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UPDATED 1:30 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department unsealed an indictment Friday against 12 Russian military officials believed to have meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The indictment marks the latest development of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

According to the indictment, the Russian officials participated in a hacking campaign against the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as well as 20 state election boards and a software company that verifies voter registry information.

The indictment states that a unit of the Russian officials obscured their identities to disseminate the information, posing as American hackers via the website DCLeaks.com and as a lone Romanian hacker known as Guccifer 2.0.

The officials, who were identified as members of GRU, the Russian military’s intelligence arm, also are said to have provided the stolen information to an unnamed organization as a pass-through.

They reportedly discussed the timing of documents’ release with the entity in order to maximize the political impact.

The unnamed organization specifically asked for documents related to the Clinton campaign and the DNC, urging them to provide it before the Democratic National Convention.

“we think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary … so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting,” the organization wrote in a message.

The organization released approximately 20,000 DNC emails on July 22, 2016. The timing coincides with WikiLeaks releasing 20,000 emails on that date.

During a press conference announcing the indictment, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the hackers corresponded with American citizens, but the indictment does not state that the Americans knew the hackers’ identities.

The Americans included a registered state lobbyist, reporters as well as a “person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.

At one point, the unidentified American tied to Trump was asked about information on a stolen DCCC document, to which they replied that it was “[p]retty standard.”

Rosenstein, who emphasized that the indictment is part of an ongoing investigation, also noted that the indictment does not specifically state that the officials were able to directly interfere with votes cast in 2016.

The indictment comes three days before President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

Trump has said he plans on asking Putin about Russian meddling in the election, but has expressed skepticism that he will receive an admission.

Rosenstein said he briefed the president on the information earlier this week. The president and first lady Melania Trump were at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, for tea with Queen Elizabeth II when the indictment was announced.

While the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia attempted to sway the election via cyber attacks, the indictment offers greater detail of the operation.

The officials reportedly used successful spear phishing techniques, in which fake emails were sent in an attempt to get users to provide the log-in information for their accounts.

The move was successful against the Clinton campaign as well as the DCCC.

Though the DCCC hack, the officials were able to find an access point into the DNC’s computer network.

Once inside the system for the entities, the officials were able to steal documents and install malware to monitor for additional information.

After the malware was detected and removed by the Democratic organizations, the officials then illegally accessed DNC information through a third-party cloud service, the indictment says.

FBI Director Chris Wray at the Worldwide Threats Assessment Senate briefing Feb 13, 2018, (Photo by Doug Christian)

WASHINGTON  FBI Director Christopher Wray pledged Thursday to hold accountable and take disciplinary action against any FBI agents or other officials for misconduct detailed in a Justice Department report that faulted predecessor James Comey and others for their handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.

“We’re going to adhere to the appropriate disciplinary process, and once that process is complete, we won’t hesitate to hold people responsible for their actions,” Wray told reporters at an evening news conference here.

He refused to identify any FBI staff who might be reviewed.

“I take this report very seriously, and we accept its findings and recommendations,” Wray said. “There are some sobering lessons in [the report], and we’re going to learn those lessons and we’re going to act on those lessons, and that’s the way the FBI’s always handled these things in the past and that’s what made the FBI stronger over the last 110 years.”

But the FBI chief stressed the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s report “did not find any evidence of political bias or improper considerations actually impacting the investigation under review.”

“The report does identify errors of judgment, violations of or even disregard for policy, and decisions that at the very least  with the benefit of hindsight  were not the best choices,” Wray said.

He said the report “makes clear that we’ve got some work to do.”

“But,” Wray added, “let’s also be clear on the scope of this report. It’s focused on a specific set of events back in 2016, and a small number of FBI employees connected with those events. Nothing, nothing in this report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution.”

 

WASHINGTON – Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe did not fully comply with his recusal from the Bureau’s investigation into the Clinton Foundation, according to a Justice Department Inspector General report that was released on Thursday.

“We also found that McCabe did not fully comply with this recusal in a few instances related to the Clinton Foundation investigation,” the report states.

McCabe is accused of lying to investigators about media leaks regarding the 2016 investigation. In April, the IG sent federal prosecutors a criminal referral.

President Donald Trump fired McCabe in March after an IG report recommended his dismissal.

Earlier this week, McCabe sued the administration seeking documents related to his dismissal.

McCabe has said he did not lie to investigators.

Trump has questioned McCabe’s ability to be impartial in the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe. McCabe’s wife, Jill, is a former Virginia State Senate candidate and a political ally of Clinton.

McCabe’s attorney, Daniel Snyder, said the report proves his client did not make politically based decisions.

“The report demonstrates that any and all claims that political bias or political influence affected Mr. McCabe’s actions, including charges from the President and other critics, are baseless,” Synder said in a statement.

WASHINGTON – Former FBI Director James Comey violated Bureau protocol in his handling of the Clinton email probe but his actions were not motivated by political bias, according to a Justice Department Inspector General report that was released on Thursday.

“I am alarmed, angered, and deeply disappointed by the Inspector General’s finding of numerous failures by DoJ and FBI in investigating potential Espionage Act violations by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said in a statement. “This report confirms investigative decisions made by the FBI during the pendency of this investigation were unprecedented and deviated from traditional investigative procedures in favor of a much more permissive and voluntary approach.”

“The Inspector General report documents how time and again particular senior FBI officials, starting with Former Director Comey, made ad hoc, poorly reasoned decisions that were premised in part on an expectation that Secretary Clinton would win the election,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement.

“This report makes clear that FBI Director Comey and FBI personnel failed to follow the rules, and in doing so, hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign and helped Donald Trump’s,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement. “In a frenzy of tweets since taking office, the President has claimed a vast conspiracy in his own government against his campaign and Administration, but this report found no evidence that political bias affected the FBI’s investigations.” 

“The stark conclusion we draw after reviewing this report is that the FBI’s actions helped Donald Trump become President,” House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a joint statement. “Director Comey had a double-standard: he spoke publicly about the Clinton investigation while keeping secret from the American people the investigation of Donald Trump and Russia.”

In June 2016, Comey announced at a press conference that the Bureau would not recommend that Clinton be charged for having sent and received classified information on the private server.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch agreed with Comey’s recommendation and closed the investigation.

Several days before Comey’s announcement, Lynch met with former President Bill Clinton aboard a private plane on the tarmac of the Phoenix Airport. Lynch was heavily criticized for creating what appeared to be an impression of impropriety and later said that she had merely engaged in a social visit, talking about grandchildren.

Comey told Congress last year that the revelation of the meeting is what motivated him to tell the public that Clinton would not be charged. Comey told Congress that Lynch directed him to refer to the probe as a “matter” rather than an “investigation” and that that gave him a “queasy feeling.”

Eleven days before the presidential election, Comey sent a letter to several congressional committees announcing that the FBI was reopening the Clinton email investigation after having discovered more than 600,000 emails of interest in an unrelated probe.

Two days before the election, Comey announced that the second probe reaffirmed his original decision not to charge Clinton.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus have requested the unedited version of DoJ documents related to the Clinton email probe.

Comey said in a tweet that he welcomes the release of the IG report despite disagreeing with some of its conclusions.

WASHINGTON — A lawsuit filed by a Virginia-based campaign finance attorney alleges a conspiracy to funnel $84 million between 40 state Democratic parties and the Democratic National Committee to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“This Complaint alleges an unprecedented, massive, nationwide multi-million dollar conspiracy among the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”); Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s joint fundraising committee (“JFC”), Hillary Victory Fund (“HVF”); Clinton’s presidential candidate committee, Hillary for America (“HFA”), 40 Democratic state parties, and an undetermined number of individual “super donors” to circumvent federal contribution limits and earmarking restrictions by effectively laundering nearly all contributions received by HVF through the state parties to the DNC, which contributed much of those funds to HFA, made coordinated expenditures with HFA, and otherwise granted control of those funds to HFA resulting in a de facto unlawful contribution,” the complaint states.

The complaint was filed in December by attorney Dan Backer on behalf of the Committee to Defend the President, a political action committee that supports President Donald Trump.

The claims in the suit are based on Federal Election Commission (FEC) records.

“Not even the Supreme Court could anticipate the extent to which the Democratic Party and its elite, wealthy donor class would commit willful felonies in a futile attempt to facilitate Clinton’s election,” the complaint states.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported the suit on Friday. The newspaper is owned by GOP mega-donor and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

The 2016 Democratic presidential primary is marred by allegations that the DNC engineered Clinton’s nomination by undermining the candidacy of her challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Hacked emails by WikiLeaks show DNC leaders discussing how Sanders’ Jewish faith might be used against him in states such as West Virginia and Kentucky.

Sanders won the West Virginia primary by more than 15 points.

WASHINGTON  A soon-to-be released report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to take issue with the FBI and DoJ’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, according to CNN.

In June 2016, FBI Director James Comey announced at a press conference that the Bureau would not recommend that Clinton be charged for having sent and received classified information on the private server.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch agreed with Comey’s recommendation and closed the investigation.

Several days before Comey’s announcement, Lynch met with former President Bill Clinton aboard a private plane on the tarmac of the Phoenix Airport. Lynch was heavily criticized for creating what appeared to be an impression of impropriety and later said that she had merely engaged in a social visit, talking about grandchildren.

Comey told Congress last year that the revelation of the meeting is what motivated him to tell the public that Clinton would not be charged. Comey told Congress that Lynch directed him to refer to the probe as a “matter” rather than an “investigation” and that that gave him a “queasy feeling.”

Eleven days before the presidential election, Comey sent a letter to several congressional committees announcing that the FBI was reopening the Clinton email investigation after having discovered more than 600,000 emails of interest in an unrelated probe.

Two days before the election, Comey announced that the second probe reaffirmed his original decision not to charge Clinton.

Clinton has blamed Comey and a host of other parties for her defeat by President Donald Trump.

CNN reported that IG report is expected to take issue with former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s handling of the Clinton probe. McCabe is accused of lying to FBI agents about media leaks regarding the agency’s investigation. In April, the IG sent federal prosecutors a criminal referral.

McCabe has said he did not lie to investigators. He has requested immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony at a Senate hearing scheduled for Monday.

Trump fired McCabe in March after an IG report recommended his dismissal.

The president has questioned McCabe’s ability to be impartial in the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe. McCabe’s wife, Jill, is a former Virginia State Senate candidate and a political ally of Clinton.

WASHINGTON — Former President Bill Clinton struck a defiant tone when asked about Monica Lewinsky on Sunday, telling NBC host Craig Melvin that he would not have handled the scandal differently if he were facing it during the #MeToo movement.

“If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t,” Clinton said, suggesting that people have used “imagined facts” to describe the ’90s-era controversy.

In 1998, Clinton acknowledged that he had an intimate affair with Lewinsky while she was a White House intern.

Clinton had previously lied about their relationship during a deposition for a sexual harassment case.

Since the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault has gained traction, the power dynamics between Clinton and his subordinate have come under increased scrutiny.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) told The New York Times last year that Clinton should have resigned amid the scandal.

Juanita Broaddrick, a former nursing home administrator who claims that Clinton raped her in 1978 when he was attorney general of Arkansas and a candidate for governor, also has reemerged as part of the public conversation about the former president.

Clinton has denied the accusation and Broaddrick did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday, but posted about the NBC interview on Twitter.

When pressed Sunday on whether he owed Lewinsky an apology, Clinton replied that he provided a public apology to both Lewinsky and the country, but said that he did not provide her a private one nor does he believe one is owed.

“I never talked to her,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s remarks came during a joint interview with author James Patterson as part of a promotional tour for the book “The President Is Missing,” which the two co-wrote.

It was recorded on Sunday but aired Monday on NBC’s “Today Show.”

As the interview got more heated, Clinton attempted to turn the tables, asking Melvin if he believed that former presidents John F. Kennedy or Lyndon B. Johnson should have resigned for their treatment of women.

Clinton also set his sights on the current occupant of the White House, saying that multiple sexual misconduct allegations against President Donald Trump are fueling renewed questions over his behavior.

Trump has denied all accusations.

“[Trump’s allegations] hadn’t gotten anything like the coverage you would expect,” Clinton said.

Clinton noted that he likes the #MeToo movement, but expressed reservations.

“It doesn’t mean I agree with everything,” Clinton said. “I still have some questions about some of the decisions which have been made.”

Representatives for Lewinsky did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hillary Rodham Clinton appears before the Woman's Democratic Club, Washington, DC, (Photo by Doug Christian)

WASHINGTON — Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she would not mind being CEO of Facebook.

“It’s the biggest news platform in the world…most people in our country get their news  true or not — from Facebook,” Clinton said Friday in response to a question at Harvard University, where she received the Radcliffe Medal.

Clinton was hypothetically asked which company she would like to run.

Clinton received substantial campaign contributions from Facebook and other Silicon Valley-based companies but since the election she has blamed social media networks for contributing to her defeat at the hands of President Donald Trump.

“If you look at Facebook, the vast majority of the news items posted were fake. They were connected to, as we now know, the 1,000 Russian agents who were involved in delivering those messages,” Clinton told the Recode Code Conference last year.

Facebook is at the center of a controversy involving the U.K. data mining company Cambridge Analytica. Through a contractor, Cambridge Analytica gathered personal information from an estimated 87 million Facebook users without obtaining the consent of many of those users. Russian data scientist Aleksandr Kogan accessed the data on behalf of Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress in April that the company did not do enough to protect the data privacy of its users. Zuckerberg said Facebook has taken corrective action to prevent future breaches.

The social media company is being investigated by 37 state attorneys general. The company faces more than more than $2 trillion in fines, with an estimated $50,000 penalty for each breach. Facebook recently starting airing public relation campaign promoting how it is now taking privacy issues more serious.

Cambridge Analytica has denied allegations of impropriety. Earlier this month the company filed for bankruptcy. The FBI and the Justice Department are investigating the data breach.

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said in a Friday morning tweet that former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe should be investigated for his handling of the Clinton email probe due to his wife’s political ties to Hillary Clinton.

Trump fired McCabe in March after an IG report recommended McCabe’s dismissal. Trump has questioned McCabe’s ability to be impartial in the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe. McCabe’s wife, Jill, is a former Virginia State Senate candidate and a political ally of Clinton.

The tweets come ahead of the expected release of a second Justice Department Inspector General report on an investigation that centers around accusations that McCabe lied to FBI agents about media leaks regarding the FBI’s 2016 investigation into the Clinton Foundation. Last month, the IG sent federal prosecutors a criminal referral.

McCabe has said he did not lie to investigators.

On Thursday, the National Review reported that the Obama administration may have directed the FBI to plant a spy inside the Trump campaign.

The report coincided with the one year anniversary of the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Bill Clinton speaking at the DNC. Photo by Doug Christian

WASHINGTON — Monica Lewinsky tweeted Wednesday that her invitation to speak at a conference was rescinded after former President Bill Clinton decided to attend.

Lewinsky, who had an affair with Clinton that turned into one of the top scandals of the‘’90s, did not say which conference it was, but the Huffington Post noted that Clinton was scheduled to appear at one held by Town & Country magazine on Wednesday.

Town & Country did not immediately respond to TMN’s request for confirmation or comment. A representative for Lewinsky declined to comment on the tweet.