US authorities on Friday said they have indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers for alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, won by Republican Donald Trump.
JUL 14, 2018: President Donald Trump is tweeting about golf, blaming his predecessor for election hacking and hate-watching CNN, two days before a high-stakes summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Trump is spending the weekend at his seaside Trump Turnberry golf resort in Scotland.
Aides had said he’d be busy preparing for Monday’s summit in Helsinki, but Trump spent the first part of Saturday tweeting.
Trump blamed former President Barack Obama for failing to stop a dozen Russian military intelligence officers from hacking into emails belonging to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party.
“The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration. Why didn’t they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?,” Trump tweeted.
He also continued to criticize CNN. Trump mocked network president Jeff Zucker as “Little Jeff Z” following a spat with a CNN correspondent at a news conference Friday in Britain.
His “specific” position on Russia is being taken as a considerably bigger challenge to the NATO alliance’s security.
Trump has even left the door open to recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, saying that such a move would be up for discussion during his meeting with Putin in Helsinki.
According to Trump, Russia has invested heavily in Crimea since its annexation and the peninsula should probably belong to Russia anyway, because… everyone there speaks Russian.
The mere fact of the Helsinki meeting is a boost for Moscow’s efforts to ease its international isolation, commented Carnegie Europe.
US indicts 12 Russians on 2016 election meddling charges
Authorities in the United States say they have indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers for alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, won by Republican Donald Trump.
The accused were part of “active cyber operations to interfere in the 2016 presidential elections”, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told a press conference on Friday.
The 12 individuals hacked into computer systems of 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, stole information and then made the obtained documents public while working for the Russian GRU military intelligence service, the indictment said.
“One unit engaged by stealing information, a different unit by disseminating the information,” Rosenstein said.
In a response to the indictment, the Russian foreign ministry said there was no evidence the 12 individuals were connected to the GRU or other parts of the military intelligence.
The ministry also said there was no evidence the 12 were involved with the hacking into the computer networks of the US Democratic party.
According to the ministry, the indictment was meant to damage the atmosphere before a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump in Finland’s capital, Helsinki, on Monday.
According to US officials, the group used two separate techniques to gain access to targeted computer systems.
One of these was sending fake emails that would ask the receiver for login information and then sending that email covertly to the operatives – a technique called spearfishing.
The other was by hacking computer systems and installing malicious software capable of registering keystrokes, taking screenshots and stealing documents.
To make the information public, the indicted individuals then created fake accounts, two of which were specifically mentioned: DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0.
“The defendants falsely claimed DCLeaks was American and that Guccifer 2.0 was a sole Romanian hacker,” Rosenstein said.
“Both were created and controlled by the Russian GRU,” he added.
The information was then spread to “an unnamed organisation which was used a pass-through”, Rosenstein said.
According to the indictment, the hackers also stole personal information of at least 500,000 voters and gained entry to a system involved with voter registration.
Rosenstein said these new indictments contain no allegation that any US citizen committed a crime or that it changed the final vote count or election result.