Indictment ties Russian authorities to election hacking

WASHINGTON (AP) – Twelve Russian army intelligence officers hacked into the Clinton presidential marketing campaign and the Democratic Party and launched tens of 1000’s of personal communications in a sweeping conspiracy by the Kremlin to meddle within the 2016 U.S. election, in accordance with an indictment introduced days earlier than President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The indictment represents particular counsel Robert Mueller’s first prices in opposition to Russian authorities officers for interfering in American politics, an effort U.S. intelligence businesses say was geared toward serving to the Trump marketing campaign and harming his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. The case follows a separate indictment that accused Russians of utilizing social media to sow discord amongst American voters.

The 29-page indictment lays out how, months earlier than Americans went to the polls, Russians schemed to interrupt into key Democratic electronic mail accounts, together with these belonging to Clinton marketing campaign chairman John Podesta, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Stolen emails, many politically damaging for Clinton, appeared on WikiLeaks within the marketing campaign’s ultimate stretch.

The prices say the Russian defendants, utilizing a persona often known as Guccifer, in August 2016 contacted an individual in contact with the Trump marketing campaign to supply assist. And they are saying that on the identical day Trump, in a speech, urged Russia to search out Clinton’s lacking emails, Russian hackers tried for the primary time to interrupt into electronic mail accounts utilized by her private workplace.

Mueller didn’t allege that Trump marketing campaign associates had been concerned within the hacking effort, that Americans had been knowingly in contact with Russian intelligence officers or that any vote tallies had been altered by hacking. The White House seized on these factors in an announcement that supplied no condemnation of Russian election interference.

It was unclear whether or not the indictment would possibly issue into Trump’s assembly with Putin on Monday.

Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism about Russian involvement within the hacking whereas being accused by Democrats of cozying as much as the Russian president. Trump complained concerning the Russia investigation hours earlier than the indictment, saying the “stupidity” was making it “very hard to do something with Russia.”

The Kremlin, in the meantime, denied anew that it tried to sway the election. “The Russian state has never interfered and has no intention of interfering in the U.S. elections,” Putin’s international affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, mentioned Friday.

The indictment identifies the defendants as officers with Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, also called GRU. If that hyperlink is established, it will shatter the Kremlin denials of the Russian state’s involvement within the U.S. elections, on condition that the GRU is a part of the state machine.

The Russian defendants usually are not in custody, and it’s not clear they’ll ever seem in American courtroom, although the Justice Department has lately seen worth in indicting international hackers in absentia as public deterrence.

The indictment accuses the Russian hackers, beginning in March 2016, of covertly monitoring the computer systems of dozens of Democratic officers and volunteers, implanting malicious laptop code often known as malware to discover the networks and steal knowledge, and sending phishing emails to achieve entry to accounts.

One try at interference got here hours after Trump, in a July 27, 2016, speech, recommended Russians search for emails that Clinton mentioned she had deleted from her tenure as secretary of state.

“Russia, if you’re listening,” Trump mentioned, “I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

That night, the indictment says, the Russians tried to interrupt into electronic mail accounts utilized by Clinton’s private workplace, together with 76 Clinton marketing campaign electronic mail addresses.

By June 2016, the defendants, counting on fictional personas like DCLeaks and Guccifer, started planning the discharge of tens of 1000’s of stolen emails, the indictment alleges.

The Podesta emails printed by WikiLeaks displayed the marketing campaign’s non-public communications, together with deliberations about messaging that performed into assaults that Clinton was calculating and a political flip-flopper. Private speeches she gave to monetary business corporations had been notably damaging inside the left wing of the Democratic get together and amongst independents annoyed with the affect of Wall Street in politics.

The indictment alleges that Guccifer was in contact with a number of Americans in the summertime of 2016 concerning the pilfered materials, together with an unidentified congressional candidate who requested after which obtained stolen info.

On Aug. 15, 2016, the indictment says, Guccifer reached out to somebody in touch with the Trump marketing campaign and requested the particular person if they’d seen something “interesting in the docs I posted?” Guccifer mentioned it will be a “great pleasure” to assist.

Prosecutors say weeks later, Guccifer referred to a stolen DCCC doc posted on-line and requested the particular person, “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.” The particular person responded, “(p)retty standard.”

The indictment doesn’t determine the particular person, although longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone acknowledged Friday, by his lawyer, a “24-word exchange with someone on Twitter claiming to be Guccifer 2.0.”

“This exchange is now entirely public and provides no evidence of collaboration or collusion with Guccifer 2.0 or anyone else in the alleged hacking of the DNC emails,” mentioned lawyer Grant Smith.

In addition, somebody at Wikileaks contacted Guccifer earlier than the Democratic National Convention asking for Clinton materials, courtroom papers present.

The prices come as Mueller continues to research potential coordination between Russia and the Trump marketing campaign. Before Friday, 20 folks and three corporations had been charged within the investigation.

Defendants embrace 4 former Trump marketing campaign and White House aides, three of whom have pleaded responsible and agreed to cooperate, and 13 Russians accused in a strong social media marketing campaign to sway U.S. public opinion in 2016.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, mentioned on Twitter that it was time to finish the investigation since “no Americans are involved” in Friday’s indictment. But with Mueller nonetheless investigating, it’s not identified whether or not additional indictments are taking form or will.

Meanwhile, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein referred to as for a unified strategy to countering international meddling.

“When we confront foreign interference in American elections, it is important for us to avoid thinking politically as Republicans or Democrats and instead to think patriotically as Americans,” he mentioned. “Our response must not depend on who was victimized.”


Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Richard Lardner, Desmond Butler and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.


More AP reporting on Russian hacking:

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