(WASHINGTON) — The Justice Department on Friday indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups of violating criminal laws with the intent to interfere “with U.S. elections and political processes,” according to the agency.
The indictment depicts an elaborate scheme in which some of the Russians accused allegedly came to the U.S. with the deliberate intention of undermining the American political and electoral process, including the 2016 presidential election.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the Russians charged called their work “information warfare against the United States” with the goal of spreading distrust of candidates and the political system in general.
Some defendants “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign” without revealing their association with Russia. The indictment also says the defendants posted negative information about a number of candidates during the last general election.
The individuals operated social media pages and groups designed to attract American audiences with a strategic goal to “sow discord in the U.S. political system”. They staged rallies and had a basic infrastructure which included computers and other support systems.
Ultimately, the “defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign on then-candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton” his Democratic rival, according to the indictment.
According to the agency, “the indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president has been briefed on the indictments.
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