Last Friday, special counsel Rober Mueller issued 13 indictments against Russian operatives who stand accused of conducting a campaign of misinformation during the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The latest indictments bring the number of people charged by Mueller to 17. Four of those charged, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopolous, and General Michael Flynn, were members of President Trump’s election campaign team. The Department of Justice has now released the 37-page indictment which details the charges against 13 Russians, who, it is claimed, spread information in support of Trump and designed to undermine Hillary Clinton.
Over last weekend, President Trump once again publicly denied any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump’s Twitter storm claimed that the election result was not affected by Russian interference. The clear implication from Trump was that the latest Mueller indictments exonerated the Trump campaign from allegations of collusion.
The reality, of course, is that President Trump has claimed on numerous occasions that Russia did not meddle in the U.S. election. As pointed out by CNBC, Trump told the media as recently as January 10 that the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election were a “Democrat hoax.” Whilst touring Asia last November, Trump told the media that he “really believed” Vladimir Putin’s denials that Russia meddled in the election.
President Trump’s weekend tweets will leave many questioning his claims that he had “never said that Russia did not meddle in the election,” especially given that Trump’s own national security advisor has said that the latest Mueller indictments provide “incontrovertible” evidence that they did.
H.R. McMaster: There Is “Incontrovertible” Evidence Of A Russian Plot To Disrupt The 2016 U.S. Election
As reported by the Press Herald, President Trump’s national security advisor, General McMaster, told a security conference that the Mueller indictments prove that Russia put into action a plan to disrupt the presidential election.
It is interesting to note that on page six of the indictment it is made clear that the defendants carried out a sophisticated operation in support of Donald Trump whilst undermining Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“[The Russian defendants] had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by early to mid-2016, Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”
It is fair to say that the latest indictments by the Mueller investigation do not prove that Donald Trump or his campaign team colluded with Russia, nor do they exonerate the president. The Mueller investigation has not yet provided clear evidence of grounds for Trump’s impeachment, though, as reported by Newsweek, over 4 million people have now signed a petition calling for the president’s impeachment.
What does seem clear is that the Mueller investigation is far from complete, and it seems likely that more indictments will follow.