Michigan was targeted by Russians indicted in Mueller investigation

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Robert S. Mueller. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Robert S. Mueller.

Two Russian nationals are accused of targeting Michigan and other swing states in the latest indictment as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into foreign meddling of the 2016 presidential election.

According to the indictment released Friday, Russians Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva and Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova traveled throughout the U.S. in June 2014 "to gather intelligence," making stops in "purple states" like Michigan, as well as Nevada, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Texas, and New York.

In total, 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities, including a "troll farm" called the Internet Research Agency, are charged in the indictment. Charges include conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud, and identity theft in an attempt "to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election." The indictment details how the Russians are alleged to have posed "as U.S. grassroots entities and U.S. persons, and without revealing their Russian identities" by creating social media accounts, purchasing advertisements on Facebook, and staging political rallies.

According to the indictment document, "They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicated derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump." The Russians are also alleged to have promoted Green Party candidate Jill Stein and posed as groups like Black Lives Matter and "United Muslims of America" to suppress voter turnout.

Mueller's indictment also alleges that Russian operatives "communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign." But at a Friday press conference, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said it is not believed that any Americans were willing participants of the alleged plot.

Previously, it was revealed that some of the roughly 3,000 Facebook ads turned over as part of the Russia probe targeted swing states like Michigan as part of a "sophisticated" ad campaign.

The full indictment is available here.