Mueller revealed his Trump-Russia story in plain view
|Toronto Star 22 Mar 2019 at 17:51|
The Democrats had blamed Russia for the hacking and release of damaging material on his presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton. Trump wasn’t buying it. But on July 27, 2016, midway through a news conference in Florida, Trump decided to entertain the thought for a moment.
“Russia, if you’re listening,” said Trump, looking directly into a television camera, “I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing” — messages Clinton was reported to have deleted from her private email server.
Actually, Russia was doing more than listening: It had been trying to help Republican Trump for months. That very day, hackers working with Russia’s military intelligence tried to break into email accounts associated with Clinton’s personal office.
It was just one small part of a sophisticated election interference operation carried out by the Kremlin — and meticulously chronicled by special counsel Robert Mueller.
We know this, though Mueller didn’t make a single public comment since his appointment in May 2017. We know this, though the full, final report on the investigation, turned over to the Justice Department on Friday, may never be made public. It’s up to Attorney General William Barr, who hasn’t committed to releasing the full report but says he will inform Congress of Mueller’s “principal findings” as early as this weekend.
We know this because Mueller has spoken loudly, if indirectly, in court — indictment by indictment, guilty plea by guilty plea. In doing so, he tracked an elaborate Russian operation that injected chaos into a U.S. presidential election and tried to help Trump win the White House. He followed a GOP campaign that embraced the Kremlin’s help and championed stolen material to hurt a political foe. And ultimately, he revealed layers of lies, deception, self-enrichment and hubris that followed.
Weaving together thousands of court papers, the special counsel has made his public report. This is what it says.
RUSSIA, LOOKING TO INTERFERE
The plot began before Bernie Bros and “Lock Her Up,” before MAGA hats and “Lyin’ Ted,” before there was even a thought of Trump versus Clinton in 2016. It started in 2014, in a drab, concrete building in St. Petersburg, Russia.
There, a group of tech-savvy Russian nationals, working at an organization called the Internet Research Agency, prepared “information warfare against the United States of America.” The battleground would be the internet, and the target was the 2016 U.S. presidential election.