Indictment: Russians Pushed Voter Fraud Myth, Suppressed Black Vote

WASHINGTON - JUNE 25:  FBI Director Robert Mueller speaks during a news conference at the FBI headquarters June 25, 2008 in Washington, DC. The news conference was to mark the 5th anniversary of Innocence Lost initiative.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

The Kremlin operation that interfered in the 2016 campaign stoked fears of voter fraud in advance of election day, purchasing ads on Facebook and using the #VoterFraud hashtag on Twitter, according to an indictment of 13 Russian nationals filed by Robert Mueller’s probe on Friday.

Separately, the Russians spread social media messages that aimed to discourage blacks from voting, the indictment says.

One Facebook account, called Stop A.I., alleged in August that “Hillary Clinton has already committed voter fraud during the Democrat Iowa Caucust,” according to the indictment.

A week later, the group used its @TEN_GOP twitter account to report fictitious accusations of voter fraud being investigated in North Carolina.

A week before the election, the group used the #VoterFraud hashtag to push a similar lie, this time involving “tens of thousands of ineligible mail in [sic] Hillary votes being reported in Broward County, Florida.”

Trump, too, made numerous false claims about Democratic voter fraud in the run-up to the 2016 election.

The indictment also says that late in 2016, the Russians “began to encourage U.S, minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for third-party U.S. presidential candidate.”

“We cannot resort to the lesser of two evils,” one Russian-controlled Instagram account said, referring to Clinton as “Killary.”

“Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein,” said another Russian-backed Instagram post.

Responding to the indictment, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said in a statement: “Of particular concern, the indictments show how the Russians tried to suppress the votes of minorities across the United States in order to help Donald Trump win the presidency.”