Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Friday that 12 Russian intelligence officers have been named in an indictment that alleges they hacked the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign during the 2016 election.
President Trump was briefed earlier on the charges.
Rosenstein said that while evidence shows the Russians were in conversations with some Americans during the time of the alleged activities, there was no evidence that the Americans knew they were talking with Russians.
All 12 suspects were members of the GRU, the Russian intelligence agency.
Rosenstein defended the Justice Department a day after FBI agent Peter Strzok was accused in a congressional hearing of acting with partisan bias in his leadership of the investigations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
“Partisan warfare fueled by modern technology does not fairly reflect the grace, dignity and unity of the American people,” Rosenstein said. “We need to avoid thinking politically. We need to think patriotically as Americans.”
He said the blame for interference in elections should be placed on the perpetrators.
He confirmed there was no evidence, despite the alleged electronic infiltration, that any votes were affected.
The 12 Russians are accused of a sustained cyberattack during the 2016 presidential race.
The release of DNC emails in 2016, made public by WikiLeaks, led to the resignation of DNC chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
The grand jury’s decision was announced Friday just as the president was meeting with officials in England and prior to his scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But Rosenstein said there was no political significance to the timing. It happened to be the time when the facts, conclusions and indictments came together.
Rosenstein said the case stems from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Russian nationals previously have been indicted as part of the special counsel probe. In February, Mueller brought a case against 13 Russians and three Russian companies who are accused of setting a “strategic goal to sow discord” in U.S. politics.
In that case, the defendants are accused of spreading derogatory information concerning Clinton, and denigrating Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
The defendants are Viktor Borisovich Netyksho, Boris Alekseyevich Antonov, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Aleksey Viktorovich Lukashev, Sergey Aleksandrovich Morgachev, Nikolay Yuryevich Kozacheck, Pavel Vyacheslavovich Yershov, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk, Aleksey Aleksandrovich Potemkin and Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev.
According to the indictment, they “knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other, and with persons known and unknown to the grand jury … to gain unauthorized access (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 conspirators covertly monitored the computers of dozens of DCCC and DNC employees, implanted hundreds of files containing malicious computer code (‘malware’), and stole emails and other documents.”
Then then orchestrated the release, using “personas,” “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0.”
They used a network of computers paid for with cryptocurrency, the indictment alleges.
“The object of the conspiracy was to … interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
They were able to breach the system, at least partly, using “the stolen credentials” of a Democratic Party employee.