When special counsel Robert Mueller announced the indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian companies for attempting to interfere in the 2016 election, news organizations accurately reported the indicted Russians were seeking to help Trump and hurt the election chances of Hillary Clinton. At no point did the indictment indicate that any of those charged supported the Clinton campaign.
So when Rep. Dana Rohrabacher released a statement indicating there was evidence of Russian support for Clinton, either he didn’t bother to read the indictment or he purposefully misled constituents.
What stands out in this indictment of Russian nationals — which is serious enough and must be addressed — is that the Special Counsel stressed his investigators found no evidence the meddling influenced the outcome of the 2016 election. Indeed, the indictment indicates the Russians put out propaganda mischievously supporting both the Trump and the Clinton campaigns.
This statement from Rohrabacher is not accurate.
There is no evidence or discussion in the entire 37-page indictment showing any Russian support for Clinton. In fact, the indictment is premised on the fact that the indicted Russian’s “operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign”) and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”
There are numerous examples of pro-Trump and anti-Clinton activities throughout the document, including rallies in Florida and multiple social media accounts used to spread pro-Trump and anti-Clinton messages showing a clear bias in favor of Trump and against Clinton. As CNN reported, “the Russian government decided early on to oppose Clinton.”
Even outlets such as Fox News reported, “The defendants are accused of spreading derogatory information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton,” and “throughout the 2016 campaign and by ‘early to mid-2016’ [the indicted Russians] were supporting Trump’s presidential campaign.”
There is no evidence suggesting Russia played “both sides” in the 2016 election, and this indictment is crystal clear in stating Russian agents favored Trump and sought to undermine the Clinton campaign.
But using his high office to spread misinformation through official statements from the United States Congress breaches a sacred public trust.
Rohrabacher owes his constituents an apology. While accusations of “fake news” are common, voters should be able to rely on communications from their elected officials. Spreading falsehoods is unacceptable.