WASHINGTON — The White House said Friday that a new indictment filed against 12 Russian officials on allegations of election meddling in 2016 falls in line with the administration’s ongoing denials of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russia government.
“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,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement. “This is consistent with what we have been saying all along.”
Walters touted three portions of a press conference held by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:
“As Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said today:
- 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.”
The White House has previously painted a broad defense.
“There was no obstruction, no collusion, and no wrongdoing,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a press briefing earlier this month.
Trump has repeatedly dismissed the investigation as a “witch hunt,” something he echoed during a joint press briefing with UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday.
“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,’ ” Trump said, noting he added “rigged” to reference FBI agent Peter Strzok sending disparaging messages about him.
The Justice Department unsealed an indictment Friday against 12 Russian military officials believed to have meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign.
According to the indictment, the Russian officials participated in a hacking campaign against the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as well as state election boards and a software company that verifies voter registry information.
During a press conference announcing the indictment, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the hackers corresponded with American citizens, but the indictment does not state that the Americans knew the hackers’ identities.
The Americans included a registered state lobbyist and reporters as well as a “person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.”
At one point, the unidentified American tied to Trump was asked about information on a stolen DCCC document, to which they replied that it was “[p]retty standard.”