On Friday, the Mueller investigation’s grand jury indicted 13 Russians associated with election meddling. But that wasn’t the real headline. The real headline is that supposed Trump-Russia collusion doesn’t seem to exist. And that’s pretty clear from the indictment papers.
The indictment targets 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities the government says were utilizing “information warfare” during the election cycle. According to the indictment, these people “support[ed] the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump” and worked on “disparaging Hillary Clinton.” But after Trump’s election, according to the same indictment, “Defendants and their co-conspirators used false US personas to organize and coordinate other false US personas to organize and coordinate US political rallies protesting the results of the 2016 presidential election.” One of those rallies included “Trump is NOT my President,” held on November 12, 2016.
What about election coordination with the Trump campaign? According to the indictment, “Some Defendants, posing as US 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.” It’s not collusion, folks, unless the Trump campaign knew it was working with Russian sources. This line of attack seems to be falling apart.
So, what did these organizations do? They created “certain fictitious US personas into ‘leader[s] of public opinion’ in the United States.” They created thematic group pages including “Blacktivist,” “Secured Borders,” and “Army of Jesus.” They created Twitter accounts like @TEN_GOP, which ended up with more than 100,000 followers. They used identity theft.
So, whom did they support? “They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.” They encouraged “US minority groups not to vote in the 2016 US presidential election or to vote for a third-party US presidential candidate.” This meant pushing for Jill Stein and against Hillary Clinton. The only coordination seems to have taken place with Florida pro-Trump groups to put together rallies — and those groups didn’t know they were dealing with Russians.
Collusion only counts if you know you’re soliciting help from foreign sources. Those involved with the Trump campaign apparently didn’t. That blows a rather large hole in the theory that the Russians were working hand-in-glove with Trump campaign officials.