Here's What You Need To Know About The 13 Russian Nationals Indicted By Grand Jury For 2016 Election Interference

The United States Department of Justice announced on Friday afternoon that a federal grand jury has indicted thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian entities. They are being charged with allegedly meddling in the 2016 election, specifically with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Three defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, and five with aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment, the defendants created fake US personas and lived in the US posing as citizens, operating social media pages and groups to attract US audiences. Their identities have not been revealed at this time. 

Per CNN, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has stated that the indictment does not feature any allegations against Americans knowingly participating in the fraud: "There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charge conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election. 

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the indictments by FBI Director Chris Wray and tweeted on Friday afternoon that the "anti-US campaign" from Russia was started prior to his run and claimed that "The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!"

In a statement from the White House, Trump said “It is more important than ever before to come together as Americans. We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful. It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories, which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia, and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions. We must unite as Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections.”

The indictment also reports that the Russian organization Internet Research Agency began operations to interfere with United States political systems as early as 2014, which includes before and during the 2016 election. The Internet Research Agency has a "strategic goal to sow discord in the US political system" and the indictment describes several different angles they took to encourage a distrust of the U.S. election system — including posting "derogatory information about a number of candidates," supporting Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders while continuing to disparage Hillary Clinton, buying ads that furthered divisions between the bases of various candidates and communicating with individuals tied to the Trump campaign who were reportedly "unwitting."

The grand jury was pulled together by special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been investigating the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and any possible ties between Russia and Trump campaign associates.

According to Rosenstein, "the defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general."