Russian Election Indictments: 10 Key Takeaways

Russian Election Indictments: 10 Key Takeaways

The US justice department on Friday announced that a grand jury convened by special counsel Robert Mueller had indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities in an alleged conspiracy to defraud the United States, including by tampering in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton.

  • The indictment provided powerful new evidence that a Russian election-tampering plot, which Trump has repeatedly denied, not only took place but involved an elaborate conspiracy going back to at least 2014.
  • The indictment supports the US intelligence community assessment that the Russian plot was substantial and is ongoing, and not Trump’s contention last May that “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”
  • The indictment does not name any US citizens as alleged co-conspirators, or assert that any Americans knew of the plot. But the indictment does document contacts by the conspirators with “unwitting members, volunteers and supporters of the Trump campaign.”
  • The indictment identifies the Internet Research Agency, a St Petersburg-based group to which millions of impostor social media accounts have been traced, as a primary offender. The indictment additionally charges Russian individuals who funded the alleged election tampering conspiracy or who otherwise took part.
  • Charges include alleged violations of election laws forbidding foreign nationals from making certain expenditures in US elections and requiring foreign agents to register as such.
  • “Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates,” the indictment says, “and by early to mid-2016, defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J Trump (“Trump campaign”) and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”
  • The indictment does not contend that Russian tampering swayed the 2016 presidential election, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein said in a news conference following the publication of the document.
  • The indictment alleges espionage-style conduct by Russian suspects including clandestine trips to the United States under false pretenses in which Russian agents “posed as US persons and and contacted US social and political activists.”
  • The indictment says Russian impostors on social media used election-related hashtags including “#TrumpTrain” “#Trump2016” “MAGA” and “Hillary4Prison.”
  • The indictment alleges violations of computer fraud laws in which the perpetrators purchased space on computer servers located in the United States in order to hide their Russian affiliation.