Just when the Russian meddling story seemed to be taking a back seat to a hundred other sensational news stories around the presidency of Donald Trump, the first criminal case around Russian election meddling was filed in Alexandria, Virginia.
U.S. unseals criminal complaint charging Russian national Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova for alleged role in conspiracy to interfere in U.S. political system https://t.co/Czg6QdPwNl pic.twitter.com/Q8XKJ4wrOB
— Reuters Politics (@ReutersPolitics) October 19, 2018
According to POLITICO:
‘Elena Khusyaynova, 44, a St. Petersburg, Russia-based accountant, was charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to defraud the United States for taking part in a scheme to spend in excess of $10 million since the beginning of the year on targeted social media ads and web postings intended “to sow division and discord in the U.S. political system.”‘
BREAKING / NBC NEWS: A Russian woman, Elena Alekaseevna Khusyaynova, has been indicted for trying to meddle in the 2018 Midterm elections, according to court papers.
She allegedly works for Yevgeny Prigozhin, also known as "Putin's chef."
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) October 19, 2018
Trump has never fully admitted that Russia tried to influence the election in his favor and continues to insist it may have been China and that the efforts to steer the election were in Hillary Clinton’s favor, not his. This federal charge proves that wrong.
‘Khusyaynova, who is not in U.S. custody, allegedly works for a Russia-based firm that special counsel Robert Mueller’s office indicted in February for alleged interference in the 2016 election.
‘The unsealing of the new charge Friday appears to be a signal that U.S. law enforcement is not letting up in its efforts to investigate, deter and publicize alleged Russian interference in U.S. politics.’
JUST IN: The DOJ has filed charges against a Russian national named Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova for crimes related to interference in the 2016 presidential electionhttps://t.co/qQfqXlgsho
— Axios (@axios) October 19, 2018
While nothing in this story proves that Trump’s campaign colluded with Khusyaynova’s firm, it is the first criminal case to be filed that could logically lead to that conclusion since everyone arrested so far in Trump’s orbit, which includes his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and personal attorney Michael Cohen, has decided to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation once their legal troubles exploded.
‘The new case is being handled not by the special counsel but by federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Va. — an apparent signal to President Donald Trump that Mueller’s investigation won’t become an open-ended probe continuing through the 2018 election or beyond.’
Elena Khusyaynova has worked since 2014 in connection with the active measures program that prosecutors say is called “Project Lakhta." She is described as managing the budgeting and payment of expenses associated with social media operations, web content and other activities.
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) October 19, 2018
Mueller is not personally handling this case, nor is it part of his collusion investigation. It is, however, a case to watch for both him and the rest of the United States as the collusion investigation plays out.