As Trump arrived to have tea with the Queen of England, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russian military officers for crimes related to the Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election.
An indictment presented by the special counsel’s office. The indictment charges 12 Russian military officers by name for conspiring to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. 11 of the 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 administering the elections, including state boards of election, secretaries of state, and companies that supply software used to administer according to the allegations in the indictment, the defendants worked for two units of the main intelligence directorate of the Russian general staff known as the GRU. The units engaged in active cyber operations to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. There was one unit that engaged in active cyber operations by stealing information, and a different unit that was responsible for disseminating the stolen information. The defendants used two techniques to steal information. First, they used a scheme known as spearfishing which involves sending misleading e-mail messages and tricking the users into disclosing their passwords and security information. Secondly, the defendants hacked into computer networks and installed malicious software that allowed them to spy on users and capture keystrokes, take screenshots, and exfiltrate or remove data from those computers.
The U.S. Presidential campaign, including the campaign chairman, starting in March of 2016. They also hacked into the computer networks of a congressional campaign committee and a national political committee. The defendants covertly monitored the computers and planted hundreds of files containing malicious computer code and stole e-mails and other documents. The conspirators created fictitious online personas including dcleaks and guccifer 2.0 and used those personas to release information including thousands of stolen e-mails and other documents beginning in June of 2016.
The defendants falsely claimed that dcleaks was a group of American hackers and that guccifer 2.0 was a lone Romanian hacker. In fact, both were created and controlled by the Russian GRU. In addition to releasing documents directly to the public, the defendants transferred stolen documents to another organization that is not identified by name in the indictment and they used that organization as a passthrough to release the documents. They discussed the timing of the release in an attempt to enhance the impact on the election. In an effort to conceal their connections to Russia, the defendants used a network of computers around the world and they paid for it using cryptocurrencies.
The conspirators corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the interpret. There is no allegation in this indictment that the Americans knew that they were corresponding with Russian intelligence officers. In a second, related conspiracy, Russian GRU officers hacked the website of a state election board and stole information about 500,000 voters. They also hacked into computers of a company that supplied software used to verify voter registration information. They targeted state and local officials responsible for administering elections and they sent spearfishing e-mails to people involved in administering elections including attaching malicious software. The indictment includes 11 criminal allegations and a forfeiture allegation. Count 1 charges 11 defendants for conspiring to access computers without authorization and to damage those computers in connection with efforts to interfere with the presidential election.
Counts 2 through 9 charge those 11 defendants with aggravated identity theft by employing usernames and passwords of victims in order to commit computer fraud. Count 10 charges those 11 defendants with money laundering for transferring cryptocurrencies through a web of transactions in order to purchase computer servers, register domains, and make other payments in furtherance of their hacking activities while trying to conceal their connections to Russia. Count 11 charges two defendants for separate conspiracy, to access computers without authorization and to damage those computers in connection with efforts to infiltrate computers used to administer elections. Finally, the indictment seeks the forfeiture of property involved in the criminal activity. There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime. There is no allegation that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result.
Russia was working to get Trump elected
The latest round of indictments shows that at some level it doesn’t matter what the Trump did or did not do. Putin was trying to get Trump elected. That is the takeaway from these developments. Donald Trump did not win the presidential election on his own. He was installed by Putin. Trump’s legitimacy has been in question since he took office, and now the American people are beginning to find out how far Putin went to get his man into the Oval Office.
There is no recall for presidents, or mechanism to nullify an election. If Donald Trump was illegitimately elected, and he participated in crimes to win the presidency, he will likely be impeached. If he was illegitimately elected and did not commit any crimes, voters will have to remove him from office via the ballot box in 2020.
Either way, Trump has zero legitimacy.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association