A dozen Russian military intelligence officers were indicted Friday on charges they hacked Democrats’ computers, stole their data and published those files to disrupt the 2016 election – the clearest connection to the Kremlin established so far by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of interference in the presidential campaign.
The indictment against members of the Russian military agency known as the GRU marks the first time Mueller has taken direct aim at the Russian government, accusing specific military units and their named officers of a sophisticated, sustained effort to hack the computer networks of Democratic organizations and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the charges at a midday news conference. Mueller, as has been his practice, did not attend the announcement. Court records show that a grand jury Mueller has been using returned an indictment Friday morning.
The suspects “covertly monitored the computers, implanted hundreds of files containing malicious computer code, and stole emails and other documents,” Rosenstein said. “The goal of the conspirators was to have an impact on the election. What impact they may have had . . . is a matter of speculation; that’s not our responsibility.”
The indictment comes days before President Donald Trump is due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland. Rosenstein said he briefed Trump earlier this week on the charges.
Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said on Twitter that the indictments “are good news for all Americans. The Russians are nailed. No Americans are involved.” He then called on Mueller “to end this pursuit of the president and say President Trump is completely innocent.”
The 11-count, 29-page indictment describes in granular detail a carefully planned and executed attack on the information security of Democrats, as Russian government hackers implanted hundreds of malware files on Democrats’ computer systems to steal information. The hackers then laundered the pilfered material through fake personas called DC Leaks and Guccifer 2.0, as well as others, to try to influence voters.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky ·