February 16, 2018
Thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian companies allegedly meddled in the United States elections – including the 2016 presidential election – by conducting "information warfare," according to a grand jury indictment that is part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation.
The Russians and companies have been charged with seeking to interfere in the United States political system, the Deputy U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein announced at a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
The defendants allegedly sought to "spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general," according to the 37-page indictment which was presented by Mueller to the grand jury.
A pdf of entire indictment can be read below or downloaded here.
Twelve of the individuals allegedly worked at varying times for Internet Research Agency LLC, a Russian company based in St. Petersburg, Russia, and equipped with hundreds of employees and a budget totalling millions of dollars.
The company allegedly created hundreds of social media accounts using stolen or fictitious American identities, fraudulent bank accounts and false identification documents. They posed as Americans advocating for or against political candidates, communicating with unknowing Americans, according to the indictment.
The 13th defendant, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, allegedly funded the conspiracy through a pair of companies – Concord Catering and Concord Management and Consulting.
The Russians also recruited and paid Americans to engage in political activities, promote campaigns and host rallies by pretending to be grassroots activists, according to the indictment. But the Americans did not know they were communicating with Russians.
"The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy," Rosenstein said Friday. "We must not allow them to succeed."
Mueller, who has spent months investigating Russian meddling, did not comment on the indictment.
President Donald Trump tweeted his response after the announcement, saying Russia began its meddling one year before he announced his candidacy. He stressed that the Trump campaign "did nothing wrong - no collusion!"
Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2018
The indictment includes eight criminal counts, alleging each of the defendants engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Internet Research Agency and two defendants are additionally charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.
The company and four individuals also are charged with aggravated identity theft.