When President Donald Trump declared Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election a “rigged witch hunt that “really hurts our country and really hurts our relationship with Russia” at Friday’s Chequers presser, he had been briefed that Mueller had just indicted 12 Russian military officers for election-related hacking.
Even so, Trump said Thursday “I think we would have a chance to have a very good relationship with Russia and a very good relationship with Putin” were it not for Mueller’s “rigged witch hunt.”
A few hours after Trump’s joint presser with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Rosenstein held a news conference in Washington to announce Mueller had indicted 12 Russian military officers, naming the officers. Rosenstein also said Trump had been briefed in advance, as he prepared to meet with Putin next week in Helsinki.
White House late this afternoon announced Trump will not cancel his summit with Putin, set for Monday in Helsinki, after calls from some Dems and a couple Republicans, inculding GOP Sen. John McCain, that Trump should cancel.
Remember back on July 27 of 2016, when Trump took the stage to goad Russia into hacking Hillary Clinton, saying, “Russia, if you are listening I hope you are able to find the 30K emails that are missing”?
Well, in the indictments released today, it appears the Russians were listening and took Trump’s direction.
On or about July 27, 2016, they attempted to spearphish for the first time the email accounts at a domain hosted by a third party provider and used by Clinton’s office. They also targeted 76 email addresses at the domain for the Clinton campaign for the first time, according to docs provided to press by Rosenstein.
In the indictment, Mueller charges all 12 Russian military officials were acting in their official capacities as members of the Russian Military intel agency GRU, which reports to Putin. The officers were named.
Hours before Rosenstein’s announcement, Trump dismissively said to the press gathered at Chequers, “I know you will ask ‘Will we be talking about meddling?'” when he meets with Putin on Monday.
“I will absolutely bring it up,” he said resignedly. But, he said he did not expect Putin to throw up his hands and say “Gee! I did it. You got me!'” Trump threw up his hands to dramatize.
“There will not be a Perry Mason here. But I will firmly ask the question,” Trump said, knowing 12 members of Russian military had been indicted for U.S. election tampering.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement about the indictments: “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. This is consistent with what we have been saying all along.”
On the eve of Trump’s scheduled Monday visit with Putin, Rosenstein held the presser to announce the indictment of 12 Russian military officers for trying to interfere with the election in 2016. Eleven were charged with conspiring to hack into computers and steal documents and release them with intent to interfere with the election. One of them and a 12th Russian military officer were charged with conspiring to infiltrate the computer of orgs involved in administering elections including state election boards, secretaries of states, and companies that supply software used in elections.
In the wake of Rosenstein’s announcement, various Democrats have called on Trump to cancel Monday’s meeting with Putin.