On Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller handed down the first indictments to charge Russian nationals in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. These indictments open up a whole new front in a complex investigation that seems to be heating up daily.
WHAT DO WE KNOW?
While the new charges are shocking, they don’t really add much to the mystery surrounding the investigation. On top of that, they don’t include any mention of anyone in President Donald Trump’s circle.
The indictments accused the Russians of conspiring to interfere with “US political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.”
The indictments main emphasis is one Russian agency in particular called the Internet Research Agency. The Internet Research Agency is a group that used social media posts, posted ads online, and planned and paid for rallies across the nation to sow discontent and spread damaging misinformation about Hillary Clinton.
The agency did exist before the 2016 election. Before the presidential primary, however, the focus of the group was broader and it used social media accounts to spread news hoaxes in the United States.
After things started heating up with Trump, the agency focused their efforts on the presidential election. It was insistent on damaging Clinton and leaving Trump and for some reason Sen. Bernie Sanders out of it as well.
An internal document read, “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump — we support them).”
The agency, at one point, had a budget of over $1.25 million per month. Not quite all of that was spent here in the U.S., however.
After Trump won the election, the agency threw two rallies on the same day in New York City. One was in support of Trump, and the other one was anti-Trump. What this shows is that now that they had him in office, their new goal was to sow chaos in every way possible.
Andrew Prokop wrote for Vox that these indictments are the “low-hanging fruit” of the Russia investigation. He pointed out that while they certainly violated federal law, considering how much information is available online these days that it is unlikely these Russians alone swung the election results.
Prokop called the Russian’s efforts a “drop in a far larger bucket.”
Other points not touched on in the indictments are the hacks and leaks of Democrat’s emails as well as the hacking into election computers. Those will likely come at a later date.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS
Yes, these indictments are a step closer, and the noose is tightening around the throats of everyone in Russia’s pockets. However, they don’t give any broader indication of how things are going in the investigation into Trump and his cronies.
The Russians charged with these crimes will not be brought to the United States to face jail time, so there is some uncertainty as to exactly where to go from here insofar as these indictments specifically. The one benefit is that now that Mueller appears to be getting somewhere, it will be far more difficult for Trump to fire him.
One thing is clear, there’s no way that anyone on Team Trump is sleeping very soundly this weekend, regardless of the fact that they weren’t named this time.
Feature Image via Pixabay