Russians went after Hillary emails same day Trump called for hack

Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington DC

Joshua Roberts Reuters FILE

JORGE SILVA/REUTERS/NewscomDeputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein just announced that a grand jury has indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking into the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, and arranging for the release of internal communications for the goal of influencing the outcome of the 2016 election.

The indictments were announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as part of the ongoing special counsel probe into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Like the criminal case against 13 Russians and three Russian companies that Robert Mueller's Office opened in February, don't expect these Russian spies-turned-hackers to show their faces before a judge.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was quoted as saying that the 12 Russians accused of hacking the committee used spear phishing emails and malicious software in their purported cyber attacks.

Communications between Guccifer 2 and WikiLeaks also undercut the contention of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that he did not obtain Democratic Party emails he published from Russian Federation.

During a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, Mr Trump said he loves the USA, but also loves "getting along with Russian Federation and China and other countries".

The deputy attorney general's press conference came as Trump was meeting Queen Elizabeth II and just three days before his meeting with Putin in Helsinki.

In addition, the suspects hacked the website of a state election board and stole information on 500,000 voters, including names, addresses, partial Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and driver's license numbers.

Furthermore, the group also stands accused of creating the Guccifer 2.0 lone-hacker persona through which they tried to claim responsibility for the DNC hack, and through which they released files stolen from the organization. "The Russian state has never interfered and has no intention of interfering in the USA elections", Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said Friday.

Speaking earlier Friday, before the indictments were announced, Trump said he would ask Putin about the allegations of Russian election meddling. "Time for Mueller to end this pursuit of the President and say President Trump is completely innocent", Giuliani said in his tweet.

The news comes the same day that Rosenstein announced charges against 12 Russian intelligence officials for allegedly hacking the Democratic National Committee.

What do these charges say about the larger Mueller operation?

It was the most detailed United States accusation yet that Russian Federation meddled in the election with the eventual aim of trying to boost Republican Trump's campaign.

Rosenstein took great pains to explain that, thus far, there are no allegations that any Americans knew they were communicating with Russian intelligence officers as they went around arranging the release of the internal Democratic Party records.

Media captionMr Trump was once popular in Russian Federation, but opinion there has turned against him since he came into office What has Trump said?

The charges stemmed from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Stone said he believes the reference to that "U.S. person" in the indictment referred to him.

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