Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has indicted twelve Russian military officers for crimes related to the 2016 presidential election.
The officers are accused of hacking into the Democratic National Committee server and stealing the login information of Clinton campaign associates including campaign chairman John Podesta, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Friday during a press conference at the Department of Justice.
The charges against the hackers, who are members of the Russian GRU intelligence agency, include aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to launder money, and illegally releasing the stolen data.
“The object of the conspiracy was to hack into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the indictment reads.
The U.S. intelligence community has previously asserted that Putin himself ordered Russian efforts to damage “public faith in the U.S. democratic process” as well as hurt Clinton’s chances of winning.
The hackers also targeted state and local officials responsible for administering elections, Rosenstein said, but the indictment contains no allegations against any American citizen and no claim that the election was ultimately influenced.
President Trump will hold his first official summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland on Monday.
The president said as he participated in this week’s NATO summit that his meeting with Putin could end up being the “easiest” of his sitdowns with world leaders.
Rosenstein said the timing of the announcement, just before the Putin summit, simply has to do with when the indictment information became available.
“The internet allows foreign adversaries to attack Americans in new and unexpected ways,” the deputy attorney general said. “Free and fair elections are hard-fought and contentious and there will always be adversaries who work to exacerbate domestic differences and try to confuse, divide, and conquer us.”
Rosenstein said he has briefed Trump about the allegations before the news broke.