Special counsel Robert Mueller has just charged 13 Russian trolls and three companies for undermining the 2016 U.S. presidential election, reports the Daily Beast.
Mueller was appointed last May by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate claims by U.S. intelligence officials that Russia interfered with the country’s electoral process and possibly colluded with the Trump campaign in attempting to do so. This appointment had come on the heels of President Donald Trump’s decision to fire the then-FBI Director James Comey after the latter had refused to stop the investigation.
After months of intense speculation and indictments of former Trump campaign advisers and staffers, including Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Rick Gates, Robert Mueller’s team charged 13 Russian trolls and three companies Friday morning, including Russia’s infamous “troll farm,” with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
The court documents show that Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) had started operations in 2014 with the intent to sow discord in the United States. IRA was reportedly funded by a certain Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin to create fake social media personas, events, and pages to incite polarization among U.S. voters. Some of the pages which have been mentioned in the documents are “United Muslims of America,” “Being Patriotic,” “Florida Goes Trump!”
Breaking News: The special counsel filed the first charges for 2016 election meddling, accusing 13 Russians of using social media to influence U.S. voters https://t.co/hGmaR9yAxA— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 16, 2018
There is little doubt that journalists will be pouring over the documents in the coming days to look for more clues on how the Mueller investigation might pan out now that specific Russian culprits — many of them living in the United States — have been identified and indicted. But perhaps the highest amount of attention will be paid on whether these indictments point in any way toward Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia. One paragraph stands out in the document.
“Some Defendants, posing as US persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign,” one part of the document reads.
Now what is most interesting here is the word “unwitting” individuals. It insinuates that members of the Trump campaign did communicate with Russians, but they did so “unwittingly.” That is the keyword.
Is Robert Mueller trying to tell us that Trump campaign members were reckless and stupid, but not necessarily criminal? The wording sure seems to suggest so.
Having said that, these indictments might just be the beginning of a slew of more implications, and we will have to wait and see if any members of the Trump campaign are charged in the near future. However, at the moment, it sure seems like Donald Trump will evade charges as far as collusion to undermine the U.S. electoral process is concerned.
Fake Russian Instagram accounts encouraged voters in 2016 to vote for third party candidates like Jill Stein, new indictments in the Mueller investigation show.— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) February 16, 2018
Here's what Stein says went down during a visit to Putin's dinner table in Moscow in 2015: https://t.co/mI7P5wNChY pic.twitter.com/gAVFbRQqqG