Russian intel officers indicted for hacking Democrats in 2016 USA election

Larry Hoffman
July 14, 2018

Twelve Russian intelligence officers were indicted by a U.S. grand jury on Friday - just three days before President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Russia's Vladimir Putin - for interfering in the November 2016 presidential election.

Announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the charges were drawn up by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director who is looking into Russian interference in the November 2016 vote.

Special counsel Robert Mueller accuses the agents with the Main Intelligence Directorate, a Kremlin spy agency known as the GRU, of installing spyware on the computers of Democratic Party staffers to monitor their work during the campaign; stealing embarrassing e-mails and other documents; and making off with voter information on 500,000 Americans from a state election agency.

The special counsel investigation has produced more than 100 criminal counts against 32 people and three companies, according to a count from The New York Times. The 20 are four former Trump campaign and White House aides, three who have pleaded guilty to different crimes and agreed to cooperate, and 13 Russians accused of participating in a hidden but powerful social media campaign to sway USA public opinion in the election. "Time for Mueller to end this pursuit of the President and say President Trump is completely innocent", Giuliani said in his tweet.

Next week he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Helsinki, Finland. Instead it focused on the fact that no Trump campaign officials or Americans were implicated in the new indictment.

Using the name "Guccifer 2.0", the Russians told Trump associate Roger Stone ― identified in the indictment as "a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump" ― that it would be their "great pleasure" to help.

To help mask their Russian origins, the military officers used networks of computers located across the world, including in the U.S., and paid for it using Bitcoin.

"I would call it the rigged witch hunt", Mr. Trump said. The indictment says the Russians, posing as Guccifer 2.0, approached Organization 1 to offer them documents stolen from the DNC and transferred that data starting on July 14, 2016. He is investigating Moscow's interference in the election, and trying to determine whether Mr. Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation. Trump complained about the Russian Federation investigation hours before the indictment, saying the "stupidity" was making it "very hard to do something with Russian Federation". That includes "a candidate for the US Congress", a "then-registered state lobbyist and online source of political news" and a reporter.

At the same press conference, Trump appeared to directly call upon Russian intelligence services to hack the former secretary of state's email account and to publish any information they stole as a part of their cyber-espionage operations within the 2016 presidential elections. Indeed, an indictment that directly points to Russian President Vladimir Putin makes it much more hard for critics to dismiss Russia's culpability in election hacking as unproven.

After the indictments were announced, top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer called on Trump to cancel his meeting with Putin until Russian Federation takes steps to prove it won't interfere in future elections. "Anything you do, it's always going to be, 'Oh, Russia, he loves Russia"'.

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