BREAKING: 6 Shocking Revelations in New Russian Election Interference Indictments
The team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller has announced indictment of 13 Russian individuals and 3 companies in its investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. The companies include the Internet Research Agency, the group Facebook had found spent around $100,000 in ads related to the presidential election, and several companies used to fund the infamous Russian “troll farm”.
The indictment leaves no doubt Russians and Russian entities meddled in U.S. elections. The charges allege the process began in 2014 and went through the 2016 presidential election. This included Russians posing as American citizens or stealing identities of real people and setting up social media pages and groups “for purposes of interfering with the U.S. political system, including the presidential election of 2016”.
1. No More “Fake News” Claims About Russian Meddling. Period.
One section leaves no doubt who the Russians were backing in their activities.
Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign”) and disparaging Hillary Clinton.
2. Russia Communicated With Trump Campaign People
Even more damning, the indictment confirms Russians made contact and communicated with members of the Trump campaign.
Some defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russians association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.
The indictment does not name anyone specific from the Trump campaign and notes the contacts included “unwitting members, volunteers, and supporters of the Trump Campaign”. This indictment does not deal with or exonerate any possible willing American conspirators. Any such individuals could still be named in a future indictment.
The documents also state the actions of the Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency, can be termed “information warfare against the United States of America”.
3. They Focused On Swing States.
Russians began researching the 2016 election in 2014 by travelling to the United States under false pretenses and gathering intelligence. By 2016, they began to apparently focus their efforts on swing states on the advice of a political organizer in Texas.
Defendants and their co-conspirators learned from the real U.S. person that they should focus their activities on “purple states like Colorado, Virginia & Florida.” After that exchange, Defendants and their co-conspirators commonly referred to targeting “purple states” in directing their efforts.
4. The Social Media Campaign was Wide-Ranging.
The Russians created numerous accounts and pages on Facebook and Instagram in order to sow the seeds of their work. They created many different themed pages and groups to reach a wide range of people, including names such as “Secured Borders”, “Blacktivist”, “United Muslims of America”, “Army of Jesus”, and “Heart of Texas”.
Beginning in 2015, the groups began spending money on advertising these pages. The expenditures on advertisements rose to “thousands of U.S. dollars every month”.
The social media campaign also included Twitter. The indictment gives one example of how Russian influence grew with just one account on the platform.
The @TEN_GOP account falsely claimed to be controlled by a U.S. state political party. Over time, the @TEN_GOP account attracted more than 100,000 online followers.
5. The Campaign Began During the Party Primaries.
The attacks were not just in the general election, as has been noted previously. But they were mostly focused on going after Clinton in whatever way they could.
They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.
6. The Effort was Almost Exclusively Targeted At Hillary Clinton.
The focus on Hillary included encouraging minority groups to stay home or vote third party.
[Russians] purchased an advertisement to promote a post on the ORGANIZATION-controlled Instagram account “Blacktivist” that read in part: “Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote.”
Some other paid advertisements included messages such as “Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote”, “Trump is our only hope for a better future!”, and “Ohio Wants Hillary 4 Prison”.
Russians also staged a number of rallies around the country as well. Many were held in battleground states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Most of these appear have been pro-Trump rallies, but a few were pro-Clinton in order to sow more discord.
One of the outlandish things financed by the Russians for these rallies was to wire money to a U.S. person “to build a cage large enough to hold an actress depicting Clinton in a prison uniform”.
The Russian foreign ministry has responded to the indictments by calling them “absurd”.
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images.
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