Mueller charges Russian intelligence officers with hacking DNC, Clinton

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Twelve Russian intelligence officers have been indicted in connection with hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign to “interfere in the 2016 election,” officials announced Friday.

The defendants – two of whom were also charged with orchestrating attacks on state election systems – disseminated the emails through online personas Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks, according to the indictment. They used spearphishing techniques to steal user names, passwords and emails and paid for the operation with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the indictment alleges.

The charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller and announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein come at a diplomatically sensitive time – just days before President Donald Trump has his first formal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

They were detailed at a news conference that began as Trump was meeting with Queen Elizabeth II in London.

Read the full indictment here

Rosenstein said he had briefed Trump on the allegations earlier in the week and that the president was “fully aware” of the charges in the indictment.

“The goal of the conspiracy was to have an impact on the election,” Rosenstein said, adding that the indictment does not allege the Russian conduct changed the vote count or outcome of the 2016 election that put Trump in the White House.

Mueller, who has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign for more than a year, says the 12 defendants in Friday’s indictment are members of GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency.

They allegedly used fake identities and bogus accounts to trick volunteers and employees of Clinton’s 2016 campaign and gain access to usernames and passwords that they used to steal emails and hack into other computers.

They allegedly also hacked into the networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee.

In February, Mueller brought charges against 13 Russian nationals who allegedly carried out a campaign of information warfare – some of it supporting Trump and disparaging Clinton – that he said was aimed at meddling in the 2016 election.