12 Russian intelligence officers indicted for conspiring to interfere with 2016 presidential election

“President Trump must be willing to confront Putin from a position of strength and demonstrate that there will be a serious price to pay for his ongoing aggression towards the United States and democracies around the world."

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Despite President Donald Trump’s incessant false claims of a witch hunt against him and his campaign team, a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment on Friday against 12 Russian GRU agents for participating in a criminal conspiracy to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. During the campaign, Trump directly implored the Russian government to illegally obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails and release them to the American media.

According to the indictment, GRU officers Viktor Borisovich Netyksho, Boris Alekseyevich Antonov, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Aleksey Viktorovich Lukashev,  Sergey Aleksandrovich Morgachev, Nikolay Yuryevich Kozachek, Pavel Vyacheslavovich Yershov, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk, Aleksey Aleksandrovich Potemkin, and Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev were officials in Unit 26165 and Unit 74455 of the Russian government’s Main Intelligence Directorate who intentionally conspired to hack into computers belonging to the Clinton campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Beginning in March 2016, the conspirators deployed “spearphishing,” techniques, which involves sending misleading email messages and tricking users into disclosing their passwords and security information, while implanting hundreds of files containing malware into their victims’ computers.

“The defendants accessed the email accounts of volunteers and employees of a U.S. presidential campaign, including the campaign chairman, starting in March 2016,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stated on Friday. “They also hacked into the computer networks of a congressional campaign committee and a national political committee. The defendants covertly monitored the computers, implanted hundreds of files containing malicious computer code, and stole emails and other documents.

“The conspirators created fictitious online personas, including ‘DCLeaks’ and ‘Guccifer 2.0,’ and used them to release thousands of stolen emails and other documents, beginning in June 2016. The defendants falsely claimed that DCLeaks was started by a group of American hackers and that Guccifer 2.0 was a lone Romanian hacker.”

While working with Trump’s campaign, former adviser Roger Stone communicated with Guccifer 2.0 on Twitter regarding the release of the stolen documents. Stone also communicated with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who published the leaked DNC emails.

“In a second, related conspiracy, Russian GRU officers hacked the website of a state election board and stole information about 500,000 voters,” Rosenstein added. “They also hacked into computers of a company that supplied software used to verify voter registration information; targeted state and local offices responsible for administering the elections; and sent spearphishing emails to people involved in administering elections, with malware attached.”

During a press conference on July 27, 2016, Trump stated, “I have nothing to do with Putin. I’ve never spoken to him. I don’t know anything about him other than he will respect me. He doesn’t respect our President. And if it is Russia – which it’s probably not, nobody knows who it is – but if it is Russia, it’s really bad for a different reason, because it shows how little respect they have for our country, when they would hack into a major party and get everything. But it would be interesting to see – I will tell you this – Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That’ll be next.”

The indictment charges 11 of the defendants with conspiracy to commit computer crimes, eight counts of aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to launder money. Two defendants are charged with a separate conspiracy to commit computer crimes.

In response to the indictment, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement: “Today’s indictment is a result of the hard work of America’s law enforcement and intelligence officials who dedicate their lives to bringing to justice those who wish to do us harm. These revelations add to a body of evidence confirming an extensive plot by Vladimir Putin’s government to attack the 2016 election, sow chaos and dissension among the American electorate, and undermine faith in our democracy. And despite repeated warnings from our nation’s top intelligence and military leaders, the Kremlin’s efforts to weaken our institutions have continued unabated with insufficient action taken by the administration or Congress to strengthen our cyber defenses, safeguard our election systems, and deter further destabilizing activities.

“President Trump must be willing to confront Putin from a position of strength and demonstrate that there will be a serious price to pay for his ongoing aggression towards the United States and democracies around the world. If President Trump is not prepared to hold Putin accountable, the summit in Helsinki should not move forward.”

Scheduled to meet Russian president and accused pedophile Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday, Trump cowardly admitted that he has no intention of retaliating against the Russian dictator.

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