Robert Mueller’s special counsel office has indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking into email accounts belonging to the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta during the 2016 election, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein announced at a press conference Friday. None of the Russian nationals are in custody.
The indictment alleges, as prior U.S. intelligence and media reports have also indicated, that the hacking was carried out by the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, which then disseminated hacked material through the “DCLeaks” website, the “Guccifer 2.0” online persona, and WikiLeaks (which is clearly referred to in the indictment, though not by name).
Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Monday in Helsinki, Finland; Trump, of course, has suggested on numerous occasions that Putin’s intelligence services may not have in fact been responsible for the hacking campaign against Clinton. Said POTUS in November: “[Putin] said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.” On Thursday, Trump said that he would raise the issue during the Helsinki meeting: “What am I going to do? He may deny it. All I can do is say, ‘Did you?’ And, ‘Don’t do it again.’ But he may deny it.” The White House issued the following statement on Friday’s indictment:
As Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said today:
- “There is no allegation in this indictment that Americans knew they were corresponding with Russians.
- There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime.
- There is no allegation that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result.”
Today’s charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged election hacking affected the election result. This is consistent with what we have been saying all along.”
Given Trump’s history of emphatically insisting there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia, the modifier knowing before involvement is perhaps noteworthy, especially given that the indictment mentions that Guccifer 2.0 communicated with “a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.” That person is clearly longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone; Stone says he did not believe at the time that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian-operated account, though there are reasons to doubt his story.
This post has been updated with new information.