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Among those targeted was John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman.

The Kremlin, meanwhile, denied anew that it tried to sway the election.

However, in a July 2016 statement, then-FBI Director James Comey said that the investigation "found no evidence that any of the additional work-related emails were intentionally deleted in an effort to hide them". They allegedly mined coins and acquired them "through a variety of means to obscure the origin of the funds", which were used to finance cyberattacks against Democratic party officials, members of Hillary Clinton's campaign, and others.

The spies set up fake personas online to release the stolen documents.

Special Counsel and Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller indicted 12 members of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency over interfering in the 2016 United States presidential election. The charges said that no Americans were knowingly in communication with any of the Russian intelligence officers.

They also plotted to hack into the computers of state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and voter software, according to the indictment.

Journalists waiting for a major announcement by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein Friday suddenly quieted, straining to hear a voice among them.

The White House echoed some of those sentiments.

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The statement was widely seen as a negotiating tactic to put the USA on the back foot as talks get underway. China is North Korea's traditional ally and main trading partner, and is a key influence on Pyongyang .

Three other people, all unnamed in the indictment, also received documents from the Russians: A congressional candidate, who contacted the spies seeking damaging information on an opponent; a lobbyist who got information on Democratic donors; and a reporter who co-ordinated with the Russians on putting out information about Black Lives Matter.

She also emphasized that the indictment did not allege that any American citizen committed a crime, that Americans knew that they were corresponding with Russians, or that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result. "This exchange is entirely public and provides no evidence of collaboration or collusion with Guccifer 2.0 or anyone else in the alleged hacking of the DNC emails, as well as taking place many weeks after the events described in today's indictment".

Before Friday, 20 people and three companies had been charged in the Mueller investigation. The 20 are four former Trump campaign and White House aides, three of whom have pleaded guilty to different crimes and agreed to co-operate, and 13 Russians accused of participating in a hidden but powerful social media campaign to sway USA public opinion in the 2016 election.

"The Russian state has never interfered and has no intention of interfering in the USA elections", Mr Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said.

"I would call it the rigged witch hunt", Mr. Trump said. Anything you do, it's always going to be, "Oh, Russia, he loves Russia".

That evening, the indictment says, the Russians attempted to break into email accounts used by Clinton's personal office, along with 76 Clinton campaign email addresses.

A few hours before the indictments were announced, Trump described the Mueller investigation as a "rigged witch hunt" that is hurting the U.S. relationship with Russian Federation. "If President Trump is not prepared to hold Putin accountable, the summit in Helsinki should not move forward".

Rosenstein said the latest indictment did not include any allegation that Russian Federation was successful in their efforts to influence election outcomes.