A Russian national has been charged with interfering in the US political system, including next month's midterm elections, the Department of Justice revealed Friday.
America's justice department disclosed the latest criminal complaint soon after U.S. intelligence agencies said they were concerned about efforts by Russia, Chinaand Iran to influence United States voters and policy. She allegedly spent millions in an operation called Project Lakhta, buying advertising on social media, acquiring internet domain names, and pushing "news postings on social networks".
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.
The U.S.is concerned about the foreign campaigns "to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies", said the statement from national security officials.
It is believed to be the first federal case alleging Russian interference in this year's election.
But Trump recently accused China of meddling in the midterms, and Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech this month that Russia's actions in 2016 pale in comparison to the covert and overt activities by China to interfere in the current elections and counter Trump's tough trade policies against Beijing.
Justice Department's criminal complaint says Elena Khusyaynova worked for the same Russian social media troll farm that was indicted in February by special counsel Robert Mueller; chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reports from Capitol Hill.
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.
Mueller, whose work is ongoing, charged a dozen Russian military officers with hacking Democrats' computers, as well as 13 people and three companies who his prosecutors' allege ran an online propaganda operation to push voters away from Hillary Clinton and toward Donald Trump in 2016. They also allegedly focused on events like the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville and specific mass shootings, the complaint alleges.
"The strategic goal of this alleged conspiracy, which continues to this day, is to sow discord in the US political system and to undermine faith in our democratic institutions", the USA attorney overseeing the case, Zach Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.
The FBI remains dedicated in its efforts to thwart "unlawful influence operations" with fellow law enforcement agencies, FBI Director Christopher Wray said in the news release, adding that the bureau takes "all threats to our democracy very seriously".