Indictments filed against Russian intelligence officials by the Justice Department on Friday completely trumped news coverage of the president’s meeting with Queen Elizabeth II.
Media outlets turned their attention away from the royal proceedings at Windsor Castle to focus on the announcement from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The charges were brought against Russian officials for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and largely dealt with computer hacks into candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails and Democratic party computer systems.
Officials reportedly posed as a lone Romanian hacker named “Guccifer 2.0” and communicated with an insider regularly in touch with senior members of Trump’s campaign. Roger Stone, a Trump ally, is widely thought to be the person who gave information to hurt Clinton’s run for president.
These indictments could also put U.S. congressional candidate in hot water for reaching out to Guccifer 2.0 to obtain documents related to Trump’s Democratic adversary in the election.
Charges claim that they were sent 2.5 gigabytes of data “stolen from the DCCC to a then-registered state lobbyist and online source of political news.”
The documents do not specifically name the candidate or reveal if they are currently serving in Congress.
“The timing is a function of the collection of the facts, the evidence, the law and a determination that it was sufficient to present the indictment at this time,” Rosenstein said Friday according to The Seattle Times.
The charges filed by the Justice Department also arrived three days before President Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Rosenstein reportedly told Trump about the indictments earlier in the week but didn’t to reveal the president’s response.
Trump has always wanted a harmonious relationship with Putin and shared his view during his European trip for the NATO summit.
“He’s been very nice to me the times I’ve met him. I’ve been nice to him. He’s a competitor. You know, somebody was saying, ‘Is he an enemy?’ No, he’s not my enemy. ‘Is he a friend?’ No, I don’t know him well enough,” he said Thursday following the summit Mic Network reports.
He added, “But the couple of times that I’ve gotten to meet him, we got along very well. You saw that.”
The Department of Justice is also claiming that the Russian hackers tried to penetrate email accounts used by Clinton’s office in 2016. The attempted breach followed a news conference in July 2016 where Trump said to Russia “I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”