The depth of detail in the indictment filed today by Mueller's Russian investigation team is quite amazing and should put to rest all but the most deluded conspiracy theorists about Russia's active interference campaign. Its important to note that this indictment makes no claims about the impact of the campaign nor does it identify Americans as willing co-conspirators. But the sheer amount of detail, and the fact that it is unlikely that the much of the evidence collected by Mueller's team is in this charge document, should make Trump and his gang even more nervous. Because although this document might show "no collusion" there are plenty of indications within the indictment that the other shoe might well be dropping down the road. As there is little chance that any of the named conspirators in the indictment will ever face US justice, this is a 'speaking indictment': it sets out a narrative of events onto which later pieces of the investigation will be mapped. It provides a base to which other bad actors can be connected.
But clearly details are included or not included in this indictment for reasons we cannot know. For instance, take a look at Item 81 in the indictment (see below). This item is part of a detailed chronology of events, and yet it doesn't quite fit.
[The passage was highlighted and annotated by Josh Marshall in his column on Talking Points Memo].
What is described here is the updating of a list of US residents with who the defendants have been in contact and are working with Russian operatives (knowingly or not). The inference is clear that it was created at some point in the past, and likely updated many times, possibly after this date. But why is this update included in this very precise indictment? Why is this important enough to be noted?
What else was happening in the Trump campaign around 24 August 2016? Well a week before, Trump named Steve Bannon campaign CEO and Kellyanne Conway campaign manager. Bannon and Conway are close allies of Robert Mercer and Rebekah Mercer, who encouraged the use of the company Cambridge Analytica to micro-target political data on social media. Also on 17 August, Trump received his first classified national security briefing from the US intelligence community. The same day, Roger Stone famously tweeted: “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary.” Then on Aug. 21 Guccifer 2.0 posted hacked DCCC documents on Pennsylvania’s congressional primaries. The next day Guccifer 2.0 uploaded almost 2.5 gigabytes of stolen documents — including the Democratic Party’s get-out-the-vote strategy for Florida. In an interview with Breitbart Radio on 26 Aug. Roger Stone said “I’m almost confident Mr. Assange has virtually every one of the emails that the Clinton henchwomen, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, thought that they had deleted, and I suspect that he’s going to drop them at strategic times in the run-up to the rest of this race.” On 31 Aug. Guccifer 2.0 posted documents hacked from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s personal computer.
So no obvious, direct, connections but a critical and busy point in the campaign, with some suggestive possible connections. I don't think the inclusion of this notice of an update of a list of Americans contacted to assist the Russian campaign in the indictment is of no consequence. The Mueller investigators know a lot more than they are currently saying. I expect that some of the people on that list will be important when Mueller's other shoe drops in the months to come.