"Today, the Justice Department announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers, who are accused of hacking into Democratic email accounts, including the email account of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential election."
2. Rod Rosenstein walks out to podium
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, AP Reporter:
"The indictment alleges a vast and coordinated effort to break into these email accounts, steal emails and then release them in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election in what prosecutors say was an effort to criminally interfere in the 2016 presidential election and in American politics. These Russians are not in custody, but this is part of what the Justice Department describes as a 'name and shame' strategy, which is a way to effectively identify the people in foreign governments and foreign countries who have committed these acts, these cyber attacks and effectively announce to the world that they have been identified and the Justice Department for years has now seen this as a deterrent for future hacks."
4. Rod Rosenstein speaking at podium
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, AP Reporter:
"Notably, this indictment does not allege any sort of contact between Trump campaign members or associates and these Russian intelligence officers. It doesn't say that anybody who was in touch with the Russian intelligence officers or any of their conduits were aware or knew that they were having communication with Russian intelligence officers. And so immediately, the White House and President Donald Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have seized on that fact to basically say, look, this is proof of no collusion. However, we don't know what we don't know. And there are certainly additional shoes that could drop going down the road. It's impossible to rule out any additional developments."
6. Rod Rosenstein speaking at podium
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, AP Reporter:
"President Trump is supposed to meet with Vladimir Putin on Monday, so this indictment comes just three days before that meeting. It also comes as the president is currently in England, where he is going to be having meetings with the royal family. So this is certainly not a development that the president wants to have to deal with as he's trying to have these foreign meetings, including with Vladimir Putin. One thing he has said is that of course he's going to bring up the Russian hacking with Putin, although he has said: 'what do you expect him (Putin) to say, do you expect him to effectively admit guilt or say that he did it?'"
8. Wide of Rosenstein speaking
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, AP Reporter:
"But it is important to note that, contrary to Putin's assertions, this indictment does allege that these 12 people actually worked for a Russian intelligence agency. So they are an arm of the Russian government. So it becomes increasingly impossible, if this is proven then in court or established by the government somehow, that that these are the people who responsible for the hack to say that the Kremlin, that the Russian government had no part in this - that that is belied by the allegations in this indictment."
10. Wide of Rosenstein speaking
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, AP Reporter:
"Prior to today, there have been 20 criminal charges brought in Mueller's investigation. That includes 13 Russians who were accused in a very hidden, but powerful, social media effort to influence American public opinion. It also includes four Trump campaign and White House aides, former aides, three of them have pleaded guilty and have agreed to cooperate with Mueller. So this is an ongoing investigation, but we are now talking about more than 30 people who have been charged in Mueller's investigation."
Twelve Russian military intelligence officers hacked into the Clinton presidential campaign and Democratic Party, releasing tens of thousands of stolen communications, in a sweeping effort by a foreign government to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election, according to a grand jury indictment announced days before President Donald Trump's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The indictment stands as the clearest Justice Department allegation yet of Russian efforts to interfere, through illegal hacking, in the U.S. presidential election before Americans went to the polls - and the first to implicate the Russian government directly. It had been sought by special counsel Robert Mueller.
"Contrary to Putin's assertions, this indictment does allege that these 12 people actually worked for a Russian intelligence agency. So they are an arm of the Russian government," AP Reporter Eric Tucker said. "So it becomes increasingly impossible, if this is proven then in court or established by the government somehow... to say that the Kremlin, that the Russian government had no part in this."
U.S. intelligence agencies have said the meddling was aimed at helping the Trump campaign and harming the election bid of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. The effort also included bogus Facebook ads and social media postings that prosecutors say were aimed at influencing public opinion and sowing discord on hot-button social issues.
The indictment lays out a sweeping effort starting in March 2016 to break into key Democratic email accounts, such as those belonging to the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Among those targeted was John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman.
The Kremlin denied anew that it tried to sway the election. "The Russian state has never interfered and has no intention of interfering in the U.S. elections," Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said Friday.