President Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, acknowledged on Saturday that the evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election is now "incontrovertible" in light of Friday's Justice Department indictment of 13 Russian nationals for "information warfare" during the USA election.
The indictment broadly echoes the conclusions of a January 2017 USA intelligence community assessment, which found that Russian Federation had meddled in the election, and that its goals eventually included aiding Trump, the Republican candidate who went on to win a surprise victory over Democratic Party candidate Clinton in November 2016. In one case, a Russian-controlled account on Instagram, with the name "Woke Blacks", posted, "A$3 particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary".
"As you can see with the Federal Bureau of Investigation indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain" that Moscow interfered in the race, Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Saturday at a conference in Germany.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has dismissed the indictments as absurd.
The indictment says they allegedly purchased advertising on Facebook to allege Clinton was supporting Islamic law.
The Mueller team, however, may well have left out any charges of direct Kremlin ties because such links would be hard to prove in court without revealing US intelligence methods for finding that information.
John Sipher, an expert on Russia's intelligence services, who retired in 2014 after twenty-eight years in the C.I.A., told me that the details in the indictment lay bare how audacious the Russian effort to get Trump elected President was in its brazen, repeated contact with American citizens. The results of the election were not impacted. While President Donald Trump kept opposing U.S. intelligence community's longstanding conclusions of Russian meddling, the sweeping indictment proved otherwise.
As part of the inquiry, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has been charged with conspiring to defraud the U.S. in his dealings with Ukraine, and conspiracy to launder money.
Burchik was identified in the indictment as executive director of an organization accused of sowing propaganda on social media to try to interfere with the 2016 election. White House Press Sec.
A July 2016 Steele memo quotes a Russian source as saying there was evidence of an "extensive conspiracy between campaign team and Kremlin, sanctioned at highest levels and involving Russian diplomatic staff based in the United States".
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that he had already seen evidence Russian Federation was targeting USA elections in November, when Republican control of the House of Representatives and Senate are at stake, plus a host of positions in state governments.
"The nature of the scheme was the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists", Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said in a brief news conference after the indictment was released. "We must not allow them to succeed'". The Russian-based operatives posed as US political activists from all corners. The Justice Department has for years supported indicting foreign defendants in absentia as a way of publicly shaming them and effectively barring them from foreign travel.
"The United States will expose and act against those who use cyberspace, social media and other means to advance campaigns of disinformation, subversion and espionage", McMaster said. It employed hundreds of persons for its online operations with an annual budget of millions of dollars. Aides said Friday he was only referring to the collusion allegations.
In many ways, this indictment is a beginning, not an end. "They see what they want to see".
Also Friday, Mueller announced a guilty plea from a California man who unwittingly sold bank accounts to Russians involved in the interference effort.
The Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based troll phalanx, bought propaganda-laden online ads, created social media accounts "that appeared to be operated by US persons" and researched topics that Americans were interested in, the indictment states.
The indictment charged 13 Russians with running a huge but hidden social media trolling campaign combined with on-the-ground politicking aimed in part at helping Trump defeat his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
"They engaged in operations primarily meant 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", the indictment reads.
Sens. Cruz, R-Texas, and Rubio, R-Fla., ran against Trump in the Republican primary; Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, opposed Clinton in the Democratic primary.
The group was allegedly in contact with "unwitting" members of the Trump campaign, but had a broader "strategic goal to sow discord in the USA political system". In each instance, the Russians used false US personas to contact the officials.
McMaster's sharp accusations were the most pointed from a high White House official regarding charges of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. But both were immediately hit with questions about the US indictment and the broader issue of cyberattacks.
The accused posed as politically and socially active Americans, advocating for and against particular political candidates. "Specialists were instructed to post content that focused on 'politics in the United States of America, '" one section of the document reads, adding that those involved with the interference were told to "use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump - we support them)'".
The Russian influence operation continued in this way through the summer of 2016: via a Facebook group called "Being Patriotic", the IRA organized a "March for Trump".
In Russia, one of the 13 people indicted said the USA justice system is unfair.