Indictments were issued today against 13 Russian nationals suspected of criminal interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election as part of the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation.
The Washington Post reports, “The Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, was named in the indictment as the hub of an ambitious effort to trick Americans into following Russian-fed propaganda that pushed U.S. voters toward then-Republican candidate Donald Trump and away from Democrat Hillary Clinton.”
One of those indicted is known to have close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Nunes: “I Warned About Russia’s Worldwide Influence…”
Following the announcement of indictments, Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) issued a statement about the filing of charges. Nunes is Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russian interference activities.
“The Putin regime presents a pressing threat to American interests, including through Moscow’s long-running influence operations against the United States,” Nunes’ statement reads. “The House Intelligence Committee has been investigating these threats for many years: in 2014—the year the Russians began their operation targeting the 2016 elections—I warned about Russia’s worldwide influence operations.”
His statement continued, “In April 2016 I stated that the United States’ failure to predict Putin’s plans and intentions is ‘the biggest intelligence failure that we’ve had since 9/11.’ Although the Obama Administration failed to act on the Committee’s warnings, it’s gratifying to see that Russian agents involved in these operations have now been identified and indicted.”
Justice Department Investigation Continues
As the Reuters news agency reports, “The charges by the office of Robert Muller described a conspiracy that started in 2014 to disrupt the U.S. election by people who adopted false online personas to push divisive messages; travelled to the United States to collect intelligence; and staged political rallies while posing as Americans.”
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made the announcement of the indictments and made clear the investigation is continuing. He called the charges, “a reminder that people are not always who they appear on the internet. The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote social discord in the United State and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to succeed,” Rosenstein said.