Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing members of the US Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

13 Russian nationals were indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday for allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential election. The indictments are the first to come in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation that are directly related to Russian meddling.

The charges are being brought against individuals linked to an organization called the Internet Research Agency, which allegedly aimed to sow discord among the American voting public.

“The ORGANIZATION sought, in part, to conduct what it called ‘information warfare against the United States of America’ through fictitious U.S. personas on social media platforms and other Internet-based media,” the indictment said.

The group’s strategy, the document went on, “included interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with the stated goal of “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”

No Americans are alleged in the indictment to have knowingly collaborated with the Russian individuals, though contact with the Trump campaign was noted.

Some Defendants, it said, “posed as US persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”

The White House released a statement following the indictments, suggesting the legal action vindicated the Trump campaign.

“President Donald J. Trump has been fully briefed on this matter and is glad to see the Special Counsel’s investigation further indicates—that there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump campaign and Russia and that the outcome of the election was not changed or affected.”

“It is more important than ever before to come together as Americans. We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful. 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. We must unite as Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections,” Trump was quoted in the statement as saying.

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