Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday indicted 12 Russian military officials, accusing them of massive attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election by emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chief and another political committee, and penetrating state elections computers.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the dozen accused used spear phishing emails and malicious software in the cyber-attacks. Brad Ashford, who lost his 2016 race for re-election to Republican Don Bacon, revealed in a Facebook post Friday that "Russian agents" had hacked his campaign emails. Russian Federation has also denied any connection to the breach.
During the campaign, Mr. Trump publicly encouraged Russian Federation to hack Ms. Clinton's e-mails and frequently referenced the hacked documents to assail his opponent.
That evening, the indictment says, the Russians attempted to break into email accounts used by Clinton's personal office, along with 76 Clinton campaign email addresses.
Mr Rosenstein said the conspirators created fictitious online personas, including "DCLeaks" and "Guccifer 2.0", using these identities to release thousands of stolen emails and other documents from June 2016. "The unmistakable conclusion is that Bob Mueller wanted to show that this is not a debatable point", Christie said.
According to the Justice Dept., all the alleged hackers work at the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), the country's foreign intelligence service. Rosenstein said he briefed the president earlier in the week and he is aware of the indictments.
"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing", Trump said, looking directly into TV cameras, at a press conference in Florida that day in which he also cast doubt that Russian Federation was behind the hacking.
"A similar situation occurred in February 2018, when Rosenstein called an unexpected press conference to announce the indictment of 13 Russian nationals and a Kremlin-linked internet firm on charges that they meddled in the 2016 presidential election", USA Today reported.
But aside from the court battle, the charges in the social media case and Friday's hacking indictment serve one major goal: To shine a light on Russian officials' allegedly criminal attempts to hurt American democracy. That company has spent months been wrangling access to evidence in the case - after prosecutors accused them of trying to obtain the evidence as part of a foreign intelligence effort.
Hours before the Justice Department announcement, Mr Trump complained anew that the special counsel's investigation is complicating his efforts to forge a better working relationship with Russian Federation.
While U.S. intelligence agencies have long blamed Russian Federation for the hack, Friday's indictment lays out for the first time the details of how it is believed to have been carried out by two Moscow-based GRU departments, Units 26165 and 74455.
Costello denied Friday that he is the congressional candidate referred to in the indictment and tweeted that he has asked the Justice Department to "clarify if the candidate was ever elected".
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