From Florida, Trump tweets what he sees as vindication in Russian indictment

President Trump did not appear before the press or public Saturday while at his club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, after spending Friday evening visiting victims, family members and law enforcement officials affected by the deadly school shooting in Parkland.

White House aides told Bloomberg the president would not be golfing out of respect for the victims. Funerals for some of the victims were held Saturday just dozens of miles from the president's so-called "Winter White House." But Saturday afternoon, the president launched into a series of tweets in light of Friday's Department of Justice indictment of 13 Russians accused of an extensive misinformation campaign to sow discord in the U.S. surrounding the 2016 presidential election. 

Mr. Trump, who had already used the 37-page indictment to vindicate himself and his campaign from any accusations of collusion with Russians on Friday, cited others' comments about observations from the indictment on Saturday.

The president particularly focused on comments made by Facebook's vice president of ads, Rob Goldman, who tweeted that  the "majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election," a point that he said "very few outlets have covered because it doesn't align with the main media narrative of Trump and the election."

"Most of the coverage of Russian meddling involves their attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 US election. I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal," Goldman wrote. 

The main goal of Russia, Goldman noted, is to divide America, beyond all else. 

Goldman noted that, while the Russian disinformation campaign was clearly in favor of Mr. Trump, and Russians wanted to sway the election, there is a broader point that stretches beyond the 2016 presidential campaign. 

"The point is that the misinformation campaign is ongoing and must be addressed," he wrote. 

Mr. Trump seized on Goldman's comments that he seemed to believe vindicate him. 

A description of how Russia's online disinformation operation extends well beyond the 2016 election is found in a June 2015 piece by Adrien Chen in The New York Times Magazine. Chen wrote how the  Internet Research Agency -- the Kremlin troll operation -- was connected to fake reports of a chemical explosion in Louisiana, as well as fake reports of an outbreak of Ebola in Atlanta.

"The more I investigated this group, the more links I discovered between it and the hoaxes," Chen wrote. 

Chen also spoke with former employees of the agency, like one Russian woman who described how she would work 12-hour shifts in the agency's bland building, creating content on popular social networks to further the Kremlin's interests.

Facebook, under pressure from the public and Congress to disclose more about what it knew of Russian influence on its platform, has slowly released more information and described its efforts to shut down fake accounts

But Facebook is mentioned throughout the indictment as a tool Russians gamed to influence Americans, and the indictment details how social media companies like Facebook and Instagram were gamed by Russian entities.  

The president on Saturday also said the "Fake News Media" is failing to report that the Russian group began its work in 2014, "long before my run for president. Maybe they knew I was going to run even though I didn't know!" Although, according to multiple reports, the president had been at least considering a presidential run in 2014. 

Mr. Trump also cited Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who on Friday in his announcement of the indictment noted that the indictment does not allege any Americans knowingly involved themselves in the scheme, and that the indictment does not claim the Russian interference altered the outcome of the election. 

The White House called a lid just before 4 p.m., meaning the president will make no public appearance Saturday. But, according to the White House press pool, the president will be meeting with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on Sunday at Mar-a-Lago to discuss legislative priorities. It's unclear if that meeting or part off it will be open to the press, which has yet to have a chance to hear directly from the president in person about his thoughts on the Russian indictment. 

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.