A Russian woman has become the first foreign national charged with interfering in the 2018 midterm elections.
Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, was the chief accountant of a Russian operation called "Project Lakhta", which was "funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering", a news release said.
Federal authorities have charged a Russian woman for allegedly taking part in a Russian plot to interfere in the upcoming 2018 midterms elections and other politically-charged events inside the United States, the DOJ announced, October 19, 2018. Also Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence warned that "ongoing campaigns" by Russia, China, and Japan were underway to influence the midterms and the 2020 elections.
Investigating Russian interference in USA elections has largely been the purview of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III - though his probe is focused on the 2016 election and the Trump campaign.
Intelligence officials said previous year that Russian Federation sought to influence the 2016 presidential election through similar means.
The two-page statement about foreign influence was issued just weeks before the November 6 elections by the Office of the Department of National Intelligence, the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security.
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The social media efforts specifically focused on the shootings of church members in Charleston, South Carolina, and concert attendees in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally, which left one counterprotester dead, and police shootings of African-American men, the complaint says.
Between 2016 and 2018, Project Lakhta's proposed operating budget exceeded $35 million, although only a portion of that money targeted the US, prosecutors said.
In July, 12 Russians were charged with hacking Democratic Party emails during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. What remains to be seen is how and whether Mueller can connect President Trump or his campaign to those efforts.
The criminal complaint includes specific examples of how a member of the conspiracy instructed people to post about certain news items, including commentary by syndicated radio host Michael Savage, Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs, and "CNN's Pro-Jeb!"
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in July announced a new policy to alert the public to foreign operations targeting US democracy, such as the one Russian Federation undertook in 2016. They used social media platforms to create thousands of social media and email accounts that appeared to be operated by USA persons, and used them to create and amplify divisive social and political content targeting US audiences.
Their postings did not exclusively reflect one ideological viewpoint, and the operatives were directed to create "political intensity through supporting radical groups" and to "aggravate the conflict between minorities and the rest of the population", the Justice Department said.