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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

Go deeper

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.

GOP Sen. Rob Portman will not run for re-election, citing "partisan gridlock"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced Monday he will not run for a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2022, citing "partisan gridlock."

Why it matters: It's a surprise retirement from a prominent Senate Republican who easily won re-election in 2016 and was expected to do so again in 2022, creating an open Senate seat in a red-leaning swing state.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
54 mins ago - Economy & Business

Merger Monday has been overrun by SPACs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Five companies this morning announced plans to go public via reverse mergers with SPACs, at an aggregate market value of more than $15 billion. And there might be even more by the time you read this.

The bottom line: SPAC merger activity hasn't peaked. If anything, it's just getting started.