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MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) – Could there be a South Florida connection to Friday’s Justice Department indictments against 12 Russian nationals as part of Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election accusing them of engaging in a “sustained effort” to hack Democrats’ emails and computer networks?
All 12 defendants are members of the GRU, a Russian federation intelligence agency within the main intelligence directorate of the Russian military, who were acting in “their official capacities.”
The revelations provide more detail on the sophisticated assault on the US election in 2016, including the release of emails designed to damage Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The Justice Department says the hacking targeted Clinton’s campaign, Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, with the intention to “release that information on the internet under the names DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 and through another entity.”
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the indictment does not name any American citizen, but told reporters that defendants “corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the internet.”
“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime,” Rosenstein said at a news conference. “There is no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result.”
On page 15 of the 29-page indictment, item 43a states, “the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress. The Conspirators responded using the Guccifer 2.0 persona and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.”
The candidate was not named in the filing.
The Russian government officials using the “Guccifer 2.0” pseudonym released hundreds of internal documents from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee including information on former Miami Rep. Jose Garcia and current state Sen. Annette Taddeo who were running in a primary to unseat Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.
Guccifer hackers later released more documents on congressional races in other states.
When contacted by CBS4 News, Congressman Curbelo’s office said it did not use stolen data.
“Congressman Curbelo has and continues to condemn any and all foreign interventions in the American democratic process, and neither he nor anyone on his campaign has ever contacted any foreign agent to request illegally obtained documents or information,” Curbelo campaign spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez said. “He welcomes today’s indictments and strongly encourages the Department of Justice to reveal the identity of the candidate for Congress who allegedly engaged a Russian agent.”
Curbelo’s office also says the FBI has not reached out to him.
The FBI has not contacted Annette Taddeo either, she told CBS4 News, nor has the Special Counsel’s office.
She tweeted her statement Friday, which read, “This indictment shows that we cannot rest until we fully protect our pillar of democracy-our electoral system. We cannot tolerate efforts to coordinate with foreign agents to infiltrate our democratic process-We need to act so this never happens again.”
Joe Garcia told CBS4 News he has never spoken to anyone about the report, he does not know who Guccifer is, he has not spoken to any government office about the report and the FBI has not contacted him.
“Democracy is at the core of what it is to be American. I support the Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation. I was not involved in the disclosure or have any knowledge about Guccifer 2.0, except that they published a hacked report. I have not been contacted by any government body investigating this issue. I look forward to the government getting to the truth soon,” Garcia said in his statement.
President Trump, meanwhile, is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin — who has denied election meddling — in Helsinki on Monday for a summit that includes a one-on-one meeting with only interpreters present. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday the summit will not be canceled.