GOP cautious, Dems strident in reaction to new indictments

Congressional Democrats and some Republicans said Friday that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s criminal charges against 13 Russians and three Russian entities offered even more proof that Moscow had meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

Top Democrats on the Hill argued that the indictments provided clear evidence that the Russian government used an aggressive social media campaign to sway U.S. voters to back Donald Trump over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump lashes out at 'rigged' Russia probe in pair of tweets Clapper: 'More and more' of Steele dossier proving to be true Republicans are strongly positioned to win Congress in November MORE, though the handful of Republicans who weighed in made no mention of either presidential candidate.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We have known that Russians meddled in the election, but these indictments detail the extent of the subterfuge,” Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRepublicans are strongly positioned to win Congress in November Don't let them fool you — Republicans love regulation, too Senate harassment bill runs into opposition from House MORE (R-Wis.) said in a statement. “These Russians engaged in a sinister and systematic attack on our political system. It was a conspiracy to subvert the process, and take aim at democracy itself."

“Today’s announcement underscores why we need to follow the facts and work to protect the integrity of future elections,” Ryan added.

In a tweet, Rep. Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderOvernight Finance: House panel to take up bill toughening review of foreign deals | Trump acknowledges Cohen payment on disclosure form | Officials set for new round of China trade talks Carter, Yoder advance in appropriations committee leadership reshuffle GOP House super PAC reserves million in fall TV ads MORE (R-Kan.) reaffirmed his confidence in Mueller, saying he’s convinced the former FBI director will do a “strong job” in getting to the bottom of the Russian interference.

“Today, [Mueller] sent an important message to the Russians that those responsible for attempted interference in our elections will be brought to justice,” tweeted Yoder, who also made no mention of Trump or Clinton.

But House Democrats, led by Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiElection fears recede for House Republicans Senate harassment bill runs into opposition from House 2018 midterms: The blue wave or a red dawn? MORE (Calif.), said details in Mueller’s indictment directly refute Trump’s assertion that Russia neither meddled in the election nor aided his successful campaign.

“As desperately as President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: Meetings on potential North Korea summit going 'very well' Freed American 'overwhelmed with gratitude' after being released from Venezuela Ivanka Trump to campaign for Devin Nunes in California MORE insists that the Special Counsel investigation is a ‘hoax,'” Pelosi said, “these latest indictments build on multiple guilty pleas and indictments of several Trump campaign officials, demonstrating the gravity of the Trump-Russia scandal.”

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff on Trump's 'spygate' claims: He is asserting an imagined world is real Trump: ‘Spy’ was placed in campaign ‘way earlier than the Russian Hoax' The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — The art of walking away from the deal MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which probing Russian meddling, echoed Pelosi’s remarks.

“The indictment reaffirms what our Intelligence Community concluded, what our Committee's investigation has borne out, and what President Trump denies: that Russia interfered in our election in an effort to assist his presidential campaign and harm Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” Schiff said in a statement.

The 37-page federal indictment, unveiled by Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinThere is no justice in undermining the special counsel investigation Schumer: Call off GOP-only 'sham briefing' on FBI informant Bowing to pressure, White House to host bipartisan briefing on Russia investigation MORE at Justice Department headquarters, alleges that Russian officials created false U.S. personas and stole the identities of real U.S. people to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, “promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy.”

The objective of the Russians, the indictment says, was to back Trump's campaign and harm Clinton’s. Some of these Russians communicated with “unwitting” associates of the Trump campaign, the document says.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — The art of walking away from the deal Giuliani: Trump asked White House lawyer to go to Russia briefings Top Intel Dems denounce presence of Trump lawyer at classified briefings MORE (R-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has also been probing Russia, called the indictment vindication for his panel’s work.  

“With this indictment, the Special Counsel and his team have taken an important step to hold Russia accountable,” he said.

In his own statement, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Finance: White House planning new tax cut proposal this summer | Schumer wants Congress to block reported ZTE deal | Tech scrambles to comply with new data rules OPEC and Russia may raise oil output under pressure from Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP centrists in striking distance of immigration vote MORE (D-N.Y.) called on Trump to implement sanctions against Russia that have already cleared Congress. Trump has delayed acting on those sanctions, which came in response to Moscow’s election interference.

“The indictments are also a reminder that Russia will continue to try to interfere in our Democracy,” Schumer warned. “The administration needs to be far more vigilant in protecting the 2018 elections, and alert the American public any time the Russians attempt to interfere.”