Excerpts from the Indictment are below.
From in or around 2014 to the present, defendants knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other (and with persons known and unknown to the grand jury) to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.
- Beginning as early as 2014, Defendant ORGANIZATION began operations to interfere with the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
- Defendant ORGANIZATION had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by early to mid-2016, defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign”) and disparaging Hillary Clinton. Defendants made various expenditures to carry out those activities, including buying political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities. Defendants also staged political rallies inside the United States, and while posing as U.S. grass-roots entities and U.S. persons, and without revealing their Russian identities and ORGANIZATION affiliation, solicited and compensated real U.S. persons to promote or disparage candidates. 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.
- The ORGANIZATION sought, in part, to conduct what it called “information warfare against the United States of America” through fictitious U.S. personas on social media platforms and other Internet-based media.
- By in or around April 2014, the ORGANIZATION formed a department that went by various names but was, at times, referred to as the “translator project.” This project focused on the U.S. population and conducted operations on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. By approximately July 2016, more than eighty ORGANIZATION employees were assigned to the translator project.
- By in or around May 2014, the ORGANIZATION’s strategy included interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with the stated goal of “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”
- Certain ORGANIZATION-produced materials about the 2016 U.S. presidential election
used election-related hashtags, including: “#Trump2016,” “#TrumpTrain,” “#MAGA,”
“#IWontProtectHillary” and “#Hillary4Prison.” Defendants and their co-conspirators also
established additional online social media accounts dedicated to the 2016 U.S. presidential
election, including the Twitter account “March for Trump” and Facebook accounts “Clinton
FRAUDation” and “Trumpsters United.”
Excerpt of Advertisements
“You know, a great number of black people support us saying that
“I say no to Hillary Clinton / I say no to manipulation.”
“JOIN our #HillaryClintonForPrison2016.”
“Donald wants to defeat terrorism … Hillary wants to sponsor it.”
“Vote Republican, vote Trump and support the Second Amendment!”
“Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote.”
“Trump is our only hope for a better future!”
“#Never Hillary, #HillaryForPrison, #Hillary4 Prison, #HillaryForPrison2016.
#Trump2016, #Trump, #Trump4President.”
“Ohio Wants Hillary 4 Prison”
“Hillary Clinton has already committed voter fraud during the Democrat Iowa
“We cannot trust Hillary to take care of our veterans!”
“Among all the candidates, Donald Trump is the one and only who can defend
the police from terrorists.”
“Hillary is a Satan, and her crimes and lies had proved just how evil she is.”
- In or around June and July 2016, defendants and their co-conspirators used the Facebook group “Being Patriotic,” the Twitter account @March for Trump and other ORGANIZATION accounts to organize two political rallies in New York. The first rally was called “March for Trump” and was held on June 25, 2016. The second rally was called “Down with Hillary” and held on July 23, 2016.
On or about June 5, 2016, defendants and their co-conspirators, while posing as a U.S. grass-roots activist, used the account @March_for_Trump to contact a volunteer for the Trump Campaign in New York. The volunteer agreed to provide signs for the “March for Trump” rally.
- After the rallies in Florida, defendants and their co-conspirators used false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies supporting then-candidate Trump in New York and Pennsylvania. Defendants and their co-conspirators used the same techniques to build and promote these rallies as they had in Florida, including: buying Facebook advertisements; paying U.S. persons to participate in or perform certain tasks at the rallies; and communicating with real U.S. persons and grass-roots organizations supporting then-candidate Trump.
- After the election of Donald Trump in or around November 2016, defendants and their coconspirators used false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies in support of then president-elect Trump, while simultaneously using other false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies protesting the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. For example, in or around November 2016, defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally in New York through one ORGANIZATION-controlled group designed to “show your support for President-elect Donald Trump” held on or about November 12, 2016. At the same time, defendants and their co-conspirators, through another ORGANIZATION-controlled group, organized a rally in New York called “Trump is NOT my President” held on or about November 12, 2016. Similarly, defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally entitled “Charlotte Against Trump” in Charlotte, North Carolina, held on or about November 19, 2016.
On or about August 31, 2016, defendants and their co-conspirators created and purchased Facebook advertisements for a rally they organized and scheduled in New York for September 11, 2016.
- On or about September 9, 2016, defendants and their co-conspirators, through a false U.S. persona, contacted the real U.S. person who had impersonated Clinton at the West Palm Beach rally. Defendants and their co-conspirators sent that U.S. person money via interstate wire as an inducement to travel from Florida to New York and to dress in costume at another rally they organized.