Mueller indicts 12 Russians for DNC hacking
Roger Stone tells CNN following today’s indictment that he does not believe that he is the unnamed person in the indictment who is described as having communicated with Guccifer 2.0 in 2016.
That person was described as “a person who was in regular contact with senior members” of the Trump campaign. The Twitter messages included in the indictment match those that Stone previously released.
“I don’t think it is me because I wasn’t in regular contact with members of the Trump campaign,” Stone said over the phone. “Look, Rosenstein said in his comments that they knew of no crime by US citizens. They included my exchange with Guccifer which is now public, in the indictment. And it’s benign. So I don’t know that it refers to me.”
Stone insisted: “My contact with the campaign in 2016 was Donald Trump. I was not in regular contact with campaign officials.” He also said he never had contact with DCLeaks. "Based on timing, content and context, they’re benign. They certainly don’t provide any evidence of collaboration or collusion," he said.
The indictment alleges that “organization 1” released more than “20,000 emails and other documents stolen from the DNC network by the Conspirators” on or about July 22, 2016, just before the start of the Democratic National Convention.
Organization 1 appears to be WikiLeaks: Though not named in the indictment, the organization appears to be WikiLeaks which released thousands of DNC emails on July 22, 2016. The indictment also alleges that organization 1 released the first set off emails from the chairman of the Clinton campaign on October 7, which is the same day WikiLeaks released the first batch of John Podesta’s emails.
The indictment further alleges the hackers’ specifically sought out documents from the Democratic Congressional campaign committee that related to Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Trump and the Benghazi investigations, the indictment says.
Twitter messages match Roger Stone's: Additionally, the indictment indicates on August 15 the Russian officers posing as Guccifer 2.0 “wrote a person who was in regular contact with senior members” of the Trump campaign, and also again on September 9, with language that matches Twitter messages released by Roger Stone, who is not named in the indictment.
CNN has reported that former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone communicated in August 2016 with Guccifer 2.0, the self-proclaimed hacker that took responsibility for breaching the Democratic National Committee and releasing its emails earlier that summer.
Stone released screenshots of the Twitter direct messages and downplayed the exchanges.
Unnamed Congressional candidate asked for documents: The indictment also alleges a congressional candidate asked Guccifer 2.0 for stolen documents, which he the candidate then received.
The Special Counsel’s Office declined to comment Friday as to why the organization that published the documents, the U.S. Congressional candidate who asked for stolen documents and the person who communicated with the conspirators and with the Trump campaign were not charged in the indictment.
Rosenstein had reiterated Friday that the investigation was “ongoing.”
In the press conference today Rosenstein said, "There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity or knew they were communicating with Russian intelligence officers."
Deputy White House press secretary Lindsey Walters just reacted to today's indictments against 12 Russian nationals as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
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," she said.
She further pointed to three key points Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made in his announcement:
- There is no allegation in this indictment that Americans knew that 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.”
Hillary Clinton's former campaign chairman John Podesta, whose emails were hacked and released in the run-up to the 2016 election, described the crimes detailed in the indictment as ones "committed against the American democracy."
"I think it's an important step and shows that at the heart of the Mueller investigation is a set of serious questions and as I said, at the heart of it is criminal activity that occurred by the Russian government," Podesta said.
He added: "The President will have the opportunity to confront President Putin with that when he sees him on Monday. I don't hold out too much hope that he'll take this any more seriously than he has over the last 18 months."
While speaking at a press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this morning, President Trump described the Russian investigation as a "witch hunt," saying it was "rigged" and that it "really hurts our country, and it really hurts our relationship with Russia."
Here's what Trump said:
I think that we're being hurt very badly by the — I would call it the witch hunt. I would call it the rigged witch hunt after watching some of the little clips. I didn't get to watch too much, because I'm here, it's a different time zone to, put it mildly. But after watching the people — the man that was testifying yesterday, I call it the rigged witch hunt. I think that really hurts our country, and it really hurts our relationship with Russia. I think that we would have a chance to have a very good relationship with Russia, and a very good chance — very good relationship with president Putin. I would hope so.
Approximately two hours later back in Washington, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that the Department of Justice had indicted 12 Russian nationals for hacking into Hillary Clinton's campaign and the DNC in the runup to the 2016 election.
Rosenstein stated that he had briefed Trump earlier this week. This means President Trump knew of the indictment, and still chose to describe the investigation that produced it as a "rigged witch hunt."
"I briefed President Trump about these allegations earlier this week," Rosenstein said. "The President is fully aware of today’s actions by the Department."
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed Republicans for "sham hearings" and called on President Trump to "stand up" to Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting if it he didn't it would be a "profound betrayal of the Constitution and our democracy."
Here's her full statement:
The Russians waged a massive, concerted operation to interfere in our elections, and they will do so again in the fall. Strong, immediate action is needed to secure our state election systems, yet Republicans are wasting the country’s time with sham hearings while refusing to provide a single additional penny to protect our elections.The stakes for the upcoming Trump-Putin meeting could not be higher. President Trump must demand and secure a real, concrete and comprehensive agreement that the Russians will cease their ongoing attacks on our democracy. Failure to stand up to Putin would constitute a profound betrayal of the Constitution and our democracy.Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation has now returned 32 indictments and multiple guilty pleas. This investigation is working, and must be allowed to continue to do its job free from the White House and GOP’s interference. The integrity of our democracy is at stake.
Just hours before the indictment announcement, President Trump said he would ask Russian President Vladimir Putin about Russian election meddling. The two leaders have a summit on Monday.
"I know you'll ask, 'Will we be talking about meddling?'" Trump said to a reporter at a news conference with British prime minister Theresa May this morning. "And I will absolutely bring that up."
However, Trump added, said Putin likely will not admit to meddling.
"I don’t think you’ll have any 'Gee I did it, I did it, you got me,'" Trump said while raising his hands. "There won’t be a Perry Mason here — I don’t think. But you never know what happens, but I will absolutely firmly ask the question, and hopefully we’ll have a very good relationship with Russia."