Special counsel Robert Mueller’s new indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officials for interfering in the 2016 presidential election contains no accusations they worked in concert with Trump campaign officials — but that doesn’t mean future indictments won’t.
During a news conference held to announce the indictment, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stressed that Mueller’s investigation isn’t over. Nonetheless, Republicans and Trump officials responded to the latest indictment by disingenuously acting as though Trump had been exonerated.
The Republican Party’s Twitter account pretended the latest indictment will be the last one.
“As @realDonaldTrump has been saying all along: No collusion,” they wrote.
— GOP (@GOP) July 13, 2018
But without naming names, Mueller’s indictment indicates that a longtime Trump adviser, Roger Stone, was in touch with a newly-indicted Russian hacker who went by the online pseudonym Guccifer 2.0 during the summer of 2016. That revelation confirms earlier reporting about Stone’s contacts with Russian hackers.
Tweets Stone posted in the weeks leading up to the election suggest he had prior knowledge that WikiLeaks was in possession of emails stolen from Democratic targets. Mueller’s latest indictment details how those emails were obtained by Russian hackers — but it doesn’t detail how those emails were passed along to WikiLeaks, or disclose anything about who knew about the hacks before the goods were published online and became a central part of Trump’s closing argument.
Furthermore, certain key details about Stone’s correspondence with Guccifer 2.0 are omitted from Mueller’s indictment.
The narrative about Roger Stone begins in the middle of things—with the Russians thanking Stone for writing back to them. What did Stone write to them before that, in response to what, and why would Mueller’s team omit it here? Unlikely that it’s simply irrelevant. pic.twitter.com/GHV6cAL8kw
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) July 13, 2018
Like the GOP, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani responded to the latest indictment by trying to misleadingly frame it as evidence that “No Americans are involved” and “President Trump is completely innocent.”
The indictments Rod Rosenstein announced are 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.
— Mayor Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) July 13, 2018
But the indictment suggests Trump is not as innocent as Giuliani would like you to believe. As ThinkProgress has detailed, the charges indicate that on the same day Trump infamously encouraged Russian hackers to go after Hillary Clinton during a news conference — July 27, 2016 — Russian hackers “attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provided and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton Campaign.”
But before people even had enough time to read the indictment and make that connection, Fox News — the same network Trump explicitly promoted during a news conference in the U.K. hours earlier — was spinning the indictment as a win for Trump.
“I think it does help Trump,” Fox News contributor Charlie Hurt said on Outnumbered Overtime. “When he takes that seriously, and he says ‘I’m going to go to Putin and ask him questions about it,’ it shows how serious he is about something that’s serious.”
Fox News is literally chatting about how this helps Trump.
Yes, they think the fact that Russian intelligence officials, who we know corresponded with members of Trump's campaign, hacked the election to help Trump is good news for Trump. pic.twitter.com/tX63jL4gwi
— Zack Ford (@ZackFord) July 13, 2018
The White House, meanwhile, responded to the indictment with a statement that expressed no concern about Russian election interference, but instead sought to emphasize the president’s purported innocence.
NEW: White House responds to Russian hacking indictments. pic.twitter.com/rtj16iq7yR
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) July 13, 2018
Even though Trump was briefed about the latest allegations before he left for Europe, he again dismissed the Mueller investigation as “a rigged witch hunt” during his news conference in the U.K.