Justice Department Indicts 13 Russians for Supporting Trump, Interfering with US Elections

Saturday, 17 Feb, 2018

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein officially announced the indictment from the DOJ headquarters Friday.

Democrats have said the indictments disprove Trump's past claims that Mueller's probe is a "witch hunt", while Trump on Friday responded to the charges by claiming "the Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!"

But authorities said there was no allegation any American was a knowing participant.

Federal prosecutors have announced charges against 13 Russians and three Russian entities with an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election.

Later, when it emerged that Facebook was working with the US Special Counsel to uncover who was behind the ad campaigns, the Russians allegedly began to destroy evidence.

Around April 2016 through November 2016, the indictment alleges that the IRA and its groups bought advertisements on social media using their false identities "expressly advocating for the election of then-candidate Trump or expressly opposing Clinton".

"There is no allegation in the indictment of any effect on the outcome of the election", he also said.

The indictment details an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 USA presidential election.

Thirteen Russian nationals and three organizations were charged on Friday with crimes related to interference in US politics, including attempts to influence USA voters in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election, Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced.

The documents point to a broader conspiracy beyond the pages of the indictment, saying the grand jury has heard about other people with whom the Russians allegedly conspired in their efforts.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova described the indictments Friday as "absurd". "13 people interfered in the USA elections?!"

Until now, four imputations related to Russian plot had been made public and were related to Trump: Former security advisor Michael Flynn, ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort, partner Rick Gates and election advisor George Papadopoulos, who He tried to make an appointment between Trump and Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

They funded the operations, traveled back and forth in pursuit of their goals and used computer facilities both inside and outside the U.S.to pursue "a strategic goal to sow discord in the USA political system, including the 2016 US president election".

The early Russian effort was particularly active in Maryland, despite the fact that the heavily Democratic state was never considered in play in the presidential election.

The indictment accuses the defendants of "supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump.and disparaging Hillary Clinton." .

Trump himself has been reluctant to acknowledge the meddling.

The indictment does not say whether Trump campaign officials in Florida knew they were dealing with Russian agents or were simply fooled by their false IDs.

The 37-page indictment lays out in extensive detail how, prosecutors say, Russia's Internet Research Agency in 2014 initiated an effort to systematically interfere "with the USA political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016". But, speaking more broadly about the Russians' efforts against candidates other than Trump, the indictment says the Russians bought political advertising under fake names and staged political rallies while posing as us -based grassroots organizations.

And, the indictment says, the Russians "learned from the real USA person that they should focus their activities on 'purple states like Colorado, Virginia & Florida'".

Charges include conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. "And the nature of the scheme was the kept defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists, even going so far as to base their activities on a virtual private network here in the United States so if anybody traced it back to the first jump, they appeared to be Americans".