The fly-on-the-wall account of Russian hacking laid out in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictment charging a dozen Kremlin-backed spies with interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is striking, ex-prosecutors say, given its risk of exposing American investigative tools—which may have included hacking the Russians back.

Mueller's 29-page case unsealed Friday includes an unprecedented glimpse into not only how 12 Russian military officers hacked into Democratic Party systems and conspired to spread damaging dirt on Hillary Clinton and her allies, but also how U.S. authorities tracked down that information.

"There are certain things in that indictment which they could not have gotten with any of the typical tools that we have available through the federal criminal justice process," said Ed McAndrew, a former cybercrime prosecutor who now co-chairs the cybersecurity practice at Ballard Spahr.

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