President Donald Trump tweeted Friday in response to a grand jury indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three companies accused of interfering in U.S. elections from 2014 through 2016, a move resulting from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
"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," Trump tweeted. "The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!"
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2018
The 37-page indictment indicates 12 of the 13 Russian nationals indicted on allegations of conspiracy to defraud the United States had worked for the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian company based in St. Petersburg with on an annual budget of millions of dollars. One individual, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, is alleged to have funded the conspiracy through Concord Management and Consulting LLC, Concord Catering, and many subsidiaries and affiliates, the New York Times reported.
The indictment includes allegations against the IRA and two additional Russian entities, which have been accused of perpetrating a "scheme to interfere in the United States political system" during the 2016 elections.
The indictment charges that the IRA operated through Russian shell companies, employing hundreds of persons for its online tactics. It further indicates Russian nationals hid their activities by purchasing space on computer servers located in the United States. Through those servers, they created hundreds of "accounts on social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, making it appear that the accounts were controlled by persons within the United States," according to the Department of Justice.
The charges include allegations the Russian nationals falsely posed as American citizens and stole American citizens' identities for the betterment of their operations. They are alleged to have established social media pages and groups to influence political and cultural views, and armed with American identities, they purchased political advertisements on social media.
The White House released a statement shortly after the indictment was announced, drawing sharp attention to the administration's continued stance that there was "NO COLLUSION" between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump also called for Americans to come together.
"It is more important than ever before to come together as Americans. We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful," Trump said. "It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories, which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia, and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions. We must unite as Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections."
White House statement on Russia indictments: "there was NO COLLUSION" pic.twitter.com/X6aUVzcAgG
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) February 16, 2018
In a press briefing Thursday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the indictment of the Russian nationals does not include allegations that any American knowingly participated in unlawful activity.
"This indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the Internet," Rosenstein said. "The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to succeed. The Department of Justice will continue to work cooperatively with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and with the Congress, to defend our nation against similar current and future schemes. I want to thank the federal agents and prosecutors working on this case for their exceptional service."
The Department of Justice also clarified there are no allegations in the indictment that those charged altered the outcome of the 2016 election.