By David Futrelle
As you may have heard, special prosecutor Bob Mueller dropped a little bomb today — charging 13 Russians and several Russian organizations with a conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and support the candidacy of one Donald Trump.
It was, the indictment claims, a massive operation, involving upwards of 80 people working out of a Russian troll farm called The Internet Research Agency, not only creating fake internet identities to spread misinformation and anti-Hillary propaganda but also organizing real world rallies here in the US.
The indictment is kind of a big deal. It sets out the scope, and provides some key details, of the Russian attempt to sway the election here. If Mueller can prove anyone in the Trump campaign wittingly colluded with this Russian campaign, they are in deep trouble. Tick tock, as they say.
In the alternative world of the alt-right MAGAsphere, though, Mueller’s indictments today are actually good news for Trump.
Apparently Rosenstein and Muller are now indicting Russians with no evidence that they did anything.
Rosenstein even made sure to stress that not ONE American was involved and not ONE American was affected by anything these Russians allegedly did.
— John Trump Deplorable‼️👊⭐⭐⭐ (@JohnCooper0610) February 16, 2018
🔴Deputy AG Rosenstein Confirms Russians Did Not Effect The Outcome of The Election: "No allegation in the indictment of any effect on the outcome of the election."pic.twitter.com/tbFHu2TLSF
— Kirk Smith (@SavingAmerica4U) February 16, 2018
Even Julian Assange jumped aboard the “no collusion” train.
Mueller "troll farm" indictment today
– explicitly states no collusion
– does not mention WikiLeaks
– states trolls intent to support Trump & Sanders, oppose Clinton, Cruz
– states trolls intent on anti-Trump AND pro-Trump rallies post electionhttps://t.co/uMxBAwOeOY
— Defend Assange Campaign (@DefendAssange) February 16, 2018
The notion that today’s indictment somehow “clears” Trump and his pals is of course absurd. Insofar as it is based on anything at all, it is based on a gross misunderstanding or deliberate misrepresentation of a couple of remarks from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s announcement of the indictments today.
Rosenstein, clearly choosing his words carefully, noted in his remarks that “there is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity.”
Nothing in this statement suggests that there was “no collusion.” Rosenstein is simply noting that no Americans are being charged with collusion “in this indictment.”
Mueller isn’t closing up shop just yet, and we can expect more indictments to come. Some of which will, I suspect, involve charges against more than a few Americans for knowingly conspiring with the Russian election-meddlers.
Rosenstein also noted that “there is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”
Again, that’s not PROOF that there was no effect, or anything like that. The DOJ has made clear in the past that it is not their job to prove or disprove that the Russian meddling led to Trump’s victory, merely that Russians did in fact meddle. The DOJ is professionally agnostic on the issue of effect.
Don’t expect any of this to penetrate the MAGA mind. Indeed, alt-lite conspiracy-monger and alleged wannabe adulterer Jack Posobiec is even charging “The Left” with ignoring reality. (A bit rich coming from a former Pizzagate promoter.)
Others in the MAGAsphere fantasize that Mueller’s indictments today will mean bad news for one particular woman they are not terribly fond of.
13 RUSSIAN#MuellerTime just laid the foundation for prosecuting…
Notice how charges included DESTRUCTION OF EVIDENCE?
Umm…who destroyed her phones, servers and emails?? 😉😆
— Boca Vista (@bocavista2016) February 16, 2018
This MAGAhead, meanwhile, took a certain comfort in the President’s tiny, upwardly pointed, thumbs.
You may recall another American president with a penchant for aiming certain fingers upward.
That didn’t work out so well for him.