- Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore
The US federal grand jury has indicted 13 Russian nationals and three entities accused of meddling with the 2016 election and political processes.
Court documents issued by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller claimed Russian organisations began interfering with political processes, including the 2016 presidential election, as early as 2014.
The charges arise from Mr Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the election and whether there was improper co-ordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
It said that bogus social media posts and advertisements were fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the presidential race between Trump and his opponent Hillary Clinton.
Some "posted derogatory information", the indictment said, about candidates in the Republican primaries including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
The Russians' efforts included "supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton," the indictment stated.
Some of the defendants, posing as US persons, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign, the indictment said.
Charges include conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
They are the most direct allegation to date of illegal Russian meddling in the election.
The goal, the indictment says, was to "sow discord in the US political system, including the 2016 presidential election".
Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein said the goal was "spreading distrust" of 2016 candidates and the political system.
He said: "The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States."
He said that the indictment includes no allegation that alleged meddling altered the outcome of the presidential election.
The White House had no immediate response to the indictment.