Report: Mueller to charge Russians who hacked DNC, Podesta emails

NBC News is reporting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is planning to charge one or more Russians responsible for the hacking, theft, and distribution of Democratic emails. NBC’s sources don’t seem to clear on when these charges might be made public, with estimates ranging from a few weeks to months.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is assembling a case for criminal charges against Russians who carried out the hacking and leaking of private information designed to hurt Democrats in the 2016 election, multiple current and former government officials familiar with the matter tell NBC News.

Much like the indictment Mueller filed last month charging a different group of Russians in a social media trolling and illegal-ad-buying scheme, the possible new charges are expected to rely heavily on secret intelligence gathered by the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), several of the officials say…

The sources say the possible new indictment — or more than one, if that’s how Mueller’s office decides to proceed — would delve into the details of, and the people behind, the Russian intelligence operation that used hackers to penetrate computer networks and steal emails of both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

NBC acknowledges that an indictment of Russian hackers will not result in anyone spending time behind bars because Russia will never extradite the people responsible. That’s especially true if some of the people indicted are Russian spies who allegedly ran the operation. At best, this is an indictment intended to send a message. Finally, more than halfway through the story, we get to the part of real interest to Democrats:

Another major unanswered question is whether Mueller’s grand jury will charge any Americans as witting participants in the hacking and leaking scheme — including anyone associated with Trump’s presidential campaign. Americans referenced in Mueller’s previous indictment of Russians were described as “unwitting.”

One source suggested that a new indictment could include unnamed American co-conspirators as part of a strategy to pressure those involved to cooperate. The previous Mueller indictment involving the Russian social media operation cited a co-conspirator that it did not name…

Another big question is whether Mueller will seek to charge anyone associated with WikiLeaks, who may claim in defense that they were acting as journalists.

Here we are back at the collusion story again and, as always, we have a vague promise and no substance. NBC has one source saying Mueller “could” go after an American. So that’s a definite maybe on the whole collusion angle that has been driving this story for months.

I’m willing to grant that Mueller could do this. He could indict a ham sandwich. But until we see the charges and the evidence to back them up, this is just another rumor, one probably emanating from a Democrat eager to keep the collusion-train running. At this point, I just want the speculation to end. If someone is guilty, let’s see the evidence already. And if Mueller hasn’t found it by now, he should indict the Russians behind the hack and put an end to the collusion story once and for all.