13 Russian Nationals Indicted Over 2016 Election Interference

WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller 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.

Read the full indictment HERE.

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.

Mueller had convened the grand jury as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as any possible connections between Russia and Trump campaign associates.

The sweeping indictment describes in detail an unprecedented campaign by Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election, affirming the longstanding conclusions of the US intelligence community. It is at odds with President Donald Trump’s repeated questioning of those conclusions, which has continued throughout his first year in office. CNN reported this week that Trump is still not convinced that Russia meddled in the election.

Trump emphasized the lack of allegations of any impact on the presidential election.

“Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President,” he tweeted. “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

In a statement, the White House said Trump was fully briefed on the indictments and “is glad to see the Special Counsel’s investigation further indicates— that there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump campaign and Russia and that the outcome of the election was not changed or affected.”

“(I)t is more important than ever before to come together as Americans,” Trump said in the statement. “We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful. It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories, which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia, and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions. We must unite as Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections.”

FBI Director Chris Wray and Rosenstein briefed the President 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.

Rosenstein said Friday that the indictment does not contain any allegations that any Americans knowingly participated in the activity.

“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity,” he said. “There is no allegation in the indictment that the charge conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Rosenstein added that the special counsel’s investigation is ongoing.

Social media tactics

According to the indictment, the Russians created an email address, allforusa@yahoo.com, to purport to be a US person in order to send out press releases in June 2016 for a “March for Trump” rally to New York media outlets.

The defendants allegedly used a Facebook account belonging to a fictitious person named Matt Skiber, posing as an American to contact a real US citizen to act as a recruiter for the rally, even offering money to print posters and buy a megaphone.

The advertisements weren’t limited to Trump. They also allegedly purchased ads on Facebook to promote “Support Hillary. Save American Muslims” rally to allege Clinton was supporting Islamic law. They also allegedly bought ads to promote a “Down with Hillary” rally.

The defendants focused on key purple states during the election. The Skiber account allegedly sent a private message to a real Facebook account, “Florida for Trump,” to offer support. They also allegedly used a stolen identity of a real US citizen to email grassroots groups in Florida.

The defendants allegedly attempted to cover their tracks after social media companies, including Facebook, publicly disclosed in September 2017 that they had identified Russians purchasing political and social advertisements on its platform and after media reports noted the company was cooperating with the special counsel’s investigation.

“We have a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke). So, I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with colleagues,” one of the defendants wrote, according to the indictment.

Russian response

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova described the indictments Friday as “absurd.”

“(Thirteen) people intervened in the elections in the US?” she wrote on her Facebook page. “13 against billion-dollar budgets of special services? Against intelligence and counterintelligence, against the latest developments and technologies? … Absurd? Yes.”

“This is modern American political reality,” she added in the post.

Congressional reaction

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the Russians’ alleged actions “a conspiracy to subvert the process, and take aim at democracy itself.”

“We have known that Russians meddled in the election, but these indictments detail the extent of the subterfuge,” Ryan said in a statement. “These Russians engaged in a sinister and systematic attack on our political system. It was a conspiracy to subvert the process, and take aim at democracy itself. Today’s announcement underscores why we need to follow the facts and work to protect the integrity of future elections.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that the indictments “make absolutely clear” that Russians tried to influence the presidential election to support Trump’s campaign and continue to try to interfere with our elections.

“We are on the eve of the 2018 midterm elections,” the statement added. “There is no time to waste to defend the integrity of our elections and our democracy.”

The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, said in a statement that he is “glad” to see the committee’s work “vindicated” by the indictments.

“With this indictment, the Special Counsel and his team have taken an important step to hold Russia accountable,” Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia said Friday.

Clinton, through her spokesman, Nick Merrill, declined to comment on the indictments, but her campaign spokespeople and aides are responding.

Robby Mook, Clinton’s former campaign manager, tweeted: “The intelligence community has repeatedly told us Russia meddled. Now criminal indictments from DOJ. We were attacked by a foreign adversary. Will our Congress and President stand strong and take action? Or let it happen again?”

51 comments

  • David R

    If you see me posting something disparaging a politician that wants to turn the Syria war or Ukraine war into World War III, or who tries to mislead people as to which side Iran is on in the Syria war (hint for Cruz and Toomey – they weren’t helping ISIS), or who wants to fine/tax me for not contributing to the profits of the big health insurance companies, that’s really me. No Russian has stolen my identity.

  • Fredric

    So far , after millions squandered by this witch hunt, there’s is no involvement by the Trump campaign. It is a foreign government doing what it can to influence social and political upheaval.

    For the Russians, all they risk is a vacation in Club Fed not a Siberian goolag.

    When does FB and crew go under the lights for selling the advertising without monitoring?

  • Tell Us

    How quickly this story drops off the headlines and becomes just another article on this CNN affiliate.
    We just keep winning and winning! We’re going to win so much we’re going to get tired of winning!
    What say you now libs? It’s over for you! I guess you’ll have to go back to calling Trump a racist again? Maybe the porn star angle?
    YOU LOSE AGAIN!

  • Jeff Woehrle

    It seems what mattered to Russia was not who ended up being president, but rather that discord was sown among Americans about the outcome of the election.

    Looks like that operation was quite successful.

    • Tell Us

      Exactly! That was brought up by Rosenstein as part of the indictments. They just wanted to cause strife and the libs gave them just what they wanted!
      Trumpers win again!

      • Tell Us

        He has said many times that the Russians tried to interfere. You watch CNN so you wouldn’t know that. Keep grasping for straws, it’s over for you and your kind!

  • Jeff Woehrle

    No Americans participated with the Russians, and the Russian efforts had no effect on the outcome.

    Sorry, liberals. Hillary was just a lousy candidate.

  • Drive by commentator

    In the actual news conference, Rosenstein actually stated that the political demonstrations they held and supported were against BOTH candidates, he even indicated that at one point these supported demonstrators were protesting both candidates at the same time in N.Y.C. in different areas. CNN reports and WNEP puts it out an irrelevant untruthful and false statement from Pelosi and I quote
    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that the indictments “make absolutely clear” that Russians tried to influence the presidential election to support Trump’s campaign and continue to try to interfere with our elections. Which the indictments never prove, mention indicate or prove anything. CNN and WNEP fake news and totally biased. Now bury this for moderation as I know you will, Pravda.

    • Tell Us

      How about when they sponsored an anti Trump rally after the election? But the libs were obsessed with finding an excuse for running a pathetic candidate against a political newcomer and losing.

  • Bye you maggot

    Ohhhhh goodie!!!!! Days are dwindling down. And after today’s latest news with another victim, impeachment and a divorce are looking mighty promising. Let the fun begin while we take our country back. A failed legacy like all those investments ….. Gone. Bankrupt. It is over.

      • Bye you maggot

        Sorry to burst your bubble cupcake but more people than Irene cannot stomach your over sized, fast food eating, bowel movement mouthed, real estate, draft dodging hate mongeral. And a good majority of us are not Dumocrats either. Both parties suck and are corrupt but that big baffoon in office toos the whole clan.

      • Bye you maggot

        *tops. Btw, nice move he played today stopping off to see victims while taking another golfing trip. You must be so very proud.

  • Irene A

    According to most this is just the start. I just heard that the Nixon stuff was 900 or so days. So this is just the beginning. We don’t know where it will lead. I was young during Nixon debacle so I didn’t pay as much attention. Now with the internet there is more awareness. I didn’t pay attention to rallies or websites promoting Trump but if I got involved and supported him, I would be wondering now who I was dealing with. Luzerne Co was targeted so this could get interesting.Trump is like the fictional Elmer Gantry. He can sell anything. Doesn’t mean he can lead.

    • Tell Us

      Irene,
      Please pay attention. Rosenstein said during the announcement that no Americans were knowingly involved in this ridiculous incident. The investigation is about over and isn’t going anywhere. The Russians will never stand trial because they won’t be sent back here.
      It’s over! Lighten up.

      • Irene A

        Respectively this is not over. Many are making deals now. Trump has 35 percent supporters who will support anything he does. It was disclosed the R primary was severely affected which should anger some R’s. Who knows who would be in office since voting patterns have been similar last century. R was favored to win. We got Trump.

  • Facts

    So four guilty pleas and many indictments are all still a witch hunt and fake news. Do those who have been indicted believe that? Does anyone remember Watergate, Nixon’s railing that everyone was conspiring against him and see the correlation to Trump’s present game plan? Ever wonder why they’re the ONLY two presidents to ever undermine and distrust all other branches of government?

      • Irene A

        You are argumentative. But thanks for thinking I am that tech savvy. This is not good site. Probably why not many post.

      • Tell Us

        So changing your screen name requires being “tech savvy”?
        Please just go away. You add nothing to any discussion and keep posting things that never happened.

  • Duck and cover

    “with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general”
    Mission accomplished, ay comrades?

  • Tell Us

    We found out that the FBI had two chances to stop the Florida school shooter and today they decide to release this indictment story? Shocking, isn’t it?

    • Facts

      First, it was a local FBI branch that did the investigating. That will probably improve after this drop. Mueller ISN’T the FBI!!!

      • Tell Us

        Are you aware of where Mueller just retired from? Did a bunch of FBI agents just get reassigned or fired because of the Trump investigation?
        What exactly, if you even know, are you trying to say?
        The FBI is the FBI. I don’t care where the office is located.

  • Trump 2020

    I hope Putin gives Mueller a middle finger from across the world! The USA medals in every country’s election every year. Who cares? They’re NOT screwing with our voting machines!!! I voted for Trump because I wanted Trump for President. Russia did not influence me on my decision. Damn it Democrats, accept the loss and try again in 2020. HOLY CHIT!!!!

    • One more step closer

      4 whitehouse guilty pleas + 13 Russians indictments. This is NOT a hoax. One step closer to Impeachment. Look out Eric and Jared.

      • Tell Us

        Try paying attention to the actual news, Einstein. Rosenstein said it himself that there were no Americans knowingly involved in your fake investigation to get Trump.
        Trump wins again!

  • Who Cares

    *Yawn*
    Tell us something we haven’t known for a long time. Now you think you’re going to extradite some of them from Russia? No collusion, no involvement from the Trump campaign. Rosenstein even said no Americans were knowingly involved and nothing done affected the election.
    A huge waste of time and energy.

    • Silverfish Imperetrix

      They have to give the libs something to hang on to, otherwise they’ll shoot Congressmen at baseball games or attack Senators as they’re at home mowing their lawns.

  • Dorthy Gibbens

    This should only be about as high a bar as the national enquirer along side the UFO story, what a joke and all that $ spent Dan Flakes!

  • Lock them Up!!

    WNEP needs to do a little investigating a bunch of Posters on here.. I would make a bet they find a few Russians posting under multiple ID’s.

  • frarnkies

    Here we go again with this Russia nonsence with zero proof and only sources with no names and made up FBI investigations

Comments are closed.