Special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for allegedly meddling in the 2016 presidential election, charging them with conspiracy to defraud the United States,the Department of Justice has announced.
In addition, three defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft.
Mueller has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as any connections between Russia and Trump campaign associates.
Beginning as early as 2014, the Russian organization Internet Research Agency began operations to interfere with the US political system, including the 2016 elections, according to the indictment, which was released by Mueller’s office Friday.
The defendants allegedly posed as Americans, created false US personas, and operated social media pages and groups designed to attract US audiences, the indictment reads.
The Internet Research Agency had a “strategic goal to sow discord in the US political system” including the election, according to the indictment.
Russians allegedly posted “derogatory information about a number of candidates,” and bought ads and communicated with “unwitting” people tied to Trump campaign and others to coordinate political activities.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that there are no allegations in the indictments that claim any Americans who interacted with the group wittingly knew anything about the interference.
Rosenstein also said that there has been no contact with Russian officials about the indictments.
“It is more important than ever before to come together as Americans. We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful. It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories, which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia, and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions. We must unite as Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections,” President Trump said in a statement.