The 2016 presidential election is back at the top of political news today as Hillary Clinton's former campaign chairman, John Podesta, said new indictments over alleged Russian hacking of Democrats show that "crimes were "committed against the American democracy."
Podesta was responding to an announcement by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officers for allegedly hacking into computer systems of the Democratic National Committee during the election.
"I think at the heart of all this has always been the fact that crimes were committed against individual Americans, including myself, but also crimes committed against the American democracy," Podesta told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.
Podesta's own emails were among those hacked and released publicly during the campaign.
"Donald Trump likes to describe this as a witch hunt," Podesta said, referring to Trump's attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. "Well, we just found some witches and they were indicted."
"I think this is something that people knew had happened all along, that underlying this, crimes were committed and that's why the Mueller investigation has been so important and needs to be continued in an unfettered matter," he said.
The latest indictments target 12 Russian intelligence officers for allegedly engaging in a sustained effort to hack networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. All 12 are members of the GRU, Russia's intelligence service.
Podesta said that the new indictments and the individuals' ties to the Russian government should prompt a stern discussion between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin when the pair meet on Monday in Helsinki.
"President Trump [is] meeting with President Putin in the next couple of days and one would hope that he would push back on the Russian president in that regard," Podesta said.
"Quite frankly I don't hold out much hope that he will take this much [more] seriously than he has during his presidency," he added.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez also reacted to the indictments, saying they make "clear just how vast this operation was." He noted that the indictments add new details, such as the Russian intelligence officers' alleged attempts to break into the computer files of state election boards
"This is not a witch hunt and it is certainly not a joke, as Donald Trump has desperately and incorrectly argued in the past," Perez said in a statement. "It’s long past time for him and his allies in the Republican Party to stop ignoring this urgent threat to our national security."
"Donald Trump and his Republican enablers’ efforts to discredit these established facts only embolden Putin's Russia and invite further attacks on our country," Perez said.