US Indicts Russians Behind Social Media Election Meddling

"Hundreds" of people were said to have been involved in the operation, working in shifts and with a budget of millions of dollars.

A "Support Hillary, Save American Muslims" rally was also part of a project to disparage Hillary Clinton.

Russia's former ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, similarly dismissed the detailed allegations contained in the indictment as "simply fantasies".

The Russians sought to measure the impact of their online social media operations, tracking the size of us audiences reached through posts and other types of engagement, such as likes, comments and reposts, according to the indictment.

Some of the defendants, posing as United States persons, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign, the indictment said.

Deputy Attorney General Rod J Rosenstein said the indictment served as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the Internet.

"For someone who seems to enjoy playing the role of campaign operative in America, you'd think Putin would have the confidence to allow free and fair elections in Russian Federation", he said.

"If these things did happen - they may be guilty of identity theft and certainly didn't register as foreign agents - but the idea that this had an impact on the election is farcical". But it adds that the Russians "communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign", and it offers no claims of a conspiracy.

McMaster has expressed his confidence in the Russian election-meddling allegations before, and his new comments on Saturday were once again at odds with the views of his boss.

The indictment names the Internet Research Agency, based in St Petersburg, Russia; 13 Russian nationals; and two other companies.

Russian Federation is also suspected of hacking and leaking embarrassing Democratic e-mails. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSasse statement: Trump nominee who spread conspiracy theories has a "tinfoil hat" Coalition of 44 groups calls for passage of drug pricing bill For the sake of our democracy, politicians must stop bickering MORE (R-Texas), Sen. Other current and former senior White House officials have already met with the special counsel's office as he examines the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and misleading statements about the Trump Tower meeting.

The evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 American election is beyond dispute, President Donald Trump's national security adviser has told an worldwide conference.

Trump meanwhile has seized on the indictments as proof that his campaign team did not conspire with Moscow.

Two of the defendants reportedly travelled to the United States in 2014 to collect intelligence for their American political influence operations.

The IRA may have operated in many ways like a faux news organization but its products were anything but real: the social media interference arm included, by July 2016, more than 80 employees, including those dubbed internally as "specialists" tasked with creating and operating fake online personas and posting content to online social platforms.

The Russians measured the impact of their social media operations by tracking the size of the U.S. audience reached through social posts and other types of engagement, such as likes, comments, and reposts. And not an altogether logical one, says Thomas Rid, a professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies who has testified before Congress on Russian disinformation.

  • Rogelio Becker