Bombshell indictments reinforce significance of midterm elections

In a major political and law enforcement bombshell Friday, Trump’s own Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinSupreme Court to hear dispute over Democrats' access to Mueller materials Republicans release newly declassified intelligence document on FBI source Steele GOP's Obama-era probes fuel Senate angst MORE announced 12 new indictments of high-level Russian military operatives who infiltrated major Democratic political institutions, secretaries of State and companies who run election software and stole information from about 500,000 American voters.

This is bone-chilling. American voters were personally attacked and so far the president has not cared. This new information should lead to a cancellation of the meeting with Putin on Monday.

But we know Trump will not cancel the meeting. As such, this new information should at the very least set up what should be an aggressive confrontation with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

If Trump does not force Putin to account for this criminal cyber act of war against the sanctity of our democracy, against our institutions that run elections and against individual American voters, the president’s unfitness for office, his incapability to keep America safe and his inability to lead effectively will be crystal clear to the world.  


Even before Friday’s jaw-dropping indictments against 12 of Putin’s operatives, the Mueller investigation into the Russian cyberattack on our elections had already produced 79 criminal charges against 20 people and three companies, five guilty pleas and one person sentenced thus far.


No matter how many times Trump tweets and alleges this is all fake news or a witch hunt, it is not. It is very real, and it is perhaps one of the gravest attacks on the democracy of the United States in history.

Contrary to what Trump’s supporters will say, the Mueller investigation is clearly not ending any time soon, nor should it.

One of the other stunners in Friday’s indictment is the revelation that it was known that Trump campaign officials were communicating with Guccifer 2.0 — a Russian hacker proven to be connected to Russian intelligence — about the information hacked and released publicly.

They even talked about Democratic voter turnout models! Stunning. It remains to be seen whether the senior Trump campaign officials knew that Guccifer 2.0 was connected to the Russians, information that came out pretty early in the general election.

Let’s also remember the timing of Trump’s very public plea to the Russians to hack Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Wells Fargo tells employees to delete TikTok from work phones | Google, Facebook join legal challenge to ICE foreign students rule | House Republican introduces bills to bolster federal cybersecurity Biden lets Trump be Trump 4 Texas GOP congressional primary runoffs to watch MORE and her campaign and find the 30,000 personal emails she was not required to disclose. That same day, according to the indictment, several Russian operatives hacked a number of Hillary Clinton and DNC accounts.

Coincidence? Mueller will let us know soon. So again, this is not the end of this very real, tangible and ongoing investigation. It is far from it.

Will Republicans in Congress now finally side with the American people instead of acting like they are part of Trump’s legal defense team, the way they did during the sham hearing Thursday as they grilled and personally attacked former FBI agent Peter Strzok?

Or will they continue to embarrass themselves by wasting valuable taxpayer time and money by using what should be very serious oversight responsibilities to hold additional fake hearings and witch hunts of their own?

Will they finally hold the head of their party to account for not doing anything to protect our democracy, keep our elections safe or ensure Putin and the Russians never do this again?

It's highly doubtful. They will most likely continue to fall in line as Trump enablers even as he embarrasses the United States overseas and takes a political hacksaw to our valuable international alliances.

The news Friday demonstrates why Trump’s approach to our allies and his behavior abroad is so dangerous and makes American less safe. It is further proof that Trump’s mantra of “America First” is really “America Alone.”

Oddly, America Alone is exactly what Putin has wanted for a very long time. A weak EU, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and other international alliances strengthen Russia and serve Putin’s interest both at home and globally.

Put simply, Trump has been doing Putin’s bidding ever since he got elected. Perhaps at the summit in Helsinki, he will further thank Putin for swinging the American election his way. Perhaps that is why Trump wants to meet with Putin alone.

If this is not true, Trump should prove he is not Putin’s puppet, cancel the meeting on Monday and hold Putin and Russia to account boldly and aggressively in a way he has never done before. He needs to prove to the American people that he is worthy of the office the Electoral College gave him, even as the majority of American voters did not.

So far, Trump has proven he is not worthy.

Republicans have proven they are not worthy of the trust Americans put in them. Voters want members of Congress to be a check on the powers of the presidency, not a blank check for Trump.  

Friday’s new indictments will continue to clarify for Americans why the upcoming midterm elections are so critical. Nothing less than the survival of our democracy is at stake. If Republicans continue to refuse to do their jobs, voters will remember in November.

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.