US special counsel Robert Mueller has charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies with attempting to influence the 2016 election campaign.
Three Russian companies were also charged as part of the espionage conspiracy, which utilised social media trolling and other methods in an attempt to “sow discord in the US political system, including the 2016 US presidential election”.
The indictment alleges the Russians were part of an operation directed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, close ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin, focussed on boosting then presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Mr Trump seized on the indictment not including any information about the investigation into collusion between the Russians and Mr Trump’s election team, claiming it vindicated him in a tweet.
“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!,” Mr Trump tweeted.
Mr Trump also released a statement calling for unison in a bitterly divided political system.
“It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories, which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia, and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions,” he said.
The indictment alleges that the Russians posed as Americans on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, reaching “significant numbers” of Americans with their content.