US President Donald Trump has said Russia started anti-US campaign “long before” he announced his intention to run for the White House.
In a tweet posted after a number of Russian individuals and entities were charged with alleged election meddling the president said: “Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”
Earlier on Friday the US Special Counsel said in an indictment that a Russian Internet agency and more than a dozen Russians interfered in the US election campaign from 2014 through 2016 in a multi-pronged effort with the aim of supporting then-businessman Donald Trump and disparaging his rival Hillary Clinton, the US Special Counsel said in an indictment on Friday.
The 37-page indictment filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller described a conspiracy to disrupt the US election by people who adopted false online personas to push divisive messages; traveled to the United States to collect intelligence; and staged political rallies while posing as Americans.
Russia’s Internet Research Agency “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the US political system, including the 2016 US presidential election,” the indictment states.
“Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by early to mid-2016, Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump … and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”
The indictment broadly echoes the conclusions of a January 2017 US intelligence community assessment, which found that Russia had meddled in the election, and that its goals eventually included aiding Trump.
Trump has never unequivocally accepted that report, and has denounced Mueller’s probe into whether his campaign colluded with the Kremlin as a “witch hunt.”