Russians accused of hacking Democrats in 2016 US election

Alex Wong  Getty Images North America

Twelve Russian intelligence officers were indicted by a USA 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.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who announced the indictment at a press conference in Washington, said "there's no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime".

Second, Friday's move is typical in that Mueller's indictments tend to always seem a bit surprising in their breadth, indicating that the investigation is a little broader, a little farther along, and a little more wide-ranging than many observers think. They are accused of taking part in a hidden but powerful social media campaign to influence public opinions in America before the November 2016 elections. Trump and Putin are to hold talks Monday in Finland, a meeting largely sought by Trump.

The 29-page indictment lays out how, months before Americans went to the polls, Russians schemed to break into key Democratic email accounts, including those belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The indictment says that Florida elections officials were targets of the operatives, who worked for the Russian foreign intelligence service, the GRU. "There is no debate that the Russians meddled in the election".

"I would call it the rigged witch hunt", Mr. Trump said.

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Rosenstein said "the conspirators corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the internet".

Could be just a coincidence but Andrew Prokop's right to note that the indictment specifies the Russians started probing those particular accounts that day "for the first time" and that they did so "after hours", which reads like an attempt to emphasize that it happened later in the day than the Trump clip above. 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".

The dates and content of the messages described in the indictment between the USA person in regular contact with senior members of Trump's presidential campaign and Guccifer 2.0 match verbatim two screenshots Stone published on his website in March of 2017 of the direct message exchange he had with Guccifer 2.0 on Twitter in 2016.

"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing", Trump said. That includes "a candidate for the US Congress", a "then-registered state lobbyist and online source of political news" and a reporter. "We would have a chance to have ... a very good relationship with President Putin".

"If it is Russian Federation, which it probably is not, nobody knows who it is, but if it is Russian Federation, it's really bad for a different reason because it shows how little respect they have for our country when they would hack into a major party and get everything", Trump said.

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