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1ST LEAD Poll meddling: US says incontrovertible proof, Russia says blabber By dpa correspondents

Europe
17.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Munich (dpa) - The evidence that Russia tried to meddle with the 2016 US presidential election is "now really incontrovertible," US National Security Advisor HR McMaster said on Saturday.

McMaster was speaking at the Munich Security Conference one day after the US Justice Department issued a sweeping indictment of Russian individuals and entities.

"As you can see with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain, whereas in the past it was difficult to attribute for a couple of reasons," McMaster said.

There had been difficulties up to this point in saying definitively that attempts to interfere had taken place because "first technically it was difficult but then also you didn‘t want to divulge your intelligence capabilities."

"But now that this is in the arena of a law enforcement investigation it‘s going to be very apparent to everyone," McMaster said.

In his own comments at the conference Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed allegations that Moscow meddled in US elections as "blabber".

"As long as we don‘t have facts, all the rest is blabber," Lavrov said. He refused to comment further.

US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly described investigations of Russian election meddling as a "hoax," tweeted on Friday that the timeline outlined in the indictment exonerated his campaign from any accusations of collusion.

The US indictment accuses three Russia-linked companies and 13 Russian individuals of orchestrating manipulation of social media in order to boost then-candidate Trump in the 2016 presidential vote.

The defendants are accused of conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

The suspects are all currently in Russia. Friday‘s indictment explicitly said that the charges did not involve the government in Moscow.

The indictment was sought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, who was named last year by the US Justice Department to lead an outside investigation of alleged Russian election meddling, including possible ties with Trump‘s campaign.

After Friday‘s indictments, Trump, who declared his candidacy in June 2015, claimed his campaign was exonerated, tweeting that "Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014" and there was "no collusion!"

 

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