>> The Justice Department on Friday announced criminal indictments against 13 Russians for alleged meddling in the US elections. The office of special counsel Robert Mueller said a grand jury had slapped the Russians with charges ranging from conspiracy to defraud the United States, to aggravated identity theft.>> 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.
>> Dustin Volz is on the story.>> The indictment on Friday is extremely significant. These are the first charges being brought specifically connected to Russia's interference in the 2016 election. In addition to that, it reveals far more than previously known publicly about just how sophisticated Russia's multi-year operation was.
It shows that the Russian nationals were working with teams of hundreds of people, with budgets totaling more than a million dollars a month in order to support their activities.>> The indictment also says some of the defendants posed as US citizens, creating false personas on social media And communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign, setting up servers and private networks in the US to conceal their identity.
>> The indictment lists several examples of Russians posing as Americans, communicating with real Americans to get them to attend political rallies, often in favor of Trump, and sometimes actually pay them to show up or help promote them as well. One example that's been getting a lot of attention is a rally down in Florida, where Russians sought to hire an actress to dress up like Hillary Clinton in a prison costume.
This of course, seemingly a reference to the lock her up chants that we heard on the campaign trail in 2016 from the Trump campaign.>> The surprise indictments counter President Donald Trump's repeated insistence that the allegations of Russian meddling were quote, a hoax. And analysts say they may have the power to reset the political debate over Russia's role in the 2016 race.
Trump tweeted out his response to the indictments on Friday saying they proved his campaign quote, did nothing wrong.