The story is an unfolding and involved one, but the indictments of 12 military officers in the Kremlin’s intelligence services handed down by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office last Friday alleging interference in the 2016 presidential elections contained some immediately apparent and notable oddities.
President Trump was roundly condemned for equivocating on the question of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections at the summit meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday, but Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein himself – when announcing the indictments – said, “In our justice system, everyone who is charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.”
In other words, the indicted Russians stand innocent at this point. Moreover, since there is no way the U.S. government can force the accused to appear in a U.S. court, the probability is that the presumption of innocence will stand. So why the apoplexy over the president’s comments, especially since he is obviously trying to fashion some sort of modus vivendi with Mr. Putin?
Incidentally, if the charges can never be the subject of a trial, what was the point of issuing the indictments in the first place? In fact, what the indictments highlight is that Mr. Mueller – who’s mandate is to investigate possible collusion between Russia and members of the Trump campaign in 2015 and 2016 – still does not have any evidence of such a crime.
If the indicted Russians are the ones who did the illegal interfering, logic would dictate that those who knowingly colluded with them would have been charged or at least identified. Yet, Mr. Rosenstein himself said in his remarks, “There is no allegation…that any American citizen committed a crime.”
It is to be hoped that analyses by legal experts will soon be forthcoming that will place this puzzling episode in perspective.