US indicts 13 Russian nationals for election interference in 2016

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FILE - In this June 21, 2017, file photo, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump's transition organization is arguing that a government agency improperly turned over a cache of emails to Mueller as part of his investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia. The complaint by the transition team is the latest attempt to undermine Mueller's investigation in the public sphere. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The office of special counsel Robert Mueller, alleges that Russians used bogus social media postings fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Thirteen Russians and three Russian entities were charged Friday with an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, federal prosecutors announced Friday. The indictment, brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, alleges that Russians used bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the race between Republican Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

The charges are the most direct allegation to date of illegal Russian meddling in the election.The goal, the indictment says, was to “sow discord in the US political system, including the 2016 presidential election.”

Charges include conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.The charges arise from Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the election and whether there was improper coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Before Friday, four people, including Trump’s former national security adviser and former campaign chairman, had been charged in Mueller’s investigation.The White House had no immediate response to the indictment.

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