Given the size and sophistication of Russian interference in the election, it is not credible that at least some members of presidential campaigns did not know they were dealing with foreign entities, and that is illegal.
My comments are prefaced with an * and are in italics. These quotes are from the indictment.
From in or around 2014 to the present, Defendants knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other (and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury) to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.
The conspiracy had as its object impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful governmental functions of the United States by dishonest means in order to enable the Defendants to interfere with U.S. political and electoral processes, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
*They began in 2014. Let that sink in…
Starting at least in or around 2014, Defendants and their co-conspirators began to track and study groups on U.S. social media sites dedicated to U.S. politics and social issues.
Defendants and their co-conspirators, through fraud and deceit, created hundreds of social media accounts and used them to develop certain fictitious U.S. personas into “leader[s] of public opinion” in the United States.
Defendants and their co-conspirators also created thematic group pages on social media sites, particularly on the social media platforms Facebook and Instagram. ORGANIZATION controlled pages addressed a range of issues, including: immigration (with group names including “Secured Borders”); the Black Lives Matter movement (with group names including
“Blacktivist”); religion (with group names including “United Muslims of America” and “Army of Jesus”); and certain geographic regions within the United States (with group names including “South United” and “Heart of Texas”). By 2016, the size of many ORGANIZATION-controlled groups had grown to hundreds of thousands of online followers.
Starting at least in or around 2015, Defendants and their co-conspirators began to purchase advertisements on online social media sites to promote ORGANIZATION-controlled social media groups, spending thousands of U.S. dollars every month. These expenditures were included in the budgets the ORGANIZATION submitted to CONCORD.
*Louise Mensch was the first to out @TEN_GOP as a Russian front, yes she was.
36. Defendants and their co-conspirators also created and controlled numerous Twitter accounts designed to appear as if U.S. persons or groups controlled them. For example, the ORGANIZATION created and controlled the Twitter account “Tennessee GOP,” which used the handle @TEN_GOP. The @TEN_GOP account falsely claimed to be controlled by a U.S. state political party. Over time, the @TEN_GOP account attracted more than 100,000 online followers.
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.
a. On or about February 10, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators internally circulated an outline of themes for future content to be posted to ORGANIZATION-controlled social media accounts. Specialists were instructed to post content that focused on “politics in the USA” and to “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump—we support them).”
In or around the latter half of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through their ORGANIZATION-controlled personas, began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.
On or about October 16, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the ORGANIZATION-controlled Instagram account “Woke Blacks” to post the following message: “[A] particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.”
On or about November 3, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators purchased an advertisement to promote a post on the ORGANIZATION-controlled Instagram account “Blacktivist” that read in part: “Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote.”
Starting in or around the summer of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators also began to promote allegations of voter fraud by the Democratic Party through their fictitious U.S. personas. and groups on social media. Defendants and their co-conspirators purchased advertisements on Facebook to further promote the allegations.
Starting in approximately June 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized and coordinated political rallies in the United States. To conceal the fact that they were based in Russia, Defendants and their co-conspirators promoted these rallies while pretending to be U.S. grassroots activists who were located in the United States but unable to meet or participate in person. Defendants and their co-conspirators did not register as foreign agents with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Media reporting on or about the same day as Facebook’s disclosure referred to Facebook working with investigators for the Special Counsel’s Office of the U.S. Department of Justice, which had been charged with investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Defendants and their co-conspirators thereafter destroyed evidence for the purpose of impeding the investigation. On or about September 13, 2017, KAVERZINA wrote in an email to a family member: “We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke). So, I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with the colleagues.” KAVERZINA further wrote, “I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people.”
*I’ll be real interested to know what banks were involved and if they did due diligence in opening the accounts. Some of the accounts were opened with fake and stolen ID. Which makes me even more suspicious of the banks, who apparently just had no clue.
The conspiracy had as its object the opening of accounts under false names at U.S. financial institutions and a digital payments company in order to receive and send money into and out of the United States to support the ORGANIZATION’s operations in the United States and for self enrichment.