McMaster: FBI indictments prove Russia meddled in US elections
McMaster’s remarks follow the indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies by a federal grand jury for allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential elections. The case brought by Robert Mueller, special counsel for the Justice Department, details a sophisticated plot to wage “information warfare” against the U.S.
The Russian nationals are accused of setting a “strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 presidential election,” according to the indictment.
Tech giant executives, including those from Facebook and Twitter, testified just weeks ago on Capitol Hill that Russia indeed used social media to disrupt the 2016 White House race and sow discord among voters.
The indictment is the first filed against Russian nationals as part of Mueller’s probe into whether Trump associates colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 elections.
And it indicates the investigation includes looking into whether Russia meddled in the run-up to the elections, following a string of charges relating to the actions of Trump associates.
However, the Justice Department made clear in its case that the indictment does not allege that any of the interference changed the outcome of the presidential race.
“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel probe, said at a Friday press conference.
Russia’s foreign minister dismissed the indictment on Saturday, calling it “just blabber.”
Asked about the indictments Saturday while at the same conference as McMaster, Sergey Lavrov replied: “I have no response. You can publish anything, and we see those indictments multiplying, the statements multiplying.” He argued that U.S. officials also have said no country influenced the U.S. election results.
Lavrov added: “Until we see the facts, everything else is just blabber.”
The 37-page indictment, signed by Mueller, said the actions detailed by prosecutors date back to 2014.
The defendants are accused of spreading derogatory information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, denigrating Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — and ultimately supporting Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and then-Republican candidate Donald Trump.
On Friday, Trump asserted that the indictment proved there was “no collusion” between his campaign and the Russians.
“Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President,” Trump tweeted after the indictment was unveiled. “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion.”
The three entities charged in the indictment are Internet Research Agency LLC, Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering.
The 13 Russians charged are: Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin; Mikhail Ivanovich Bystrov; Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik; Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova; Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva; Sergey Pavlovich Polozov; Maria Anatolyrvna Bovda; Robert Sergetevich Bovda; Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly; Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopaev; Gleb Igorevich Vasilchenko; Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina and Vladimir Venkov.
How can they indict anyone who isn’t even in this country?