The Russian government has again denied U.S. allegations that it interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, saying it "does not" meddle in the "internal affairs" of other countries.
The statement was the Kremlin's first official response following last Friday's indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The indictment focuses on Russian nationals, although according to statements coming out of Washington, the accusations are against the Russian state, Kremlin and the Russian government. But "there are no indications that the Russian state could be involved in this, there arent any and there cant be any," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in a conference call with reporters.
"Russia did not meddle, does not have the habit of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, and is not doing so now", he said.
A January 2017 report by U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at preventing presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
"We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments," the report claimed.
Mueller's report, however, claims that the Russian cyber-offensive began in 2014, two years before U.S. intelligence claims the campaign began. The report also claimed that wealthy Russian businessman Evgeny Prigozhin - known as "Putin's chef," was the man behind a "troll farm" that used various social media platforms to meddle in the 2016 election - primarily Facebook and Twitter.
No proof Moscow interfered in the election, Putin spokesperson says pic.twitter.com/gV50OidmnoFox News (@FoxNews) February 20, 2018
Facebook exec damages Mueller's narrative
Hours after Mueller's indictment, Facebook VP of Ads, Rob Goldman, tweeted out a stream of "uncleared" thoughts on the incident, including one which was picked up and retweeted by President Trump which reads "The majority of advertising purchased by Russians on Facebook occurred after the election"
The Fake News Media never fails. Hard to ignore this fact from the Vice President of Facebook Ads, Rob Goldman! https://t.co/XGC7ynZwYJDonald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2018
Goldman went on to say that he had "seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal."
Most of the coverage of Russian meddling involves their attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 US election. I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal.Rob Goldman (@robjective) February 17, 2018
The main goal of the Russian propaganda and misinformation effort is to divide America by using our institutions, like free speech and social media, against us. It has stoked fear and hatred amongst Americans. It is working incredibly well. We are quite divided as a nation.Rob Goldman (@robjective) February 17, 2018
After what must have been an awkward weekend for Rob, Facebook's VP of Global Public Policy issued a Sunday night statement saying Nothing we found contradicts the Special Counsels indictments. Any suggestion otherwise is wrong.
According to Wired magazine, Goldman issued an internal apology at Facebook that read: I wanted to apologize for having tweeted my own view about Russian interference without having it reviewed by anyone internally. The tweets were my own personal view and not Facebooks. I conveyed my view poorly. The Special Counsel has far more information about what happened [than] I doso seeming to contradict his statements was a serious mistake on my part. (more here)
We're sure Rob will pre-clear his thoughts in the future.