Evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 election is “now really incontrovertible,” White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said Saturday.
“As you can see with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain, whereas in the past it was difficult to attribute for a couple of reasons,” McMaster said while speaking at the Munich Security Conference just a day after the Justice Department announced several indictments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference.
McMaster has said previously it had been difficult to say definitively because “technically it was difficult” but “also you didn’t want to divulge your intelligence capabilities.”
“But now that this is in the arena of a law enforcement investigation it’s going to be very apparent to everyone,” McMaster said.
He said that despite the evidence Russia attempted to interfere, he believed it may “reevaluate what it’s doing,” adding, “All that has done is appeal to those big fringes while uniting all of our politics actually against Russia and Russian interference.”
On Friday, the DOJ announced charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for allegedly meddling in the 2016 election. The charges included conspiracy to defraud the United States. Three defendants were also charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft.
The indictments come as part of Mueller’s larger investigation looking into possible ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign associates and Russia. Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.
Earlier this week, CNN reported that even amid several intelligence officials expressing to a Senate panel that Russia had interfered in 2016 and had plans for 2018, Trump was still not convinced on the matter, according to three sources familiar with the President’s thinking.
After the Justice Department’s Friday announcement, Trump tweeted: “Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!”
CNN’s Lauren Kent, Kara Scannell, David Shortell and Veronica Stracqualursi, Sara Murray and Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.