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Mueller: Russians entered U.S. to plot election meddling

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President Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election. CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman joins CBSN to discuss what this means for the investigation.

Mueller: Russians entered U.S. to plot election meddling

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The indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller alleges that some of the defendants were in communication with President Donald Trump’s campaign. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Mueller: Russians entered U.S. to plot election meddling

Democrats say the indictment proves Russian meddling is no ‘hoax,’ while Trump allies say charges of Trump campaign collusion with the Kremlin remain baseless by Michael Crowley and Louis Nelson

Special counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities on Friday with an illegal “information warfare” scheme to disrupt the 2016 presidential election and assist the candidacy of President Donald Trump.

The dramatic indictment reveals a bold covert effort that went beyond the previously-known use of “fake news” and social media misdirection to divide American voters and harm Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

It charges that as early as 2014, Russian nationals physically entered the U.S., and, hiding their true identities, gathered intelligence, organized political rallies — and even paid Americans to assist their political sabotage. The Russians allegedly paid one American in Florida to dress up as Hillary Clinton in a prison uniform and hired another to build a cage to “imprison” the Clinton impersonator at a Florida rally.

The effort was led by the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, a notorious online misinformation operation with suspected Kremlin ties, according to the indictment, and involved what the court filing called “unwitting” U.S. citizens and Trump campaign officials

The indictment concludes that the Internet Research Agency “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system.” While noting that the operation undermined multiple presidential candidates, including Trump GOP rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the document says that the shadowy Russian agency’s operations “included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump… and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”

No Trump campaign officials or associates are named in the indictment, which does not address the Russian hacking and theft of Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign or the other known contacts between Trump associates and Russians.

Nor does the indictment say whether the defendants were acting on orders from the Kremlin. But U.S. intelligence officials have previously stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally approved a wider election interference operation. Russia experts said the Kremlin was likely behind the effort. To read more go to the link below:

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/16/trump-russia-indictments-mueller-investigation-415667

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