Grand jury indicts 13 Russian nationals in election interference investigation

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On Friday, the Department of Justice announced that a grand jury has now indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for conspiracy to defraud the United States.

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“The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said, according to CNN.

Fake social media accounts

The Internet Research Agency had a “strategic goal to sow discord in the US political system,” the indictment read, noting that the defendants had created false personas as Americans and operated groups on social media and elsewhere in order to draw US audiences and pursue their goals.

These Russians allegedly posted “derogatory information about a number of candidates,” though by the time of the 2016 election, their posts were much more targeted, supporting Donald Trump and demonizing Hillary Clinton.

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Rosenstein noted that the indictment did not include any Americans and that the indictment was not an accusation of the defendants going quite so far as to change the outcome of the election. Instead, the defendants are being accused of sowing the kind of divisiveness that fed into the overall tide of anger that many believe helped get Donald Trump elected.

“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity,” he said. “There is no allegation in the indictment that the charge conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”

A White House official said that Trump had been briefed on the indictments in the morning by FBI Director Chris Wray and Rosenstein.

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The grand jury, which was pulled together by special counsel Robert Mueller, is looking into the influence that Russia and Russian nationals had over the 2016 election. Mueller is also reportedly looking into any ties that the Trump campaign had with Russia and Russian nationals.