On Friday, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein announced 12 new indictments in the Robert Mueller Russian election interference investigation. The indictments targeted 12 Russian nationals, all employees of the Russian government agency GRU, accused of hacking the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and then releasing emails from those sources via DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 as well as through another unnamed entity.
Rosenstein explained, “There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime. There is no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result.” Rosenstein added, “When we confront foreign interference in American elections, it’s important for us to avoid thinking politically, as Republicans or Democrats, and instead to think patriotically as Americans.”
Good luck with that.
GRU Agents Hacked Democrats. According to the indictment, 12 GRU officers “knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other, and with persons known and unknown” to hack the emails of the Clinton Campaign, the DCCC, and the DNC. Around April 2016, the conspirators began planning how to release Hillary’s emails; around June, they began releasing their material via DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0. They spearphished John Podesta, as well as other top Clinton campaign officials.
The Hackers Got A TON Of Material. They not only took 50,000 emails from the chairman of Hillary’s campaign, they also copied “select DCCC folders, including ‘Benghazi Investigations,’" as well as “computers containing information such as opposition research and field operation plans for the 2016 elections.” They also grabbed “thousands of emails from the work accounts of DNC employees.”
The Hackers Also Released Republican Materials. According to the indictment, the DCLeaks website, set up by these GRU agents, was used to “release emails stolen from individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign. The Conspirators also released documents they had stolen in other spearphishing operations, including those they had conducted in 2015 that collected emails from individuals affiliated with the Republican Party.”
The Hackers Created Guccifer 2.0. Guccifer 2.0 claimed responsibility for the leaks as a “lone hacker” on June 15, 2016. Roger Stone wrote at Breitbart News on August 5, 2016 that Guccifer 2.0 and not Russia had hacked the DNC. Stone tweeted on August 143, 2016 that Guccifer 2.0 was a “HERO.” Stone held direct messages with Guccifer 2.0 as well. (The indictment mentions this, too.) On August 21, 2016, Stone tweeted, “Trust me, it will soon the Podetas’s time in the barrel.” According to the indictment, “the Conspirators created the online persona Guccifer 2.0 and falsely claimed to be a lone Romanian hacker to undermine the allegations of Russian responsibility for the intrusion.”
Guccifer 2.0 Allegedly Worked With Wikileaks. Described as “Organization 1” in the indictment, Wikileaks is likely the outlet described thusly: “The Conspirators also used the Guccifer 2.0 persona to release additional stolen documents through a website maintained by an organization that had previously posted documents stolen from US persons, entities, and the US government.” “Organization 1” released over 20,000 emails and other documents stolen from the DNC network, and that began three days before the DNC.
Guccifer 2.0 Worked With A Candidate For Congress And Members Of The Media. The indictment specifies that on August 15, 2016, Guccifer 2.0 corresponded with a candidate for U.S. Congress, and sent that candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent. The indictment also specifies that Guccifer 2.0 transferred 2.5 gigabytes of data from the DCCC to an “online source of political new,” including “donor records and personal identifying information for more than 2,000 Democratic donors.”
Trump Was Wrong About The Hacking. Trump said repeatedly during the election cycle and afterward that while the Russians could have hacked the emails, he didn’t know that they did – perhaps it was a 400-lb. guy in his mother’s basement. Some conspiracy theorists posited that the DNC wasn’t hacked at all – that it was an inside job by someone like Seth Rich, later murdered. Those accusations were always scurrilous and evidence-free. It was GRU agents, who must have had approval from Vladimir Putin. The White House responded to the indictments by stating, “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.”
Trump Publicly Begged The Russians To Release Hillary’s Emails. On July 27, 2016, Trump famously stated at a rally, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” According to the indictment, “on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton Campaign.” The hackers had already targeted Clinton for months via other pathways.
All This Happened Under Obama. Obama was president for all of this. All of this happened as he downplayed Russian aggression, and just an election cycle after he promised Russia “flexibility” and dinged Mitt Romney for suggesting that Russia was our top geopolitical foe.
What does this mean for Trump? It means that all the talk of collusion remains talk for now – the only organizations and people linked to the GRU are Stone, Wikileaks, and an unnamed Congressional candidate. But it also means that the talk of Russia being uninvolved in the election was, is, and will be untrue.