A United States federal grand jury has charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies with plotting to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The indictment, announced by the Justice Department, came from the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The indictment says the defendants used fake social media accounts and stolen identities to influence political opinion.
The Russians’ goal was to create conflict, the indictment says. It says the defendants’ efforts were meant to help the campaign of Republican Party candidate Donald Trump and hurt that of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party nominee.
The charges also say the defendants communicated with “unwitting individuals” linked to the Trump campaign and activists to organize political activities.
President Trump himself has rejected any Russian interference in the campaign. On Friday, the president wrote on Twitter: “Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!”
The Justice Department named Mueller special counsel in May. The office is under orders to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”
Last October, the grand jury also indicted Paul Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign chairman and Rick Gates, another top campaign official. They were charged in connection with their work for the government of Ukraine, two Ukrainian political parties, and former president Viktor Yanukovych.
George Papadopoulos, another advisor for the Trump campaign admitted he had lied to federal investigators about meetings with a Russian agent in connection with the campaign.
In December, a former national security advisor for Trump, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty in an investigation led by Mueller’s office.
Flynn admitted to lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, before Trump’s inauguration. Court papers also say that Flynn knows the identities of members of Trump’s transition team that had detailed knowledge of his outreach to Russia.
I'm Dorothy Gundy.
Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on AP and VOA news reports. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
indictment - n. an official written statement charging a person with a crime
defendant - n. a person who is being accused of a crime in a court of law
fake - adj. not real
account - n. a person's internet or service from a company
unwitting - adj. not aware of what is really happening
coordination - n. a process of organizing people or group to work together
associate - v. to work together or connect
transition - n. a change from one administration to another