Indictment doesn’t have evidence of collusion by Trump team, but investigation is continuing
Washington: Special counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies on Friday with interfering in the 2016 election by assuming US identities, sowing discord on social media, communicating with unwitting Americans and even setting up political rallies from afar.
President Donald Trump tweeted that the indictment proves there was “no collusion!” with Russia. The White House repeated that point, sending out a statement with “NO COLLUSION” in all caps.
What does the indictment mean for Trump? Here are a few key takeaways from the indictment:
WHAT WERE THE CHARGES?
The indictment alleges that starting in 2014, the Russian Internet Research Agency tried to disrupt the US political system and sow discord by stealing US identities and falsely claiming to be US activists. Specifically, the indictment charges the individuals with conspiring “to obstruct the lawful functions of the US government through fraud and deceit,” by making illegal campaign expenditures, failing to register as foreign agents and using false statements to try and obtain visas. Some are also charged with wire fraud and identity theft.
IMPACT ON ELECTION RESULTS?
Mueller’s indictment doesn’t mention the possible impact of the Russian effort. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a press conference announcing the charges that “there is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”
Trump went further in a tweet on Friday, writing: “Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted.”
Though some Democrats felt Russian interference could have swayed the results, there’s been no evidence that it did. In an assessment after the election, the US intelligence community described a Russian government effort to interfere on Trump’s behalf. But they didn’t assert that it swayed the election.
WHO WERE THE RUSSIANS HELPING?
Most of the Russian election efforts detailed in the indictment are to help Trump’s campaign, though the document is carefully worded, saying that their operations “included” supporting Trump and disparaging Clinton.