Another bombshell dropped on Friday afternoon when the special counsel investigating led by Robert Mueller announced indictments against Russian troll group Internet Research Agency and a dozen other individuals for “operations to interfere with the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
The indictment offers more concrete proof of Russian interference in that election, something that President Trump and members of his administration have been greatly skeptical about despite the mounting evidence.
Trump tweeted Friday after the indictments were announced, once again claiming there was no collusion with the Russians.
Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2018
While the the indictment’s main charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and identity theft, what’s particularly shocking are the lengths the conspirators went to, allegedly, to achieve their ends which, according to the indictment, included “supporting the campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump” and “disparaging Hillary Clinton.”
We already know they managed to use social media under false names to reach voters in the U.S., spread false information, organized rallies, and bought ads on these platforms. But that wasn’t all.
Here, then, are some of the craziest revelations that caught our attention.
1. They were really well organized
These weren’t 400-pound hackers in their basement as Trump infamously suggested during one of the presidential debates with Clinton. This was a hella-organized group of hundreds of people that had their own SEO and IT departments.
2. They stole identities of Americans to lend authenticity to their efforts.
This is next level stuff to make everything seem American-made.
3. They were obsessed with portraying Hillary as an inmate
They really felt the Trump chant, “Lock her up.”
4. They gave that Clinton impersonator more work
They really, really had it out for Hillary and they knew how to stoke that anger.
5. They manipulated other real Americans to do weird stuff
The organization used a social media account to convince a real, flesh-and-blood American to stand in front of the White House holding a sign that wished a happy birthday to Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a Russian National who led Concord, a Russian consulting firm with government contacts that funded the interference.
6. They reached out to local officials working for the Trump campaign
It’s amazing what you can do with fake email addresses.
7. They set up opposing rallies
These trolls weren’t done after the election, as evidenced by how they set up opposing rallies in New York over a week after the votes were counted.
8. They were great at targeting swing states
These guys weren’t just lobbing metaphorical grenades on Twitter; they did their research and knew what states to help target to swing the election.
9. They backed Bernie
They didn’t totally hate Democrats, just Hillary Clinton.
UPDATED (3:24 p.m. ET, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018): This post was updated to include the latest tweet from President Trump.