Stories For December 2016

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President Trump responded Saturday to the Justice Department’s indictment of 12 Russian military officers for hacking into Democratic campaign files by questioning why President Obama failed to stop the intrusion in 2016.

“The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Why didn’t they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?”

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments Friday, accusing the Russian intelligence officials of waging a sophisticated cyber operation to hack into emails of the Democratic National Committee, the campaign arm of the House Democrats and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. The charges are a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which Mr. Trump referred to on Friday as a “rigged witch hunt” that is hurting U.S. relations with Moscow.

Mr. Obama has said he learned about Russian hacking in August 2016. U.S. intelligence officials issued a public warning about the hacking in October. Mr. Obama didn’t take action against the Russian government until after the election, in December, when he expelled dozens of Russian operatives from the U.S.

On Twitter Saturday, Mr. Trump asked, “Where is the DNC Server, and why didn’t the FBI take possession of it? Deep State?”

The indictments came just ahead of Mr. Trump’s scheduled meeting on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland. The president has said he will raise the issue of election meddling with the Russian leader but doesn’t expect him to admit to it.

A group of leading Democratic senators, including Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, urged Mr. Trump Saturday either to cancel the summit or not to meet alone with Mr. Putin, noting that the Russian president is a veteran spy.

“If you insist on meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, we write to urge that you include senior members of your team and not meet one-on-one with Mr. Putin, as reportedly planned,” the senators wrote. “Mr. Putin is a trained KGB intelligence veteran who will come to this meeting well-prepared. As the Kremlin said last week, a one-one-one meeting with you ‘absolutely suits’ him. There must be other Americans in the room.”

The lawmakers also urged Mr. Trump to make Russia’s attack on the U.S. elections the top issue of the meeting, and pressed him to follow up on the indictment of the 12 Russians.

“These individuals must be brought to the United States so that they can stand trial, and you should demand that Mr. Putin hand them over,” they told the president. “If you are not prepared to make Russia’s attack on our election the top issue you will discuss, then you should cancel the Helsinki summit. Mr. Putin is not a friend of the United States.”

The indictment shows that the Russians’ first attempted hack of Mrs. Clinton’s personal office came on the same day in July 2016 that Mr. Trump — who later said he was joking — called on Russia at a press conference to search for the Democratic nominee’s missing emails.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, referring to emails she deleted from the private account she used as secretary of state. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

The indictment says the Russians began later that day to try to hack 76 Clinton campaign email accounts.

Trump confidante Roger Stone said Friday night that he is the unnamed “U.S. person” cited in the indictment who corresponded with an alleged Russian hacker and who “was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.”

“As I testified before the House Intelligence Committee under oath, my 24-word exchange with someone on Twitter claiming to be Guccifer 2.0 is benign based on its content, context and timing,” Mr. Stone told ABC News. “This exchange is entirely public and provides no evidence of collaboration or collusion with Guccifer 2.0 or anyone else in the alleged hacking of the DNC emails, as well as taking place many weeks after the events described in today’s indictment.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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