A federal grand jury on Friday approved the first charges in the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Reuters reports. According to the news outlet, the indictment was sealed under orders from a federal judge so it was not clear what the charges were or who the target was.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russia interfered in the election to try to help President Donald Trump defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton through a campaign of hacking and releasing embarrassing emails, and disseminating propaganda via social media to discredit her campaign, Reuters informs.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump campaign officials collaborated with those Russian efforts. Sources familiar with Mueller’s probe said he has used that broad authority to investigate links between Trump aides and foreign governments as well as possible money laundering, tax evasion and other financial crimes.
The Special Counsel’s investigation also includes an effort to determine whether Trump or any of his aides tried to obstruct justice. Mueller’s team has conducted interviews with former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, former spokesman Sean Spicer and other current and former White House officials.
Mueller was appointed to lead the investigation a week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was heading a federal probe into possible collusion with Russia, Reuters adds.
Mueller’s team has also investigated Michael Flynn, who was an adviser to Trump’s campaign and later briefly served as his national security adviser. Flynn was fired from that post in February after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the extent of his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak last year.