By: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicts 13 Russians for U.S. Election Meddling. The U.S. Grand Jury handed down the indictments on the Russian Internet agency and more than a dozen Russians who interfered in the US election campaign from 2014 through 2016 in a multi-pronged well planned effort with the aim of supporting then – real estate business and Reality TV star Donald Trump and disparaging as well as racial propaganda against Hillary Clinton, the US Special Counsel said in an indictment on Friday Feb. 15.
The 37-page indictment filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller breaks down the conspiracy to disrupt the US election by Russian professionals who adopted false online personas to push divisive messages as well as traveling to the United States to collect intelligence and even had the nerve to stage multiple political rallies while posing as American citizens.
The indictments states that Russia’s Internet Research Agency “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the US political system, including the 2016 US presidential election”.
“Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by early to mid-2016, Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump… and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”
The indictment broadly echoes the conclusions of a January 2017 US intelligence community assessment where 17 agencies found that Russia had meddled in the election, and that its goals eventually included aiding Trump.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that President Trump has been briefed on the indictments and shortly after that, Trump tweeted that “There is No collusion” again!
Now don’t forget, the president has never accepted the report from all 17 Intelligence agencies and has repeatedly denounced Special Counsel Mueller’s probe into whether his campaign colluded with the Russians as a “witch hunt.”
The indictment names the Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, Russia; 13 Russian nationals; and two other companies. The company allegedly had a $1.25 million dollar a month budget to purchase ads from Facebook and Twitter.
Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2018
According to the Indictment:
The Russians created an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 will bring you more details as they become available however political insiders on both sides of the aile are saying that these indictments are likely to provide ammunition to Democrats and others arguing for a continued aggressive probe into the Trump Administration.
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