Are you sitting down? Good. It looks like the Russians meddled in the 2016 presidential election. They pitted Americans against each other and — according to testimony offered by the heads of our intelligence agencies earlier this week — they're still at it and the Trump administration isn't doing anything to prevent Russia from interfering undermining the 2018 midterm elections. And why would they? The Russians helped throw the 2016 election to the Republicans and the Republicans are clearly hoping they'll get 'em another anti-democratic reach-around from Putin this November.
The 37-page indictment lays out in extensive detail how, prosecutors say, Russia’s Internet Research Agency in 2014 initiated an effort to systematically interfere “with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.” The elaborate, multi-million-dollar project involved staging on-the-ground protests in the United States, creating “hundreds” of social media accounts pretending to be American citizens, trying to suppress minority voter turnout, and even promoting false claims that Democrats committed voter fraud.
They backed Sanders during the primary and attacked two of Trump's competitors for the GOP nomination:
“They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump,” it adds later.
Over to you, WaPo:
The Justice Department’s special counsel announced the indictment Friday of a notorious Russian troll farm — charging 13 individuals with an audacious scheme to criminally interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, Russia, was named in the indictment as the hub of an ambitious effort to trick Americans into following Russian-fed propaganda that pushed U.S. voters toward then-Republican candidate Donald Trump and away from Democrat Hillary Clinton. The indictment charges that some of the Russian suspects interacted with Americans associated with the Trump campaign, but those associates did not realize they were being manipulated.
Individuals involved in the conspiracy traveled to and around the United States, visiting at least eight states, court papers show, and worked with an unidentified American. That person advised them to focus their efforts on what they viewed as “purple” election battleground states, including Colorado, Virginia and Florida, the indictment said.
That as-of-yet-unnamed/as-of-yet-unindicted American is going to have some explaining to do when Robert Mueller hauls him in for questioning, if he hasn't already done so. And how much you wanna bet it's someone from the Trump campaign? Oh, and the Russian trolls who attacked our elections were instructed — according to the indictments — to urge Democratic voters, particularly Democratic voters of color, to vote for Jill Stein.
See No. 46 in this indictment - big aspect of the Russian meddling was encouraging voting for a third party candidate, such as Stein. Trump campaign advisers also talked up Stein frequently. https://t.co/QFDsHTHoyX
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 16, 2018
Jill Stein received 50,700 votes in MI. Trump won by less than 12,000. She outpolled Trump’s margin in WI, as well.
If Russians sought to redirect alienated HRC voters to third parties, as indictment alleges, it was a shrewd ploy. https://t.co/1igEg7PV4S
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) February 16, 2018