Rod Rosenstein, United States Deputy Attorney General (DAG), caught most people by surprise Friday as he convened a press briefing to announced the most significant indictment to date, resulting from the special counsel investigation. After many months of speculation over Robert Mueller’s progress, the indictment is a major development. Although the special counsel team continues to do its work, the conclusions revealed Friday by Rosenstein all but shattered the last, stubborn allegations of collusion between the election campaign team of President Donald Trump and Russian authorities.
Rosenstein stated – twice, and very clearly – that no American citizens had knowingly co-operated with Russian agents. He also pointed out that this latest indictment does not conclude that Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election had any effect upon the result.
Indictment Dashes Hopes On The Left
Three Russian companies and 13 Russian nationals face charges for “committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system, including the 2016 Presidential election.”Rosenstein described it as “information warfare.” To be sure, Mueller’s team of prosecutors and investigators has not yet finished its work and Rosenstein’s statements today provide some cheer to Trump’s detractors. The indictment of these Russian provocateurs signals that the special counsel is fast closing in on any potential co-conspirators while also confirming that Russia did indeed meddle in the presidential election.
Doubtless, the leftwing media will focus upon those last two points and ignore the continued absence of collusion between the president and the Russians. Another point of consolation for the left will be that the indictment shows these Russians interceding on behalf of Trump and other presidential candidates but not on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Nevertheless, the point was still made that there is no evidence that the election result was compromised by the Russian activities.
“There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”
What Did The Russians Do?
The alleged Russian activity included purchasing space on U.S.-based internet servers; in order to conceal any connection to Russia. Additionally, The Russians allegedly created bots for social media sites, engaged in “aggravated identity theft,” wire and bank fraud and even orchestrated political rallies with the aid of American citizens who assumed they were dealing with fellow Americans.“the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists,” Rosenstein told the press.
The DAG cited one instance, shortly after Trump’s election, in which Russians organized two political rallies in New York City on the same day. One of the rallies was in support of Trump and the other was to protest his election. Essentially, these Russian companies and individuals were engaged in a campaign of destabilization; attempting to create confusion and acrimony and undermine the political process.
The president himself, along with those who worked on his campaign, is not yet entirely in the clear – even though the talk of collusion now seems even more fanciful that it has always been. Trump said that he was inclined to believe Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials of interfering in American politics. In light of this new indictment, all eyes will be on Trump’s response to it.
Congress has already recommended additional sanctions on the Russians for interfering in the 2016 election. Will the president now acknowledge that interference and impose the sanctions? In terms of purely political optics, he may have little choice. Then again, Trump has shown less interest in optics than any previous president.
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