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The Latest: 13 Russians accused of plot to disrupt election

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, speaks to the media with an announcement that the office of special counsel Robert Mueller says a grand jury has charged 13 Russian nationals and several Russian entities, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, in Washington. The defendants are accused of violating U.S. criminal laws to interfere with American elections and the political process. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the indictments in the special counsel’s Russia probe (all times local):

10 p.m.

The U.S. special counsel has accused 13 Russians of an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, charging them with running a huge but hidden social media trolling campaign aimed in part at helping Republican Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The federal indictment, brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, represents the most detailed allegations to date of illegal Russian meddling during the campaign that sent Trump to the White House.

The Russian organization was funded by a wealthy St. Petersburg businessman with ties to the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin.

Trump is claiming vindication, but the indictment does not resolve the collusion question at the heart of the continuing Mueller probe.

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6 p.m.

A spokesman for Hillary Clinton says the indictments in the special counsel’s Russia probe confirm “what we’ve long known.”

Nick Merrill says on Twitter, “Time will tell us more, but Russia went to great lengths to undermine our democracy, & the President won’t protect us.”

The indictment by federal prosecutors alleges that Russians used bogus social media postings and ads falsely purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the campaign between Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

Merrill tweets, “No matter your politics, it’s un-American. We have an adversary that is laughing at us, who will act again.”

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5:20 p.m.

Facebook says it is doubling its security staff to 20,000 and actively working with the FBI to stop election interference by Russians and others.

The company’s statement is in response to the indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian organizations by federal prosecutors. The charges shed light on the extent to which Russians manipulated social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Joel Kaplan is Facebook vice president of global policy. He says officials know they have more to do to prevent future attacks, and are committed to staying ahead of deceptive and malevolent activity.

A Twitter spokeswoman said the company has no comment, and YouTube has not yet responded.

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3:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump says “far-fetched theories” about collusion in the 2016 election “only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia.”

Trump is reacting to news that special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russians and three Russian organizations for plotting to influence the 2016 campaign.

Trump says, “It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks.”

The Russians are accused of using social media propaganda aimed at helping Trump and harming the prospects of Democrat Hillary Clinton. The indictment alleges that the Russians cooperated with “unwitting” Trump campaign staffers and outside backers who did not know their true identities.

Trump says, “We must unite as Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections.”

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3:40 p.m.

The attorney for the California man who pleaded guilty in the Russia probe says his client made a mistake.

The lawyer tells The Associated Press that Richard Pinedo’s connection to Russian meddling “is way beyond anything he could have possibly imagined” being involved in.”

The lawyer says Pinedo thought he was helping people fraudulently open online bank accounts, but that Pinedo had no idea “his customers were foreign nationals” trying to meddle in the election.

Jeremy Lessem says his client will not make any public statements.

Pinedo is from Santa Paula, California. He pleaded guilty earlier this month to using stolen identities to set up bank accounts that were then used by the Russians.

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3:30 p.m.

“No collusion.” That’s the reaction of President Donald Trump to the indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian companies for plotting to meddle in the 2016 election.

The president tweeted Friday that the indictment shows, “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

The Russians were charged Friday with using social media propaganda aimed at helping Trump and harming the prospects of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump notes that the Russian influence campaign is alleged to have started in 2014, “long before” he declared his candidacy.

He says, “The results of the election were not impacted.”

In fact, while prosecutors have not alleged that meddling altered the election’s outcome, the indictment does not rule it out.

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3:15 p.m.

The online payment company PayPal has been unexpectedly drawn into the Russia probe. Federal prosecutors allege that Russian criminals used PayPal to help pay for propaganda aimed at influencing voters in the 2016 election.

Thirteen Russians and three Russian companies were charged Friday with plotting to interfere in the election.

In the indictment, prosecutors allege the defendants used PayPal as a primary conduit to transfer money for general expenses as well as to buy Facebook ads. Prosecutors say the accounts were opened using fake identities to help bypass PayPal’s security measures.

PayPal says it is cooperating with the Justice Department. A spokesman says, “PayPal is intensely focused on combatting and preventing the illicit use of” its services and works closely with law enforcement, including in this instance.

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2:40 p.m.

A California man has pleaded guilty to unwittingly selling bank accounts to Russians meddling in the US elections.

Richard Pinedo of Santa Paula pleaded guilty earlier this month to using stolen identities to set up bank accounts that were then used by the Russians. A Justice Department spokeswoman says Pinedo did not know at the time he was dealing with Russians.

The plea deal is the third in special counsel Robert Mueller’s continuing Russia probe. It was revealed the same day prosecutors charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies with an extensive scheme to meddle in the U.S. elections.

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2:20 p.m.

A Russian businessman known as “Putin’s chef” who was indicted Friday by federal prosecutors says “Americans are very impressionable people.” He says he’s not upset to be named in the indictment.

Thirteen Russians and three Russian companies were charged Friday with a plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election through social media propaganda.

The indictment says the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm, started interfering as early as 2014 in U.S. politics, extending to the 2016 presidential election.

The indictment says the agency was funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a St. Petersburg businessman dubbed “Putin’s chef” because his restaurants and catering businesses once hosted the Kremlin leader’s dinners with foreign dignitaries.

Prigozhin was quoted by Russia’s state news agency as saying Americans “see what they want to see.”

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2:05 p.m.

One of those indicted in the Russia probe is a businessman with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Yevgeny Prigozhin (pree-GOH’-zhin) is an entrepreneur from St. Petersburg who’s been dubbed “Putin’s chef” by Russian media.

His restaurants and catering businesses have hosted the Kremlin leader’s dinners with foreign dignitaries. In the more than 10 years since establishing a relationship with Putin, his business has expanded to services for the military.

Prigozhin’s assets also include an oil trading firm that reportedly has been sending private Russian fighters to Syria. Prigozhin is on the list of those sanctioned by the U.S.

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2 p.m.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says there’s no allegation that any Americans were “knowing participants” in what federal prosecutors call an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Thirteen Russians and three Russian companies were charged Friday with plotting to meddle in the election through social media propaganda aimed at helping Republican Donald Trump and harming the prospects of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Charges were brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller and represented the most direct allegation to date of illegal Russian meddling during the election.

Rosenstein said Friday that there is “no allegation in this indictment” that any American was a knowing participant.

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1:50 p.m.

The deputy attorney general says a new indictment does not allege that Russian meddling altered the outcome of presidential election.

Federal prosecutors have announced charges against 13 Russians and three Russian entities with an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The indictment was brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller. It alleges that Russians used bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the race between Republican Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says the indictment does not include allegations that the plot swayed the outcome of the vote.

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1:40 p.m.

Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein says the goal of 13 Russians and three Russian entities charged Friday was “spreading distrust” of 2016 candidates and the political system.

The indictment details an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The indictment was brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller. It alleges that Russians used bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

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1:21 p.m.

Thirteen Russians and three Russian entities were charged Friday with an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

The indictment, brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, alleges that Russians used bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the race between Republican Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

The charges are the most direct allegation to date of illegal Russian meddling in the election.

The goal, the indictment says, was to “sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 presidential election.”

The charges arise from Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the election and whether there was improper coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

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Politics

Voters are casting away

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As of 2 p.m., 4,169 people in Onslow County have voted.

The only Democratic ballot with the highest voter turnout is in Richlands with 380 ballots cast so far. Four other precincts with a Democratic race are Catherine Lake (147), Gum Branch (221), Haws Run (138), and Nine Mile (122).

New River precinct has only seen eight voters so far-because they have Democratic ballots.

Precincts with just Republican ballots have reached higher number than those with ballots for two political parties.

Northwoods is in 2nd with the highest turnout of voters (273), followed by Brynn Marr and East Northwoods, both of which have seen (249) voters.

Vote Count For Each Precinct:

  1. Bear Creek: 241
  2. Brynn Marr: 249
  3. Catherine Lake: 147
  4. Cross Roads: 225
  5. East Northwoods: 249
  6. Folkstone: 166
  7. Gum Branch: 221
  8. Half Moon: 172
  9. Haws Run: 138
  10. Holly Ridge: 86
  11. Hubert: 155
  12. Jacksonville: 81
  13. Mills: 62
  14. Morton’s: 100
  15. New River: 8
  16. Nine Mile: 122
  17. Northeast A: 83
  18. Northeast B: 193
  19. Richlands: 380
  20. Snead’s Ferry: 223
  21. Swansboro: 314
  22. Tar Landing: 169
  23. Verona: 112
  24. West Northwoods: 273
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Voters to choose party nominees in Primary Election Day

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North Carolina voters are choosing their parties’ nominees in dozens of legislative and congressional primary races congested with contestants.

More than 35 current General Assembly members and eight congressional incumbents are trying to advance through Tuesday’s primary elections.

Sitting members of Congress seeking re-election include House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows and Rep. Patrick McHenry, the chief deputy whip in the House. The most threatened GOP incumbents may be Reps. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte and Walter Jones of Farmville.

A little over 4 percent of the state’s 6.9 million registered voters cast ballots before Tuesday through early in-person or traditional absentee voting. Some registrants had no primaries in which to vote because there are no statewide races on Tuesday’s ballot.

You can find voter information including your registered polling precinct and a sample ballot for your area at the North Carolina State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement website. The polls are open from 6:30am-7:30 pm.

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Who will be your pick for Onslow County Sheriff on May 8? Vote Now!

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[yop_poll id=”1″]

 

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