Special counsel Mueller: Russians conducted ‘information warfare’ against US during election to help Donald Trump win

Special counsel Mueller: Russians conducted ‘information warfare’ against US during election to help Donald Trump win, by Dan Managan.

A federal grand jury has indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for alleged illegal interference in the 2016 presidential elections, during which they strongly supported the candidacy of Donald Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office said Friday.

The indictment says that a Russian organization called the Internet Research Agency sought to wage “information warfare” against the United States and to “sow discord” in the American political system by using fictitious American personas and social media platforms and other Internet-based media.

Internet Research Agency, a so-called “troll farm” based in St. Petersburg, Russia,” was allegedly controlled by a defendant in the indictment named Yevgeny Progozhin, who is a wealthy associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin. …

By early to mid-2016 the defendants were “supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump … and disparaging Hillary Clinton,” the eight-count indictment charges.

The defendants also engaged in operations to “denigrate” Republican primary opponents of Trump such as senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Florida’s Marco Rubio, the indictment said. …

“Some Defendants, posing at U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities,” the indictment claims.

Foreigners are barred from spending money to try to influence the outcome of a federal election. …

As part of their efforts, the defendants also allegedly encouraged minority groups to either not vote for in the election or to vote for a third-party candidate.

Both actions would have hurt Clinton, who received significant support from minority voters.

And after the election of Trump as president in November 2016, the defendants used fake personas to organize and coordinate political rallies in support of Trump, while also doing the same to create rallies “protesting the results” of the election, the indictment said.

On one day, Nov. 12, 2016, the defendants organized a rally in New York to “show your support for President-elect Donald Trump” while at the same time organizing a “Trump is NOT my president rally” that also was held in New York. …

Rosenstein said there is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the scheme — nor is there any allegation that the scheme affected the outcome of the election. …

While Trump and the White House on Friday were quick to claim that the indictment found no collusion by Trump’s campaign with Russia, Bloomberg News reported that Mueller and his prosecutors have not concluded their investigation on that question.

None of this is new. The question, is how much influence did it have? The previous information, such as the proportion of news articles that were faked (1 in 23,000) or the total advertising spend (less than a million, versus over a billion by Hillary) showed that it is probably inconsequential.

The Russians would probably also point out that the US basically bankrolled a coup against the elected government in neighboring Ukraine a few years ago. US interference in the elections or governance arrangements of many other countries has been very widely alleged for decades.