There’s so much to talk about, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Let’s start with the basic facts. Today, 13 Russians and three Russian organizations were indicted by Robert Mueller on charges of election interference, identity theft and wire fraud. The indictment lays out, quite plainly, that these individuals ran a sophisticated operation designed to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election. It is a document rich in detail that lays out the shell companies, banks and methods used by these individuals to sow dissension and discord in the United States in order to help Trump.
The ringleader of the group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is a convicted felon in Russia who rose to power via food. His post-prison hot dog stand resulted in a rise to power, where he became Putin’s associate and inherited state contracts for food service. These eventually turned into mercenary operations that Prigozhin oversaw in Syria and (as it came out today) the United States. He was sanctioned prior to this indictment.
Adjacent to this mass indictment was a guilty plea from the third confirmed cooperating witness. A 28-year old man named Richard Pinedo, who worked with a tech firm Auction Essistance that served as a online marketplace for people previously banned from mainstream sites like eBay and Amazon, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud. It’s still unclear what his exact role in this operation is, but the guilty plea indicates that he was actively involved in shopping around fake names and other personal information to set up fraudulent bank accounts for illegal interstate and foreign wire transfers. Again, bear in mind, this is the charge to which he pled down. There might’ve been far more serious stuff waiting in the wings had he chosen not to cooperate.
The prospect of active collusion not only remains alive and well, but seems like a strong possibility after today’s indictment. The timeline of what we know about the operations of Cambridge Analytica and the timeline laid out in the indictment are almost identical.
In June 2016, the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica to take over its data operations.
We know from the reporting of Nicholas Confessore and Danny Hakim at the New York Times that Jared Kushner, who was charged with overseeing Trump’s digital operations, is the reason Cambridge Analytica joined the Trump campaign.
Kushner hired a man named Brad Parscale, a Texas-based digital expert who had worked previously for team Trump. According to Confessore and Hakim, Cambridge Analytica convinced Parscale (who has since agreed to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee) to “try out the firm.” The decision was reinforced by Trump’s campaign manager, Steve Bannon, who is also a former vice president of Cambridge Analytica.
In order to collect additional intelligence, Defendants and their co-conspirators posed as U.S. persons and contacted U.S. political and social activists. For example, starting in or around June 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, posing online as U.S. persons, communicated with a real U.S. person affiliated with a Texas-based grassroots organization. During the exchange, Defendants and their co-conspirators learned from the real U.S. person that they should focus their activities on “purple states like Colorado, Virginia & Florida.” After that exchange, Defendants and their co-conspirators commonly referred to targeting “purple states” in directing their efforts.
Doesn’t seem like such a coincidence in that light.
This isn’t even touching on the political implications of these indictments, which we won’t get into in great depth here, but it seems like the following things have/will happen(ed) as a result of the Internet Research Agency getting charged:
- It will be almost impossible for Trump to fire Mueller without a disaster occurring. Mueller has charged Russians with crimes. It would be an action that’s impossible to justify.
- Today’s events destroy the myth of the “Russian hoax” and the credibility of Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan and all of the other partisan hacks that stood up for that fleabag traitor.
- This is partially legal, but it seems that collusion is a huge focus of this investigation and it’s clear that there are many mysteries that have yet to be revealed to the public. Does anybody want to defend treason? It’s doubtful.
After today’s Mueller move, we should all hope we know more soon.