CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The first criminal charges against Russian nationals and businesses were filed on Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller in regards to what he called a wide-ranging effort to undermine the 2016 presidential election and assist in the election of President Trump. And according to the indictment, part of Russia’s interference occurred right here in the Queen City.
The indictment charged 13 Russian nationals and three businesses – including an internet firm tied to the Kremlin – with conspiracy, identity theft, and failing to register as foreign agents.
The indictment claims that some of the Russians posed as Americans to “organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies supporting then-candidate Trump.” These rallies occurred in Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania. However, their involvement continued after Trump’s victory as the indictment says the false American personas organized events to both support and protest the President Elect.
The indictment names Charlotte as a city that hosted of one of the events seemingly organized by the Russian defendants.
“Defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally entitled ‘Charlotte Against Trump’ in Charlotte, North Carolina, held on or about November 19, 2016,” the indictment said.
The event occurred at Marshall Park in Charlotte’s uptown.
At the event, organizers asked people to sign a petition to get the state of North Carolina to create a "hate crime" phone line. They claimed that following President Trump's election, the number of hate crimes increased in the United States.
Trump responded shortly after news of the indictment broke on Twitter.
"Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!" Trump tweeted.
To read the full indictment, click here. For information on the rally held in Charlotte, scroll to page 23.