"The Trump administration is accusing Russia of breaching the U.S. energy grid along with other critical infrastructure including nuclear, aviation and water systems. The U.S. is also slapping sanctions on 19 people, including the 13 Russians who were indicted last month by special counselor Robert Mueller for election interference."
Washington, DC - 16 February 2018
4. Mid, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein walks up to podium
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General:
"A grand jury in the District of Columbia today returned an indictment presented by the special counsel's office. The indictment charges 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system including the 2016 presidential election."
"It's very notable that the Trump administration is specifically sanctioning people who were indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. That suggests the administration is giving some credence to the legal conclusion that Mueller's team is drawing. That could in turn make it harder in the future for the Trump administration to say that what Robert Mueller's team is doing is illegitimate or shouldn't be believed by the American people."
Washington, DC - 13 June 2013
7. Various, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller being sworn in
"Some of these sanctions are using a new law that Congress passed last year authorizing the administration to punish Russians who are involved in interfering in the 2016 election. They come from the Treasury Department and mean that any assets of sanctioned individuals in the United States will be frozen. They also will be prohibited from entering the United States."
New York - 6 December 2016
10. US President-elect Donald Trump walks out of elevator at Trump Tower
"The timing of these new sanctions are very significant. Not only are the U.S. and others pointing the finger at Russia for poisoning an ex spy, but it comes just days ahead of a presidential election this weekend in Russia."
Washington, DC - 15 March 2018
12. Mid, President Donald Trump greets Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at White House
13. SOUNDBITE: (English) Donald Trump, U.S. President
(Reporter) "What are you going to do? Do you think Putin is behind it?
(Trump) It looks like it. I spoke to the prime minister. We are in deep discussions, a very sad situation. It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it"
"National security officials are laying out what they describe as a multifaceted and ongoing campaign by Russian hackers that involved moving between system to system, creating fake administrator accounts that were disguised to look legitimate and even deleting activity logs to try to cover their tracks."
Washington, DC - 15 March 2018
15. Mid, President Trump sits with Irish Prime Minister Varadkar
Pushing back on Russia harder than before, the Trump administration accused Moscow on Thursday of a concerted hacking operation targeting the U.S. energy grid, aviation systems and other infrastructure, and also imposed sanctions on Russians for alleged interference in the 2016 election.
The dual moves formed the strongest action to date against Russia by the Trump administration, long accused of being too soft on the Kremlin, and the first punishments for election-meddling since President Donald Trump took office. The sanctions list included the 13 Russians indicted last month by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose Russia investigation the president has repeatedly sought to discredit.
AP reporter Josh Lederman says the moves suggest, "the administration is giving some credence to the legal conclusion that Mueller's team is drawing. That could in turn make it harder in the future for the Trump administration to say that what Robert Mueller's team is doing is illegitimate or shouldn't be believed by the American people."
U.S. national security officials said the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and intelligence agencies had determined that Russian intelligence and others were behind a broad range of cyberattacks beginning a year ago that have infiltrated the energy, nuclear, commercial, water, aviation and manufacturing sectors.
The accusations and accompanying Russian sanctions were the most severe yet by the Trump administration in connection with hacking and other efforts to sow discord in America's democracy and compromise its infrastructure.