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Time for change

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To Say there Is No Evidence of Collusion of the Trump Campaign with Russia Is a DAMN LIE

I am so sick of hearing that there is “no evidence of collusion” in the Mueller report. This talking point, initially spurred by William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report, has become such a part of our culture that I hear even Democrats and progressive news reporters repeat it all the time. In fact, I rarely hear anyone stating that the Mueller report does indeed include any evidence collusion. The statement in the Barr’s summary that has spurred this nonsense was “The Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” Barr says nothing about collusion in his summary. He is able to do that because Mueller specifically says in the introduction to his report that he will not use the word “collusion” in his report because it is a lay term rather than a legal term.

Barr’s statement soon morphed into virtually everyone saying that the Mueller investigation found no evidence of collusion, or that his investigation came up empty on that subject. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I’ve read the Mueller report, and Part I of the report contains tons of evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The assertion that no evidence of collusion was found is a very toxic lie because Republicans use it all the time to discredit Democratic efforts to hold Trump accountable for this and all the crimes that he has committed.


Collusion

Collusion is defined in Wikipedia as “a secret cooperation or deceitful agreement in order to deceive others, although not necessarily illegal, as is a conspiracy.” One takeaway from this definition is that collusion is much like a conspiracy, except that it is not necessarily illegal, and thus it is a lay term rather than a legal term, nor does it have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to use the term. But failing to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt certainly is very different than saying that there is no evidence for that something.

Mueller makes it clear on page 2 of his report that “In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of “collusion.” Indeed, Mueller barely uses the term “collusion” in his whole report. Yet the report is full of evidence of collusion. Here are a few examples:

Pages 6-7: “On August 2, 2016, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met in New York City with his long-time business associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI assesses to have ties to Russian intelligence. Kilimnik requested the meeting to deliver in person a peace plan for Ukraine that Manafort acknowledged to the Special Counsel’s Office was a “backdoor” way for Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine; both men believed the plan would require candidate Trump’s assent to succeed (were he to be elected President). They also discussed the status of Trump Campaign and Manafort’s strategy for winning Democratic votes in Midwestern states. Months before that meeting, Manafort had caused internal polling data to be shared with Kilimnik, and the sharing continued for some period of time after their August meeting.”

Page 33: “Among the U.S. “leaders of public opinion” targeted by the IRA (The IRA, or Internet Research Agency, is an entity supported by the Russian government for the purpose of helping Trump to win the 2016 election) ”were various members and surrogates of the Trump Campaign. In total, Trump Campaign affiliates promoted dozens of tweets, posts, and other political content created by the IRA.”

Page 35: “Starting in June 2016, the IRA contacted different U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump Campaign in an effort to coordinate pro-Trump IRA-organized rallies inside the United States. In all cases, the IRA contacted the Campaign while claiming to be U.S. political activists working on behalf of a conservative grassroots organization.”

Section D, starting on page 51: The title of this whole section is “Trump campaign and the dissemination of hacked materials”. The “hacked materials” refer to materials hacked by Russia. How could the Trump campaign have disseminated these Russian hacked materials without first colluding with Russia on the issue?

Page 6: “In July 2016, Campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page traveled in his personal capacity to Moscow… After returning to the United States, Page became acquainted with at least two Russian intelligence officers, one of whom was later charged in 2015 with conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of Russia. Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow and his advocacy for pro-Russian foreign policy drew media attention.”

Page 89: “Papadopoulos (then a Trump Campaign official) suggested to a representative of a foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton.”

Page 95: “On August 23, 2016, Millian (President of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in the USA) sent a Facebook message to Papadopoulos promising that he would “share with you a disruptive technology that might be instrumental in your political work for the campaign.””

Page 109: “During the August 17 meeting, Simes (a Russian businessman) provided Kushner the Clinton-related information that he had promised.”

These are just some examples. There are plenty more in Part I of the Mueller Report. All of Part I contains only evidence of Russia’s efforts to get Trump elected, and Trump campaign officials to communicate with Russian government officials or influential Russian private citizens, mostly with contacts to the Russian government, and especially with regard to evidence of Trump officials to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.

I am not claiming that any of the examples I’ve provided here provide proof of collusion. But to say that they don’t provide evidence of collusion, especially when all taken together, is ridiculous.


Conspiracy

On page 185 of Volume I of the report, Mueller writes “The Office considered whether to charge Trump Campaign officials with crimes in connection with the June 9 meeting described in Volume I…” This was the meeting that most people are familiar with regarding the investigation into whether a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump Campaign took place. It is the meeting for which Donald Trump Jr. received in an e-mail “an offer from Russia’s Crown Prosecutor” of “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to {Trump Jr.’s} father.” Trump Jr. responded “if it’s what you say I love it…”. This soon led to a the June 9 meeting in Trump Tower, which included Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, then the Trump Campaign Chairman, among many others.

Mueller goes on to say “The Office considered whether this evidence would establish a conspiracy to violate the foreign contributions ban in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; the solicitation of an illegal foreign-source contribution; or the acceptance or receipt of “an express or implied promise to make a foreign-source contribution”.” After explaining why the June 9 meeting could constitute one or more of these crimes (In that the meeting was arranged with the expectation that the Trump Campaign would receive dirt on Hillary Clinton (referred to in the law as “a thing of value”) from a foreign source at this meeting, Mueller provides three reasons to conclude that the evidence does not “establish” (By which he means proof beyond a reasonable doubt) any crime. These reasons are as follows:

1) “The government would unlikely be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the June 9 meeting participants had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful.” In other words, it would be difficult to prove that Manafort, Trump Jr., and Kushner knew that what they were doing was illegal.

2) “The Office would also encounter difficulty proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the value of the promised documents and information exceeds the $2,000 threshold for a criminal violation…”. In other words, it would be difficult to prove that the value of obtaining scandalous information of Trump’s only opponent for the U.S. Presidency was worth $2,000 or more.

3) The last reason is more difficult for me to understand precisely. Basically, what Mueller says is that a conviction for this potential crime is unprecedented, in that the “thing of value” is being offered for free, rather than the Trump campaign specifically offering to pay for them.

I find these three reasons ridiculously deferential to the Trump Campaign, but you can judge for yourselves. For these three reasons, Mueller is able to say in his report summary that he could not establish a conspiracy for this potential crime. And he won’t even mention the word “collusion” with respect to them because collusion is a lay term rather than a legal term.


Again – To say that there is no evidence of collusion in the Mueller report or that it came up empty is a very toxic lie, because Republicans use it against Democrats all the time to discredit Democratic efforts to hold Trump accountable for anything, saying that they have tried to get rid of him before day 1 of his Presidency.

Posted by Time for change | Thu Jan 23, 2020, 11:02 AM (5 replies)
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