In breaking news, after more than a year of FBI investigation into alleged misconduct and conspiracy between Russia and President Trump’s campaign staff, special counsel Robert Mueller just announced that a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. has returned a 37-page indictment which names 13 Russians and three Russian companies.
No US citizens were charged with any intentional wrong-doing.
On February 16, 2018, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein charged these 16 defendants with interference with the 2016 US presidential election. MSN gives more detail, quoting Rosenstein:
“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.”
But wait, there’s more, from The Atlantic:
“The conspiracy had as its object impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful governmental functions of the United States by dishonest means in order to enable the Defendants to interfere with U.S. political and electoral processes, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the indictment states.”
Furthermore, Rosenstein said last Friday (February 16, 2018), that the indictment not only fails to accuse any American, but that it includes no allegations whatsoever that they” altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”
So not only is the Trump team not suspected of collusion or conspiracy with foreign propagandists, the latter’s efforts failed to achieve the desired effect.
The 13 Russians named in the federal indictment were associated with an online propaganda machine (known as a “troll factory” because internet trolls spread misleading intel online, often use provocative language, and baiting tactics to incite arguments) to spread disinformation about Hillary Clinton and promote Trump’s campaign. Some analysts believe the stream of pro-Republican social media posts swayed the election’s outcome.
You can read the entire indictment, should you care to, courtesy of Politico.
According to The Hill, Mueller found that the 13 Russians “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign.”
“Unwitting” means “they didn’t know anything.”
The specific charges have to do with identity and wire (telecommunications) fraud.
The Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) hackers devised automatic software scripts called “bots” to do their dirty work, worming their way into unsuspecting websites to influence American public opinion.
Like all clever hackers, these geeks used technical means to hide their activities and their location, especially after the FBI and many Americans suspected they had been up to some online hanky-panky. They hid behind false names and groups to protect their real identities.
But never underestimate the power of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mueller’s investigation, based on today’s 13 indictments, suggests that the Russian government acted alone in supporting Trump over Clinton. Apparently, 20% of US uranium production wasn’t enough from Hillary to buy Putin’s loyalty. Go figure.
At the top of the indictment list is Yevgeny Prigozhin, a well-known businessman with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prigozhin was a backer of the IRA. Two of his businesses were also charged.
The other 12 defendants all worked for the IRA at some time in positions of influence regarding the US 2016 national election. Their names are: Mikhail Bystrov, Mikhail Burchik, Aleksandra Krylova, Sergey Polozov, Anna Bogacheva, Maria Bovda, Robert Bovda, Dzheykhun Aslanov, Vadim Podkopaev, Gleb Vasilchenko, Irina Kaverzina, and Vladimir Venkov.
What is notable about this list of federal indictments are the names missing from it – one name, in particular: Donald J. Trump. Is it possible these covert Russians acted independently, without prompting or payoffs from top Republicans? We suspect the Democrats could not even imagine winning an election without resorting to “dirty tricks” like fake news.
Is that why they are so certain in their conviction about bi-national collusion to affect the presidential outcome? Because that’s what they would do? Or were doing?
It’s really starting to look like the Democratic National Committee and both Clintons – not to mention President Barack Obama – were very naughty indeed – and exceedingly poor losers.
Speculation aside, all Capitol Hill is abuzz about what Mueller will do next. Will he find any US citizens worth singling out, given that we know the Steele dossier was fictional, yet it formed the basis for the current federal investigation – at taxpayer expense.