Mueller’s accusation of 12 Russians lands at a really uncomfortable moment for Trump

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein speaks at a press conference at the Justice Department on Friday in Washington. (Evan Vucci / AP) [19659000] The timing of
the latest indictment in Russia's investigation of the special lawyer could not be better for the opponents of President Trump or more inconvenient for Trump and his allies.

Friday's indictment of 12 The Russian spies, accused of hacking the Democrats during the campaign, could thwart any positive outcome that Trump's allies thought they had gathered in Thursday's controversial hearing on alleged bias by the FBI in the Russian research.

Trump prepares for a meeting on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This accusation could force his hand on something he seemed to hate: confronting Putin about the electoral intrusion.

Meanwhile, these 12 new charges prove that Russia's investigation into the special lawyer is very real, not a "witch hunt" as the president has claimed. It brings the total number of accusations to 32 people, most of whom are Russians or Trump campaign officials or people linked to the Trump campaign. And Friday's accusations come a day after some on the left found a new spokesman to protect the FBI from the Republican attacks, embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Let's start with how the public perception of Strzok's audience could be reformed by this accusation. 19659007] Republicans in Congress thought about bringing Strzok to try to explain why he sent private text messages "we will stop [Trump’s campaign]", while working on a Trump investigation would be a major public relations victory for them. The hearing lasted 10 hours, included two committees controlled by Republicans and was full of confrontations made for television between Strzok and Trump's allies in Congress. In the end, one of Trump's lawyers said that Strzok's hearings should disqualify all of Russia's investigation.

These accusations make it clear that this is not happening.

There is no evidence of the timing of these allegations in any way related to the Strzok hearing. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein told reporters Friday that the 11-count indictment had nothing to do with political events, saying it was based "only on facts, laws and policies."

But Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller's investigation, also seems very aware of how the chroniclers of this accusation could be perceived by Trump's allies. "We did not test cases on television or in congressional hearings," he said at his press conference.

Rosenstein himself was forced to defend the integrity of the Justice Department before Congress two weeks ago. And some Republicans in Congress have drafted an indictment against Rosenstein.

[How Rosenstein’s and Wray’s testimony undermined GOP efforts to undermine the Russia investigation]

Looking ahead, the accusation puts Trump in an even more politically difficult spot as he prepares to meet Putin face to face in Helsinki on Monday. The meeting itself is controversial, with critics warning that it will give Putin an air of legitimacy with the West he longs for.

It is even more controversial knowing that Trump has been reluctant to confront Putin about the electoral meddling. Trump has repeatedly given Putin the benefit of the doubt about the American intelligence community, which has concluded that the Russian president ordered the meddling in the 2016 campaign specifically to help Trump win.

"Simply, every time he sees me, he says," I did not do that. "And I think, I really think that when he says that to me, he means it," Trump told reporters in November. to meet with Putin at a world summit in Vietnam.

This week, Trump told reporters that he would "of course" elevate the electoral meddling with Putin, but he did not seem to feel that it would be a fruitful conversation. "What am I going to do? He can deny it," Trump said.

Regarding Friday's accusation, Trump has repeatedly questioned whether the Russians were behind the Democratic hackers.

Coming out of a week where Trump beat NATO and criticized the prime minister of one of the oldest allies in the United States, his gigantic shrug about Putin struck many of Trump's critics as incongruous diplomacy, inclined strongly in favor of Putin.

If Trump decides to maintain that strategy now, after his own Justice Department accused the Russians of hacking their emails from opponents: it's probably more favorable for Putin than on Thursday. Some Democrats in Congress are already trying to pressure Trump to become more severe with Putin as a result of these accusations.

Mueller's accusations demonstrate one thing: Putin is not our friend. President Trump must confront him and make it clear that the United States will not tolerate Russia's interference in our election. Putin's attacks on our country are an affront to our democracy.

– Congressman Tim Ryan (@RepTimRyan) July 13, 2018

It is unclear if Trump will change Putin's course, however.

Russia's investigation is losing ground in the battle of public opinion. Polls suggest that Trump's repeated attacks are working, with a new poll by the Washington Post-Schar School that Americans split roughly 50-50 along party lines over whether they approve of the work Mueller is doing.

This accusation comes at the end of a week where both parties felt they had evidence to defend themselves that the Russian investigation has run its course or is very real.

And accusing the Russians is a victory in the "very real" field column. [19659025] window.addEventListener ("DOMContentLoaded", function () {});
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