Russian Agents Indicted for Tampering in 2016 Election Used Bitcoin to Fund Operations
12 Russian ex-military agents were indicted today by special council Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The indicted parties are accused of hacking into the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential campaign.
The indictment, published today, July 13th, states that the hackers appear to have primarily financed their secret hacking operation through Bitcoin transactions. It reads that Bitcoin allowed the hackers, “to avoid direct relationships with traditional financial institutions.”
It is suspected the hackers laundered $95,000 worth of Bitcoin over the course of the operation.
The hackers are also accused of making payments to US-based companies through funds generated through their own Bitcoin mining pool. “In addition to mining bitcoin, the Conspirators acquired bitcoin through a variety of means designed to obscure the origin of the funds,” says the indictment. “This included purchasing bitcoin through exchanges, moving funds through other digital currencies, and using pre-paid cards. They also enlisted the assistance of one or more third-party exchanges who facilitated layered transactions through digital currency exchange platforms providing heightened anonymity.”
The 29-page indictment, written by Robert Mueller III, includes, “A litany of brazen Russian subterfuge operations designed to foment chaos in the months before the election,” says an article published today in the New York Times. “From phishing attacks to gain access to Democratic operatives, to money laundering, to attempts to break into state elections boards, the indictment details a vigorous and complex effort by Russia’s top military intelligence service to sabotage the campaign of Mr. Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton.”
President Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladmir Putin on Monday for the first time since winning the presidency in 2016. Trump said during a news conference shortly before the indictment was announced that he is planning on confronting Putin on Russia’s involvement directly. However, he doesn’t expect Putin to reveal much.
“‘I don’t think you’ll have any ‘Gee, I did it, you got me,’ [moment],” said Trump.
Trump continues to insist that his campaign had no involvement with Russian meddling in the 2016 election. He stated further, “I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,”—referring to emails Clinton deleted off a email account alleged to have been illegally containing classified information.
“I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” he added.
Twitter has been exploding with commentary over the indictment. “The indictments are good news for all Americans. The Russians are nailed. No Americans are involved,” Former mayor of New York turned Trump attorney, Rudy Giuliani, tweeted, “Time for Mueller to end this pursuit of the President and say President Trump is completely innocent.”
Others in the Democratic Party feel that the mounting evidence of Russian involvement in the election is providing further proof that Trump is likely to have been involved, and that all political ties with Russia need to be immediately cut off.
“These indictments are further proof of what everyone but the president seems to understand: President Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections to help President Trump win,” said Democratic minority leader Senator Chuck Schumer. “Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy.”
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