Meet the Texas secessionist movement, brought to you by Russia

Fortunately for us, secessionists aren’t killing people—they’re not “there, yet”—but Putin’s propaganda can be convincing. Casey Michel notes that the fake Russian secessionist “Heart of Texas” Facebook page, which had more likes than the GOP and Democrat Facebook pages combined, organized a rally of white nationalists and AR-15 enthusiasts in downtown Houston in 2017.

Putin invests broadly in his pet extremist wackos. Richard Spencer used to appear regularly on RT where he commented as an expert on everything from Syria to U.S. cultural affairs. David Duke lived in Russia. The circular nature of this web can border on parody: Bringing it full circle to Texas A&M, Duke once rented his Moscow apartment to another American neo-Nazi named Preston Wiginton. Wiginton—a proud Aggie—organized presentations on the Texas A&M campus—the same place where Cruz was asked about secession!—for both Richard Spencer and Russian ultra-nationalist Alexander Dugin, a man who befriended Duke in Russia.

The only way to understand the neo-Nazi mob and the secessionist movement is as Vladimir Putin’s weapons. And Ted Cruz—despite having been on the receiving end of this in 2016—has no problem cozying up to them today.