Feb 16 2018

The Russian Connection: It’s Not A Witch Hunt

The Robert Mueller’s office dropped a 37 page indictment of 13 Russian nationals for interfering in the 2016 election. The scheme began in 2014 and involved “unwitting” American citizens and Trump campaign officials.

This is the report from The Guardian

Mueller’s office said 13 Russians and three Russian entities, including the notorious state-backed “troll farm” the Internet Research Agency, had been indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington DC.

The charges state that from as far back as 2014, the defendants conspired together to defraud the US by “impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of government” through interference with the American political and electoral processes. [..]

One defendant, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, is accused of using companies he controlled – including Concord Management and Consulting, and Concord Catering – to finance the operations against the US. The operation at one stage had a monthly budget of $1.25m, according to Mueller, which paid for operatives’ salaries and bonuses.

Events were organised by Russians posing as Trump supporters and as groups opposed to Trump such as Black Lives Matter, according to prosecutors. One advertisement shortly before the election promoted the Green party candidate Jill Stein, who is blamed by some Clinton backers for splitting the anti-Trump vote.

In August 2016, Russian operatives communicated with Trump campaign staff in Florida through their “@donaldtrump.com” email addresses to coordinate a series of pro-Trump rallies in the state, according to Mueller, and then bought advertisements on social media to promote the events. [..]

The Russians are also accused of working to suppress turnout among ethnic minority voters. They allegedly created an Instagram account posing as “Woke Blacks” and railed against the notion that African Americans should choose Clinton as “the lesser of two devils” against Trump.

In early November 2016, according to the indictment, the Russian operatives used bogus “United Muslims of America” social media accounts to claim that “American Muslims [are] boycotting elections today.”

Following Trump’s victory, the Russian operation promoted allegations of voter fraud by the Democratic party, according to Mueller’s team. Around that time, Trump repeatedly claimed without evidence that he would have won the popular vote if not for large-scale voter fraud.