Rod Rosenstein

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

12 Russian Intelligence Officers Accused Of Hacking DNC, Clinton Campaign

July 13, 2018 - 12:25 pm

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880/AP) -- The U.S. Department Justice on Friday announced charges against 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking offenses during the 2016 presidential election.
The indictments were announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as part of the ongoing special counsel probe into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The Russians are accused of hacking into the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.

"The indictment charges 12 Russian military officers by name for conspiring to interfere with the 2016 presidential election," Rosenstein said. “Eleven of the [12> defendants are charged with conspiring to hack into computers, steal documents, and release those documents with the intent to interfere in the election. One of those defendants and a 12th Russian military officer are charged with conspiring to infiltrate computers of organizations involved in administrering elections including state boards of election, secretaries of state and companies that supply software used to administer elections."

Rosenstein said the indictment alleges the defendants are all members of the GRU, a Russian intelligence agency.

Bloomberg Washington Reporter Irv Chapman explained that the hackers are accused of “spear-fishing,” getting their victims to unknowingly click email attachments that infected their computer and gave the Russian agents entrée.
Before Friday, 20 people and three companies had been charged in the Mueller investigation. That includes four former Trump campaign and White House aides and 13 Russians accused of participating in a hidden but powerful social media campaign to sway American public opinion in the 2016 election.

The charges come days before President Donald Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Findland.

After the charges were announced, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) tweeted, "Cancel the Putin meeting. Now."

The White House is stressing that the new indictment contains no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the Trump campaign or that the hacking the Russians are accused of conducting affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. 

Spokeswoman Lindsay Walters adds in her statement that "this is consistent with what we have been saying all along.''

As to whether the Russian officers will ever face trial, Chapman said it is not likely.

“As they say in New York, fuhgeddaboutit,” Chapman told WCBS 880’s Michael Wallace. “You can imagine Donald Trump asking Putin to send these guys to New York for trial. In fact, he said in London he didn’t expect an Ellery Queen moment from Putin, in which he accuses Putin of hacking, and Putin says, ‘You got me!’”

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin's foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov reaffirmed that "the Russian state has never interfered and has no intention of interfering in U.S. elections.'' 

Ushakov spoke Friday, just hours before the U.S. Justice Department announced the charges.
He said the Kremlin believes there are "no objective reasons'' for the current tensions, and that Moscow and Washington must join efforts to tackle global challenges such as international terrorism.

Back in Washington, even with the latest indictments, there is still no indication as to when Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will be wrapping up.

“He’s going with all deliberate speed, putting out indictments as he achieves them, and continuing his probe. And of course, on Capitol Hill, the Senate Intelligence Committee also has been putting out a series of reports backing up what the intelligence agencies have said, very seriously – bipartisan reports, very different from the House Judiciary Committee’s, which have become shouting matches between President Trump’s defenders on the Republican side, and the Democrats who are insisting that Mueller be allowed to finish his work and make his report, and then you can come to judgment,” Chapman said.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)