Trump himself gave the go-ahead to Rod Rosenstein to hand out 12 Russian hacker indictments prior to Putin meeting
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and President Donald Trump, composite image.

Republican leaders and the Wall Street Journal's Michael Mukasey attacked deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein for the 12 indictments of Russian hackers last week as politically motivated.

Leading with the headline, "The Russia Indictments: Why Now?," Mukasey wrote "the plain effect of the announcement was to raise further doubts about the wisdom of the meeting—and perhaps to shape its agenda."

He said that it's not the business of the special counsel or the Justice Department and the latter should follow longstanding policies "that candidates should not be charged close to an election, absent urgent need, lest the charges themselves affect the outcome." He said the same principle would apply in this case. "Prosecutors are supposed to consider the impact of their actions on significant events outside the criminal-justice system, and to act with due diffidence.

Today, however, it was announced that the president himself approved the roll-out of the 12 indictments prior to leaving for the NATO meeting and Russia summit, Bloomberg news reported.

Trump reportedly made the move "in the hopes it would strengthen his hand in the talks, according to accounts from people familiar with the decision."

Rosenstein gave Trump the option of before the summit or after. Trump chose the former.