Mueller Accuses Russians of Pro-Trump, Anti-Clinton Meddling
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller unveiled the details of a widespread and coordinated campaign by Russians to influence the U.S. presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, delivering on his initial mandate by the Justice Department.
In an indictment announced Friday in Washington, Mueller describes a years-long, multimillion-dollar conspiracy by hundreds of Russians aimed at criticizing Hillary Clinton and supporting Senator Bernie Sanders and Trump. Mueller charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities and accused them of defrauding the U.S. government by interfering with the political process.
Prosecutors provided a remarkably detailed picture of how Russians used social media, fake rallies and secretive operatives in the U.S. to create “political intensity” by backing radical groups, opposition social movements and disaffected voters. The outreach from the Russians included direct contact with over 100 Americans.
This “information warfare” by the Russians didn’t affect the outcome of the presidential election, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters. Trump and his Republican supporters have repeatedly denounced the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” and have denied any collusion. The indictment cites no instances of Russians coordinating directly with the Trump campaign.
Still, the accusations detail unprecedented foreign attempts to influence the outcome of a U.S. election, including the manipulation of accounts at big U.S. companies like Facebook, Twitter, PayPal and Instagram. Those companies will continue to face pressure to clamp down on fraudulent accounts or risk a government crackdown as intelligence officials have warned that Russians are already engaged in influencing the 2018 midterm elections.