Rumors have persisted for nearly two years that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians for his own political benefit, but there is not sufficient evidence available at this time to prove that there was any collusion. There is, however, enough evidence for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to indict 13 Russian nationals for interfering with American politics.
“Some defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities,” Mueller stated on February 16th, 2018 (Read the full indictment here).
The 13 Russian Nationals have been indicted by Special counsel Robert Mueller for their interference and meddling with the U.S. Presidential Election in 2016. The indicted Russians spread political propaganda, supporting Donald Trump and railing against Hillary Clinton, through phony news sites and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Three of the defendants were also indicted for wire and bank fraud.
The indicted Russians worked for the Internet Research Agency who funded them to place Russian ads to “undermine public confidence in democracy” according to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The Internet Research Agency is primarily funded by a Russian oligarch and businessman, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who also happens to be a close ally of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
During a phone call with Reuters, Russian Spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated, “This evidence has no grounds, and we don’t consider it overwhelming, we don’t regard it as fair and cannot agree with it.” The Kremlin has announced that they have no intention of conducting their own investigation stating that only certain Russian citizens are under investigation, not Russia itself.
Extradition of the 13 indicted nationals is unlikely as the Russian constitution does not allow Russian citizens to be extradited for foreign trials. Without an extradition treaty, Russians charged with serious crimes by the U.S. live freely in Russia.
U.S. officials likely knew that these indictments would not lead to extradition, but they could be a deterrent for future interferences. There is always the chance that the indicted Russian nationals will travel abroad to a nation that will extradite them to the U.S., but it is unlikely that these indicted Russian nationals will ever be put on trial in the United States.