GOP cautious, Dems strident in reaction to new indictments

Congressional Democrats and some Republicans said Friday that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report 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 ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump seeks to project confidence on economy at New Hampshire rally MORE, though the handful of Republicans who weighed in made no mention of either presidential candidate.

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“We have known that Russians meddled in the election, but these indictments detail the extent of the subterfuge,” Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanEmbattled Juul seeks allies in Washington Ex-Parkland students criticize Kellyanne Conway Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' 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 YoderK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Kansas Senate race splits wide open without Pompeo Mike Pompeo to speak at Missouri-Kansas Forum amid Senate bid speculation 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 PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move Pelosi: Israel's Omar-Tlaib decision 'a sign of weakness' 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 TrumpWarren unveils Native American policy plan Live-action 'Mulan' star spurs calls for boycott with support of Hong Kong police Don't let other countries unfairly tax America's most innovative companies 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 SchiffNew intel chief inherits host of challenges Schiff: Intelligence officials' retirements a 'devastating loss' Deputy intelligence director under Trump resigns 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 RosensteinWhy the presumption of innocence doesn't apply to Trump McCabe sues FBI, DOJ, blames Trump for his firing Rosenstein: Trump should focus on preventing people from 'becoming violent white supremacists' 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 WarnerFacebook users in lawsuit say company failed to warn them of known risks before 2018 breach New intel chief inherits host of challenges Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces 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 SchumerColorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump ahead of New Hampshire speech: Lewandowski would be 'fantastic' senator Hickenlooper ends presidential bid 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.”