Mueller Charges 13 Russians in Elaborate Plot to Sow Discord and Influence 2016 Election

In an extraordinary indictment, the U.S. special counsel has accused 13 Russians of an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, charging them with running a huge but hidden social media trolling campaign aimed in part at helping Republican Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.The federal indictment, brought Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller, represents the most detailed allegations to date of illegal Russian meddling during the campaign that sent Trump to the White House. It also marks the first criminal charges against Russians believed to have secretly worked to influence the outcome.

“With the FBI indictment, the evidence is now incontrovertible” of Moscow’s interference in the race, Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Saturday at a conference in Germany. Moments earlier, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, speaking through an interpreter, had dismissed the indictment as “just blabber.”

The Russian organization was funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the indictment says. He is a wealthy St. Petersburg businessman with ties to the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin.

Trump quickly claimed vindication Friday, noting in a tweet that the alleged interference efforts began in 2014 — “long before I announced that I would run for President.”

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