Online Propaganda

Evidence Suggests the GOP Bought at Least 17 Anti-James Comey Domains

The Republican party has apparently created a series of domains to discredit and attack former FBI director James Comey. Meanwhile, Democratic party sympathizers appear to have created similar domains to counter the Republicans’ anti-Comey campaign.

Image: JStone/Shutterstock

Former FBI director James Comey is currently on a redemption book tour that has also served as a chance to attack Donald Trump, the man who very publicly fired him. Trump and the Republicans, meanwhile, are mounting a counterattack on every platform, including the web.

The Republican National Convention built the site Lyin’ Comey to serve anti-Comey propaganda online. But that domain (lyincomey.com) is just one of many domains that have been registered to attack Comey, Motherboard has learned. The domain registration patterns of these URLs suggest a coordinated campaign, according to the lawyer who discovered them.

There’s also comeyisaliar.com, comeylies.com, comeyfacts.com and some spelling permutations of the main site, such as lyencomey.com and lyingcomey.com. All these URLs redirect to lyincomey.com. In total, at least 17 sites redirect to that main anti-Comey website.

These domains were found by Alexander Urbelis, a lawyer at the firm Blackstone Law Group and a self-described hacker, who built a tool that scans the internet and logs new domains. Using the tool, which Urbelis and his colleagues call Open-Source Multidisciplinary Network Intelligence or OMNI, he found 36 domains that contain the name Comey and were registered in 2018.

A screenshot of an excel spreadsheet that lists the domains tracked by Urbelis.

Five of the domains that redirect to lyincomey.com were created within seconds of that website.

“That's either a really amazing coincidence that several different parties had the same idea for anti-Comey domains and registered those domains within seconds of each other, or these domains were registered by the same GOP operatives that registered lyincomey.com,” Urbelis told me in an online chat.

The other 12 that redirect to lyincomey.com also appear to have been created by the RNC. Comeyfacts.com, comeyfacts.net, and comeyfacts.org, were all created at almost the same time, and the .net .com and .org domains of “comeyfacts” and “comeyisaliar” also show the same registration patterns.

“I think the timing, messaging, choice of registrar, and registration pattern are all circumstantial evidence of the same actor behind lyincomey-dot-com,” Urbelis said.

This circumstantial evidence, Urbelis explained, appears to indicate that all 17 domains were created by the same account on NameCheap, the registrar service used to buy the 17 domains.

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The Republican National Committee, which is behind the site lyincomey.com and has participated in a campaign to discredit and attack Comey, did not respond to a request for comment.

Others, likely not affiliated with the Republicans, are also registering domains similar to the anti-Comey ones. Most of the domains found by Urbelis were registered anonymously, so we don’t know who’s behind them, but in some cases it seems they may be part of a counter-propaganda campaign in favor of Comey and the Democratic party.

For example, liyncomey.com—a misspelling of the main anti-Comey domain—features a link to Comey’s book and a call to donate to the Democratic National Convention.

Another one (lynicomey.com) is a copy of the DNC’s official site.

“Lyincomy.com” redirects to The Washington Post’s database that tracks Trump’s lies. “Lyin-comey.com” redirects to a PDF of Stormy Daniels’s complaint against the president. And Truthaboucomey.com redirects to Comey’s book on Amazon.

The most hilarious domain of all, however, is flyincomey.com, a parody of lyincomey.com that simply features Comey’s face photoshopped on top of the internet meme Nyan Cat.

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