FBI Charges 13 Russian Individuals With Electoral Interference

This week the BBC and Guardian Newspapers Online reported the charging of 13 Russian citizens with collusion in the American election of 2016 in favour of Donald Trump Junior. This announcement, advocated for by Robert Mueller of the FBI Special Council, represents a major development in the Russian investigation. The 37-page indictment accused 13 Russians and three organization of a long, complex and premeditated collusion plot dedicated to manipulating the U.S. election in favour of a Trump presidency. These charges were developed through the work of three major committees of investigation. Each dedicated to helping analyze the legitimacy of collusion claims through investigation of personal and professional Trump–Russian relations.

Muller presented the findings on Friday to the Special Council and alleged that Russian operatives “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign,” in order to manipulate the presidential campaign in favour of the Trump candidacy. Similarly, this conclusion was reiterated through Donald Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who argued at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that “the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domains, whereas in the past it was difficult to attribute.” In response to these allegations, President Trump and his Washington associates have denied all forms of participation in these activities. In a tweet published on February 16th, Trump argued “The results of the presidential campaign were not impacted… the Trump campaign did nothing wrong …” Similarly, the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, at the Munich Security Conference, critiqued the FBI’s findings in say that “until we see the facts everything else is just blabber…”

The 37-page legal indictment presented to the council alleges that the Russian collusion to manipulate the 2016 presidential elections was of complex design, having been initiated as early as 2014. The indictment similarly explores coercive efforts of the Russians to effectively undermine support for the Clinton campaign by means of cyber activity. The 13 Russians nominated in this hearing are allegedly accused of colluding with the Internet Research Agency, a company based in St. Petersburg which made viral pro-Trump campaigns such as ‘#TrumpTrain,’ ‘#Trump2016,’ and ‘#Hilliary4prison.’

The Russian Investigation and the manner in which events have simultaneously manipulated political, social and economic arenas is a crude reminder of the vulnerability of the democratic electoral system. The significance of this investigation potently explores the consequence of radical cyber activity, whereby digital activism is demonstrated to have tangible and lasting political impacts. The significance of these actions for the American nation has been the subject of such controversy that it throws into question the security, vulnerability and complicity of many other developed countries. Protecting the nature of the democratic system is becoming recognized as the responsibility of all countries.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of Russian collusion in the 2016 election, President Trump continues to deny any form of legal evidence pertaining to Russian interference. The 13 Russians called forth this week represent a long-standing investigation which aims to ensure the protection of a just and democratic political system. One can only hope that the conclusion from the Special Council hearing will form the first steps in bringing a fair, legal and democratic system of governance to America.

Ellie Willis