What Rosenstein Said

#PutiPoodle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies to the House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., 13 December 2017. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Via Bloomberg:

Beyond the 13 people indicted, Mueller announced the Feb. 12 guilty plea of a California man for identity theft, Richard Pinedo, who is cooperating with prosecutors. The indictment of Russian individuals and companies also suggests a broader conspiracy than Mueller charged, saying grand jurors heard about others involved in the scheme.

Richard Painter, who was the chief ethics adviser in the George W. Bush administration, said the lack of any evidence of collusion in the indictment wasn’t the final word by prosecutors.

“They’re charging what they know,” he said. “The contact with the Trump campaign might be unwitting in this case, but that doesn’t mean that the collaboration issue is finished.”

Now, just to make certain: We should probably bear in mind that neither, really is the question of this or that contact being unwitting truly closed. It seems a tawdry hair to split, except there is also the part about how—

This “information warfare” by the Russians didn’t affect the outcome of the presidential election, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters. Trump and his Republican supporters have repeatedly denounced the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” and have denied any collusion. The indictment cites no instances of Russians coordinating directly with the Trump campaign.

—and this is important: Rosenstein did not say the information warfare “didn’t affect the outcome of the presidential election”.

This is what Rod Rosenstein said:

There is no allegation in the indictment that the charge conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.

And then he repeated the point, because he was asked:

Is there concern that this influenced the outcome of the election?

What I have identified for you are the allegations in the indictment. There are no allegations in the indictment of any effect on the outcome of the election.

Rosenstein did not say the effort “didn’t affect the outcome of the presidential election”, as David Voreacos and Steven T. Dennis put it for Bloomberg Politics. Rather, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein twice explicitly stated that the indictment does not allege the conduct had such effects.

And we can pick bones, if we must, about whether a contact with the Trump campaign was unwitting, negligent, or whatever else; circumstance will advise if circumstance changes, such as new evidence to suggest knowledge.

More important, though, is this question of what Rosenstein said. When some part of the discourse starts running round and round and roundabout recalling when Rosenstein said the “‘information warfare’ by the Russians didn’t affect the outcome of the presidential election”α, it would behoove us to remember that is not what he said.

____________________

α Complete with “air quotes” on “information warfare”, at that, just because.

Image note: Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies to the House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., 13 December 2017. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Voreacos, David and Steven T. Dennis. “Mueller Accuses Russians of Pro-Trump, Anti-Clinton Meddling”. Bloomberg. 16 February 2018.

Wolfe, Rachel. “Read Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s remarks on the Russia indictments”. Vox. 16 February 2018.

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