The US deputy attorney general’s timing coincided with the president meeting the Queen

It was an extraordinary split-screen moment. On one side, president Donald Trump meeting the Queen at Windsor Castle and strolling past a ceremonial guard of red-uniformed beefeaters. On the other, the US deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, was simultaneously indicting 12 Russian spies for hacking and leaking the emails of senior Democrats during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

These latest indictments by the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, were carefully crafted. Its timing seems distinctly mischievous. And it heaps pressure on Trump ahead of his meeting on Monday in Helsinki with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the man to whom the GRU intelligence agency and its generals ultimately answer.

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