Twelve Russian spies have been charged with running a sweeping hacking campaign to damage Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election - with the indictment landing three days before Donald Trump is set to meet Vladimir Putin.
Two are charged with a conspiracy to commit computer crimes and stand accused of hacking the DNC, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Guccifer 2.0 had insisted that he was a Romanian who hacked the DNC independently with no involvement from Russian Federation.
All 12 defendants are members of the GRU, a Russian Federation intelligence agency within the main intelligence directorate of the Russian military, who were acting in "their official capacities".
In addition to contact with WikiLeaks, several people reached out to Guccifer 2.0 in August 2016 soliciting access to the stolen documents, the indictment says. Trump complained about the Russian Federation investigation hours before the indictment, saying the "stupidity" was making it "very hard to do something with Russian Federation".
The indictments come just days before President Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin during a summit in Helsinki, Finland on July 16. "Time for Mueller to end this pursuit of the President and say President Trump is completely innocent", Giuliani said in his tweet.
Trump said this past week during his trip to Europe that he would "absolutely, firmly" raise the election-meddling issue with Putin at their meeting, though he added, "I don't think you'll have any 'Gee, I did it, I did it".
According to Rosenstein, the Russian intelligence officials also hacked the website of a state election board and stole information from about 500,000 voters, including names, addresses, partial social security numbers, dates of birth, and driver's license numbers.
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DNC Chair Tom Perez said the latest indictments show the magnitude of the Russian operation.
A large majority of respondents, 77 percent, said specifically that they view Trump as "self-centered" and just 16 percent said they think the US president is "trustworthy".
U.S. prosecutors accuse the Russian intelligence officials of creating a fictitious, public-facing persona, dubbed "Guccifer 2.0", to serve as a conduit for the stolen DNC data and others prior to the 2016 election.
Around June 2016, they began releasing tens of thousands of the stolen emails and documents using "fictitious online personas, including "DCLeaks" and 'Guccifer 2.0, '" the indictment said.
Trump claims that because the hacks took place when Barack Obama was president, he must be exonerated from taking any action against Russia - most likely an indirect response to those asking for him to either cancel the Putin meeting altogether, or at least firmly press the Russian president about his country's involvement in the 2016 presidential elections.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the dozen accused used spear phishing emails and malicious software in the cyber-attacks.
The Russians indicted are not in U.S. custody nor is it likely that they will ever serve jail time. "The goal of the conspirators was to have an impact on the election".
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been charged with money laundering and other crimes, while former national security adviser Michael Flynn has admitted lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.