Recapping Russia

This past Friday the Justice Department handed down 12 indictments of Russian officials. The 12 members of the GRU, a Russian federation intelligence agency, were accused of engaging in a “sustained effort” to hack Democrats’ emails and computer network while acting within their official capacity. Along with the indictments, the Justice Department says the hacking targeted Clinton's campaign, Democratic National Committee(DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee(DCCC), with the intention to "release that information on the internet under the names DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 and through another entity."

 

There were many reactions to the news of indictments including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who clarified that the indictment did not name any American citizen, but told reporters that defendants "corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the internet….There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime," Rosenstein said at a news conference. "There is no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result."

Deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters referenced Rosenstein's comments and further clarified that there was no evidence within the indictments tying the Trump campaign to hacking attempts."Today's charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result," Walters said in a statement. "This is consistent with what we have been saying all along."

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney commented on the indictments via a tweet; "good news for all Americans...The Russians are nailed. No Americans are involved. Time for Mueller to end this pursuit of the President and say President Trump is completely innocent.” Giuliani was essentially calling for the investigation to end.

Finally Trump commented with his own accusations targeted towards Obama.“The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration," Trump wrote. "Why didn't they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?" "These Russian individuals did their work during the Obama years," Trump continued in a tweet later Saturday. "Why didn't Obama do something about it? Because he thought Crooked Hillary Clinton would win, that's why. Had nothing to do with the Trump Administration, but Fake News doesn't want to report the truth, as usual!"

Just to clarify Obama did warn Putin against messing with the election. He went on to impose sanctions on Russian individuals and entities, kick out 35 Russian diplomats and close two of the Kremlin's compounds in the United States. Trump’s administration is not the first to be tough on Russia.

 

During his time in Russia, Trump said he had faith in Putin and believed that there was no collusion from Russia during the 2016 Presidential election. Today Trump corrected himself and told reporters that what he meant was that he doesn't see why Russia "wouldn't" be responsible. This most recent statement entirely contradicts what Trump was saying in Helsinki, where delivered no condemnation of Russia's interference and refused to say he believes American intelligence agencies over Russia's denials of meddling.

Late this afternoon Mueller took his investigation a step further and announced he had intentions to give five witnesses immunity if they testified against former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort. The court filing did not name the witnesses personally but indicated that they were not persons already publicly connected to the case. The witnesses are being asked to testify in connection with Manafort’s tax evasion and bank fraud charged, the first of Manafort's two mending trials. Mueller requested that the names of the witnesses be sealed and remain so unless the witnesses do in fact testify. This is an additional protection for the witnesses to not be worried about “undue harassment” or “repetitional harm”.