Saturday, February 17, 2018
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies Friday, accusing them of using stolen identities, fake campaign events and hundreds of social media accounts while spending millions of rubles to interfere in the 2016 presidential election in a secret effort to aid the Trump campaign. The indictment, apparently quoting internal Russian documents, says the operation began with a "strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system" in general.
At various times during the campaign, the Russians undertook activities disparaging Trump's Republican rivals, including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida.
The Russians also worked to help Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont, in his effort to defeat Clinton in the Democratic primaries, and Jill Stein, whose Green Party campaign reduced Clinton's votes in the general election in some states.
The attempts to sow division continued after the election, Rosenstein said, noting that the Russians staged rallies in New York to support and oppose Trump on the same day.
The indictment describes how Russian "specialists" were organized into day and night shifts, so they could post on social media sites around the clock.
The fake pages referred to immigration, the Black Lives Matter movement and Muslim rights, as well as right-wing causes and regional grievances, including one called "South United." By 2016, many of the pages had "hundreds of thousands of followers," the charging document says.
On Feb. 10, 2016, the organization instructed specialists "to use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump -- we support them)," the indictment says, quoting Russian documents.
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