Just days before President Donald Trump will hold a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Attorney General Rod Rosenstein dropped a bombshell indictment in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation charging 12 Russian intelligence agents with hacking-related crimes. The Kremlin denies it interfered.
"So long as we are united in our commitment to the shared values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed", he added.
The hackers worked for the spy agency called the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, or the GRU, the indictment said.
The Russians involved belong to the military service GRU and are allegedly responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee staffers emails, including those of chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Mrs. Clinton's campaign chair, John Podesta, and voting information on over 500,000 Americans.
A former Justice Department official who was previously involved in the Russian Federation probe said the charges should serve as a warning for the U.S.to buttress its election security as Americans prepare to vote in congressional elections this November.
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Thirty-two people have so far been indicted as part of the probe into election interference, which started months after Trump's inauguration in January 2017 and repeatedly described by the president as a "witch-hunt".
The indictment of Russian nationals further expands on the USA intelligence community's assessment a year ago that Russia meddled in the 2016 election in an effort to assist Trump's candidacy.
Charges levied against the defendants include interfering with the U.S. state boards of election and obtaining unauthorized access to private information belonging to the secretaries of state by "conspir [ing] to hack into [their] computers".
The indictment alleges the unnamed person had been in touch with senior members of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and exchanged Twitter direct messages with Guccifer 2.0, an online pseudonym of Russian operatives. Back in 2016, Wikileaks published a DNC email dump that disclosed private conversations. Those messages match ones that Stone previously released relating to the hacker Guccifer 2.0.
"The Russians are nailed". And make no mistake, these indictments are mostly to show that this special counsel is working because no one, including Mueller and Rosenstein, has any faith they will get their day in court with 12 Russians.
Those charged include Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, who admitted guilt to one count of lying to investigators on December 1; former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's longtime partner and deputy campaign chair Rick Gates and campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.