A federal grand jury has indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for allegedly hacking emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic Party during the 2016 election, the Justice Department announced Friday.
“The internet allows foreign adversaries to attack America in new and unexpected ways,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said during a press conference.
All 12 defendants are members of GRU, the Russian intelligence agency.
The case stems from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. It comes as President Trump plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for a summit in Helsinki on Monday.
The indictment amounted to the clearest allegation yet of Russian meddling in the election, blaming Moscow for the email hacking scandal that rocked the 2016 race by revealing embarrassing and politically damaging discussions by major Democrats. The charges swiftly fueled calls from Democratic lawmakers for Trump to cancel his Putin summit.
But as Trump continues to describe the probe as a “witch hunt,” the White House downplayed the allegations.
“Today’s charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result,” said Lindsay Walters, the deputy White House press secretary. “This is consistent with what we have been saying all along.”
Of the 12 defendants, 11 are charged with conspiracy to commit computer crimes, eight counts of aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to launder money. Another is charged with a separate conspiracy to commit computer crimes.
The 29-page indictment says starting in March 2016, the Russian agents used “a variety of means to hack the email accounts of volunteers and employees” of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Her campaign chairman, John Podesta, famously had his emails leaked during the campaign.
They also targeted campaign committees, like the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the indictment said.
“The conspirators covertly monitored the computers of dozens of DCCC and DNC employees, implanted hundreds of files containing malicious computer code and stole emails and other documents from the DCCC and DNC,” it read.