This week, Donald Trump is in Europe where he will be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now hanging over that summit — which will include a one-on-one meeting with only interpreters present — are new indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers for their efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections.
The individuals in question carried out their activities in their official capacities, meaning there’s no getting around the fact that Vladimir Putin’s government is responsible. The crimes that the officers in question have been charged with include identity theft, conspiracy to launder money, and conspiracy to commit computer crimes.
The charges do not include any against Trump campaign officials or Trump-affiliated individuals, but what they do make abundantly clear is that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office is well poised to find any condemning information that’s out there. The special counsel’s team is not impeded by the partisan affiliation constraints that hang heavy over Congressional Russia inquiries; as one example of the difference, the information in the indictments took at least one Congressional investigation leader, Democratic Senator Mark Warner of his chamber’s intelligence committee, by surprise.
The facts shared by Mueller in his new court filings include that at least one unnamed Congressional candidate successfully obtained dirt on their opponent from Russian hackers — and that Russians targeted Hillary Clinton campaign emails for the first time after Trump made his infamous campaign call for them to do come up with supposedly lost Clinton communications.
His paranoia at the very existence of the Russia investigation only gets more suspicious as time goes on; in response to the Friday developments, the White House sought to downplay the significance of the indictments, noting that they didn’t name a Trump team member.