Project Trump

Last Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein laid out chapter and verse on how the Russians meddled in our 2016 election, detailing a series of indictments by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III.

“The indictment charges 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system, including the 2016 presidential election.”

“The conspiracy,” Rosenstein said, “was part of a larger operation called Project Lakhta.”

It might as well have been called, Project Trump, because, as Rosenstein makes clear, the intention of the Russian actors was to disrupt the U.S. election by crafting social media sites with false information exploiting the fears and political divisions within the country.

“This indictment,” Rosenstein points out, “serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the internet.”

In other words, thousands of voters were “played” by the Russians.

“In order to hide the Russian origins of their activities,” Rosenstein details, “the departments allegedly purchased space on computer servers located here in the United States in order to set up a virtual private network. The defendants allegedly used that infrastructure to establish hundreds of accounts on social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, making it appear that those accounts were controlled by persons located in the United States.

“They used stolen or fictitious American identities, fraudulent bank accounts and false identification documents. The defendants posed as politically and socially active Americans, advocating for and against particular candidates. They established social media pages and groups to communicate with unwitting Americans. They also purchased political advertisements on social media networks. …

“On September 13th of 2017, soon after the news media reported that the special counsel’s office was investigating evidence that Russian operatives had used social media to interfere with the 2016 election, one defendant allegedly wrote, quote, ‘We had a slight crisis here at work. The FBI busted our activity. So I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with my colleagues,’ end quote.”

At this point in the investigation, Rosenstein said, “… there is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Donald Trump’s reaction… predictable.

“Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”Trump tweet, Friday, Feb. 16

Of course, Trump conveniently forgets to mention former Trump associates Carter Page, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos as well as former campaign chair Paul Manafort, all of whom are either under indictment or guilty of lying to the special counsel.

The next day, Trump tweets:

“ ‘Charges Deal Don A Big Win,’ written by Michael Goodwin of the @nypost, succinctly states that the Russians had no impact on the election results.’ There was no Collusion with the Trump Campaign. ‘She lost the old-fashioned way, by being a terrible candidate. Case closed.’ ” – Saturday, Feb. 17, 11:26 am

Except the case is not closed.

“The special counsel’s investigation is ongoing.” Rosenstein adds. “There will be no comments from the special counsel at this time.”

Trump continues with three tweets about the “Fake News Media,” before taking another blast against the FBI:

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. … They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. …” – Saturday, Feb. 17, 8:08 pm

And one to criticize Trump’s own National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster and Hillary Clinton:

“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. …” – Saturday, Feb. 17, 8:22 pm

(By the way, there is zero evidence of any collusion between Russia and Clinton.)

At 4:33 am, Sunday, February 18, Trump tweets:

“I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400-pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.’ The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”

I’m not going to list all the past statements Trump has made that contradict this tweet. They’re easy to find.

However, after his own deputy attorney general lists names, ways and means Russians meddled in our election; after all U.S. intelligence agencies agreed, months ago, that the Russians had, in fact, interfered, Trump still takes no action:

– He does not implement sanctions against Russia that were voted on by Congress.

– He does not publicly call out the Russians listed in the indictment or call out Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

– He does not thank his own deputy attorney general for his work, or that of Special Counsel Robert Mueller III, along with the federal agents and prosecutors working to uncover this information.

Most important of all:

– He does not make any public statement that he’ll meet with congressional leaders about putting policies in place to prevent further intrusion by the Russians or anyone else who might meddle in all future elections.

Before taking questions from the press, Rosenstein closed his statement by emphasizing:

“The indictment alleges, that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to succeed.

The Department of Justice will continue to work cooperatively with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies and with the Congress to defend our nation against similar current and future efforts.”

Thank God we have dedicated and responsible individuals in Justice and law enforcement who care enough about America and democracy to serve and protect.

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