Today in Russiagate, we got some juicy indictments. Like clockwork, Trump took to Twitter to issue his daily proclamation of “no collusion,” which rang a little hollow this time, considering.
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Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced that a grand jury just issued indictments to Russian nationals and Russian entities for allegedly interfering in the 2016 election.
These indictments specifically mention that any Americans who had contact with the accused did so unwittingly, but Trump preempted the collusion argument with a tweet anyway.
Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2018
His guilty conscience was showing and the relevant twittersphere took him to task for it.
Atlantic senior editor David Frum pointed out that the indictment specifically calls Trump campaign officials who interacted with the indicted Russians “unwitting,” but cautions against interpreting that as an exoneration of the Trump campaign entirely. We’re not out of the woods yet.
Indictment states that these particular 13 accused communicated with “unwitting” Trump supporters. That is very much not the same thing as a blanket exoneration of the Trump campaign as a whole as “unwitting."
— David Frum (@davidfrum) February 16, 2018
Time political correspondent Phil Elliott called out Trump’s new favorite catchphrase for its general irrelevance as it relates to the indictment. The indictment says nothing at all about collusion, so Trump being so quick to deny it only makes him look guiltier.
"No collusion." Actually, that's not what the indictments today say. The indictment at this point is silent on witting collusion or impact. https://t.co/TwxsO3FE3s
— Phil Elliott (@Philip_Elliott) February 16, 2018
New York Times White House reporter Maggie Haberman called out another piece of flawed logic in the tweet: Trump said that because the Russian’s interference campaign dated back to 2014, before he officially launched his bid for president, it has nothing to do with him. Haberman showed the receipts.
Trump was also known to be considering running for president in 2014 https://t.co/vcZmcJALc5
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 16, 2018
Mueller’s office indicted 13 Russian nationals and 3 entities for meddling in the 2016 election. Primarily at issue is an organization that called itself Internet Research Agency, established in St. Petersburg, Russian in 2013. The organization, run by Yevgeny Progozhin, a wealthy Putin associate, waged information warfare intended to ultimately help get Trump elected in the 2016 election. The strategy was established as early as 2014.
The defendants used a complex strategy that included traveling to the US to gather information to make online posts and ads as believable as possible, and stealing Americans’ identities to use in purchasing online advertisements.
The information was targeted specifically to disparage Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. They also worked to tarnish reputations of anti-Trump Republican primary candidates like Ted Cruz.
“Some Defendants, posing at U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities,” the indictment said.
In light of that language, Trump’s tweet reads more than a little paranoid. It’s almost as if Mueller went out of his way to clarify that this particular chapter in the Russia Investigation is absolutely not about collusion, and yet Trump can’t help but continue to bring it up.
Wonder what the tweets will look like when the indictments actually are about collusion;