Mueller indicts 13 Russians for alleged election meddling, FBI says outcome of election not impacted

On Friday, news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller signed indictments against 13 Russian individuals and three Russian entities for allegedly attempting to defraud Americans and meddle in the 2016 election.  In a statement, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said it does not appear the effort impacted the outcome of the election and no American was named as a willing conspirator.

The defendants are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, while three are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud and five others are charged with aggravated identity theft.

CBS News tweeted:

According to the 37-page indictment, which can be seen here, the Russians — who allegedly started their efforts years before the election — even organized competing rallies for and against Trump after the election.

According to Bloomberg:

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. But 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 from intelligence officials who have warned that Russians are already engaged in influencing the 2018 midterm elections.

Although there’s no evidence of any direct collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, the issue isn’t settled.

“They’re charging what they know,” Richard Painter, the chief ethics adviser in the George W. Bush administration, said. “The contact with the Trump campaign might be unwitting in this case, but that doesn’t mean that the collaboration issue is finished.”

Which means the witch hunt continues.

Wayne Dupree correctly noted:

The entire primary premise of Robert Mueller’s investigation is a dry hole, so he’s just trying to justify his existence and all the money spent by going after some small fry on a few technical charges.

Let’s be crystal clear; the US has interfered in foreign elections a LOT. Even Barack Obama got involved with a few overseas elections (Great Britain and Israel come to mind). Let’s not pretend that we’re somehow shocked that any foreign government would try to run a few ads and use some social marketing. We’ve done it plenty. Stop being naive. We can’t really complain if we’ve done it a lot ourselves.

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