Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment, filed in federal district court in Washington, just days before a scheduled Monday summit in Helsinki between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that Putin ordered a Russian effort to manipulate the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.
Rosenstein said the Russians stole and released Democratic documents after planting malicious computer codes in the network of the Democratic National Committee as well as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The Russians also illegally downloaded data related to some 500,000 voters from a state database, he charged.
While many of the indictment's details confirmed previous news reports and other assessments, it dramatically shifts the context for Trump's upcoming meeting with Putin, whom U.S. intelligence services have concluded was behind the 2016 election interference scheme. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quickly called on Trump to cancel the planned meeting.
Speaking at a press conference at Justice Department headquarters in Washington, Rosenstein said he briefed Trump about the upcoming criminal charges earlier this week. He said the indictment’s timing was “a function of the collection of the facts, the evidence, and the law and a determination that it was sufficient to present the indictment at this time.”