Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein

The U.S. Justice Department announced that a grand jury convened as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation returned an indictment against 12 Russian intelligence officers. They are accused of engaging in a “sustained effort” to hack into the computer networks of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in order to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

All 12 Russian nationals are members of the GRU, a Russian Federation intelligence agency within the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian military.

Those named in the indictment: 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 accused of initiating the hacks.

“The Internet allows foreign adversaries to attack America in new and unexpected ways,” Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said in a released statement. “Together with our law enforcement partners, the Department of Justice is resolute in its commitment to locate, identify and seek to bring to justice anyone who interferes with American elections. Free and fair elections are hard-fought and contentious, and there will always be adversaries who work to exacerbate domestic differences and try to confuse, divide, and conquer us. So long as we are united in our commitment to the shared values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed.”

“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime,” Rosenstein said during today’s press conference. “There is no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result.”

The indictment said that staring in “at least” March of 2016 the Russian intelligence officers spearphishing volunteers and employees of the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, including the campaign’s chairman. “In or around April 2016” they successfully hacked into the DCCC and DNC computer network implanting malware and stealing files and other documents.

Starting in or around June 2016, the indictment says, the conspirators started to release “tens of thousands of the stolen emails and documents” using fictitious online personas such as “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0.”

The indictment includes 11 criminal counts:

  • Count One alleges a criminal conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States through cyber operations by the GRU that involved the staged release of stolen documents for the purpose of interfering with the 2016 presidential election;
  • Counts Two through Nine charge aggravated identity theft for using identification belonging to eight victims to further their computer fraud scheme;
  • Count Ten alleges a conspiracy to launder money in which the defendants laundered the equivalent of more than $95,000 by transferring the money that they used to purchase servers and to fund other costs related to their hacking activities through cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin; and
  • Count Eleven charges conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States by attempting to hack into the computers of state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and US companies that supplied software and other technology related to the administration of elections.

“Today’s charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result,” Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsey Walters said in a statement. “This is consistent with what we have been saying all along.”

There was no condemnation of Russia’s involvement from the White House.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani who currently serves as one of President Trump’s attornies said on Twitter that the indictments are good news.

“The Russian government attacked our democracy in 2016 and the Democratic National Committee was a primary target of this attack. Those are the facts,” DNC Chair Tom Perez said in a released statement.

“Today’s indictment makes clear just how vast this operation was, adding details such as Russian intelligence officers’ intrusion into the website of a state election board and theft of information related to approximately 500,000 voters,” he added. “This is not a witch hunt and it is certainly not a joke, as Donald Trump has desperately and incorrectly argued in the past. It’s long past time for him and his allies in the Republican Party to stop ignoring this urgent threat to our national security.”

“The U.S. intelligence community knows that the Russian government attacked the U.S. This is not a Republican or Democrat view – it is simply reality. All patriotic Americans should understand that Putin is not America’s friend, and he is not the President’s buddy. We should stand against Putin’s past and planned future attacks against us,” U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) said in a released statement.

“These indictments are further proof of what everyone but the president seems to understand: President Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections to help President Trump win,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said in a released statement.

“President Trump should cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won’t interfere in future elections. Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy,” he added.

Last week, U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) who was part of a Congressional trip to Russia said that the delegation made it clear to Russian officials that “in no uncertain terms” their nation “must stop its meddling” in U.S. elections.

“It’s clear that the Russians launched an attack on our electoral system with the goal of spreading distrust and undermining our democracy,”  RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a released statement. “Any breach of our political organizations – regardless of party – is an affront to all of us, and we should come together as Americans to prevent it from ever happening again.”

“It also remains clear that there was no collusion by the Trump campaign and that the Russians were ultimately unsuccessful in altering the results of the election. The American people have watched the President’s political opponents desperately search for evidence of collusion for years now. While it’s important that we do all we can to safeguard our future elections, it’s long past time for investigations into non-existent collusion to end,” she added.

None of Iowa’s Congressional delegation has provided a comment at the time of publication.

Watch the DOJ Press Conference below:

Read the indictment below:

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