Special counsel investigator Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations who are now officially accused of conducting "information warfare" in attempts to influence to the 2016 United States Presidential election. Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice Rod Rosenstein has emphasized that the indictment does not indicate the attempts to influence the election ultimately effected the outcome of the election.
According to CNBC, a group called Internet Research Agency (a Russian org created in 2013) is now accused of creating false identities on social media in the hopes of swaying opinions. The actions of the accused began in 2014, ultimately culminating in a coordinated effort "supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump ... and disparaging Hillary Clinton."
"By in or around May 2014, the organization's strategy included interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with the stated goal of "spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general," the indictment said.
The group specifically worked with "strategic goal to sow discord in the US political system," the indictment adds, according to CNN.
The groups and individuals used the false identities to organize rallies in support of Trump and potentially hoped to create doubts about the validity of the election. The groups also "posted derogatory information" about other, including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, according to NBC News.
"There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity," Rosenstein clarified at a press conference shortly after the indictments were announced. “There is no allegation in the indictment that the charge conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”
The indictment does not indicate if any Americans were involved in the efforts.
The White House has not yet made a comment on the indictments.
CNBC notes that under U.S law, foreign nationals are from federal election efforts.
Three of the 13 are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. Five have been charged with aggravated identity theft.
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