13 Russian Nationals Indicted For Alleged Interference In 2016 Presidential Election
A federal grand jury on Friday indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election charging that they attempted to boost the prospects of candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders campaigns.
Special Council Robert Mueller‘s office announced earlier Friday that a Russian organization known as the Internet Research Agency sought to wage “information warfare” against the United States by using fictitious American personas and social media platforms as well as other Internet-based media in its attempt to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
The effort was launched in 2014 and by early to mid-2016 the accused were actively “supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump … and disparaging Hillary Clinton,” the indictment read.
The indictment also alleges that the defendants played both sides of the political spectrum, using fake online personas to coordinate demonstrations in support of Trump while also doing the same to create rallies “protesting the results” of the election.
“The nature of the scheme was the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a brief news conference Friday.
Rosenstein hammered down the point repeatedly that the indictment did not allege that the Russian operation changed at all the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
The individuals involved in the conspiracy visited and least eight states across the country, court papers show, and were advised by an unidentified American who told them to focus their efforts on what they viewed as “purple” or battleground states, such as Colorado, Virginia and Florida the indictment read.
The announcement from Mueller’s office says that the United States government accuses all the defendants listed of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Including three charged with conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud and five with aggravated identity theft.