Russian intel officers indicted for hacking the DNC and Clinton campaign

Rod Rosenstein

Modal Trigger Rod Rosenstein AP

The indictment - announced days before US President Donald Trump's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin - stands as the clearest Justice Department allegation yet of Russian efforts to interfere, through illegal hacking, in the election before Americans went to the polls.

According to CNN's Jake Tapper, "Prosecutors from Robert Mueller's Special Counsel's Office and the Justice Department's National Security Division visited the courtroom of a federal magistrate judge in DC this return a grand jury indictment".

The GRU, which answers to the Russian military's General Staff, is part of the state machine and its involvement would indicate that the orders to interfere in the USA election came from the very top.

Twelve indictments were filed by the office of United States special counsel Robert Mueller, who was brought on a year ago to investigate Russian interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Mr Rosenstein said the defendants corresponded with several Americans during the alleged conspiracy, but added there is no allegation that any USA citizen committed a crime. The recipient is then often asked to enter personal information. His team is investigating efforts by Russian Federation to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

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As the journalist Marcy Wheeler points out, the indictment also indicates that Russia had access to the Clinton team's analytics, which could offer the Russians a guide to targeting voters as part of their effort to hurt Clinton's campaign.

But Rosenstein said that responsibility for this prosecution - which is unlikely to go forward to a trial in court as Russian Federation is unlikely to extradite the suspects who've been charged - would pass from Mueller's office to the National Security division of the Justice Department.

Today's latest, and nearly certainly not last, indictments in the Russia scandal concern 12 Russian intelligence figures.

The indictment was announced at nearly exactly the moment that Trump rolled into the quadrangle of Windsor Castle to meet the awaiting Queen Elizabeth II in the symbolic highpoint of his visit to Britain.

On Friday, Mr. Trump seemed unconcerned at the notion of Russian hacking, suggesting there was not much he could do if Mr. Putin denied it. The Russians are nailed. "Time for Mueller to end this pursuit of the President and say President Trump is completely innocent".

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The dozen accused used spearphishing emails and malware in their cyberattacks to infiltrate networks of the Democratic Congressional Committee and Democratic National Campaign Committee to steal documents. "This is no witch hunt".

"There was one unit that engaged in active cyber operations by stealing information and a different unit responsible for disseminating the stolen information", Rosenstein said, reports the Washington Post.

The indictment also said a "candidate for US Congress" contacted Guccifer 2.0 to obtain the files - though the candidate was not named, nor is it known if the candidate won.

The candidate was not identified.

The Russian operatives, under the Guccifer 2.0 persona, responded and sent the candidate stolen documents.

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