John Podesta says Mueller indictment only details one part of Russian meddling campaign

John Podesta,  the former chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, says that special counsel Robert Mueller's indictments of Russian nationals involved in meddling in the election represent just "one part" of Russia's broad campaign to disrupt the presidential race.

"This was one part of a complex, active interference [effort]. This didn't even deal with the hacking," Podesta said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "This was only about what was going on in the social media and the information campaign that was being done there, but there were 80 people, millions of dollars spent."

On Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment of 13 Russian nationals and entities accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election to wage "information warfare" against the U.S., Rosenstein said. Twelve of the individual defendants worked for the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, he added.

According to the indictments, the defendants set up virtual private networks in the U.S, making it appear that the social media accounts they were using were controlled by people in the U.S.

Podesta's private emails were stolen in a phishing attack by a group of hackers with links to Moscow in 2016. Wikileaks began publishing troves of the emails daily at the tail end of the 2016 campaign. He said Russian efforts to tip the scales of the election were a "tragedy for the American people."

"As Mr. Mueller said in his indictment, this was an act of information warfare against the United States, against our democracy. So I think it's, obviously, disappointing to those of us who were on the receiving end of these Russian active measures, but I think the real victims here are the American people because there was direct interference with our democratic institutions," said Podesta. 

Podesta said that while "you can't prove that it did affect the outcome, but it certainly seems likely that it had some impact."

"We focused on the places we thought were that were, you know, in contest, and at the end of the day, we fell short in those states. And I think that this active measures effort by the Russians could have tilted the election in, in Donald Trump's favor," he added.

Rosenstein emphasized on Friday that the indictment does not include allegations that the Russian propaganda effort changed the outcome of the race.  

Podesta also called out President Trump as being the "first draft dodger" in the war of information. 

"He has done nothing but tried to undermine the Mueller investigation, he hasn't implemented the sanctions that he --  was passed by the Congress and that he signed in reaction to the activities in the 2016 election. We learned this week, he's ordered no effort to try to get the intelligence community to get together to try to prevent further activities in the 2018 election," said Podesta.

"He clearly, I think, has failed in carrying out his duty as president of the United States, which is to protect our democracy," Podesta said.

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital