US indicts Russian woman for interfering in 2018 election

Frederick Owens
October 20, 2018

The Justice Department unsealed the latest criminal complaint soon after United States intelligence agencies, in a rare public statement, asserted that Russia, China, Iran and other countries were engaged in continuous efforts to influence American policy and voters in the upcoming congressional elections and beyond.

Elena Khusyaynova is accused of using social media and other web platforms to sow discord and stoke conflict among voters on controversial topics, such as gun control and the debate over protests by NFL players during the national anthem. "These activities also may seek to influence voter perceptions and decision making in the 2018 and 2020 U.S. Elections".

Asked about the new accusation against the Russians at an appearance in Arizona, President Trump responded that it had "nothing to do with me".

"This effort was not only created to spread distrust towards candidates for USA political office and the US political system in general, but also to defraud the United States by impeding the lawful functions of government agencies in administering relevant federal requirements", the news release said. They were also told to say that McCain had a "pathological hatred toward Donald Trump and toward all his initiatives". Often these directions accompanied real article that the trolls would share, along with their own comments.

The new complaint - which was not brought by the special counsel, but rather Justice Department prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia - in focusing on the accountant involved in the alleged conspiracy against the United States, goes into greater detail about how the money was moved around, and continues to be moved around for operations geared towards the 2018 midterms. There is no allegation in the complaint of coordination with the Trump campaign.

The Internet Research Agency "tampered with, altered, or caused a misappropriation of information with the objective or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes and institutions", specifically the 2016 U.S. presidential race, the Treasury Department said earlier this year.

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Justice Department officials believe she helped manage the finances of Project Lakhta, a branch of the Kremlin's foreign influence operations.

China has denied that it is interfering in USA affairs.

But top administration officials have provided little evidence that China's activities are comparable to Russia's massive covert measures that were spelled out in previous indictments obtained by Mueller.

The statement takes the opportunity to thank "state and local officials for their vigilance and proactive approach".

The statement accuses "Russia, China and other foreign actors, including Iran" of engaging in influence operations "including using social media to amplify divisive issues, sponsoring specific content in English-language media like RT and Sputnik, seeding disinformation through sympathetic spokespersons regarding political candidates and disseminating foreign propaganda".

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