Friday Reads: The Fix was in (like we didn’t know that but it’s official now). We’re Live and UpdatingPosted: July 13, 2018
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
I’m watching indictments of 12 Russians pour in while AG Rosenstein does a presser. He’s taking questions now. Members of Russian military intelligence have been indicted and those individuals were in touch with Americans. It is unclear if Americans knew their identity as Russian intelligence so no Americans have been named as of yet. I would assume that this would be the next shoe to drop and you know whose campaign that would corner. Election hacking is now directly tied to Putin.
Some familiar names popped up. Guccifer 2.0 was indicted and identified as a Russian intelligence officer. The indictment was for crimes related to the alleged hacking of the DNC in 2016.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced on Friday that 12 Russian intelligence officers was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the ongoing Trump-Russia investigation. The officers are members of the GRU, and are all named as having allegedly hacked the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic National Committee, and the Hillary Clinton campaign. CNN reported that prosecutors from Mueller’s office and the Justice Department’s National Security Division gave a grand jury indictment to a D.C. federal ma gistrate judge on Thursday morning. The indictment comes just one day before President Trump is set to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki for their first one-on-one meeting.
Rosenstein’s speech goes further to demonstrate this is no “witch hunt”. Next shoe would probably come from Roger Stone and maybe more.
Today, a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment presented by the Special Counsel’s Office. The indictment charges twelve Russian military officers for conspiring to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
Eleven of the defendants are charged with conspiring to hack into computers, steal documents, and release documents in an effort to interfere with the election.
One of those defendants, and a twelfth Russian officer, are charged with conspiring to infiltrate computers of organizations responsible for administering elections, including state boards of election, secretaries of state, and companies that supply software and other technology used to administer elections.
According to the allegations in the indictment, the defendants worked for two units of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff, known as the GRU. The units engaged in active cyber operations to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. One GRU unit worked to steal information, while another unit worked to disseminate stolen information.
The defendants used two techniques to steal information. First, they used a scam known as “spearphishing,” which involves sending misleading email messages and tricking users into disclosing their passwords and security information. Second, the defendants hacked into computer networks and installed malicious software that allowed them to spy on users and capture keystrokes, take screenshots, and exfiltrate data.
The defendants accessed the email accounts of volunteers and employees of a U.S. presidential campaign, including the campaign chairman, starting in March 2016. They also hacked into the computer networks of a congressional campaign committee and a national political committee. The defendants covertly monitored the computers, implanted hundreds of files containing malicious computer code, and stole emails and other documents.
The conspirators created fictitious online personas, including “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0,” and used them to release thousands of stolen emails and other documents, beginning in June 2016. The defendants falsely claimed that DCLeaks was started by a group of American hackers and that Guccifer 2.0 was a lone Romanian hacker.
In addition to releasing documents directly to the public, the defendants transferred stolen documents to another organization, not named in the indictment, and discussed timing the release of the documents in an attempt to enhance the impact on the election.
In an effort to conceal their connections to Russia, the defendants used a network of computers located around the world, and paid for it using cryptocurrency.
The conspirators corresponded with several Americans through the internet. There is no allegation in the indictment that the Americans knew they were communicating with Russian intelligence officers.
In a second, related conspiracy, Russian GRU officers hacked the website of a state election board and stole information about 500,000 voters. They also hacked into computers of a company that supplied software used to verify voter registration information; targeted state and local offices responsible for administering the elections; and sent spearphishing emails to people involved in administering elections, with malware attached.
The indictment includes eleven criminal charges and a forfeiture allegation.
Count One charges eleven defendants for conspiring to access computers without authorization, and to cause damage to those computers, in connection with efforts to steal documents and release them in order to interfere with the election.
Counts Two through Nine charge eleven defendants with aggravated identity theft by employing the usernames and passwords of other persons to commit computer fraud.
Count Ten charges the eleven conspirators with money laundering by transferring cryptocurrencies through a web of transactions in order to purchase computer servers, register domains, and make other payments in furtherance of their hacking activities, while trying to conceal their identities and their links to the Russian government.
Count Eleven charges two defendants for a separate conspiracy to access computers without authorization, and to cause damage to those computers, in connection with efforts to infiltrate computers used to conduct elections.
Finally, a forfeiture allegation seeks the forfeiture of property involved in the criminal activity.
There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime. There is no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result.
The Special Counsel’s investigation is ongoing.
Specific allegations are directly related to stealing Clinton’s voter data and to DNC emails and data. The DNC was hacked and doxed by Russian Intelligence. They also got into voter registrations and data in US states.
They’re accused of stealing usernames and passwords for multiple members of Clinton’s campaign, including chairman John Podesta. Democratic Party computer networks were also hacked.
Emails were stolen and released online to help influence the presidential election, the Justice Department said.
The indictment includes 11 criminal charges, including conspiracy, identity theft and money laundering to fund the hacking.
From the Atlantic: “The Russians Who Hacked the 2016 Election. According to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, 12 intelligence officials stole emails and hacked into computers at the Democratic National Committee and a state board of elections.”
Friday’s indictment is important because the hacking of the DNC was the origin story for the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The DNC announced in June 2016 that its computer networks had been infiltrated, and security experts quickly concluded that Russia was behind the break-in. Further investigation by multiple American intelligence committees reached the same conclusion. Since then, there have been new allegations and revelations about Russian interference, ranging from the “troll farm” that was the target of Mueller indictments earlier this year to allegations of coordination and collusion between Russians and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
President Trump has repeatedly derided Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt,” even as it produces indictments, guilty pleas, and a pile of new, detailed information about how Russian interfered. The hacks are an especially important part of this case: Unlike claims of collusion or obstruction of justice, the hacking clearly constituted a crime, and there was a clear culprit. As a result, the fact that Mueller hadn’t charged anyone in connection with the crime until how had become conspicuous.
That curious silence ended on Friday. The defendants are charged with conspiracy against the United States, identity theft, and money laundering.
“The object of the conspiracy was to hack into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the indictment states.
The indictment lays out in more detail than previously known how the hacking worked. While the federal government released an intelligence document explaining its conclusions, it offered little hard evidence. Mueller marshals more detailed forensic evidence, recording specific actions, down to searches run and files deleted.
According to Mueller, the GRU, Russia’s main foreign-intelligence agency, conducted the operation with the intention of interfering with the election. One unit was charged with hacking, while another had responsibility for spreading what was known.
The hacking unit used two methods. The first was spearphishing—sending emails intended to trick users into divulging user names and passwords. This was already known to be the method by which hackers got into Podesta’s email. The second was to hack into computer networks, installing malware that allowed them to spy on users, capture keystrokes, take screenshots, and steal files. In addition to the Democratic targets, the Russians allegedly tinkered with hacking state boards of election. Various reports have speculated on whether the Russians did, in fact, break into state election functions, and the indictment provides an answer.
To get the documents out, the second GRU unit created two front personas. One, called DCLeaks, released an early tranche of Podesta emails. The second, Guccifer 2.0, took his name from an earlier Romanian hacker, who became famous for releasing pictures of former President George W. Bush’s paintings. Though they pretended to be Americans and a Romanian, respectively, both DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 were Russian intelligence, Mueller charges. To cover up their tracks, they set up a network outside Russia, paid for with cryptocurrencies.
The Spearfishing started the same day that Candidate Spy “Who should Come in from the Cold” said this at a rally. July 27, 2016, Trump: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
Indictment: That evening, Russian operatives targeted Clinton campaign emails “for the first time.
So Trump’s call for Russia to hack his opponent during the election—which his defenders dismissed as a “joke”—was taken very seriously indeed by Russian hackers. He asked them to, and they did. If you are not yet convinced something went very, very wrong in the 2016 election, you might ask yourself whether at this point you’d be perfectly fine with the president shooting someone on Fifth Avenue.
I stopped writing on other things when this started coming through because it’s going to overshadow everything. You may consider this an open thread. I’ll continue to link to important analysis about this as it happens.
Robert Mueller is coming!!!