Breaking news out of the Special Counsel's office today. 13 Russians were indicted for "election meddling" in the 2016 election meddling. MSNBC's Ken Dilanian and Watergate prosecutor, Jill Wine-Banks, broke it down:
Dilanian: That's a crucial point. The more this seems like a road map to at least -- for at least part of the way, the Russians meddle and interfered in the election. The U.S. Intelligence committee has been telling us for some time this happened, but what we have before us is the details. And the question is, can Donald Trump, the President of the United States, continue to say that this was a hoax when we have all these details in front of us. They're very explicit. And I want to point out one thing that i've noticed in the indictment. One of the questions about this Russian interference effort has been, did they have help from Americans? How could Russians know so much about the American political system to make a difference? Well, this indictment makes clear they did have help from Americans.
On page 13, it talks about defendants communicating with a real U.S. Person affiliated with a Texas-based grassroots organization. During the exchange the defendants and their co-conspirators learned they have focus their activities on purple states like Colorado, Virginia and Florida. After that exchange, the defendants commonly referred to targeting purple states and directing their efforts. So there was, in this case, unwitting help from Americans and the question that Robert Mueller is investigating is whether there was any witting help to this from members of the trump campaign.
Host: Jill, these are the first criminal indictments tied to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Give us the context there in terms of where this investigation is. The fact we're getting this now. What does that say about where we are in this investigation?
Wine-Banks: It means we're getting closer and closer to the White House. The past investigations, with tax problems, have dealt with fraud in terms of not reporting that you are representing a foreign government, and many of them were before the campaign and unrelated to the campaign. This is the campaign. And we heard it very loud and clear. This was done to hurt Hillary help Donald Trump. There's no question what the goal of the Russians was. And so this really now takes us to the heart of what Mueller's mandate is, which is looking at the interference and everything else that comes from the interference by Russians. So I'm anxiously awaiting what the next steps will be and how high it will go and what Americans wittingly helped.
Let's see how high this really goes. Will it get to the Oval Office? All it takes is one of the 13 indicted and individuals to flip.