On the cusp of President Donald Trump’s planned meeting with Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin, Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, released indictments with profound implications for relations between the two countries. As The New York Times reports, Rosenstein “announced new charges against 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential campaign.”
The indictments go counter to alternative narratives put forward by both Trump and his supporters that the hacking could have been done by parties other than the Russian state.
“I don’t believe [Russia] interfered,” Trump told Time in December of 2016. “It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
The indictments name the hacker Guccifer 2.0 as a Russian agent. Roger Stone, a longtime informal advisor to Trump who had contact with Guccifer 2.0 in 2016, has repeatedly argued against this view.
“I have some news for Hillary and Democrats—I think I’ve got the real culprit,” Stone wrote in Breitbart in August 2016. “It doesn’t seem to be the Russians that hacked the DNC, but instead a hacker who goes by the name of Guccifer 2.0.”
If the indictments hold up, then the attempts by Trump and Stone to suggest non-Russian sources for the hacking can be dismissed.
Although the indictments do not charge any Americans, they do describe several Americans as interacting with the Russian government hackers.
One of those Americans is a congressional candidate:
On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the US. Congress. The Conspirators responded using the Guccifer 2.0 persona and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.
Another person who interacted with Guccifer 2.0 was someone who had contact with the Trump administration:
The Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, also communicated with US. persons about the release of stolen documents. On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contactwith senior members ofthe presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, “thank u for writing back . . . do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs i posted?” On or about August 17, 2016, the Conspirators added, “please tell me if i can help u anyhow . . . itwould be a great pleasure to me.” On or about September 9, 2016, the Conspirators, again posing as Guccifer 2.0, referred to a stolen DCCC document posted online and asked the person, “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.” The person responded, “[p]retty standard.”
These individuals are unnamed and not charged with any crime. But they have every reason to be nervous.