Special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted thirteen Russian citizens on charges that they interfered with the 2016 presidential election.
“Defendants knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other (and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury) to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the government..for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016,” the indictment read.
According to the indictment the disinformation campaign began as early as 2014 at the Internet Research Agency, a cyber outfit created to interfere with elections and political processes, according to U.S. officials. Hundreds of people worked for the organization ranging from impersonators on social media, to technical and administrative support.
Some employees traveled to the United States for the purposes of collecting intelligence to advance the IRA’s operations. They purchased and used computer equipment in the U.S. so as to conceal the origins of their activities and avoid detection by U.S. law enforcement. By September 2016, the operation’s budget had reached 73 million Russian rubles, the equivalent of over $1.25 million, a month.
The defendants waged what they called “information warfare” against the United States of America, the stated goal of which was to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”
President Trump was briefed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray Friday morning about the indictments. The President would later proclaim on Twitter that the findings show that the results of the 2016 were not impacted by Russia’s efforts. “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!” the President wrote.