The Wall St. Journal has this startling scoop this morning. The inquiry is separate from Robert Mueller’s investigation:
The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the investigation.
Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year, these people said. Discussions about the case are in the early stages, they said.
If filed, the case would provide the clearest picture yet of the actors behind the DNC intrusion. U.S. intelligence agencies have attributed the attack to Russian intelligence services, but haven't provided detailed information about how they concluded those services were responsible, or any details about the individuals allegedly involved.
The high-profile hack of the DNC’s computers played a central role in the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment in January that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.” Mr. Putin and the Russian government have denied meddling in the U.S. election.
Thousands of the DNC’s emails and other data, as well as emails from the personal account of John Podesta, who served as campaign chairman to 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, were made public by WikiLeaks last year.
The pinpointing of particular Russian military and intelligence hackers highlights the exhaustive nature of the government’s probe. It also suggests the eagerness of some federal prosecutors and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents to file charges against those responsible, even if the result is naming the alleged perpetrators publicly and making it difficult for them to travel, rather than incarcerating them. Arresting Russian operatives is highly unlikely, people familiar with the probe said.