The White House’s reaction to special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments of 12 Russian spies on Friday included zero condemnation of Russia for interfering in a US presidential election.
Instead, it focused on bolstering President Donald Trump’s longtime arguments that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia and that the interference didn’t change the outcome of the election.
The White House highlighted three key quotes from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s Friday press conference announcing the indictments, which specifically addressed those two points:
NEW: White House responds to Russian hacking indictments. pic.twitter.com/rtj16iq7yR— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) July 13, 2018
What the White House statement didn’t choose to include, however, were quotes from Rosenstein about the need to “hold the perpetrators accountable” and “protect against future interference.”
The White House statement on today's indictment includes no condemnation of Russia. It also refers to "alleged hacking." The fact that hacking happened is not an allegation.— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) July 13, 2018
As Vox’s Andrew Prokop reports, Mueller filed an indictment on Friday afternoon against 12 Russian intelligence officers for crimes related to hacking and publicly releasing Democrats’ emails, allegedly as part of an effort to sway the 2016 presidential campaign.
The indictment offers more details around the high-profile hackings of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, massive breaches that took place during the 2016 election. It ties both cyberattacks to intelligence officers from Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU.
What the indictment does not do, however, is allege that any Americans or any members of the Trump campaign were criminally involved in the hacking or leaks. As its statement makes very clear, the White House wanted to make sure that was the top takeaway.