Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Friday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors have secured an indictment against 12 more Russian nationals, this time in specific relation to the 2016 Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack.
All 12 defendants are Russian military intelligence operatives who, according to Rosenstein, created and used the “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0” identities to leak the information they stole from the DNC while implying they were Americans. According to the indictment, the Russians used basic “spearphishing” email and malware techniques to illegally gain access to the DNC’s servers.
As with Mueller’s previous indictment against Russians, there is no evidence of “collusion” with any American in any of the defendants’ alleged crimes, as Rosenstein emphasized in his announcement. Nor is there any allegation the Russian intelligence officers’ alleged crimes in any way affected the outcome of the 2016 election. “There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime. There’s no allegation that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result,” Rosenstein told reporters.
“The conspirators corresponded with several Americans through the internet,” Rosenstein explained, adding, however, that, “The is no allegation in this indictment that the Americans knew they were corresponding with Russian intelligence officers. ”
In addition to the DNC hack, the defendants are charged with a separate conspiracy to “to infiltrate computers of organizations responsible for administering elections, including state boards of election, secretaries of state, and companies that supply software and other technology used to administer elections.”
According to Rosenstein, Mueller’s involvement in this specific matter may be at an end. “Assistant Attorney General John Demers is here with me today because we intend to transition responsibility for this case to our Department’s National Security Division while we await the apprehension of the defendants,” Rosenstein told reporters, indicating regular DOJ will be handling the prosecution.
There is no indication any of the named defendants are in the United States or countries from which the U.S. is likely to be able to extradite them.
The press conference was announced on short notice Friday morning, with no topic given beyond “a law enforcement announcement.” The first indications of the subject matter came shortly before the conference began with reports that a notice posted in the main federal courthouse in Washington, DC, indicated that attorneys from Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office and the DOJ National Security Division had visited Friday morning related to a grand jury indictment. An embargo on the indictment was lifted prior to Rosenstein’s announcement when a reporter in the main Department of Justice briefing room broke the information by reading a press release over a hot mic.
*This is a developing story*