A federal grand jury has indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for allegedly meddling in the 2016 presidential election, charging them with conspiracy to defraud the United States, the Department of Justice announced Friday.
In addition, three defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft.
“The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said.
The grand jury had been empaneled by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as any possible connections between Russia and Trump campaign associates.
FBI Director Chris Wray and Rosenstein briefed President Donald Trump on the indictments at the White House on Friday morning, a White House official said.
Beginning as early as 2014, the Russian organization Internet Research Agency began operations to interfere with the US political system, including the 2016 elections, according to the indictment.
The defendants allegedly posed as US persons, created false US personas, and operated social media pages and groups designed to attract US audiences, the indictment reads.
The Internet Research Agency had a “strategic goal to sow discord in the US political system” including the election, according to the indictment.
Russians posted “derogatory information about a number of candidates,” and by mid-2016 they supported Trump and disparaged Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. They bought ads and communicated with “unwitting” people tied to Trump campaign and others to coordinate political activities.
Events were organised by Russians posing as Trump supporters and as groups opposed to Trump such as Black Lives Matter, according to prosecutors. One advertisement shortly before the election promoted the Green party candidate Jill Stein, who is blamed by some Clinton backers for splitting the anti-Trump vote.
The best defense you can make of Stein is that she’s too much of an idiot to be truly useful to the reactionary causes she’s dedicated her life to advancing.
The evidence is overwhelming that the Comey letter and the media’s coverage of the EMAILS! nanoscandal changed the outcome of the election. Whether the ratfucking by the Russians and Assange did is impossible to answer. But by definition Clinton not expending a lot of resources in Michigan and Wisconsin didn’t change the outcome of the election, and the people who spend the most time minimizing the influence of any of these other factors have no problem talking about that constantly.
Anyway, this indictment is clearly the worst act if McCarthyism in American history. Of course, I support a full investigation.