U.S. accuses Russian spies of 2016 election hacking as summit looms

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal grand jury charged 12 Russian intelligence officers on Friday with hacking Democratic pc networks in 2016, in essentially the most detailed U.S. accusation but that Moscow meddled within the presidential election to assist Republican Donald Trump.

The indictment, which alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy involving refined hacking and staged releases of paperwork, raises the stakes for a summit subsequent week between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Officers of Russia’s army intelligence company, the GRU, covertly monitored computer systems of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s marketing campaign and Democratic marketing campaign committees, and stole giant quantities of knowledge, the indictment stated.

“In addition to releasing documents directly to the public, the defendants transferred stolen documents to another organization, not named in the indictment, and discussed timing the release of the documents in an attempt to enhance the impact on the election,” Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein advised a information convention.

Friday’s indictment was secured by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as a part of his probe into Russian involvement within the election. It was the primary by Mueller that instantly fees the Russian authorities with meddling within the election, which Trump unexpectedly gained. The Kremlin denies it interfered.

Rosenstein stated he briefed Trump this week concerning the indictment. It incorporates no allegations that U.S. residents dedicated against the law, he stated.

A couple of hours earlier than the indictments have been introduced, Trump referred to as the Mueller investigation a “rigged witch hunt” that’s hurting the United States’ relationship with Russia.

The announcement of the indictment got here at a clumsy time for Trump, who met Britain’s Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle on Friday for tea throughout a go to to Britain.

Trump stated he would “absolutely, firmly ask” Putin concerning the meddling at their deliberate assembly in Helsinki on Monday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stated on Friday that the indictment aimed to break the ambiance earlier than the summit. It stated there was no proof that the 12 folks charged have been linked to army intelligence or hacking.

Several distinguished Democratic lawmakers referred to as on Trump to cancel the summit.

“In light of this stunning indictment by the Justice Department that these Russian conspirators attacked our democracy and were communicating with Americans to interfere in our election, President Trump should immediately cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin,” stated Senator Jack Reed, the rating Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

PROPAGANDA, HACKING

Mueller is investigating whether or not Trump’s marketing campaign colluded with Russia and whether or not the president has unlawfully sought to impede the Russia investigation.

U.S. intelligence businesses concluded in January 2017 that Russia, in motion ordered by Putin, used propaganda and hacking to meddle within the election to hurt Clinton and finally assist Trump.

But the 29-page doc describes a number of incidents by which the alleged Russian hackers, utilizing the web personas DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.zero, have been involved with Americans.

It says Russian operatives supplied direct help to a candidate for the U.S. Congress, who in August 2016 requested and acquired from Guccifer 2.zero paperwork stolen from the DCCC about their opponent. The candidate and the particular person’s occasion affiliation weren’t recognized.

That identical month, the indictment says, “the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent a reporter stolen documents pertaining to the Black Lives Matter movement,” which was a delicate political concern for the Democratic Party.

The reporter, who was not recognized, “responded by discussing when to release the documents and offering to write an article about their release.”

The indictment says the Russian operatives wrote to a unnamed particular person “who was in regular contact with senior members” of the Trump marketing campaign. Trump ally Roger Stone advised CNN he “probably” was the particular person referred to within the indictment.

The indictment says the Russian operatives advised the particular person it will be a “great pleasure” to assist them and later requested their opinion a couple of stolen DCCC doc posted on-line. “(P)retty standard,” the particular person responded.

Stone denied passing any stolen emails to WikiLeaks. He stated in an announcement to Reuters: “The indictments today show I did not conspire with any of the defendants to do the hacking, distribute the stolen emails or aid them in anyway.”

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein pronounces grand jury indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers in particular counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation throughout a information convention on the Justice Department in Washington, U.S., July 13, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

“RUSSIANS ARE NAILED”

A former federal prosecutor, Renato Mariotti, raised the query of the subsequent steps within the probe.

“The open question is whether Americans were involved in this and will they be charged. You can certainly imagine a subsequent indictment in the future of an American of being part of this conspiracy,” Mariotti stated.

The indictment says that on or about July 27, 2016, the Russians tried for the primary time to interrupt into e-mail accounts “at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted 76 email addresses at the domain of the Clinton Campaign.”

The identical day, candidate Trump advised a information convention: “Russia if you are listening I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 (Clinton) emails that are missing,” referring to emails from a non-public server utilized by Clinton when she was secretary of state.

The indictment paperwork in depth cooperation between the Russian hackers and the unnamed “Organization 1.”

That group seems to match WikiLeaks, which launched giant numbers of hacked Democratic Party emails in the course of the 2016 marketing campaign.

On July 22, 2016, Organization 1 “released over 20,000 emails and other documents stolen from the DNC network by the Conspirators,” the indictment stated. That matches the date that a WikiLeaks started publishing inner DNC paperwork.

WikiLeaks, which was not indicted, didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

In June 2016, “Organization 1 sent a private message to Guccifer 2.0 to ‘(s)end any new material (stolen from the DNC) here for us to review and it will have a much higher impact than what you are doing,” the indictment stated.

Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, in a tweet, stated the indictments confirmed it was time to finish the particular counsel’s probe.

“The indictments Rod Rosenstein announced are good news for all Americans. The Russians are nailed. No Americans are involved. Time for Mueller to end this pursuit of the President and say President Trump is completely innocent,” Giuliani stated.

Mueller has secured indictments towards a number of former Trump marketing campaign aides, together with former marketing campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former White House nationwide safety adviser Michael Flynn.

Slideshow (9 Images)

In February, Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian firms in an elaborate conspiracy to intrude within the election. That indictment stated the Russians adopted false on-line personas to push divisive messages, traveled to the United States to gather intelligence and staged political rallies whereas posing as Americans.

Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, Jonathan Landay, Makini Brice, Richard Cowan, John Walcott, Ginger Gibson, Nathan Layne and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Will Dunham, Alistair Bell and Leslie Adler

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