This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry falsely claimed on April 19 that U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller “admitted” his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election did not find evidence of Russian meddling.
A redacted version of Mueller’s report, sent to Congress and published online on April 18, painstakingly details evidence about Russian election meddling and confirms the previous findings of the U.S. intelligence community of a two-pronged Russian strategy to manipulate U.S. public opinion through e-mail hacking and a disinformation campaign.
“The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion,” the Mueller report said.
“After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of warrants and witness interviews the special counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those efforts,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on April 18.
Nevertheless, in remarks on April 19 that dismissed the findings of the long-awaited Mueller report, a Russian Foreign Ministry official told journalists in Moscow that Mueller “admitted having no proof” of Russian interference.
“There is nothing there to catch attention. In fact, it confirms the absence of any arguments proving Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. election,” said Georgy Borisenko, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s North America Department. “There is not a single piece of evidence. In fact, the report’s authors have admitting having no proof,” Borisenko claimed.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on April 19 also dismissed the evidence contained in the Mueller report, saying the Kremlin does not accept the meddling accusations.
“As a whole, the report as before does not present any reasonable proof at all that Russia allegedly meddled in the electoral process in the United States,” Peskov told journalists in Moscow a day after the publication of a redacted version of the document.
“We regret documents of this sort are causing direct influence on the development of Russian-U.S. relations whose condition leaves much to be desired,” Peskov said.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on April 19 that it is “completely impossible for Russia to interfere in internal political processes not only in the United States but in any other country.”
Ryabkov said Russian’s foreign policy is “based on unconditional respect for international law, including the principle of noninterference in the affairs of other states.”
In the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, Information Committee Chairman Aleksei Pushkov on April 19 mocked the Mueller probe for spending millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money without proving there was any collusion between Trump and the Kremlin.
Most of Russia’s state-controlled media on April 18 and 19 also rejected the well-documented findings about Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
The state-owned Rossia television channel said in coverage on the Vesti Economy program late on April 19 that the Mueller report is not credible because it did not release the content of hacked e-mails or “specific files.”
“The Mueller probe was an attempt to threaten the current government and influence U.S. foreign policy without offering any specific evidence,” Rossia said.
Among the most pointed allegations leveled earlier by Mueller regarding Russian interference was the indictment of a dozen Russian military intelligence officers who, he said, were behind the hacking and theft of Democratic Party e-mails, e-mails that were released in the heat of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
While the Mueller report concluded there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove President Donald Trump or members of his team colluded with Russia’s state-sponsored meddling campaign, it said Trump and at least 17 of his campaign officials and advisers did have more than 100 contacts with Russians during the 2016 election campaign.