Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general in charge of the Trump/Russia investigation, called a surprise press conference for 11:45 a.m. ET on July 13, 2018 and announced the indictments of 12 Russian hackers.
You can watch live stream video of the press conference here. It was a few minutes late in getting started:
Rosenstein said the Russians tried to infiltrate computers of state boards, secretaries of states and others who administer elections. They work for two units of the main intelligence directorate of the Russian GRU. They engaged in “active cyber operations to influence the 2016 presidential election.” There are 11 criminal allegations and one forfeiture allegation, according to Rosenstein. “The goal of the conspirators was to impact the election,” Rosenstein said. He said there’s no allegation in the indictment as to whether they actually did affect it, labeling that speculative.
“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime,” Rosenstein said. “There is no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The Russians Tried to Interfere in the Presidential Election, Rosenstein Says
The Russians operated out of two units. One unit stole information and the other disseminated the stolen information, said Rosenstein. They used a scheme known as “spearfishing,” by tricking users into disclosing their passwords. They also hacked into networks and installed malicious software, he said. They accessed information of a U.S. presidential candidate, a Congressional campaign committee, and a national political committee, said Rosenstein. The Russians are accused of planting malicious computer code and stole emails and other documents. They created fictitious personas including Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks. Both were created and controlled by the Russian GRU, Rosenstein said.
They corresponded with Americans but there’s no information the Americans knew who they were talking to, said Rosenstein.
The Justice Department had said Rosenstein would make a “law enforcement announcement” but wasn’t more specific. It’s expected that the announcement will relate to the Special Counsel’s probe.
According to Talking Points Memo, Mueller “has indicted 12 Russian nationals accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign” and those indicted are “members of the Russian intel agency, the GRU.”
This is all the U.S. Justice Department said in the announcement of the surprise press conference: “Today at 11:45AM ET: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will hold a press conference for a law enforcement announcement. Watch live,” Justice wrote in a tweet. Justice also tweeted a link to this live video website.
CNN reported that the press conference is related to the Special Counsel investigation. According to CNN’s Jake Tapper, “Prosecutors from Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office and the Justice Department’s National Security Division visited the courtroom of a federal magistrate judge in DC this a.m. to return a grand jury indictment.”
Rosenstein Announced Indictments in the Last Surprise News Conference He Held
Speculation swirled on Twitter after news of the announcement came because Rosenstein didn’t provide many clues about what he was going to say. According to USA Today, some were wondering whether Rosenstein might announce indictments because that’s what he did last time he called an unexpected press conference.
“A similar situation occurred in February 2018, when Rosenstein called an unexpected press conference to announce the indictment of 13 Russian nationals and a Kremlin-linked internet firm on charges that they meddled in the 2016 presidential election,” USA Today reported.
Rosenstein has been the focal point of controversy and tension after he took over the helm of the Russia investigation, naming Robert Mueller to lead it, in the wake of the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The press conference comes as Donald Trump is overseas in England.