back to article Mueller bombshell: 13 Russian 'troll factory' staffers charged with allegedly meddling in US presidential election

Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor investigating foreign agents tampering with the 2016 US presidential election, has criminally charged 13 Russian nationals with conspiring against the United States. A 37-page grand jury indictment, revealed today, named staff at the Internet Research Agency troll factory as conspirators …

  1. UKLooney

    So Trump campaign was secretly financing these Russian bot merchants to the tune of $1m a month? Why not just pay American bot merchants instead of outsourcing?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fake comments

      It's the inability of people like you to understand what you have read or heard that got us into the current situation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fake comments

        Yes but how can you believe or understand what you read if it could be fake?

        I agree though btw.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fake comments

        It's the inability of people like you to understand what you have read or heard that got us into the current situation.

        whooosh...

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      As above, the indictment doesn't allege that. As per the tweet, in the main article, trying to condense things down enough that you might actually read them: "There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charge conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election".

      The allegation is that these 13 committed crimes while seeking to influence the election.

      There is no public allegation that they succeeded, or about where the money came from.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The key word there is "this indictment". There was a separate *conviction* of an American (the guy plead guilty) for aiding the Russian information warfare campaign.

      2. P. Lee Silver badge

        >" this illegal activity."

        Can we clarify what the illegal activity is?

        I have no stake in US elections, but when I hear the talk of "meddling in elections" and then find out that means "sowing discord" and then see that means tweeting and posting on facebook in favour of one of the election candidates, that just looks like partisan propaganda to me.

        When I see that the "illegal" part is having non-accurate user handles I begin to laugh in the face of those who are upset. I see the words "troll factory" and wonder how that would have helped Trump. Were they making "Yo Mama" comments at Hillary supporters? Did that cause people to laugh so hard they slipped and accidentally voted for Trump? What are we talking about here?

        If the illegal part of the process was taking over someone-else's account, then that's wrong, but it isn't a political act unless they took a party's account and were posting non-representative views.

        Whenever I see these articles, they are never clear as to what the illegal activity is and what the meddling is. The vagueness is so universal that I begin to smell a rat. Please provide some examples of tweets which sow discord. Please provide some examples of "meddling," because at the moment I have real difficulty thinking this is anything but political sour grapes.

        Come on, change my mind.

    3. Oh Homer Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Many layers of subterfuge

      So we're expected to believe that Putin sought to empower the insular, xenophobic, ultra-nationalist demographic of the American public (the rest of whom are only slightly less ultra-nationalist), and install a leader who views anything not American as "the enemy"?

      And how does this benefit a foreign leader and his national interests, exactly?

      Sorry Mueller, but I think you may simply be engaging in propaganda yourself. It's McCarthyism 2.0.

      I'm more inclined to believe that the wave of Trumpism (and in the UK, Brexitism) is actually explained by Hanlon's Razor. We, on both sides of the Atlantic, have become a real-life Idiocracy.

      As for pointing an accusatory finger at Russia, whether true or not, our xenophobic friend needs to look up the meaning of the word "hypocrisy".

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Many layers of subterfuge

        Oh Homer, when has Trump ever suggested that he views Russia as an enemy? The only enemies in his world are people who have the temerity to sell things to Americans.

        He's happy enough to take action against Kaspersky, which is pretty much the only Russian company that does that at any noticeable scale. But when told to act against Putin and his thugs, he systematically undermines the law that he himself signed.

        1. Oh Homer Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: "The only enemies..."

          Apparently you're unaware that Russia also has the "temerity to sell things to Americans". $27.0 billion worth, to be precise, with only $11.2 billion going in the other direction, although admitedly this pales in comparison with China.

          But unlike Mueller, Trump's antipathy isn't based on xenophobia, it's about power and greed - the same mentality that for decades defined his business ethics, or rather the total lack of them.

          This is why he also hates "shithole countries" like Haiti, because they are of little economic value to a powermonger like Trump.

          With gangsters like Trump, it's a turf war, and Nazism is just a convenient tool with which to pillage the loot. He's only interested in Making America Great Again® to the detriment of everyone else, pretty much like any other cut-throat capitalist. Hence why we're all "the enemy", because we are not Donald J. Trump, narcissist extraordinaire.

          The idea of Trump colluding with anyone, in any mutually beneficial way, is utterly laughable, and anyone with any sense would know better than to even try. Say what you like about Putin, but even the most McCarthyist American "patriot" would be hard pressed to call him a fool.

        2. Kabukiwookie

          Re: Many layers of subterfuge

          Sure; friends always fire 24 Tomahawks at friends.

          Although this is the US, who invented the term 'friendly fire', so who knows.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Many layers of subterfuge

            I'm more inclined to believe that the wave of Trumpism (and in the UK, Brexitism) is actually explained by Hanlon's Razor. We, on both sides of the Atlantic, have become a real-life Idiocracy.

            Hmm.

            This is a breakdown of income in the UK by percentage point of the population:-

            https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/percentile-points-from-1-to-99-for-total-income-before-and-after-tax

            Would I be right in assuming that your in the top 50% and only socialise with other people in the top 50%? Personally, i'm in the top 25% but I do actually socialise with people who aren't so and i'm not inclined to mock anybody earning less than the "average" wage.

            I think that the simplest explanation is that people generally earning less weren't happy that their career prospects have basically been eliminated. I know people who started off working as a teaboy, and ended up working their way up and retiring confortably as a middle manager.

            Things are now different. I now know people who started off on the minimum wage, and are trapped there a decade on. There is no avenue for promotion or any other form of advancement, and their quality of life gets worse year by year as the cost of living rises and their working conditions deteriorate. After all, why should companies bother taking care of staff? If staff do leave then there are plenty of desperate people lined up ready to replace them. They have little hope things are going to improve, largely because politicans have completely ignored and marginilised the concerns of anybody in the bottom 65% or so of the population.

            Without hope that these people are going to do anything in their interests, or that their lives will otherwise improve they pick an alternative that they feel will deliver a better life for them. I don't blame them, because i'd be doing the same if I was in their shoes, and so would you.

            I would say that there are two ways to go from here. First is to address the concerns of the majority of the population. This is the sane, sensible choice.

            The other option is to ignore the concerns of the majority of the population and demonstrate that your part of your mates "in group" by insulting people not as fortunate as you are. I'm not sure what the end result of this will be, but I am sure that it will not be pretty, and it will not end well.

      2. Zippy's Sausage Factory

        Re: Many layers of subterfuge

        The big question is how long it's going to take to get rid of him...

        1. wayward4now

          Re: Many layers of subterfuge

          "The big question is how long it's going to take to get rid of him..."

          ...and replace him with who??

      3. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Many layers of subterfuge

        "We, on both sides of the Atlantic, have become a real-life Idiocracy".

        Well, it took nearly a century, but Mencken is vindicated.

        "The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

        "The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron".

        - H. L. Mencken (Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920)

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. JCitizen
      Meh

      Boris and Natasha

      Natasha - "Daalink, this misinformation campaign is ingenious"

      Boris - "Thank you Babushka, it will shake the US election to its core"

      Squirrel - " Hey Moose, look at this advertisement - do you really believe this?:

      Moose - "Humm! Nutin' up my sleeve! "

      Squirrel - "No! In the paper"

      Moose - "Oh that? Who reads election ads?"

      Squirrel - "Weeell, you have a point there - they spend millions and still lose the election!"

      The lesson from this, is what makes anyone think ad dollars and misinformation will actually change an election, when the advertisements that are riddled with half truth anyway, don't statistically change a thing! How many times have I seen a US race where the biggest spender lost the election fair and square. This whole story of subterfuge is non sequitur.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is lies! Lies! All lies!

    Mother Russia would never do such a thing. Muller probably also says we starved Ukrainians during the 1932-33 Holodomor. And that Russia was allied with Nazi Germany from September 1939 with the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland until June 22 1941 with the start of Operation Barbarossa when Hitler turned on Stalin. Is lies! Lies! All lies!

    1. Mark 110 Silver badge

      Re: Is lies! Lies! All lies!

      Yup - fake news obviously . . .

    2. Old Coot

      Re: Is lies! Lies! All lies!

      I see, so it's always Russia. Tsars, Soviets, Russian Republic, doesn't matter; it's all the same thing.

      (Like France: Bourbons, Jacobins, Napolean, Bourbons (again), plus one more monarchy, an Empire, and 4 more republics, it's always just France, unchanging.)

      Don't worry, such things could never happen here.

      1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

        Re: Is lies! Lies! All lies!

        @Old Coot

        The Americans do rather go on a bit about the wicked British before 1776. There are two sides to that story.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is lies! Lies! All lies!

      "And that Russia was allied with Nazi Germany from September 1939..."

      Fwiw, the 'Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics' was really a bit of a sham because both parties knew it wouldn't last very long. Both Germany and the USSR knew that war between them was inevitable but also realised that neither side was ready at that time; Germany didn't have the immediate resources for war in both the east and the west and Stalin knew that the USSR couldn't effectively defend itself against Germany.

      Thus, the treaty was really just an expedient political maneuver to give both sides extra time to prepare for the upcoming conflict between them. Although a disappointment for the UK, and to a lesser degree, the US, where Roosevelt also seems to have believed that war was inevitable, it wasn't much of a surprise to them when the German-USSR treaty was announced - the situation was pretty transparent to the western allies.

      As a consequence, contingency plans and lines of communication were already in place between the western allies and the USSR when Hitler eventually embarked upon Operation Barbarossa, enabling the scheme to supply and support the USSR against Germany to swing into operation surprisingly quickly and efficiently, all things considered.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Is lies! Lies! All lies!

        Well it took Stalin long enough to react to the news coming down all those lines of communication if what you say is true.

    4. Kabukiwookie

      Re: Is lies! Lies! All lies!

      Unlike any other country who did bad things, like colonising and exploiting other countries (oops, sorry 'civilising' those countries) while killing hordes of natives, such as India, most of Africa and most countries in Indo-China. Wiping out native americans using small-pox, mass murder in the Philipines or dropping nukes on city centres killing mostly women and children or until quite recently legally labelling native Australians as 'wildlife', we should ONLY condemn Russia for all eternity for everything that country used to do wrong and never look inward at all the shit that 'western' countries ever did.

      Cause, you know, "we're the good guys".

      Excuse me if I throw up over the display of hypocrisy.

      1. Jonathon Desmond

        Re: Is lies! Lies! All lies!

        I think we need references for this, especially the Australian Wildlife allegation.....

        1. I&I

          Re: Is lies! Lies! All lies!

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_referendum,_1967_(Aboriginals)

          “the 1967 referendum overturned a "Flora and Fauna Act", which supposedly mandated that indigenous Australians were governed and managed under the same portfolio as Australian wildlife”

          1. Jonathon Desmond

            Re: Is lies! Lies! All lies!

            That is a myth. Even Wikipedia states that on that very same link:

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_referendum,_1967_(Aboriginals)

            “It is also sometimes mistakenly stated that the 1967 referendum overturned a "Flora and Fauna Act", which supposedly mandated that indigenous Australians were governed and managed under the same portfolio as Australian wildlife – New South Wales state MP Linda Burney made mention of such an act in her maiden speech in 2003,[26] as did Mark Colvin in a 2007 ABC article.[27] A 2014 SBS article described the notion that "Indigenous people were classed as fauna" as a "myth", listing it as one of "four key misunderstandings persist[ing] about modern Indigenous history and the referendum"

        2. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Is lies! Lies! All lies!

          Or you could seek an education. Better late than never.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

    1. The last person on the list is 95%+ Bulgarian. This is not a Russian name. So it is not 13 Russians. 12 Russians and a Bulgarian.

    2. The Internet Research Agency, same as any other similar operation are guns for hire. The more interesting question is who paid for them.

    1. Mark 110 Silver badge

      Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

      Yes. Who paid them? Russia or Trump?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

        Trump was nearly broke before he became President, so the Russians were paying. I'm sure he could afford to pay now.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          I'm sure he could afford to pay now.

          And I'm sure he will.

          Or rather the American people will.

          Indefinitely.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

        Yes. Who paid them? Russia or Trump?

        Who told you that these are the only options? If we go by the standard way of trying to dig the trail which is "who benefits from this" it is neither. Neither of them benefits from this at present. Russia may have seen a benefit in having Trump instead of Hillary early on. It is clearly a choice between Pestilence and Plague though. Both are not someone you would like at your table.

        There are quite a few others who are benefiting from this at present. Some of them are Russian too and living in Chelsea after having a disagreement with the Breast Chested Russian Overlord. There is a long list of non-Russian entities who are benefiting from this too. A lot of them in USA.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          A lot of them in USA.

          And some would be located in a small country in the Middle East on the Egyptian border.

        2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

          > Russia may have seen a benefit in having Trump instead of Hillary early on. It is clearly a choice between Pestilence and Plague though. Both are not someone you would like at your table.

          As has been mentioned elsewhere, the aim may not have been to get a given candidate to win so much as to sow enough discord to destabilise the system.

          In fact, if you look at the position Trump was in when this allegedly started, they may not even have believed Trump could win it even with their help.

          Even more telling though is that they apparently staged both a pro-Trump Rally and a counter rally on the same day. Other than to cause discord, the only other reason I can think of would be a weird attempt to cover their trail.

          They also apparently attempted to support Bernie Sanders, so it's also possible the original aim was to get anyone but Hilary.

          None of that automatically means Kremlin though. As you suggested it could also be driven by financial interests, either in Russia or elsewhere

        3. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

          Well, someone had $200 million to spend on trolling as long ago as 2011; and, as you will know, government budgets generally grow with time.

          "Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media

          "Military's 'sock puppet' software creates fake online identities to spread pro-American propaganda

          "Jeff Jarvis: Washington shows the morals of a clumsy spammer"

          https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

        Could be a lot of folks. I'm hoping they'll start following the money as it could get interesting. We have groups being funded by millionaires to push their agendas (and not all are "business") so why not this? Things may get a bit murkier than they already were.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

      Bulgarian? I think you think so because there is a Bulgarian artist of the same name and surname working in London (poor guy - I would advise him to avoid the US now, and maybe even Britain). However, a quick Google search finds a lot of people of the same surname from the St. Petersburg area (Russia, not Florida).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

        Bulgarian? I think you think so because there is a Bulgarian artist of the same name

        No. I just happen to have some ancestry of both and fluence in both languages. That is NOT a Russian family name and it is the only name which is given in a Name + Family Name notation as used by Bulgarians today(*) and not in Name + Paternal Name + Family Name as used by Russians.

        While there is some likelihood that someone from that clan has ended up in USSR during the let's say Komintern era, that is less likely than someone from Bulgaria proper.

        (*)Bulgarians also used to use a similar notation, but with different grammar resulting in different way of writing out the Paternal middle name (finish with ov, not with ovich or ovna)

    3. Jared Vanderbilt

      Re: Who Paid For Them

      Bitcoin baby. Only NSA and GCHQ know who's on the other end of those transactions. This is a political witch hunt and I don't expect either organization to get involved.

    4. DainB Bronze badge

      Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

      Vladimir Venkov ?

      If you read last name as VEnkov it'll be Bulgarian, if you read it VenkOv it'll be Russian, but considering that Vladimir is not a popular first name in Bulgaria he is Russian.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

        Vladimir is not a popular first name in Bulgaria he is Russian.

        Who told you so? It is still approximately as popular as it was in Russia 30-40 years ago. It is more popular in Russia today courtesy of the Bare Chested Overlord. It was not in the 70-es and 80-es.

        Most "peace" names which are of "old-faith" origin. These are names where "mir" is added to another root. Bulgaria has significantly higher prevalence of those compared to Russia. In Russia only староверцы will call their child Stanimir, Branimir, etc so these all sum up to a fraction of a percent (with Vladimir being somewhat of an exception). In Bulgaria they are normal names - you are likely to run into one within the first 10 people you meet. Including at least one Vlado.

        In addition to that Venkov as clan in Bulgaria goes centuries back. I know a few and had one as a classmate.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

        I'll just join in the discussion to point out that Venkov could also very well be a Czech or Slovak family name (meaning something like "countryside" on both languages).

        In any case, the name is not Russian (although of course the person may well be, I do not know or care)

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

          Whether the name is Bulgarian or Slovak or Martian, the individual concerned could still be Russian. And even if he's not, he could still be working in and employed by Russia. Let's not get distracted by trivialities.

          As far as I can see, Mueller is about the only person in the US government who's making a sincere and honest attempt to do their job. Let's enjoy it while we can.

          1. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

            "Whether the name is Bulgarian or Slovak or Martian, the individual concerned could still be Russian. And even if he's not, he could still be working in and employed by Russia".

            Come to that, he could be American. The USA is full of Russian emigre(e)s. And even if (s)he isn't American, he could very well be employed by the US government - which certainly spends far more on trolling and propaganda than anyone else in the world.

            "Let's not get distracted by trivialities".

            Yeah, such as the truth.

      3. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Last name on the list is not likely to be Russian

        And "Boris" is not a popular name in Germany or the UK; so Boris Becker and Boris Johnson don't exist.

  4. A Bee

    This looks like a good move by Mueller; the indictment doesn't accuse the Trump campaign of anything, but at the same time identifies serious Russian interference in the election. That makes it more difficult for Trump to move against Mueller because to do so would be to side with Russia (and therefore demonstrate his own guilt).

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      I assume it's intended partly to dispel the arguments that there might have been no interference, that the source of interference can't be proven, or that any interference might not have been criminal.

      Manafort and Gates' indictments were about those two people receiving payments from the Ukraine; both Flynn and Gates are still working on plea deals so we've no idea what they're actually admitting to yet; Papadopoulos admitted only making false statements to the FBI. So none of those directly allege any misdeed seeking to affect the outcome of the election, only personal enrichment and dishonesty about what may or may not have taken place.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        I don't think there's any "intention" behind it. This is a wide ranging investigation following a ton of leads in a ton of directions. When there is enough evidence to present an indictment, it is issued unless there are extenuating circumstances (such as not wanting to alert other subjects of investigations to what he knows until later)

        He isn't reading tea leaves and deciding when to issue them based on what Trump is doing or the press is saying.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > payments from the Ukraine

        "From Ukraine", please. Not "from the Ukraine*".

        1. pharmacyst

          Ukraine means something like "edge" , hence "from the edge"

          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            "Ukraine means something like "edge" , hence "from the edge""

            Actually it's from U (by) + krai (edge) and means by the edge [of the Black Sea], just as Pomerania is from Po (along) + more (sea) and is along the edge of the North Sea.

            We don't say "The Pomerania", nor should we say "The Ukraine".

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > Ukraine means something like "edge" , hence "from the edge"

            For a start that's wrong (as someone else has already pointed out).

            And by the same token, England means something like "place where a bunch Germans went to live", yet we do not say "from the England".

            1. Natalie Gritpants

              I do from now on, sounds the cool

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Ukrainian, like Latin, lacks the use of articles - i.e. there is no "the" or "a" in Ukrainian. So, a word such as "apple" can mean "apple", "the apple", or "an apple".

          However, strongly agree with you - it is "Ukraine" not "The Ukraine", and "Crimea" and not "The Crimea". But it is "The Gambia" for some reason.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > But it is "The Gambia" for some reason.

            Because it is not just any Gambia. It is The Gambia. B-)

          2. Brennan Young

            "The" Gambia

            "The Gambia" is primarily a river.

            The state that takes its name is little more than the banks of that river. You're welcome.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've had a look at some of the ten_gop tweets and what is surprising is that some of them appear on snopes as unproven or mostly false and one points to a proven meeting with Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch. In my opinion the rabbit hole goes a lot deeper than fake news in all this as there is no way the Russians could mastermind and disseminate this information on their own.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      I'm almost certain I argued with that account at one point. Really weird seeing it in the news, I just assumed it really was just a bunch of extremely right wing idiots (or maybe it was the real account I argued with and they really are just twats)

  6. Archtech Silver badge

    Wonderful timing!

    It is marvellous that this has been done immediately before the Russian presidential election.

    Now, if any American even says a word about preferring one Russian candidate to another, the Russians can indict him (or her) and imprison them.

    Not, of course, that any American would ever dream of trying to influence an election in any foreign country.

    https://img.timeinc.net/time/magazine/archive/covers/1996/1101960715_400.jpg

    https://www.sott.net/article/290848-Meet-Alexei-Navalny-The-US-State-Departments-inside-man-for-regime-change-in-Russia

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/putin-rival-russian-paris-hilton-invited-trump-breakfast-article-1.3775844

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Wonderful timing!

      The allegation is that the 13 indicted committed fraud while seeking to influence the election: fake identities, stealing identities, etc.

      They were discovered while investigating potential foreign influence in an election, but are indicted for fraud.

      I don't think anybody seriously believes the US has never meddled in a foreign election; the most positive thing I can think of to say about them is that it's been a while since they actively overthrew a foreign government.

      That being said, talking about an entirely different crime, if country X discovered a foreign spy, you wouldn't expect it to restrain from acting just because it also has spies.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Wonderful timing!

        Trying to swing the Russian election would be pointless. Putin has already has his courts rule his chief rival isn't eligible. I'm sure Trump somehow thinks he can order his attorney general to make that happen to clear the way for him.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Wonderful timing!

          "Putin has already has his courts rule his chief rival isn't eligible"

          Putin has already has his courts rule his chief rival isn't eligible the "fix" in. Kinda like Mrs. Clinton with Bernie Sanders.

          Oh, fixed it for ya!

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Wonderful timing!

            "Kinda like Mrs. Clinton with Bernie Sanders."

            Yeah, definitely fixed, what with her winning more votes than him in primaries.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Wonderful timing!

              Regular delegates voted for bernie - at least when they could get in to vote. The fix was in an the way the superdelegates were manipulated or browbeaten into voting clinton and the way a large number of regular delegates were completely denied their votes.

              1. DougS Silver badge

                Republicans conveniently forget

                How the RNC leadership was trying to rally people behind Cruz to block Trump once it became apparent he was actually going to win. What was know publicly was no doubt the tip of the iceberg - as I'm sure we'd find out if Russia had decided to hack and release the RNC emails. Anyone who thinks only the DNC would engage in dirty tricks to have things go there way is hopelessly naive. Politics is politics, no party has a monopoly on corruption.

                The RNC wasn't successful because Cruz is hated by everyone, even those in his own party. If it had been "little Marco" or "low energy Jeb" that was within striking distance of Trump they might have been able to change the result and the country (and world) would be far better off for it.

                Trump didn't win the nomination because the majority of republicans were behind him, he won because he had about a third of the republican voters as his hardcore supporters and the rest were so fragmented among the other candidates they couldn't stand against him. He would have been easy to beat had they united behind someone else - anyone else - before it was too late.

              2. DavCrav Silver badge

                Re: Wonderful timing!

                "Regular delegates voted for bernie - at least when they could get in to vote. The fix was in an the way the superdelegates were manipulated or browbeaten into voting clinton and the way a large number of regular delegates were completely denied their votes."

                That's bullshit. Looking at the Wikipedia page for the results, we see that regular delegates voted for Mrs Clinton 2271 - 1820, and she secured 55% of the vote.

                To paraphrase Brexiters, she won, get over it.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Wonderful timing!

                  It's easy to get a majority when those who would vote for your opponent are excluded from the process.

                  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

                    Re: Wonderful timing!

                    It's easy to get a majority when those who would vote for your opponent are excluded from the process.

                    FFS. Can you stop repeating the Graunidad and other sponsored media sour grapes.

                    Navalny's support is within the margin of error in the election. He has absolutely ZERO support out in the countryside and outside Moscow and amidst brainwashed immigrants.

                    Even Ksenia Sobchak which the entire Russia considers to be the b*tch from hell and who proudly carries the highest disapproval rating amidst public personalities (not just politicians) in the whole country polls HIGHER THAN HIM. By the way, despite him being disqualified, he is still being included in most polls so that it is perfectly clear what his chances are. They are NIL.

                    We, ladies and gentlemen, are betting on the wrong horse. A horse that cannot win even if we shoot all the other other horses in the competition (something we are trying as well ). A horse that will be disqualified for illegal doping one way or another because it is being doped at our multi-million expense daily.

                    Instead of continuing to moan about that horse not being given a chance to win (because it will not, it is missing a leg or two to start off with) we should rethink exactly what does it take to have a horse that can win and/or what does it take to get our mitts on the prize(s). Provided that horse is not Жирик(*) of course, dunno about the rest of the el reg commentariat, but I do not fancy glowing in the dark.

                    (*) Zhirinovski

                  2. Archtech Silver badge

                    Re: Wonderful timing!

                    I thought we weren't going to talk about Mrs Clinton?

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Wonderful timing!

                @AC Regular delegates voted for bernie - at least when they could get in to vote. The fix was in an the way the superdelegates were manipulated or browbeaten into voting clinton and the way a large number of regular delegates were completely denied their votes.

                I wonder how much dirt was dug up on the superdelegates, or are they such ossified members of the establishment that an outsider was completely unacceptable.

              4. veti Silver badge

                Re: Wonderful timing!

                "Regular delegates voted for Bernie" - that's not what the actual record says. Hillary got more votes, more delegates, and more states, even before counting superdelegates.

                I'm sure you can argue all day about how she cheated to get those and shouldn't have got them and everything was fixed by the DNC, but the simple statement "regular delegates voted for Bernie" is bullshit and I'll thank you to stop spreading it.

                @Doug S: you're still underestimating Trump. Trump may well make a lot of sound and fury about how his opponent should be disqualified, but he would expect to lose that fight. He relishes losing fights, because every loss is a chance to tweet about how the deck is stacked against him. There's only one fight he actually cares about, and everything that distracts from that - helps him.

              5. Archtech Silver badge

                Re: Wonderful timing!

                If you read American history you will be surprised to see that such "tactics" have been standard since the early 19th century. Candidates have actually been physically kept away from the microphone, conventions have been cynically adjourned by people who had no right to do so.

                It's a zoo. So naturally those who win are the biggest bulls.

          2. ST Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Wonderful timing!

            > Kinda like Mrs. Clinton with Bernie Sanders.

            It was only a matter of a few hours before Reductio Ad Clintonum would occur.

            Good job Bob. Well done. Have a cookie.

            I think we need two amendments to Godwin's Law: one for Hillary Clinton, the other one for NSA.

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: Wonderful timing!

              "Good job Bob. Well done. Have a cookie."

              And I appreciate the sarcasm as well.

              Actually, I was comparing Mrs. Clinton's alleged election fixing re Bernie Sanders, based on 'hacked' DNC e-mail contents and the various things that came out of it. It seems to many of us that the Demo-rat party was simply having 'token opposition' to Mrs. Clinton, in a sort of "it's her turn" moment. Republicans did this with Bob Dole when Mr. Clinton was president. And also, I believe, Mitt Romney when he ran against Obaka.

              So it's not unusual for a U.S. political party to (effectively) 'coronate' a candidate this way.

              And that comparison goes to Putin as well, with "only token opposition" so he can have someone to run against...

              If you hate Trump, or hate what Russia (apparently) did during our elections (i.e. burn candle at both ends to create chaos), you have to at least admire that BOTH political parties were upset, overturned, shaken up, etc. when he got elected. And that's always a GOOD thing.

              Take *THAT*, "establishment" !!! The *PEOPLE* want to govern THEMSELVES!

        2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Wonderful timing!

          . Putin has already has his courts rule his chief rival isn't eligible.

          He is not his chief rival. He is our preferred rival. His chiefness is an image we are carefully crafting for him at the cost of millions of dollars and pounds which go for staged photos like this one:

          https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/26/russia-rejects-concerns-banning-alexei-navalny-elections#img-1

          This chiefness has no basis in reality. He is chief of bollocks, not chief rival. Even with the millions we have poured into media support for him he barely polls within the margin of error.

          Like it or not Putin has only one rival according to Russian polls - it is Жирик. Zhirinovski. He polls at 8 - 15% depending which poll you look at. And you know what, this is one replacement for Putin we would never want to see. It is equivalent to bequeathing the Earth to the cockroaches.

          Everyone else is under 3%. This includes our preferred rival.

          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Wonderful timing! -Everyone else is under 3%. This includes our preferred rival.

            You beat me to it by a few minutes. I'm glad somebody took the trouble to make the point. If the answer to Putin is Zhirinovsky, that would be like Farage being the answer to Cameron back in 2010 - UKIP polled about the same.

            But I do think Navalny should have been allowed to stand, so that in a year's time rather a lot of Americans could be indicted for interfering with the Russian election.

            1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

              Re: Wonderful timing! -Everyone else is under 3%. This includes our preferred rival.

              so that in a year's time rather a lot of Americans could be indicted for interfering with the Russian election.

              The way Russian law is at present they can be indicted anyway. The governing law is foreign organization financing. While USA law completely disallows it, Russia law allows it provided you declare it above board. You have to openly declare yourself a "foreign agent" and provide full accounting for all of your funding on a quarterly basis. Navalni has failed to do so for obvious reasons.

              By the way - I have participated in protests myself 25 years ago in Eastern Europe so I can see the all the signs. His operation is clearly funded. By us. It is not internal funding. You cannot do what he is doing with less than tens of thousands of dollars per day, ramping up to hundreds of thousands for specific "protest" events. That money has to come from somewhere and I am pretty sure that Mueller counterpart in FSB is patiently collecting all the transaction information as we speak. It is not just ex-FBI directors which know the "follow the money" principle.

              It will be a nice indictment list with one major difference. USA always screws this one up. It did it in Eastern Europe 25 years ago, I bet they have screwed it again this time. They always have one or more embassy officials involved. Compared to that Russia always deals via disposable intermediaries. Lavrov's department keeps its hands clean and can always do a theatrical shrug after that.

              I am preparing a BelAz full of popcorn for when the sh*t encounters the rotating appliance attached to the ceiling. I will be needed to observe and enjoy the show.

            2. Archtech Silver badge

              Re: Wonderful timing! -Everyone else is under 3%. This includes our preferred rival.

              The difference being that Mr Farage, like Mr Putin, wants his country to remain independent. Or, in the case of the UK, to become independent.

          2. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: Wonderful timing!

            Actually the one fact that the West has failed to grasp about Mr Putin is that he is the best Russian leader for them. Literally any other candidate who could be elected would be far harsher and tougher on the West. Mr Putin is mostly criticized for being too soft, too polite, and too accommodating.

            1. fajensen Silver badge
              Coffee/keyboard

              Re: Wonderful timing!

              Actually the one fact that the West has failed to grasp about Mr Putin is that he is the best Russian leader for them

              Maybe the West has grasped this? After Boris Yeltsin sold everything cheaply to oligarchs and western bottom-feeding investors, the very one thing that would absolutely hurt Putin's election numbers would be if he is somehow seen as "approved" by those same Western Business Interests.

        3. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Wonderful timing!

          Mr Putin doesn't and didn't, have any serious rivals.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Wonderful timing!

        "fake identities, stealing identities, etc"

        yes, just saying stuff, even if you create a bozillian different fake identities on tw[a,i]tter or fa[e]cebook, isn't a crime. it's a nuisance, but not a crime. however, using those fake identities to do purchasing via the banking system WOULD be a type of fraud. Uncle Sugar wants to track finances, believe it or not, and requires people to have valid tax ID numbers to have a bank account... and banks have certain transactional mandatory reporting requirements which I've been known to trigger from time to time [checks bigger than $$$$ for example]. "So and so just deposited $12k in his account" - that kind of thing. usually needs senior manager approval, too, even for a deposit.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wonderful timing!

        > That being said, talking about an entirely different crime, if country X discovered a foreign spy, you wouldn't expect it to restrain from acting just because it also has spies.

        I think the other poster's issue is not with the actions taken, but with how all this is being spun in the media.

        It looks like the whole "Islamic terror" thing is not cutting the mustard these days so we'll need to go back to the old enemy. There are a lot more weapons and stuff to be plausibly sold if your opponent is a state actor, as opposed to non-state groups.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wonderful timing!

        Interesting note - none of the indictments are for actually meddling in the election - they are for things like conspiracy to defraud, wire fraud, identity theft. So either he's lying about them meddling in the election or he isn't actually charging them with it for a reason.

        And that reason is probably to avoid having to address the blatant and extremely obvious case of election meddling and that's the Steele Dossier - direct and already established in evidence. But then Mueller would need to charge those responsible - Steele, Fusion GPS, Perkins Coie, and the people who ultimately paid for the foreign meddling - the Clinton Campaign, the DNC, and the Obama Campaign fund. And that people, would be extremely uncomfortable to do.

        Also worth noting, Facebook has admitted that the great majority of the ads that were purchased to run on their platform were purchased and placed AFTER the election. An d $1.25M a month, Hillary Clinton's campaign was spending over $250M - is it suggested that 0.5% of that was sufficient to have an impact ? Does the Clinton campaign need some professional advice on how to spend money on political advertising ?

      5. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Wonderful timing!

        "I don't think anybody seriously believes the US has never meddled in a foreign election..."

        I think the number is 81 times up to 2000. (Not including actual coup d'etats, murdered heads of state, etc.) Since then, it's been hard to keep up.

        "[I]t's been a while since they actively overthrew a foreign government".

        Er, which planet have you been living on? Libya? (president murdered). Afghanistan? Iraq? (president murdered, along with about 23 million civilians). Syria? (didn't quite manage to pull that one off, but you can bet its president would have been murdered too). Yemen? Sudan? Egypt?

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Wonderful timing!

          Apologies - only about 3 million civilians murdered in Iraq (since the First Gulf War), not 23 million as I fat-fingered.

          Incidentally, if anyone wants chapter and verse for that figure of 81 instances of election interference...

          https://www.mintpressnews.com/governments-own-data-shows-us-interfered-in-81-foreign-elections/226143/

          1. Richard Wharram

            Re: Wonderful timing!

            You're quoting mintpress? Assad's favourite news source where kids gas themselves in order to make anti-imperialists look bad.

            You have reached peak cunt.

    2. Richard Wharram

      Re: Wonderful timing!

      before the Russian presidential election.

      You forgot to put inverted commas around the word 'election'.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Wonderful timing!

        You forgot to put inverted commas around the word 'election'.

        I did not and I meant to. It is an election all right. With hist current public rating Putin does not even need to rig it.

        Most western politicians will kill for a public approval rating half of what he has. We have not had anyone commanding this approval rating and winning elections by such margins since the days of Charles de Gaulle. We have forgotten what it looks like too.

        This is something which the west fails to understand. Putin can be elected on "merit" and will be elected on "merit" - based on his total of 15+5 years of running the country. It does not matter how much noise our sponsored Navalni muppet makes, he will not be able to get even remotely within the numbers necessary to contest that election. With all the millions poured into him he is still polling within the margin of error of a poll.

        Putin needs to make a major miss-step and his approval needs to drop under 50% for him to need to rig the election. As long as he continues to have the rating he has, he will win the elections the same way De Gaulle won his. By 80%+. Without rigging them - he has no need to.

        By the way, we really do not want his approval rating to fall too. If it does, it will not be our sponsored clown to contest the seat. It will be Zhirinovski or even worse Zuganov (or whoever inherits their parties from them). Compared to them Putin is the lesser evil. If you do not believe me tune into RTR (not the foreign edition - the internal one) on Thursday night and listen to the politics talk show. Zhirik is a recurring feature there and he usually has a couple of opponents on fairly liberal positions, sometimes even from UK or USA so you can get a good idea of what we (and the liberals in Russia) should expect if Putin is to loose the election.

        1. jonfr

          Re: Wonderful timing!

          Putin public rating is rigged. It can be seen in the data numbers. This is done by a variation of this logical fallacy. Nobody ever has this high approval rating for anything. It just doesn't happen.

          "Star Power (also Testimonial, Questionable Authority, Faulty Use of Authority, Falacia ad Vericundiam; Eminence-based Practice): In academia and medicine, a corrupt argument from ethos in which arguments, standpoints and themes of professional discourse are granted fame and validity or condemned to obscurity solely by whoever may be the reigning "stars" or "premier journals" of the profession or discipline at the moment. E.g., "Foster's take on Network Theory has been thoroughly criticized and is so last-week!.This week everyone's into Safe Spaces and Pierce's Theory of Microaggressions. Get with the program." (See also, the Bandwagon.) Also applies to an obsession with journal Impact Factors. At the popular level this fallacy also refers to a corrupt argument from ethos in which public support for a standpoint or product is established by a well-known or respected figure (i.e.,. a star athlete or entertainer) who is not an expert and who may have been well paid to make the endorsement (e.g., “Olympic gold-medal pole-vaulter Fulano de Tal uses Quick Flush Internet--Shouldn’t you?" Or, "My favorite rock star warns that vaccinations spread cooties, so I'm not vaccinating my kids!" ). Includes other false, meaningless or paid means of associating oneself or one’s product or standpoint with the ethos of a famous person or event (e.g., “Try Salsa Cabria, the official taco sauce of the Winter Olympics!”). This fallacy also covers Faulty use of Quotes (also, The Devil Quotes Scripture), including quoting out of context or against the clear intent of the original speaker or author. E.g., racists quoting and twisting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s statements in favor of racial equality against contemporary activists and movements for racial equality. "

          Source: http://utminers.utep.edu/omwilliamson/ENGL1311/fallacies.htm

        2. Richard Wharram

          Re: Wonderful timing!

          "I did not and I meant to. It is an election all right. With hist current public rating Putin does not even need to rig it."

          Pur-lease...

          If you don't know that Zhirinovki and Zyuganov have been allowed to be the official opposition because they are crap and make Putin look good then you are a fool. They enjoy a comfy lifestyle and have been looked after well enough to be the mad right and mad left clown opposition.

          Actual opposition doesn't last long in Putin's Russia. Boris Nemstov for example.

          Are you that thick or just being a deliberate contrarian to look cool?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm more blown away by THIS Bomshell....

    "The origin of the campaigns was further obscured by running all of the activity through a US-based VPN."

    A US based VPN that actually works!

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: I'm more blown away by THIS Bomshell....

      "A US based VPN that actually works!"

      apparently, not well enough. Tor is run by U.S. gummint servers as often as not.

    2. Mikel

      Re: I'm more blown away by THIS Bomshell....

      It's a private hosted server with a private VPN. Not a shared service. Not sure why they needed boots on the ground for this, since you can do it on Amazon.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Canadian with a made-up name

    What does this mean for the (US) legality of a Canadian who uses a made-up name when commenting on El Reg in a way that attempts to sway the political opinion of US readers?

    Toss that fraudulent, unregistered Canuck in jail!

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Canadian with a made-up name

      doubtful. I would think, however, if you created a tsunami of sock-puppet "followers" and used their "identities" to purchase advertising along with fake ID bank accounts, you'd definitely be guilty of SOMETHING.

      And that, I think, is "the angle". It's not what they said, nor the sock puppets so much, as the banking thing.

      1. Palpy

        Re: Canadian in great jeopardy -- not.

        As I understand it, US law forbids foreign entities from financing efforts to sway the US electoral process. That's illegal. So, my friend from the North, one question would be whether you did, in fact, spend significant money in the US trying to subvert the election.

        I suspect not. (Buying a MAGA hat doesn't count.)

        Also: "The defendants were charged with carrying out a massive fraud against the American government and conspiring to obstruct enforcement of federal laws." My guess is that this stems from use of fraudulent US bank accounts -- Richard Pinedo, for one, has already pleaded guilty to creating bank accounts using fake or stolen identities, and selling the accounts to Russian operatives. (It's possible Mr. Pinedo did not know the buyers were Russians, but ... creating bank accounts using fraudulent identities is illegal, and using fraudulently created bank accounts, as the Russians did, is also illegal. So both Mr. Pinedo and the Russians are, separately, at jeopardy here.)

        So, Canadian, did you create fraudulent bank accounts in the US, or use such bank accounts?

        I would guess not. You're probably an honest sort, as are most commentards.

        I guess the overarching point is: Grand jury indictments are not trivial. This is not Bob Mueller saying "Oooo, it's them ones! Them's what done it!"

        Indictments are based on criminal law and a standard of "probable cause", as determined by a jury of 16 to 23 members reviewing the evidence in the case. It's an odd system, I know, and used by relatively few nations. Wikipedia. But an indictment not something tossed off at a whim.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Canadian in great jeopardy -- not.

          A grand jury is only shown part of the evidence, that which the prosecutor chooses to show them. Grand Juries could, as the saying goes, be used to indict a ham sandwich.

          This is rubbish from Mueller, and as noted elsewhere, he hasn't even charged these people with meddling in the election !

          BTW, shouldn't Vincente Fox be charged ? And how about the NYT, most definitely was involved in campaigning against the GOP, and who owns the NYT, hint - it isn't a US citizen.

          The problem is, we have a proven case of foreigners being paid to meddle in the election - it's all in the public record - and against the law, But that case keeps being ignored by Mueller for some reason. When will he indict Steele and those who paid him ? Will anyone try to seriously argue that he's not a foreigner, that he wasn't paid, and that he didn't attempt to interfere in the election ? Anyone, Bueller

          1. Palpy

            Re: Calling for an indictment of Steele is a bit thick, laddy.

            Steele was hired to do investigative work and produce a report. Not to canvass for Clinton, not to post fake news stories on YouTube, not to build twitter-bots to tweak US voter sentiment before the election. Steele was hired legally, for a completely legal purpose. Investigate-and-report.

            Also, foreign leaders -- eg Vicente Fox, Theresa May, Justin Trudeau -- are obviously free to speak their minds. How could they not be?

            Foreigners spending money to campaign for or against US candidates is what's illegal. Think about it: if not for this law, then China could outspend the largest US political contributors and, essentially, buy every US election it cared to. So: it's illegal.

            Another bit of misdirection that surfaces in these discussions: Yes, the US has tried to buy or otherwise flip elections in other countries. The US has done much worse than that. But that's not the point: if your country fired artillery shells into Lebanon (as did the US), does that mean that Americans should welcome Mexico firing artillery shells into San Diego? Or that the US military should smile and nod happily as Canada shells Detroit? Don't be an idiot. Of course the US objects to meddling in our political process. So should every country, whatever its own sins.

            There are a lot of posts on this thread which muddy the waters in fairly trivial, fairly stupid ways. Most are based on disinformation, misdirection, and outright fallacies. Many are by anonymous cowards; make of that what you may. But Russian efforts to influence the US (and other countries) continues. On this forum? Possibly not, but... eh, if the Russians bother, they probably put the lowest of the lowly among their operatives on the job.

            Which would explain the low quality of some of the AC posts, I guess.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Calling for an indictment of Steele is a bit thick, laddy.

              So that's why Steele went out of his way to inform various members of the Press about his "Dossier", and why Fusion GPS insisted that he did so. Because it wasn't to interfere in the election ? Pull the other one and don't be so naive. It is illegal for foreigners to pay for material used to influence the election, AND also illegal to pay foreigners to do so.

              Steele is a foreigner, he was paid by US interests. That makes it illegal - full stop.

              You may well want to imply that "Russian Trolls" are posting here, but your own denial of obvious and documented illegalities makes it pretty obvious that you are a paid Clinton troll.

              1. Palpy

                Re: You're conflating two things, AC.

                1. Fusion GPS was paid for investigative reporting, first by a conservative Republican news source (funded largely by Paul Singer), who did not support the candidacy of Trump. After Trump's primary victory, then a lawyer associated with the Clinton campaign hired the company. Nothing illegal.

                2. Fusion GPS is based in Washington, DC. Last I looked, that's part of the United States. Just west of Delaware. Can't miss it, AC. Christopher Steele is a British national, and he was hired by Fusion GPS because of his Russian expertise. It's legal to hire foreigners. Done all the time. Nothing illegal.

                3. The founders of Fusion GPS, an American company, decided to release the Trump dossier because they believed it contained material in the American public interest. The FBI had already corroborated some of the material, based on their own investigations, and already had possession of the dossier. No foreign money. Nothing illegal.

                And there are no grounds whatsoever for indicting Christopher Steele. You misunderstand both the facts and the law, AC.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: You're conflating two things, AC.

                  Stop peddling misinformation. We know that the Washington Free Beacon engaged Fusion for opposition research against Trump during the primaries, and that they discontinued that once it was obvious that Trump would be the nominee. At that time Fusion used (as far as we know) only internal US resources.

                  After that, the DNC and the Clinton campaign engaged Fusion. After that Fusion engaged Steele, and paid him. It is illegal, no matter what you say, to pay foreigners for these services in relation to an election. No escaping it, that is illegal - read the relevant statute. Doesn't matter where Fusion is based except that as long as they are in the USA that's where the illegal acts were committed.

                  Steele may well be a "Russian Expert", he's ex MI6 and hasn't been in Russia since he was last there with MI6 in 2002-3, so he's not very current. What's more, he can't visit as he's a prohibited person in Russia. He is supposed to have received information both after enquiries and also some was supplied without requests. He claims that the intelligence came from senior officials in the Kremlin amongst others. So almost certainly FSB (Russian secret service) approved information or we'd be seeing a few "missing people" from the Kremlin. Other information came from the USA, from Nellie Ohr and the DOJ and from Clinton "associates" Blumenthal and Shearer - that's all public information if you care to read up about it. All "highly reliable" indeed, ha !

                  As for corroboration - false - nothing significant in the "dossier" has been corroborated. About all that has is that Carter Page went to Moscow - and that's hardly secret information given that it was a public forum that he attended as a speaker and it was advertised in the USA.

                  So Steele and through him Fusion and the Clintons and the DNC colluded with the Russians to influence the election. That is illegal, and you either do not understand the law or are being deliberately obtuse.

              2. Archtech Silver badge

                Re: Calling for an indictment of Steele is a bit thick, laddy.

                'You may well want to imply that "Russian Trolls" are posting here...'

                Well, obviously they are! All the signs are clearly evident. True facts, logical arguments... Putin has weaponized the truth!

                1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                  Re: Calling for an indictment of Steele is a bit thick, laddy.

                  'You may well want to imply that "Russian Trolls" are posting here...'

                  This is the new Internet meme for "anyone who disagrees with a Republican or a Brexiter."

                  What makes it so useful is that it can be claimed any way. Mention unfortunate facts? Trying to stir up disorder. Get something wrong? Dyesinformatsiya. Auto-correct typo? Dmitri your bad English is showing.

                  It worked well for McCarthy but the people doing it should remember the results of that. The US does best when it's in one of its relatively tolerant and open-minded phases. The current episode of Hooverism and McCarthyism will eventually be a bad memory.

        2. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Canadian in great jeopardy -- not.

          "As I understand it, US law forbids foreign entities from financing efforts to sway the US electoral process".

          So... supposing you were a journalist employed by, say, The Guardian or The Times or the BBC... and I were your employer.

          And I were to pay you to write an article expressing opinions about who should win a US election.

          Then I would be breaking US law. (And perhaps you would too).

          Such a law essentially forbids anyone not of US nationality from expressing any opinion about US politics.

      2. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Canadian with a made-up name

        "And that, I think, is "the angle". It's not what they said, nor the sock puppets so much, as the banking thing".

        Quite right!

        But there is absolutely no connection whatsoever to the presidential election, or indeed anything political.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But how gullible do you have to be...

    To base your decision regarding which party to vote for on something as shallow and obscure as a random comment from a random person on a random website?

    Could this whole incident be showing us a little more than the US willing to share perhaps?

    1. Robert 22

      Re: But how gullible do you have to be...

      In the echo chambers of the internet, one can get a lot of mileage by feeding people stuff that is crafted to appeal to their biases. This is actually quite easy to do - it doesn't have to be based on reality, or logically coherent. And there are some real positive feedback loops at work. The situation has got to the point where there are a significant number of people who are absolutely convinced of the most improbable things, for example, that the various mass shootings are false flag operations or were carried out by people with left wing affiliations.

      During the last election, I don't think there is any doubt that the toxic nature of the political discourse dissuaded many people from voting.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: But how gullible do you have to be...

        "In the echo chambers of the internet, one can get a lot of mileage by feeding people stuff that is crafted to appeal to their biases".

        But if they are already biased, and your "stuff" is "crafted to appeal to their biases", how can it change their opinions or their voting plans?

        Eh?

    2. ST Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: But how gullible do you have to be...

      > To base your decision regarding which party to vote for on something as shallow and obscure as a random comment from a random person on a random website?

      Any shallow and obscure website dispensing random, incoherent, fact-free and idiotic assertions is an authoritative source for your average True American Trumpkin.

      That's where they get their information, and they vote accordingly.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But how gullible do you have to be...

        Sounds more like your typical Clinton voter to me. Just sayin...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let the Cyberwars begin

    [Insert Popcorn here]

    Here's hoping Russia blows Facebook / Google / WhatsApp / Instigram / Twitter / LinkedIn / Microsoft etc out of the water, for all their slurpy privacy lies. Apple escapes as its not a privacy denier! China is welcome to join in!

  11. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Pirate

    @AC - you have a point. When your enemy takes out your other enemy, you sit back and watch.

  12. Old Coot

    One example

    One of the lies these perps spread was that Hillary was somehow involved in the destruction of Libya, leading to millions killed or displaced, and a return of slavery in that country (now failed state). Can you imagine a more heinous lie?

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: One example

      Assuming the parent wasn't just overdoing the irony and really needs a corrective dose of facts...

      http://anonhq.com/46716-2/

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    in for a penny, in for a pound

    Fascinating phenomenon.

    Wikipedia defines "Escalation of commitment" as a human behavior pattern in which an individual or group facing increasingly negative outcomes from some decision, action, or investment nevertheless continues the same behavior rather than alter course. The actor maintains behaviors that are irrational, but align with previous decisions and actions.

    Like all things "Russia did it", no evidence, and if u still don't believe they'll escalate the accusations, and if u still don't believe they'll manufacture "evidence", and if u still don't believe it then u must be a Russian stooge.

    And what is this new charge of "meddling". What legal concept is that...

  14. ChrisPv

    Icredible

    So for paltry 1 milion per month Ruskies were able to undermine Hilary campaign with 1,2 billion?

    Those people will land six figure jobs in online marketing if true.

    1. NonSSL-Login
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Icredible

      That is the hypocrisy here. In many countries, including the UK and the US, teams of people are paid to try and influence the elections for the team that employed them. Sometimes under the banner PR, sometimes through leaking negative information about the other party and using friends in media to publish it.

      Lots of nasty tricks that can influence elections but it's only bad if the rushkies do it.

      It amazes me that the world knows that most of the world emails are intercepted and stored by the big intelligence agencies yet someone doing a secret job vs the NSA went and email'ed home to their parents confessing their crimes about covering their tracks from the FBI. Seriously?

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Damp Squib

        That is the hypocrisy here. In many countries, including the UK and the US, teams of people are paid to try and influence the elections for the team that employed them.

        Yup. Normal for elections in the free world. Hire agents and experts in the black arts of campaigning and turn them loose on an unsuspecting electorate. Nationality and location's only inconvenient if the correct forms aren't filled out. If the US shell companies had been registered, it'd all probably have been legal. Of course countries are getting nervous about it, and imposing stricter rules about who can lobby, or outright banning pseudo-NGOs. See also Hungary and their efforts against everyone's favorite boogeyman, Soros. Who funded Clinton, but is American, so it's all good.

        As for bombshell, I'm unimpressed. What does this demonstrate? The gullibility of the US voter? That nations try to influence other nations? That trolling political opponents for lulz can now get you prosecuted?

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Icredible

      So for paltry 1 milion per month Ruskies were able to undermine Hilary campaign with 1,2 billion?

      The indictmement of the Poor Sods indicates "no effect".

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shostakovich's [Leningrad] Symphony No. 7

    The leitmotif of the slow, inevitable march to the door of the Oval Office.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facebook_Deception_For_Hire

    A business is ultimately a reflection of its founder. If the business is fundamentally based on deceiving people, then you can expect in time to see it drift towards the 'dark side'.

    For Zuk: 'Connecting-The-World' means selling us out advertisers... 'Building-Community' means slurping info on every user (non-registered or not), whenever they land on a page with a Facebook 'like' button etc.

    So now we basically have the greatest-propaganda-machine-the world-has-ever-known - 'for hire'. What did Zuk expect? Listen to the way he talks during investors conference calls. Zuk has no soul... He has no dreams... He's just a puppet for influence peddlers everywhere...

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-17/facebook-twitter-ill-equipped-to-stop-repeat-of-2016-meddling

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Facebook_Deception_For_Hire

      "Even when it didn't start out that way, the ideology in most cases soon became: How can I make my company the center of my users' world? Consequently, social-media like Facebook use tricks to activate the addictive reward centers of a user's brain. - This type of thinking doesn't compute. It's really inconsistent to not be the way you want the world to be, and then through some means of trickery, operate according to one moral code while the rest of the world operates according to a different one.

      This is obviously not something that works. If everyone's trying to trick everyone all the time, it's a lot of noise and confusion. It's better just to be straightforward and try to do useful things. - things have to be useful, logical & scientifically possible. Better to do something good and be late than bad and be early -

      Between Facebook, Google and Amazon – and arguably Apple (but they seem to care about privacy) – they have more information about you than you can remember, There's a lot of risk in concentration of power. So if AGI represents an extreme level of power, should that be controlled by a few people at Google with no oversight?"

      https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/elon-musk-inventors-plans-for-outer-space-cars-finding-love-w511747

  17. J J Carter Silver badge
    Facepalm

    It’s over

    The FBI are still butt-hurting that crooked Hillary didn’t win.

  18. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Would the activities have been considered conspiracy against the US in the jurisdiction in which they were carried out? If not why are they being charged? And on what basis does the US believe it has any jurisdiction for charging them? If they were charged with conspiring with named US citizens it might make sense but the best they can come up with is "unwitting Americans".

    This seems to me an unbelievably stupid move. It simply opens the door for Russia to respond by charging the entire staff of the CIA if they were to feel like it.

    1. ST Silver badge
      Terminator

      > Would the activities have been considered conspiracy against the US in the jurisdiction in which they were carried out? If not why are they being charged?

      That's not how it works.

      Espionage against the US for Russia's benefit is a crime in the US. In Russia, it's a medal-winning accomplishment.

      So no, the US will not refrain from prosecuting Russian spies just because they might be eligible for a FSB award in Russia.

      Intelligence personnel under official diplomatic cover - meaning carrying diplomatic passports - generally cannot be prosecuted. They can be arrested and charged with espionage. After that, they are declared persona non grata and expelled.

      The individuals in Mueller's indictment were not operating under diplomatic cover. They did not have diplomatic Russian passports.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        A quiet refrain

        Espionage against the US for Russia's benefit is a crime in the US. In Russia, it's a medal-winning accomplishment.

        So no, the US will not refrain from prosecuting Russian spies just because they might be eligible for a FSB award in Russia.

        But this current action isn't charging any of the defendants with espionage. As it's a high profile case, Mueller's being careful to find some serious charges that might stick. So they're being charged with fraud, and ID theft. Para 25 and 26 explain those. So failing to account for election expenditure per FECA, ie not disclosing foreign money paid into election activities.. And then FERA, for not registering as lobbyists/astroturfers. But then the use of various 501 entities to disguise funding sources has been common and a problem in US politics. Para 58 is also interesting because it says the defendants and co-conspirators "deleted and destroyed data, including emails, social media accounts and other evidence of their activities"

        I'm sure glad no other parties in this fiasco could be accused of the same charges..

        1. ST Silver badge

          Re: A quiet refrain

          > As it's a high profile case, Mueller's being careful to find some serious charges that might stick

          The OP's question was about why is the US pressing charges for an activity that might be legal in the country of origin. Whether it's spying, or interfering with an election or unauthorized use of a computer system, it doesn't matter.

          If it's a crime in the US, it not being a crime in Russia is not exculpatory.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: A quiet refrain

            "it not being a crime in Russia is not exculpatory"

            Not relevant. The relevant factor is that it's outside US jurisdiction.

            What are the court going to do? Apply for extradition?

            1. ST Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: A quiet refrain

              > Not relevant. The relevant factor is that it's outside US jurisdiction.

              No. Interfering with a US election is a US crime, regardless of whether the interference occured from within, or from outside US territorial borders.

              Read the first paragraph of the Indictment and cut the crap:

              The United States of America, through its departments and agencies, regulates the activities of foreign individuals and entities in and affecting the United States in order to prevent, disclose, and counteract improper foreign influence on U.S. elections and on the U.S. political system. U.S. law bans foreign nationals from making certain expenditures or financial disbursements for the purpose of influencing federal elections. U.S. law also bars agents of any foreign entity from engaging in political activities within the United States without first registering with the Attorney General. And U.S. law requires certain foreign nationals seeking entry to the United States to obtain a visa by providing truthful and accurate information to the government.

              Emphasis: The United States Of America [ ... ] regulates the activities of foreign individuals and entities in and affecting the United States in order to prevent, disclose, and counteract improper foreign influence on U.S. elections and on the U.S. political system.

              So, yes, relevant.

              > What are the court going to do? Apply for extradition?

              In the US, the judiciary - Courts - does not make extradition requests. Extradition requests are the authority of the US State Department. That's the executive branch.

              I don't expect you to understand the concept of government separation of powers, but you can always try to.

              The US and Russia do not have an extradition treaty. As such, there is no basis in applying to Russia for extradition.

              Extradition and being indicted on criminal charges have nothing to do with each other. Federal criminal charges are brought by the prosecution - i.e. the US Justice Department. Extradition requests are executed by the US State Department.

              Charging an individual or a group of individuals with one or more crimes is orthogonal to whether or not said individual or individuals will stand trial.

              At the same time, the US can and will file extradition requests for the individuals named in the indictment with all the countries that are party to an extradition treaty with the US. These extradition requests will be forwarded to the Interpol, and the individuals under indictment can and will be arrested and subsequently extradited to the US if they ever set foot on the territory of any one of thse countries that are party to US extradition treaties.

              Which means that these individuals' freedom of travel is, as of now, severely restricted.

              Tell your boss at the Internet Research Agency to change the script. You are much more transparent than you think you are.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: A quiet refrain

                I'm not sure why you are so ignorant, but perhaps if these persons were being indicted for actually interfering in the US election process, they would actually be charged with that ? Otherwise, it is pure BS. And they're not being so charged, you at least recognize that they charged with ID theft and wire fraud.

                Should everyone foreign who attempted to interfere be charged ?

                1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                  Re: A quiet refrain

                  Should everyone foreign who attempted to interfere be charged ?

                  I guess if this ever goes to trial, it could provide some clarity around who and how one (or more) can interfere. And of course the Internet's made it possible to try and influence people from pretty much anywhere in the world. ST doesn't seem to understand the US Federal Grand Jury/indictment/charging regime though. As an outsider, the indictment reads more like grand-standing than showing any state level involvement.

                  1. ST Silver badge
                    FAIL

                    Re: A quiet refrain

                    > ST doesn't seem to understand the US Federal Grand Jury/indictment/charging regime though

                    And you do. Which is why you wrote defendants vs. US. Makes total sense.

                    Next time, use copy-and-paste instead of relying on your exhaustive knowledge.

                    Do you even understand why it's US vs. defendants and not the other way around?

                    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                      Re: A quiet refrain

                      And you do. Which is why you wrote defendants vs. US. Makes total sense.

                      Yup. The defendants are usually the ones being indicted/charged. So yes, it makes total sense. It makes more sense because you're charging the defendants with attacking the US, and presumably your prefered candidate. What doesn't make sense is to try to expand the scope of the charges beyond those listed. The defendants have committed some heinous crimes as it is. One might provide catering services to the Russian government, so watch out Compass. They also, and get this! paid! and American to stand outside the Whitehouse with a 'happy birthday' sign. Is there no end to their underhand tactics?

                      But that aside, they're still only facing charges of credit card fraud and ID theft. Not 'interfering with an election'. They're not even being charged with failing to register as foreign agents.. Which again could get interesting because if they were, then that could encompass any non-US citizen or journalist who dared to offer an opinion on the election campaign.

                      But you don't understand that the process requires the crimes to be listed. That's basic Fith Amendment stuff. The US can charge under the Title 18 sections listed because those offences occurred inside US jurisdiction, real or virtual. If you believe that they should have been charged under other sections of the US Criminal Code though, feel free to list those, and let the DoJ know where they went wrong.

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: A quiet refrain

                Let's limit the emphasis here:

                "The United States Of America [ ... ] regulates the activities of foreign individuals and entities in and affecting the United States in order to prevent, disclose, and counteract improper foreign influence on U.S. elections and on the U.S. political system."

                They may be affecting the US but they're not in it. For your argument to succeed that needs to be an or. I think I've found your bug.

                "Tell your boss at the Internet Research Agency to change the script. You are much more transparent than you think you are."

                Perhaps I should point out that I'm a Brit with quite a bit of experience in the witness box, called by the Crown (i.e. prosecution), back in the day. I'm a strong believer in due process of law and not at all convinced territorial over-reach is due process.

                1. ST Silver badge

                  Re: A quiet refrain

                  > I think I've found your bug.

                  The Indictment document wasn't written by me, it was written by Robert Mueller's team. That is, the US Department Of Justice.

                  If you believe that they don't know how to write an indictment, or they don't understand US laws, please feel free to write them and correct their mistakes.

                  What you call territorial over-reach is established precedent in US and international jurisprudence and is not territorial over-reach at all.

                  To give you a simpler example: a drug cartel boss from living someplace in Latin Amerca, who has never set foot on US territory. This individual can be indicted in absentia in a US Federal Court for drug trafficking, for unlawful distribution of a US Controlled Substance, and for a whole long list of other charges. The term for judicital proceedings conducted absent one of the parties is ex parte. There's a long list of precedents about that.

                  Subsequent to issuing the indictment, and the arrest warrant, the US can request extradition. Depending on the relations between the US and this hypothetical Latin American country, the individual may or may not be extradited to the US to stand trial. Or to please guilty and get a plea bargain, in which case there is no trial.

                  Concrete example: El Chapo.

                  According to your definitions, El Chapo should have never been extradited to the US, as he did not commit any crime on US territory. He did not commit any crimes in Guatemala, either. The drug cartel he was running operated out of Colombia.

                  El Chapo had never set foot on US territory prior to his first extradition. Yet, he was extradited from Guatemala to Mexico first, and then from Mexico to the US.

                  I understand you have a bone to pick with the US. Do you have the same bone to pick with extraditions between Guatemala and Mexico?

                  Same legal principle would apply to the 13 Russians indicted by Mueller, if there was an extradition treaty between the US and Russia. Except there's no extradition treaty between the US and Russia.

                  So, in this case, the US relies on Interpol and other friendly countries with which we have an extradition treaty.

                  For an example of how this particular case works, see Julian Assange.

                  The reason Julian Assange is holed up inside the Ecuadorian Embassy is because he is afraid that, once on UK territory -- meaning once he steps down the stairs at the entrance of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, onto the sidewalk, he will be arrested and then extradited to the US.

          2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: A quiet refrain

            The OP's question was about why is the US pressing charges for an activity that might be legal in the country of origin. Whether it's spying, or interfering with an election or unauthorized use of a computer system, it doesn't matter.

            What matters is what the actual charges are. But being a legal document, they're set out in the indictment. So defendants vs US under 18 U.S.C §§ 2, 371, 1349, 1028A. Those are the sections of Title 18 that defendants are accused of violating. §2 says against the US, §371 is conspiracy, §1349 is conspiracy to committ mail fraud and it saves the best till last-

            https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1028A

            Whoever, during and in relation to any felony violation enumerated in subsection (c), knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such felony, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 2 years.

            It's not charges of espionage, interfering with a candidate or even interfering with an election.. Just fraud in connection with creating sockpuppet accounts and/or using stolen credit card info. The indictment does however attempt to create conspiracies of it's own.. And could even create some legal fun if creating a sockpuppet account with a name corresponding to a real person gets caught in this. Mueller and co may of course try filing additional charges, but currently this is as serious as any other person caught using stolen credit cards. And there's probably zero chance of Russia agreeing to extradite people for minor felonies. Russia failing to do so will undoubtedly get spun as the Russian state protecting it's operatives.

            Personally I think a lot of this is tit-for-tat stuff around psuedo-NGO's involvement in the Ukranian and Syrian fiascos, and Russia (and other states) cracking down on those sorts of influencing operations.. Which are things that pretty much all governments do.

            1. ST Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: A quiet refrain

              > So defendants vs US [ ... ]

              No. Actually, it's US vs. defendants.

              Try understanding the difference between an indictment and a charge.

              An indictment serves a very limited purpose: obtain an arrest warrant. That's it. It does not contain all the charges that might be brought forth, nor is it required to.

              The full list of charges will not be known until trial - if there ever is one. The prosecution is not required to disclose in the indictment all the possible charges that might be filed.

              [...] I think a lot of this is tit-for-tat stuff around psuedo-NGO [...]

              Nobody cares what you think. What Mueller thinks is relevant, and you have no clue what Mueller thinks.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: A quiet refrain

                "An indictment serves a very limited purpose: obtain an arrest warrant."

                So who are they going to send to Russia to arrest them? On what authority would an arrest warrant be executed in Russia? If they don't arrest them are they going to try them in absentia? And if they're found guilty are they going to have to serve jail sentences in absentia?

                These guys are going to be laughing their heads off.

                1. ST Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  Re: A quiet refrain

                  > So who are they going to send to Russia to arrest them?

                  I won't bother answering your latest idiocy. Keep going, you're fun to watch.

          3. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: A quiet refrain

            "If it's a crime in the US, it not being a crime in Russia is not exculpatory".

            So you will certainly agree that if it's a crime in Russia, it not being a crime in the USA is not exculpatory.

            Won't you?

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Espionage against the US for Russia's benefit is a crime in the US."

        Point missed, apparently. The actions, as far as I can make out, took place in Russia. This may come as a surprise to many in the US but US jurisdiction stops a few miles off-shore from the US coast. Therefore the US has no jurisdiction in Russia. It might be a crime in the US if it had taken place in the US but it didn't. There's no chance they can get extraditions.

        Without US co-conspirators it's just theatre and one which invites counter theatre although Putin could gain the moral high ground (!!!) by ignoring it. The only possible reason for indulging in this would be if US co-conspirators were to be pulled in later but if that were in prospect, why not wait?

        Nevertheless, judging by a lot of comments here, it may be theatre but he has an audience.

        1. ST Silver badge
          WTF?

          > The actions, as far as I can make out, took place in Russia.

          And here I was thinking that US elections take place inside the borders of the US.

          But thanks for clearing that up for me. I had no idea that whenever I go to my polling station to cast a vote I am, in fact, traveling to Russia.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "And here I was thinking that US elections take place inside the borders of the US."

            Election may have been in US. Russians indicted for doing stuff in Russia. Is it so difficult to grasp that Russian is not in the US, not in US jurisdiction and that however much US doesn't like it, it's out of their control?

            As I said, just theatre but I see you're one of the audience.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bombshell?

    I'm sorry and perhaps I'm cynical but after a year of investigation this is the best they could come up with? I fully expect most comments on the internet to be suspicious. What a complete disappointment and waste of time effort and money and I'm no Trump fan.. Better to spend some time understanding the reasons for the complete and utter failure of the democratic party, who managed to lose at the time to the most unelectable candidate ever in American political history. bah!

    But I must mind the bridges because thar be trolls.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Bombshell?

      "after a year of investigation this is the best they could come up with"

      Well, Mueller had to come up with "something, dammit!" based on a year and a few million dollars' worth of taxpayer money... because an (apparent) witch-hunt against Trump would've ultimately been political suicide.

      Still, I'm glad this much came out of it. OK we have some bank fraud charges now "following the money" and a handful of Russian names to go along with it. OK it takes time to make the case on this, and so you could say that the investigators HAVE "been busy", and it's NOT "just political" and that's the image we're supposed to see. Meanwhile FBI and DOJ are under the scrutinizing eye of Congress' oversight committee.

      It's best to be well behaved when the focus of scrutiny is on your departments. And I don't mind. I think it's totally fair that Mueller has done this. Now, can he wrap up and finish and stop wasting spending MORE taxpayer money?

      1. fajensen Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Bombshell?

        OK we have some bank fraud charges now "following the money"

        Is it not ironic that we have actual fraud as in forging of signatures on documents by that bailed-out by the taxpayers unicorn treasure RBS and nobody ever goes to jail over that .... whereas a few internet trolls from an economy smaller than Belgium ... are a huge threat to Western Democracy.

  20. Not also known as SC

    I'm Confused Still

    I'm confused about this on at least two points. I'm not in to US politics so forgive me if I make some stupid sounding comments. I'm genuinely trying to understand this.

    Russian trolls were publishing things to social media but the conclusion is that this had no outcome on the US election. I understand that politics in the USA is very polarised and there are very few floating voters who might be swayed by anything said to them so if it had no impact, and most Americans have very set views, why the big fuss? Is this just a political smear campaign (Surely the POTUS has managed to do enough damage on his own to the Republican party - he has severely damaged the reputation of the USA abroad at least)? If social media has so little impact, why does it now appear to be the main way the POTUS communicates with the world?

    Then we have the fact that Russian trolls either posted lies or the truth.

    If lies, then theses lies resonated with a large number of Americans so they believed the posts - confirmation of existing beliefs - and these people weren't influenced because they already think what was being said (isn't this more worrying in the first place). Wouldn't it be easy (although possible futile) to show the lies for what they were?

    If the trolls were telling the truth then why isn't America more concerned about the problems being highlighted by the trolls (whatever they might be) and taking steps to fix the issues?

    1. dbtx Bronze badge

      Re: I'm Confused Still

      Because bitching up a storm is cheap while solving problems requires effort and probably some amount of risk. Or because having plenty of things to complain about, and never shutting up about them, is actually a hobby. The latter I learned from a Trump supporter. Democracy will eat itself.

    2. Mikel

      Re: I'm Confused Still

      >Russian trolls were publishing things to social media but the conclusion is that this had no outcome on the US election.

      That is not the conclusion. The conclusion is that the effect, or lack of effect, is neither proven nor alleged. Many people are deliberately conflating lack of evidence with evidence of lack, to carry their message that nothing came of it. That is a psychological operation, propaganda, that cynically trades on the general poor state of the average intellect.

      It doesn't help that those with poor reasoning need little more than the hint to embrace the false conclusion and then share it far and wide as the Gospel Truth. But let's be adults here, just among ourselves. The conclusion that these efforts had no effect is not in this document release, nor in any other of the Special Prosecutor, nor of the wider Intelligence Community consensus. You made it up.

      1. Not also known as SC

        Re: I'm Confused Still

        @Mikel "The conclusion that these efforts had no effect is not in this document release, nor in any other of the Special Prosecutor, nor of the wider Intelligence Community consensus. You made it up."

        From the article

        Rosenstein: “There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charge conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: I'm Confused Still

        "That is a psychological operation, propaganda, that cynically trades on the general poor state of the average intellect"

        Unfortunately, 'critical thinking' is no longer taught in English classes in U.S. schools, to the best of my knowledge. It was when _I_ was in High School (thanks, Mrs. G, your class was very helpful! I still owe you a drink from the last H.S. reunion, too)

        People who have been taught to read between the lines don't easily fall for the false-advertising, hype, bandwagon techniques, truth-twisting, and outright lying you see in the average political campaign (and in too many cases, commercial advertisements). Is it any wonder that gummint-run schools won't teach kids to filter all that out? You can't be manipulated easily if you can THINK FOR YOURSELF, after all.

        Propaganda is as old as politics and advertising. It was exploited in Nazi Germany to get the people to "approve" of all KINDS of heinous things, and is STILL exploited in places like N. Korea. That doesn't make propaganda inherently evil, except for the lying and truth-twisting parts. It could be simply informing people of the truth, in which case it's STILL propaganda, just not evil or necessarily manipulative.

        Anyway, my $.10 on that part. Sadly, emotional manipulation happens every time there's an election in the USA, and it seems that at least half of the voters fall for it. These people need to stop "FEELING" and start THINKING instead.

    3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: I'm Confused Still

      "(Surely the POTUS has managed to do enough damage on his own to the Republican party - he has severely damaged the reputation of the USA abroad at least)?"

      From my perspective it's that Americans are in denial about the sheer toxicity of their political system, both major political parties are deeply corrupt at a national and state level, corporate money rules even for the Dems, lobbyists pump vast amounts of money into what in a third world country would be called bribery. There are plenty of decent career civil servants but they are hardly heard above the rustle of money. So when the system delivers something as obviously horrible as Trump and the alternative was very little better (better for national policy but probably much worse for the Middle East), someone has to be blamed.

      1. ST Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: I'm Confused Still

        > Americans are in denial about the sheer toxicity of their political system

        Thankfully, we have Russia to learn from and get more gooder at it.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: I'm Confused Still

          "Thankfully, we have Russia to learn from and get more gooder at it."

          This is whataboutery. We're talking here about the US political system and what effect Russian astroturfing had on it. We are not talking about the Russian system which has its own problems (going back, though, to approx. the 9th century AD, whereas those of the US only go back to about 1600.)

          A retired CIA guy says that US interference in Russian elections is OK because the US are the good guys. To which I reply, let's see you justify that statement.

          1. ST Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: I'm Confused Still

            > A retired CIA guy says that US interference in Russian elections is OK because the US are the good guys.

            I'm not going to defend that statement because it's simply indefensible.

            Yes, the US has had a relatively long track record of interfering in other countries' elections, political systems, governments, etc. I say relative because it really started on a grand scale after WWII. The motivation was Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, HI on December 7, 1941.

            But, just because we do it too, it doesn't mean it's OK.

            In an ideal world, it wouldn't be necessary. But we don't live in an ideal world.

            However, there's one big difference between us - the US of A - and Russia -- and many other countries: we openly admit that we do this type of shit.

            We openly admit that we spy - sorry, we conduct intelligence operations around the world - on friends and foes alike. We openly admit that we intercept electronic communications, and we publish the rules under which we operate.

            So, all this self-righteous pontificating about the US doing this and the US doing that is just hypocrytical grandstanding on your part. Russia intercepts domestic and foreign electronic communications, just like we do. So do Germany, the UK, France, Italy, etc. Russia interferes in other countries' political systems and elections, just like we do.

            So, kindly get off your moral high horse, for you don't have a barstool's leg to stand on.

            The reason we openly admit to doing all this shit is because we want to maintain credibility for those cases when we need to warn someone else that something bad is about to happen to them.

            And we're pretty agnostic about who that someone else might be. Very recently, CIA warned the Russian FSB about an imminent terrorist attack in St. Petersburg.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I'm Confused Still

              Yes, and the FSB warned the FBI about the Boston Marathon bombers - to which warning the FBI paid (apparently) no heed.

              1. ST Silver badge
                Devil

                Re: I'm Confused Still

                > to which warning the FBI paid (apparently) no heed.

                That's not even English.

                The Sunday evening shift at the Internet Research Agency must be under-staffed, with second-rate trolls.

                1. Alister Silver badge

                  Re: I'm Confused Still

                  > to which warning the FBI paid (apparently) no heed.

                  That's not even English.

                  It is actually perfectly good English, just maybe not readable by an American.

                  1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                    Devil

                    Re: I'm Confused Still

                    "just maybe not readable by an American."

                    this exchange amuses me. popcorn?

                    "To which warning the FBI paid (apparently) no heed"

                    Actually it sounded a bit poetic, maybe even Shakespearean, to me. But it could explain why a lot of US'ians don't understand the wording of the 2nd Ammendment, either...

                    [I sort of grew up watching Monty Python a lot, and reading books by British authors, so I got used to British-isms at a young age - I even knew what 'Guy Fawkes' day was, more or less, something a lot of US'ians don't know much about, but never really understood the rules for Cricket]

                    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

                      Re: I'm Confused Still

                      Dammit, I'm going to agree with Bob. Nobody really understands the laws (rules) of cricket.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: I'm Confused Still

                        "Nobody really understands the laws (rules) of cricket."

                        Many years ago there was a visit from Head Office and for some utterly inexplicable reason our PR person (who subsequently chose a different career path) decided it would be good for the management to visit a county cricket match. At one point I went for a walk around the ground and encountered a friend who said "What on Earth are you here for? I'm only here because I've got a season ticket and nothing better to do."

                        So there I was, later on, sitting next to the VP Sales who was watching the whole thing with some bafflement when I saw a great light go on in his skull. He turned to me and said "Both the guys with bats are on the same side, aren't they?"

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I'm Confused Still

                  So which part is not English ? To pay no heed - to ignore, in the past tense ? The bracketed insert, idiosyncratic maybe, but perfectly acceptable ?

                  Pray tell, what so offends your delicate sensibilities, and just for fun, what's the going rate being paid by Soros for trolls like you ?

    4. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: I'm Confused Still

      Years ago I heard a commentator say "Half of Americans vole Republican, half vote Democrat, and half don't vote". This seems to be nearly "true".

      In democracies with two main parties the outcome of elections tends to be determined by a few people who can be swayed. This is why politicians target them with electoral sweeteners like tax breaks, funding for local projects and unrealistic "promises".

    5. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: I'm Confused Still

      Very clearly and cogently explained. Thank you!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dammit people!

    We created a Super PAC’s so you can meddle with our Elections, and the CIA to meddle with yours.

    Get with the program!

  22. dmacleo

    didn't like either candidate.

    however have REALLY disliked the clintons (even before bill was potus) for decades.

    who cares what someone wrote on twitter. listen to the candidates themselves and choose the slightly lesser of 2 evils. pretty small margin though.

  23. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I am sure all 13 of the Russians are going to be extradited to the US to face these charges as well.

    Only the one person will probably ever do any prison time over this, the American. And he was more than likely duped into accepting payments by the Russians, just as lots of people end up laundering money for criminal gangs get caught but the masterminds get away with it.

  24. cfaber

    Having read the indictment....

    If you read the indictment at least up to page 25 you find that the entire thing revolves around an ID theft ring. With a large amount of ancillary fluff which likely is already protected under the First Amendment. To me this seems like they rolled up a Russian ID theft ring and found anything and everything they could to try and tie it to the 2016 election. Likely Annie Russian illicit operation would have done the trick so long as they could find any information that they could tie to the 2016 election.

  25. unwarranted triumphalism

    Another helping of nothingburger. Killary is the real criminal here.

    1. Roo
      Windows

      @unwarranted triumphalism

      That was a nothingburger of a post served with a side of women hating.

      A number of (female) politicians have been attacked and shot by nutjobs who cite that same bullshit and name calling you are pedalling as justification for their attacks on women (fatal and otherwise).

      Will you be appearing on the News anytime soon - or are you a couch misogynist ?

      1. unwarranted triumphalism

        Re: @unwarranted triumphalism

        Literally everything you have said is a lie. It appears that you are projecting your own insecurities on to me.

        Or trying to... but not managing very well. Do you need a safe space?

        1. Roo
          Windows

          Re: @unwarranted triumphalism

          "Literally everything you have said is a lie."

          Plagiarizing Trump won't magically unshoot female politicians such as Jo Cox & Gabrielle Giffords. You don't have to look very far to find other examples.

          "Do you need a safe space?"

          Everyone needs a safe space in order to thrive. Case in point folks who live in war zones are more likely to die or get wounded in them than folks who stay out of war zones. I am no different, and I reckon you are no different in that regard.

          1. unwarranted triumphalism

            Re: @unwarranted triumphalism

            Oh, I see now. Calling out Hillary Clinton as a criminal makes me a bad person who wants to shoot politicians.

            I should have known not to expect any better from you.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @unwarranted triumphalism

            So Giffords, who was shot by a grammar nutter who was concerned about how she wouldn't answer his questions about English Language usage is somehow a specific attack on women. She was very badly injured, but survived, a male Judge who was with her died, just so you know.

            And attacking Trump the way you and others do DOES get people shot - like Scalise for example. Shot by a Bernie Bro who deliberately targeted GOP politicians - but I'm sure your OK with that - they deserve it don't they ?

            1. Roo
              Windows

              Re: @unwarranted triumphalism

              Glad you agree that female politicians get shot, and it seems that you may agree to some degree that politicians get shot as a side-effect of over the partisan foul mouthing that goes on.

              "I'm sure your OK with that -"

              FWIW I'm not OK with anyone getting shot for stuff they aren't responsible for or have no control over.

              "And attacking Trump the way you and others do DOES get people shot - like Scalise for example."

              That would not be a valid excuse for anyone to behave badly, I reckon we could make more progress by rising above this divide and conquer bollocks.

              The stuff I have *personally* posted in relation to Trump has also been placed in the public record by medical and law enforcement professionals acting in their professional capacity. Their statements carry more weight and have more evidence to support them than the cheapshot one-liners targetting an unsuccessful presidential candidate from pseudo-Anonymous posters on El Reg.

            2. Roo
              Windows

              Re: @unwarranted triumphalism

              "So Giffords, who was shot by a grammar nutter who was concerned about how she wouldn't answer his questions about English Language usage is somehow a specific attack on women. "

              That's half the truth leading to an unsupportable conclusion. The whole truth is that Bryce Tierny (the original source of that claim) also mentioned that Loughner asserted that women should not hold positions of power, and spent several years attacking her amongst his circle of friends to the attack.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @unwarranted triumphalism

                Since you're apparently looking at Loughner's Wikipedia entry you could have noted that "his anger used to well up at the sight of G W Bush", so he was an equal opportunities hater it seems.

                It does seem likely from what we know about Loughner that he had psychotic episodes possibly as a result of the ingestion of a number of different legal and illegal drugs; "In the aftermath of the shooting, the Anti-Defamation League reviewed messages by Loughner, and concluded that there was a "disjointed theme that runs through Loughner's writings", which was a "distrust for and dislike of the government." It "manifested itself in various ways" – for instance, in the belief that the government used the control of language and grammar to brainwash people, the notion that the government was creating "infinite currency" without the backing of gold and silver, or the assertion that NASA was faking spaceflights." From his Wiki entry.

                So to assert that he acted other than peripherally from misogyny is misleading at best. I don't think we understand the minds and mental processes of people who act like Loughner well enough to ascribe his motivations to anything specific.

      2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: @unwarranted triumphalism

        "That was a nothingburger of a post served with a side of women hating."

        Did you notice the nick?

        He's either trying to be ironical and not signalling very well, or describing himself.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: @unwarranted triumphalism

        "or are you a couch misogynist"

        by accusing someone who disapproves of Mrs. Clinton of being a 'couch misogynist', you are making a ridiculous accusation, and in so doing, are basically 'crying wolf' with the 'misogyny' label.

        Doing that sort of thing with unwarranted accusations of 'racism' 'misogyny' 'sexism' 'whatever-phobia' etc. etc. etc. all detracts from *REAL* cases where people are truly bigoted and then actively abuse or discriminate against others based on their bigotry [which any sane person would not want to happen].

        These words (like 'misogynist') are so commonly weaponized by "the left" that it's become nothing more than a continuous shrill whine. Oh great, the "M" word again. *facepalm*

        the term 'racist' was often used for the same *kinds* of reasons when the previous president was being criticized or simply disagreed with. It sucks, because I've seen *real* racism, in N. Carolina, in the mid 1960's, because segregation was the law there. And I think racism was often taught to the next generation. Not so much, any more.

        similar things regarding REAL misogyny.

        1. Roo
          Windows

          @bombastic bob

          "by accusing someone who disapproves of Mrs. Clinton of being a 'couch misogynist', you are making a ridiculous accusation, and in so doing, are basically 'crying wolf' with the 'misogyny' label."

          The record will show that I made a wisecrack in the form of an unpleasant leading question. The accusation was implicit, an answer could have been given that showed that misogyny was not the root cause. So far we've had assertions that women don't get shot and misogynist views & behavior is not a factor in these attacks.

          Your essay seems to be a round-about exercise in denying that there is a problem because (in your view) some folks cry wolf too much. Fair comment - but I think there is an equally strong case to say that folks have accepted public acts of misogyny for so long that they are desensitized to it or simply in denial.

  26. Roo
    Windows

    "Did you notice the nick?

    He's either trying to be ironical and not signalling very well, or describing himself."

    In fairness neither of those came to mind when I looked at the history of posts. Probably just another lost soul like the rest of us.

  27. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Ruskies stole citizen IDs to spread discord?

    Translation: US neocon deep state in collusion with the media plot to depose Trump.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hypocritical?

    And just how many elections have the Americans "interfered" with?

  29. Matthew 17

    Can you be charged for posting shit on the internet?

    This seems to be basically what happened; their bots and whatnot posted 'propaganda' about HC on social media. Folk write crap on there every day, there's a million SJW's and whatnot making up shit and moaning about the world. If these Russians are charged and therefore fake likes, bots and posting untruths online is therefore a criminal act the internet could become a very different place

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Rattus Rattus

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErDGpdmBZkY

  32. IGnatius T Foobar

    Truth vs fiction

    The story here is that Russia meddled with the election, but Mr. Trump was not involved.

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