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Mueller Indicts 12 Russian Spies for Hacking in 2016 Campaign

Tom Schoenberg

Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking offenses related to the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

The 12, who are members of the GRU, a Russian intelligence agency, are accused of stealing usernames and passwords of volunteers in Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign, including its chairman John Podesta. They also hacked into the computer network of the Democratic National Committee.

The charges include conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S., aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to launder money. They are accused of releasing the stolen emails on a website, dcleaks.com.

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The announcement came only three days before President Donald Trump is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

With the charges, Mueller’s prosecutors have marked out another Internet pathway they say Russia used to influence the U.S. election. On Feb. 16, his prosecutors charged 13 Russians and three Russian entities they said were part of a broader effort to sow discord among U.S. voters through social media -- which they used to impersonate Americans, coordinate with unwitting U.S. activists and even plan rallies.

Trump told reporters in London Friday that he will “absolutely firmly” ask Putin about the finding by U.S. intelligence agencies that he authorized the campaign of interference. But he added, “I don’t think you’ll have any ‘Gee, I did it, I did it, you got me” confession.

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Trump has frequently dismissed the Russia probe as a “witch hunt” and expressed his anger that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from overseeing the investigation. That put Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in charge, and he promptly appointed former FBI Director Mueller as special counsel.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Putin personally ordered a campaign to undermine “public faith in the U.S. democratic process” with the goal of hurting Clinton’s candidacy and ultimately helping to elect Trump.

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Because Mueller has maintained public silence on his investigation, Rosenstein has made the few public pronouncements on the probe outside of legal documents and courtroom proceedings.

Updates with more from indictment starting in second paragraph.

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