Today’s new indictment against 12 Russian intelligence officers is a major development in the overall scandal. The charges, brought by special counsel Robert Mueller and announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, further connect the attack on the U.S. elections to Vladimir Putin’s government, just days before Donald Trump – the beneficiary of the Russian operation – sits down with his counterpart for a one-on-one summit.
So, how did the White House, which knew about today’s announcement days ago, respond to the indictment? In a rather discouraging way.
A statement from the White House did not address the allegations of Russian government interference and focused only on what was not in the indictment.
“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,” the statement said.
If you’re looking for the part of the White House statement that condemned our adversary for attacking the United States, don’t bother. The statement quoted a few lines from Rod Rosenstein’s press conference, and then added the aforementioned two sentences pointing to the president’s alleged innocence.
In other words, the White House had literally nothing to say about the Russian intelligence officers who orchestrated an attack on our democracy. Trump World’s statement to the press was only about Trump World.
Did it not occur to them to criticize the foreign officials who launched an intelligence operation in the president’s own country? Is Team Trump so reluctant to disparage Russia that the White House forgot to express its disapproval of the Kremlin targeting us?
As for the president’s legal defense team, Rudy Giuliani’s statement at least made passing reference to the alleged culprits – “The Russians are nailed,” the former mayor said – before adding, “Time for Mueller to end this pursuit of the President and say President Trump is completely innocent.”
Given what we now know, that seems unlikely.