revelation that the FBI investigation did not start with the Russian military hack of the Democratic organizations in March 2016, but that the FBI had been watching the attackers hack people around the globe since December 2014.

- An illuminating account of the inability of the Obama administration to blunt the attack, despite the best efforts of many national security officials to respond to what was happening.

- An in-depth portrait of the troll factory and its owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a.k.a. "Putin's Chef." The trolls were not just kids playing pranks on Facebook, but rather a professionally staged campaign to pit Americans against each other using tools the trolls had developed while helping to start a war in Ukraine.

- A dramatic and detailed account of the creation of the Steele dossier, the memos claiming a well-developed conspiracy between Trump and Russia, featuring interviews with the man who commissioned the dossier, the FBI leader who oversaw an investigation that relied on it, and the alleged spy on the Trump campaign staff that it targeted. Rather than a Democratic plot against Trump, we find out that the investigation that led to the dossier started with Republican funders and was overseen by an ex-journalist, Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, who had spent years investigating the Clintons for the Wall Street Journal.

- The behind-the-scenes story of the negotiations during the 2016 election campaign to build Trump Tower in Moscow as told by Felix Sater, the man Trump entrusted with getting the deal done in Russia.

AGENTS OF CHAOS debuts from 9-11pm ET/PT on HBO on consecutive nights: Wednesday, September 23 and Thursday, September 24, 2020.

The four-hour documentary features interviews with:

- Yochai Benkler: Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School and co-director of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Author, "Network Propaganda"

- Vitaly Bespalov: Journalist & former IRA employee

- John Brennan: CIA Director, 2012-2016

- Michael Daniel: Cybersecurity coordinator, National Security Council, 2012-2017

- Camille Francois (pictured above): Cyber conflict and digital rights researcher. Analyst on Senate trolls report. Former Google social media researcher. Currently Chief Innovation Officer, Graphika, Inc.

- Peter Fritsch: Co-Founder, Fusion GPS

- David Hickton: Former U.S. Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice

- Michael Isikoff: American investigative journalist, co-author of the book "Russian Roulette"

- Neil Jenkins: Election Security Coordinator, Department of Homeland Security, 2016

- Ike Kaveladze: Agalarov Business Associate

- Denis Korotkov: Journalist, "Novaya Gazeta"

- Oleg Matveichev: Political Consultant, Blogger

- Andrew McCabe: Former Deputy Director of the FBI, 2016-2018

- Victoria Nuland: Asst. Secretary of State for Eurasian Affairs, 2013-2017

- Carter Page: Trump Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor

- John Podesta: Clinton Campaign Chair

- Harry Reid: Former U.S. Senator

- Felix Sater: Real estate developer who worked on the Trump Tower Moscow deal, and former managing director of Bayrock Group LLC

- Margarita Simonyan: Editor-in-Chief, RT

- Glenn Simpson: Co-Founder, Fusion GPS

- Timothy Snyder: Professor of Eastern European and Russian history at Yale. Author, "The Road to Unfreedom"

- Andrei Soshnikov: Reporter, BBC Russia

- Jake Sullivan: Sr. Policy Advisor, Clinton Campaign

- Celsted Wallander: Sr. Director Russia/Eurasia, US National Security Council 2012-2017

- Andrew Weissmann: Senior Prosecutor, Robert Mueller's special counsel team

- Andrey Zakharov: Reporter, BBC Russia

Archival interviews with and appearances by: Jenna Abrams, Troll Persona; Aras Agalarov, Russian businessman, who co-produced Miss Universe 2013 with Trump; Emin Agalarov, singer and son of Aras Agalarov, who coordinated with Trump to host Miss Universe 2013 in Moscow; Julian Assange, Founder of Wikileaks; William Barr, United States Attorney General; Anna Bogacheva, member of the IRA; Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's attorney (2006 - 2018), who was disbarred in 2019; James Comey, Director of the FBI (2013 - 2017); Oleg Deripaska, Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin; Michael Flynn, Senior advisor to Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign and National Security Advisor to the Trump administration until his resignation on Feb. 13, 2017; Rick Gates, Manafort Business Partner; Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security (2013 - 2017); Governor of Georgia, Georgia Secretary of State (2010 - 2018); Konstantin Kilimnik, Russian/Ukranian political consultant who worked with Manafort; Nikolay Kozachek, GRU Hacker; Jared Kushner, son-in-law and Senior Advisor to Donald Trump; Aleksey Lukashev, GRU Hacker; Artem Malyshev, GRU Hacker; Paul Manafort, Chairman of Donald Trump's 2016 campaign; Mitch McConnell, U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Kentucky Senator; Robert Mueller, Special Counsel for the Department of Justice in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election; George Papadopoulos, former foreign policy advisor to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign; Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian businessman with ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who created and funded the IRA; Seth Rich, DNC staffer murdered in DC robbery; Christopher Steele, former British intelligence officer who authored the Steele dossier reports; Donald Trump Jr., son of Donald Trump & Trump Organization Executive Vice President; Viktor Yanukovych, Former President of Ukraine, who was elected in 2010 and was removed from the office in the 2014 Ukrainian revolution; and Ivan Yermakov, GRU Hacker. Additional archival interviews with: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Vladimir Putin, and more.

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Jigsaw Productions