Axios Feb 16
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Mueller indicts 13 Russians for election meddling

Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images

A federal grand jury has brought charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for violating criminal laws to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election, according to documents released by the Justice Department.

Why it matters: This tells us quite a bit about what Russia did to interfere in the election, but not much about potential collusion. Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein said that while the defendants were in touch with Americans, including members of the Trump campaign, “the Americans did not know they were communicating with Russians.” Rosenstein added that the indictment does not confirm that the alleged meddling changed the outcome of the presidential election.

Key excerpt: "Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by early to mid-2016, Defendants' operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton. Some Defendants, posing as US persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign."

Other notes

  • The Internet Research Agency, the first entity named on the indictment, is the Russian "troll factory" known for its involvement in social media and comment-based misinformation campaigns.
  • The defendants are all charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S., three are charged with conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, and five are charged with aggravated identity theft, according to a statement released by the Department of Justice on Friday.
  • The initial goal of the defendants, per the indictment, was to "sow discord in the US. political system."
  • The indictment lists Concord Catering and Concord Management and Consulting. The two firms served as the Internet Research Agency's manager and primary source of funding. They're headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, sometimes referred to as "Putin's chef," who was also indicted and has close ties to the Kremlin.
  • Trump was briefed this morning on the indictments by FBI Director Wray and Deputy A.G. Rosenstein, the White House says.

Go deeper: Read the full indictment

Haley Britzky 1 hour ago
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Zuckerberg happy to testify if it is "the right thing to do”

A portrait of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
A portrait of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he would be "happy" to testify before Congress if it was "the right thing to do," in an interview with CNN's Laurie Segall.

Why it matters: Facebook has been under the microscope lately for what Zuckerberg called earlier today the "Cambridge Analytica situation." Zuckerberg said if he as the "person...who will have the most knowledge," than he'd be the one to testify in the face of Facebook's data-collection situation.

Ina Fried 58 mins ago
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Zuckerberg: Facebook may have influenced election, may need to be regulated

Zuckerberg at F8 in 2017
Zuckerberg at F8 in 2017. Photo: Facebook

In a flurry of media interviews on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he is willing to testify before Congress, that he can't guarantee that Russians didn't get their hands on Facebook user data and that he isn't sure Facebook shouldn't be regulated.

Why it matters: After remaining silent for several days, Mark Zuckerberg has given interviews with outlets including CNN, Wired, the New York Times and Recode. The interviews answer some, but definitely not all of the questions left unanswered by his earlier Facebook post.