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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described reports about Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election as "blather".
Mr Lavrov's comments come just one day after the US Justice Department indicted three Russian companies and 13 individuals, accusing them of conspiring to interfere with "US political and electoral processes".
The Foreign Minister declined to comment on the new charges, telling the Munich Security Conference on Saturday (local time) that US Vice-President Mike Pence and others had raised questions about the investigation.
"You may publish anything you want to. So until we see the facts, everything else is just blather," Mr Lavrov said.
Russia's former ambassador to the United States has also dismissed the allegations as "fantasies" rooted in domestic politics.
"I'm not sure that I can trust American law enforcement to be the most precise and truthful source of information about what Russians do," former ambassador Sergei Kislyak said.
"I have never done anything of this sort. None in my embassy did. So whatever allegations are being mounted against us are simply fantasies that are being used for political reasons inside the United States in the fight between different sides of the political divide."
The surprise 37-page indictment could alter the divisive US domestic debate over Russia's meddling, undercutting some Republicans who, along with US President Donald Trump, have attacked Mr Mueller's investigation.
"These Russians engaged in a sinister and systematic attack on our political system. It was a conspiracy to subvert the process, and take aim at democracy itself," said Paul Ryan, Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The indictment described a conspiracy to disrupt the US election by people who adopted false online personas to push divisive messages, travelled to the US to collect intelligence, and staged political rallies while posing as Americans.One of the companies, the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency,
A year before Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy, two Russian operatives landed in the United States to lay groundwork for an intelligence operation targeting the legitimacy of the 2016 election.
What began as a Cold War-like attack by a long-time adversary would mix old-fashioned political agitation with 21st century social media tools that ultimately roiled the election and shook America's political landscape.
To get up to speed:
The 37-page indictment described a conspiracy to disrupt the US election by people who adopted false online personas to push divisive messages.
It revealed that social media campaign relied on extensive intelligence work by operatives on US soil.
And we learned this all started earlier than commonly believed, first aiming to "sow discord" ahead of the 2016 election and later to boost Mr Trump's candidacy.
The indictment does not specifically tie the influence operation to Russia's intelligence apparatus.
Instead, it points fingers at a group of operatives working for a unit called "The Organisation", financed to the tune of millions of dollars.
According to the indictment, that money came from by Yevgeny Prigozhin.
He's a St Petersburg businessman dubbed "Putin's chef" because his restaurants have catered dinners for the Kremlin leader and foreign dignitaries.
The scheme outlined in the indictment began with fraudulent visa applications for US travel.
Though some of the Russians were rejected, two operatives, Aleksandra Krylova and Anna Bogacheva, allegedly travelled as tourists through at least nine states over about two weeks in June 2014.
They had developed "evacuation scenarios" in case their cover was blown.
Another unindicted operative travelled to Georgia in November of that year.
Prosecutors say the operatives were gathering intelligence used to evaluate political targets on social media.
The operation developed metrics on social media groups, measuring things like frequency of posting and audience engagement.
Later, back in Russia, some of the operatives posed as US citizens to contact political and social activists.
The indictment describes one interaction with someone at a "Texas-based grassroots organisation" who suggested they target closely contested purple states like Colorado, Virginia and Florida.
It was banal conventional wisdom, but afterwards, the Russian operatives began using the jargon in their own interactions, which US authorities somehow were able to access.
The early groundwork set the table before the campaign was in full swing.
Social media accounts were established to lend credibility to their covert efforts.
The Russian-based operatives posed as US political activists from all corners.
Later, goals were set and enforced by the group's leadership: undermine Mrs Clinton while boosting her Democratic opponent in the primary, Bernie Sanders, as well as Mr Trump.
To obfuscate their efforts, the operatives, working in concert with the Internet Research Agency — a St Petersburg-based troll farm — purchased server space in the US.
Using virtual private networks they could conduct their social media interactions while appearing to be based in the US.
They also relied on identity theft, stealing and then using the social security numbers, home addresses and birthdates of real Americans without their knowledge, the indictment says.
The operatives set up bank accounts at a federally insured bank, set up accounts at PayPal using stolen identities and fake drivers' licences, and purchased fraudulent credit card and bank account numbers at as many as six US banks.
The operatives even received money from real Americans who wanted to use the Russian-backed social media pages for their own promotions, the indictment says.
The false identities and accounts aided the covert purchase of internet advertising, circumventing laws to prevent foreign influence in US politics.
That groundwork also helped to stage political rallies.
While posing as American political activists, the operatives paid people in the US to promote or disparage candidates.
Starting in June 2016, just weeks after Mr Trump had officially clinched the Republican nomination, the Russians upped the ante on their clandestine work.
They began to organise and coordinate pro-Trump political rallies.
To build interest, the Russians promoted the events using their "false US persona social media accounts", contacting unwitting American administrators of large social media groups focusing on US political issues.
Using fake pro-Trump Facebook and Twitter accounts, the Russians touted two political rallies in New York, one slated for June 25, 2016, and a second for July 23.
The Russians soon grew bold enough to enlist unwitting Americans in their efforts.
One was asked to build a cage on a flatbed truck, while a second American was asked to wear a costume portraying Mrs Clinton in a prison uniform.
The Russians, the indictment notes, "paid these individuals to complete the requests".
On June 5, someone posing as an American activist used the Twitter account @March_for_Trump to contact an unnamed Trump campaign volunteer in New York.
The Trump volunteer "agreed to provide signs for the March for Trump rally", the indictment alleges.
That internet contact came four days before senior Trump campaign officials, including Mr Trump's son, Donald Junior, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met in person with a group of representatives for Russian interests at Trump Tower.
The Trump Tower meeting — separately being investigated by the special counsel — is not cited in the indictment and is not known to have any connection with the allegations detailed in it.
By August, the Russian group had moved its sights to Florida, a key swing state, again using false IDs to contact Trump campaign staff involved in Florida activities.
The Russians used Facebook and Instagram to promote a series of "Florida Goes Trump" rallies on August 20.
Using a false persona known as "Matt Skiber", the Russians messaged Florida-based Trump supporters.
"Hi there!" the fake Skiber allegedly wrote. "I'm a member of Being Patriotic online community. Listen, we've got an idea."
Skiber suggested "organising a YUGE pro-Trump flash mob" in every Florida town.
"We've got the folks who are OK to be in charge of organising the events almost everywhere in FL. However, we still need your support. What do you think about that? Are you in?"
Trump won the election in Florida by just under 120,000 votes out of more than 9 million cast.
The operation also targeted minority communities to exploit racial fissures and suppress Democratic votes.
On October 16, 2016 — three weeks before the US election — the Russian-controlled Instagram account "Woke Blacks" encouraged followers not to go to the polls, saying hatred of Mr Trump was "forcing" black people to vote for "Killary".
The account said: "We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we'd surely be better off without voting AT ALL."
Even after Mr Trump won the presidency, the Russians continued to fuel his popularity with ersatz rallies, while at the same time using their false identifies to provoke anti-Trump rallies.
One anti-Trump rally was held four days after the election in New York. It was called "Trump is NOT my President".
A week later another protest was held in Charlotte, North Carolina and was described as "Charlotte Against Trump".
As reports of Russian influence began to surface in the US media, the operatives noticed.
In September, Facebook said it had found evidence of Russians buying ads on its platform.
Prosecutors cited an email by Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina to a family member on September 13 that said: "We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity [not a joke]."
"So I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with colleagues."http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-17/russian-defendants-conduct-information-warfare-against-the
So ALL that work... ALL that planning...
Well... America has lost it's standing in the world and people are looking to Europe more and more.
America is becoming more isolated, cutting trade deals and walling themselves off.
Trump is an international laughing stock that no one takes seriously and no one even wants to talk to at world summits.
If this goes on to 2024... America may never recover.
Which leaves Russia and China as the new Superpowers.
As evil plans go, it doesn't suck.
And it will succeed if people keep denying anything is happening.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has filed a new indictment against former Trump campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, according to court records.
The indictment, filed in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, includes tax and bank fraud charges against Mr Manafort and Mr Gates, who had pleaded not guilty to federal criminal charges Mr Mueller initially filed against them last October.
The two men were initially charged last October in a 12-count indictment that accused them of a multimillion-dollar money-laundering conspiracy tied to their foreign lobbying work.
The additional charges involve much of the same conduct Mr Manafort and Mr Gates were initially charged with, but they increase the amount of money the former is accused of laundering through offshore accounts to $US30 million ($38 million).
The charges against Mr Manafort and Mr Gates do not relate to any allegations of misconduct related to Mr Trump's campaign.
The new indictment accuses the two men of doctoring documents to inflate the income of their businesses and then using those fraudulent documents to obtain loans.
It also accuses Mr Manafort of evading taxes from 2010 through 2014 and in some of the years concealing his foreign bank accounts.
This is certainly suspicious.
If Gates was guilty of fraud and conspiracy, then why let him off?
Unless he flipped to save himself and has offered up a bigger fish for Mueller to fry.
Listen to me... I watch WAY too many crime shows.