Russia Responds to ‘No Collusion’ by Insisting There Was No Interference Either

By Patrick Goodenough | March 26, 2019 | 4:21am EDT
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

( – Reacting to the outcome of the Mueller investigation, Russia’s foreign ministry said Monday the conclusion that the Trump campaign did not conspire with Russia “was to be expected,” but also argued that the entire claim that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election at all was “a trumped up story.”

Not only was there no collusion with the Trump camp, it contended, there was no Russian meddling in the election in the first place.

Despite Moscow’s repeated denials, U.S. intelligence agencies contend that Russia did interfere in the 2016 elections.

According to Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the findings, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation “did not find the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

But far from dismissing the notion that Russia had interfered at all – as Moscow asserts – the summary outlined the two ways in which that interference had taken place:

--attempts to “conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election.”

--“computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election.”

Based on his findings that the Russian government had hacked into the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and “publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks,” Mueller brought charges against Russian military officers, Barr said.

In total, 25 Russians were indicted, including 12 military intelligence officers suspected of trying to interfere in the election. Announcing the charges last July, the Department of Justice said there was “no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity or knew they were communicating with Russian intelligence officers.”

Four months before that announcement, the U.S. Treasury had announced sanctions on Russian entities and individuals for cyberattacks and interference – the first sanctions targeting Russia under the 2017 Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which President Trump signed into law the previous summer.

In its statement Monday, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said, “Since fake news about the alleged Russian interference was first published nearly three years ago, Moscow has pointed out more than once that it was a trumped up story.”

It said the Russian government had sought “corroboration” from both the Obama and Trump administrations.

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has not produced any proof of Moscow’s involvement in the infamous cyberattacks and other attempts to erode the American democracy, a charge that has been constantly brought against Russia,” the ministry said.

It described the indictments against the 25 Russians as “grotesque,” and alleged that they were designed “to justify the ineffective performance of a huge investigative team.”

“The political bias of these cases is so glaring that they cannot be described as anything other than a disgrace to the U.S. system of justice.”

“We hope that Washington will eventually master [sic] the courage to officially admit that there was no collusion whatsoever, and that all the allegations about Russian interference are nothing more than a defamation attempt designed for use in U.S. political infighting,” it said.

The ministry also complained that the U.S. has been is “evading” talks on cybersecurity – “because it has no proof of its unsubstantiated complaints.”

After he met with President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Hamburg in 2017, Trump indicated that the two had discussed setting up a cybersecurity unit to address issues like election interference.

The idea attracted strong criticism, including from congressional Republicans, and Trump then backed away, accused the U.S. of not showing up at “cybersecurity consultations” planned to take place in Geneva, claiming that U.S. officials “refused to participate in the event just on its first day under the pretext of absolutely ungrounded accusations against Russia.”

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