A federal grand jury impaneled by special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities Friday for their alleged roles in interfering with the 2016 presidential election.
A statement from the special counsel’s office said that the defendants are “accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes,” NPR reports. They are charged with “conspiracy to defraud the United States.” In addition, three of the defendants have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five are charged with aggravated identity theft.
Court documents say that some of the defendants traveled to the United States or “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with [President Trump’s campaign] and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”
These indictments provide the most detail yet about just who was involved in the activities meant to disrupt the U.S. political process.
During a news conference Friday afternoon, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—who oversees Mueller’s investigation—said that the Russian efforts were “information warfare” with “the stated goal of spreading distrust against the candidates and the political system in general.”
But Rosenstein was also quick to make clear that there is “no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity,” and “no allegation that this activity actually altered the outcome of the 2016 election,” which we can assume is his way of saying that the president and those involved in his campaign may not have colluded with the Russians.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, was not as creative with his words. He tweeted Friday that the indictments prove that there was no collusion.
“Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President,” he wrote. “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!”
His tweet does, however, seemingly corroborate the fact that there was Russian interference in the election—something that he has previously seemed to doubt.
These indictments are cool and all, and Imma let Mueller finish, but we definitely need to get to the fucking meat of the investigation.
I’ve had enough appetizers.