12 Russian Agents Indicted in Mueller Investigation

WASHINGTON — The particular counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election issued an indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers on Friday in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential marketing campaign. The indictment got here solely three days earlier than President Trump was planning to satisfy with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Helsinki, Finland.

The 29-page indictment is essentially the most detailed accusation by the American authorities up to now of the Russian authorities’s interference in the 2016 election, and it features a litany of brazen Russian subterfuge operations meant to foment chaos in the months earlier than Election Day.

From phishing assaults to realize entry to Democratic operatives, to cash laundering, to makes an attempt to interrupt into state elections boards, the indictment particulars a vigorous and sophisticated effort by Russia’s high army intelligence service to sabotage the marketing campaign of Mr. Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

The timing of the indictment, by Robert S. Mueller III, the particular counsel, added a jolt of stress to the already freighted environment surrounding Mr. Trump’s assembly with Mr. Putin. It is all however sure to feed into the conspiratorial views held by the president and a few of his allies that Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors are decided to undermine Mr. Trump’s designs for a rapprochement with Russia.

The president has lengthy expressed doubt that Russia was behind the 2016 assaults, and the 11-count indictment illustrates much more the gap between his skepticism and the almost unanimous views of the intelligence and legislation enforcement businesses he leads.

“Free and fair elections are hard fought and contentious, and there will always be adversaries who work to exacerbate domestic differences and try to confuse, divide and conquer us,” Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy legal professional common, mentioned Friday throughout a information convention asserting the indictment.

“So long as we are united in our commitment to the shared values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed,” he mentioned.

It was a hanging assertion a day after Republican members of Congress, engaging in a shouting match during a hearing, attacked Peter Strzok, the F.B.I. agent who oversaw the early days of the Russia investigation, and questioned the integrity of the Justice Department for what they charged was bias towards the president.

The announcement created a weird cut up display on cable networks of the information convention on the Justice Department and the solemn pageant at Windsor Castle in England, the place Mr. Trump and his spouse, Melania, had been reviewing royal guards with Queen Elizabeth II.

Russia has denied that its authorities had any function in hacking the presidential election, and on Friday, Mr. Trump mentioned he would confront Mr. Putin straight. But the president mentioned he didn’t anticipate his Russian counterpart to acknowledge it.

“I don’t think you’ll have any, ‘Gee, I did it, you got me,’” Mr. Trump mentioned throughout a information convention hours earlier than the indictment was introduced. He added that there wouldn’t be any “Perry Mason” — a reference to the 1950s and 1960s courtroom TV drama in which Perry Mason, a prison protection lawyer performed by Raymond Burr, usually acquired folks to admit. “I will absolutely firmly ask the question.”

But Mr. Trump additionally mentioned he believed that the give attention to Russia’s election meddling and whether or not his marketing campaign was concerned had been merely partisan points that made it tougher for him to determine nearer ties with Mr. Putin.

The Kremlin agreed. An announcement on Friday from Russia’s Foreign Ministry mentioned that the indictment was meant to “spoil the atmosphere before the Russian-American summit.”

[Read the indictment right here.]

After the indictment was introduced, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic chief, and others in his celebration known as on Mr. Trump to cancel his one-on-one assembly with Mr. Putin.

The indictment, Mr. Schumer mentioned in an announcement, was “further proof of what everyone but the president seems to understand: President Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections to help President Trump win.” He added that “glad-handing with Vladimir Putin” would “be an insult to our democracy.”

The indictment builds on a declassified report launched in January 2017 by a number of intelligence businesses, which concluded that “Putin and the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

Mr. Trump has lengthy questioned the findings of intelligence businesses, suggesting alternate situations for who might need carried out the hacking campaigns. “It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, O.K.?” Mr. Trump mentioned throughout the first presidential debate in September 2016.

Friday’s indictment didn’t embrace any accusations that the Russian efforts succeeded in influencing the election outcomes, nor proof that any of Mr. Trump’s advisers knowingly coordinated with the Russian marketing campaign — a degree instantly seized upon by the president’s allies.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, mentioned in a Twitter post that the indictment confirmed “no Americans are involved,” and he known as on Mr. Mueller to finish the inquiry. “The Russians are nailed,” Mr. Giuliani wrote.

Still, the indictment added curious new particulars to the occasions main as much as the November 2016 elections.

The indictment revealed that on July 27, 2016, Russian hackers tried for the primary time to interrupt into the servers of Mrs. Clinton’s private workplaces. It was the identical day that Mr. Trump publicly encouraged Russia to hack Mrs. Clinton’s emails.

“I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump mentioned throughout a information convention in Florida. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

The indictment doesn’t point out these remarks.

Separately, the indictment states that the hackers had been speaking with “a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign.” Two authorities officers recognized the particular person as Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime adviser to Mr. Trump and the topic of shut scrutiny by the F.B.I. and Mr. Mueller’s staff. There is not any indication that Mr. Stone knew he was speaking with Russians.

Communicating on Aug. 15 as Guccifer 2.zero, an internet persona, the Russian hackers wrote: “thank u for writing back … do u find anyt[h]ING interesting In the docs i posted?”

Two days later, the hackers wrote the particular person once more, including, “please tell me If i can help u anyhow … it would be a great pleasure to me.”

In one other interplay a number of weeks later, the hackers, once more writing as Guccifer 2.zero, pointed to a doc stolen from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and posted on-line, asking, “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.”

The particular person replied: “[p]retty standard.”

Friday’s indictment is a “big building block in the narrative being constructed for the American people regarding what happened during the election,” mentioned Raj De, the chairman of the cybersecurity observe at Mayer Brown and the previous common counsel of the National Security Agency.

By pulling collectively threads that Americans have examine for years — together with the hacking of political establishments and campaigns, the dissemination of hacked emails and the makes an attempt to compromise state election infrastructure — “this shows that the Russian campaign to impact the election was more coordinated and strategic than some have given it credit,” Mr. De mentioned. “This indictment is our clearest window into that campaign.”

The doc is a portrait of a coordinated and well-executed assault that focused greater than 300 folks affiliated with the Clinton marketing campaign, in addition to different Democratic Party organizations. They implanted malicious laptop code into computer systems, covertly monitored their customers and stole their recordsdata that led to a collection of disastrous leaks.

Investigators recognized the 12 people in the indictment greater than a 12 months in the past, in line with an individual with information of the investigation who was not approved to talk publicly about it.

Starting in April 2016, the hackers started to unfold their stolen recordsdata utilizing a number of on-line personas, together with DC Leaks and Guccifer 2.zero. The tens of hundreds of stolen paperwork had been launched in levels that wreaked havoc on the Democratic Party all through a lot of the election season.

The Russians additionally labored with folks and organizations that had been in a place to unfold the knowledge, together with WikiLeaks, recognized in the indictment as “Organization 1.”

According to the indictment, WikiLeaks wrote to Guccifer 2.zero in July 2016 asking for “anything Hillary related” in the approaching days.

Most of the Russian intelligence officers charged in Friday’s indictment labored for the Russian army intelligence company, previously often known as the G.R.U. and now known as the Main Directorate.

While lots of the broad components of the Russian scheme had been identified earlier than, investigators haven’t beforehand mentioned how the Russian brokers paid for the hacking marketing campaign. The hackers’ use of cryptocurrency was one of many final items to fall into place for investigators in a case that they’ve been engaged on for greater than a 12 months.

The indictment launched Friday mentioned that the brokers dealt with essentially the most delicate transactions with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. The Malaysian laptop server that hosted DCLeaks.com, as an example, was paid for with the digital forex.

Because Bitcoin capabilities with none central authority, the know-how “allowed the conspirators to avoid direct relations with traditional financial institutions, allowing them to evade greater scrutiny of their identities and sources of funds,” the indictment mentioned.

The Russian brokers had a number of strategies for buying Bitcoin, in line with the indictment. At one level, the brokers had been really mining new Bitcoin, a course of that includes utilizing computer systems to unlock new Bitcoin by fixing advanced computational issues.

The indictment’s extraordinary particulars could elevate pointed questions on actions taken and never taken by American intelligence businesses and the Obama administration because the Russian marketing campaign unfolded.

In many cases, the indictment describes the actions of particular person Russian intelligence officers on explicit dates. It is unclear from the indictment whether or not American intelligence businesses, primarily the National Security Agency, had been watching in actual time because the Russians ready for and carried out their assaults towards Democratic targets in spring 2016.

It was not till October 2016 that the federal government put out its first public assertion on the Russian intrusion. If Americans knew a lot earlier about Russian actions, there will likely be questions on why they didn’t warn the targets, strive countermeasures or name Russia out publicly earlier than they did.

It is feasible, nevertheless, that American spies didn’t detect the Russian assaults in actual time, however reconstructed them later by finding out the hacked Democratic networks and probably breaking into Russian techniques to look at logs.

Some consultants mentioned that the granular element in the indictment was a warning to teams who is likely to be eyeing future assaults.

“Even from a historical perspective, I can’t think of a case when someone went into this level of naming and shaming,” mentioned Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic research at Johns Hopkins University. “This is really significant.”

“There is going to be a deterrent effect on third parties,” he mentioned. “If you are doing this kind of work, there are now so many examples of you finding your name in an indictment, it will definitely have an effect.”

Reporting was contributed by Julie Hirschfeld Davis from London; Nicholas Fandos, Matthew Rosenberg, Michael Wines and Scott Shane from Washington; and Sheera Frenkel and Nathaniel Popper from San Francisco.

A model of this text seems in print on , on Page A1 of the New York version with the headline: 12 Russian Agents Charged In Drive To Upset ’16 Vote. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe


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