Russia Probe

Trump Is Right: 'Collusion' Is Not a Crime

It remains unclear whether contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives violated the law.

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White House

Yesterday, after The New York Times published a list of questions that Robert Mueller wants Donald Trump to answer, the president complained that the special counsel is investigating a "made up, phony crime, Collusion." That tweet was a notable departure from Trump's usual defense, which consists of asserting, over and over again, that there was "no collusion" between his presidential campaign and Russians trying to influence the 2016 election. But unlike other things Trump said yesterday about the Russia investigation (e.g., that Mueller "had no questions on Collusion" and that obstruction of justice can't occur without an underlying crime), it happens to be true that collusion per se is not a crime. It's a point that Trump's opponents frequently seem to forget.

Most of Mueller's questions appear to be aimed at illuminating Trump's state of mind when he took actions, such as firing the FBI director or castigating the attorney general, that could be construed as obstruction of justice. Contrary to what Trump seems to think, interfering with an investigation of "a crime that never happened" can constitute obstruction. But it is a matter of dispute whether the president can be guilty of obstruction when he does things (such as firing the FBI director or castigating the attorney general) that he clearly has the authority to do. Mueller seems to be operating under the assumption that such actions can amount to obstruction, depending on the motive for them.

Lying to federal investigators, by contrast, would be a clear violation of the law, which is why Trump's former lawyer, John Dowd, was so keen to prevent him from sitting down for an interview with Mueller. As Ken White noted before Dowd quit in disgust, his advice was sound, especially given Trump's penchant for prevarication. Even a fundamentally honest person could easily be tripped up by an imperfect memory, imprecise phrasing, or contradictions between his own recollections and those of other people Mueller has interviewed. And as with obstruction, it does not matter whether the misrepresentations are a cover for actual crimes.

There are several ways in which contacts between Trump's people and Russian operatives could have broken the law, but they all go beyond mere "collusion." It is illegal, for example, to knowingly solicit a campaign contribution from a foreign national. Some of Trump's critics argue that his son violated that law by meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton, which seems like a stretch.

The Russians who stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. If people in the Trump campaign knew about the hacking in advance, they could be complicit in those crimes, but so far there does not seem to be any real evidence of that. "There's a significant difference between the Russians having dirt and offering that dirt, and someone asking the Russians to commit an illegal act to obtain that dirt," Dickinson Wright attorney Jacob Frenkel noted in an interview with the Chicago Tribune last fall. "The latter likely would be prosecutable, and probably as a conspiracy to commit a computer crime, or as a computer crime."

The Russians who posed as Americans on social media during the presidential campaign allegedly committed a bunch of felonies, including fraud and identity theft as well as violations of immigration law, campaign finance rules, and the Foreign Agents Registration Act. If Trump's people participated in those activities, they could be charged with conspiracy or aiding and abetting. But although some Trump campaign officials unwittingly communicated with Russians pretending to be American activists, there is no evidence that they were in on the ruse.

Whether or not Trump is telling the truth when he says "there was no collusion," he is certainly right that collusion by itself does not constitute a crime. That requires a violation of a specific statute—something Trump may yet deliver if he continues to ignore his lawyers' advice.

NEXT: Bill Weld Lays Groundwork for 2020 Libertarian Presidential Run

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132 responses to “Trump Is Right: 'Collusion' Is Not a Crime

  1. But it is a matter of dispute whether the president can be guilty of obstruction when he does things (such as firing the FBI director or castigating the attorney general) that he clearly has the authority to do.

    More to the point: What gives Mueller any authority to investigate things done “at the pleasure of the President”?

  2. Most of the dirt on Trump in the Steele Dossier came from Russian sources. Is it only okay to get dirt on your opponent from the Russians if it is true? If Trump got dirt about Hillary that was true, would it have been okay?

    Of course, it would have been nice if people voted for the only person who we didn’t have good reason to believe the Russians had dirt on, which was Gary.

    1. Hillary paid an Englishman to collect information from the Russian government about Trump and then turned that over to the FBI who then used it as justification for spying on those associated with Trump. But somehow Trump is the one who “colluded” with the Russians.

      1. It’s so obviously an attempt to project what Clinton did onto Trump, but the big unspoken secret is I don’t think it was illegal or wrong when Clinton did it either. It’s cut-and-dried opposition research that every campaign since forever does.

        Now the question of if the FBI submitting that opposition research to the FISA court for a warrant is a different issue entirely that doesn’t involve Clinton at all, necessarily, and is a much more important issue than all the rest of this bullshit circus.

        I think the point of this whole thing is not only to attack Trump, but to deflect away from the fact that our intelligence agencies are doing what we were afraid they would do all along with such expanded surveillance powers.

        1. I do not think Clinton paying to have the Steel Dossier created was illegal or anything but typical dirty politics. The FBI using it to get a FISA warrant without telling the FISA court where it came from, was however illegal as hell and something in a just world that would result in some people going to prison.

      2. best summary yet

    2. 2nd best thing is to elect someone with no shame. he can’t be blackmailed.

    3. Actually, the Trump/Russia dossier was initiated at the request of a GOP supporter of Jeb Bush. He hired Fusion to look into Trump’s European dealings. They hired Steele, who happened to be an ex-spook assigned to Russia, and he had contacts there. That turned up enough that Steele personally brought the details to the attention of the FBI. The Demcrats came on the scene later when the GOP supporter stopped paying for info as Jeb had quit the race. Fusion them marketed it to a DNC attorney. When the DNC attorney stopped paying for it, the FBI contracted to do so. Oddly, even though Comey kept dropping information on Hillary’s investigation, he neglected to mention the Russia Dossier, which had been in his desk drawer for months before the election.

      And clearly, Trump not only got dirt on Hillary from the Russian doctored Wikileaks, but begged Russia to hack her some more… publicly.

      For some reason Americans think digging up dirt doesn’t happen.. or shouldn’t happen…. It has been going on for the complete history of our nation.

      1. Fusion GPS was fired by the Rs who’d originally hired them in March. The DNC hired Fusion GPS in early to mid April. Fusion GPS hired Steele in late April. Steele and the dossier came into the picture after the Ds hired them.

        If I weren’t being nice, I’d point out that you’re a statist piece of shit with a D fasces shoved deep up your ass, but I wouldn’t want to be rude to someone who is clearly of inferior intellectual capability.

      2. “begged Russia to hack her some more… publicly.” – that’s one of those partisan talking points that’s not factually accurate. What he publicly said was, [paraphrased] “Hey, Russians, if you have any of those emails that she can’t find, we’d appreciate it if you’d give them to us.” At the point that he was purported to be asking the Russians to hack her, the specific things he identified as targets were already known to be missing, and formerly on servers that had been wiped.

      3. “””And clearly, Trump not only got dirt on Hillary from the Russian doctored Wikileaks, but begged Russia to hack her some more… publicly”‘

        Hillary was not hacked. The DNC was, and hacked is a loose term. If it’s true, it was phishing, and it takes someone not too intelligent to click on the fake link. Are we really suppose to believe Podesta is that dumb?

        Can you cite any evidence of Russians doctoring Wikileaks? That should be easy to prove, if true.

  3. There is no way Mueller wouldn’t construe something said by Trump in an interview to be a lie. It’s a obviously a trap.

    1. considering just getting a date wrong can be considered lying and therefor guilty, its not hard to entrap anyone.

  4. “…Some of Trump’s critics argue that his son violated that law by meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton, which seems like a stretch…”

    Uh, yeah, you could call it a stretch. You could also call it BS and be more accurate.

    1. Hasn’t Jake used this line before? “Seems like a stretch” is hardly conclusive, especially coming from a non-lawyer. The article that Jake sportingly links to quotes four lawyers with special competence in election law who say that what little Donnie did was a violation of federal law.

      Furthermore, the argument that it can’t be a crime for the president to exercise his lawful powers–firing the attorney general, for example–is nonsense. A senator certainly has the power to cast a vote, but if he takes a bribe to do so, it’s a crime. Bill Clinton certainly had the power to hand out those last-minute pardons that he granted on his way out the White House door, but for some reason some people still got mad about it.

      1. Furthermore, the argument that it can’t be a crime for the president to exercise his lawful powers–firing the attorney general, for example–is nonsense.

        No dumb ass it is not. At the pleasure of the President means just that. If it doesn’t, then cabinet officials are accountable to no one. And that is not how it works. And yes people can be mad about it. If they get mad, Congress can impeach the President. But that doesn’t make it a crime or mean the President doesn’t have the power to do it.

        You really are dumb as a fucking post.

        1. No, he’s right. If Trump took a million dollar bribe to fire Comey and appoint the guy with a million bucks to spare, he’d go directly to jail, even though he had every right to fire Comey and appoint the new guy.

          1. The crime would be taking the bribe not firing comey. The new guy would still be head of the FBI and Comey not.

          2. They would also still need to be confirmed, so there’s a check on that already and it’s also not unheard of for pretty much exactly this type of scenario to happen only it’s rarely cash slipped under a table but rather favors and perhaps lucrative government contracts and/or loans.

      2. Please, tell me you are likewise a non-lawyer (and if you are, I thank God Louisiana has the most restrictive bar reciprocity rules in the US!).

        Your hypothetical senator’s actual casting of a vote (performing his duty) would not be an illegal act. His underlying crime was taking the bribe, which is an actual crime. The whole point of this article is that there is no actual crime of collusion, therefore there it cannot constitute grounds for charge of obstruction of justice or illegal motive for firing an AG. It is perfectly legal for a president to fire an AG and this act can only be made illegal if done in furtherance of an underlying crime. Again, the behavior alleged does not constitute a crime.

        “You behave as if stupidity were a virtue. Why is that?”
        – Heinrich Dorfmann, Flight of the Phoenix (1965)

        1. I’ll refer you to the case of Scooter Libby as to whether obstruction requires committing any other crimes. In his case, the investigators knew he didn’t do anything wrong before they even spoke to him. That knowledge didn’t prevent them from laying a perjury trap though.

          1. The perjury was the crime.

  5. The Russians who stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    There is no evidence the Russians did that. Some claim the Russians did. But Wikileaks denies that. Some say it was an inside job. Seth Rich conspiracy theories aside, most IT break ins are inside jobs. I don’t see why this would be any different.

    The other thing about the “Russians hacked the DNC” claim is that had the Russians done that, the last thing they would have done was release the emails on wikileaks. If I am Russian intelligence and am reading the DNC’s emails, I don’t want them to know I am. I want to quietly continue reading them. Telling the world I am reading them just ensures I don’t get to read them anymore. The fact that the emails were sent to Wikileaks is very strong evidence that it was an inside job and not the Russians.

    Yet, the lie that the Russians were responsible gets repeated over and over again as fact. It needs to stop.

    1. There have been 13 Russians indicted John. You have got to get your news from a real source, at least occasionally.

      1. They were indicted for trolling on twitter. It has nothing to do with the email cases. Moreover, everyone knows they will never be extradited and the evidence against them never presented to a court. The indictments are meaningless food for trolls like you. And have nothing to do with the publication of the emails anyway.

        1. So you’re outright denying what cybersecurity experts and the US government have declared, that Russian intelligence was behind the Podesta hack?

          Why would you care enough to lie or be in denial about this? It’s not like Trump had anything to do with it (unless he did).

          1. So you’re outright denying what cybersecurity experts and the US government have declared, that Russian intelligence was behind the Podesta hack?

            Tony that was fake news. The IC community never said that. Here is the actual report

            http://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf

            If you read it, you will find out that they have no proof that was the case. Some of the agencies think it is and some are not sure. The NSA, which does all of the signals intelligence and is in the best position to know had “moderate confidence” in the conclusion that it was the Russians. And that is just them saying they don’t know. That report was portrayed as the IC declaring they definitely knew the Russians did it. But that is not what it said.

            1. So answer my question. Why are you so invested in it not being the Russians, when it very probably was the Russians?

              1. I am not invested in anything. I don’t care if it was the Russians. But the facts are what they are. And it looks to me like it was an inside job. I am not going to lie about that. Why do you find seeing the facts as they are such a problem or that it must have some political motivation?

                1. The facts indicate it was the Russians. I don’t want it to be the case, I’m just going by what the experts say.

                  1. NO they don’t tony. Read the actual report. The IC admits that they have no proof it was the Russians. All they have is some Russian IP addresses, which means nothing. Anyone can spoof an IC address.

                    You just want to believe it was the Russians because it supports your other fantasies.

                    1. I believe it was the Russians because the experts hired to investigate and the US intelligence services say it was probably the Russians, and there is no other suspect as far as I know.

                      If you were rational you’d be grateful that the giant orange abortion they made president is to some degree not entirely the fault of your fellow Americans.

                    2. Tony, they don’t say probably. They say maybe. And beyond that, those words don’t mean what you think they do.

                    3. You said it looks to you like an inside job. Which hilariously is the same conspiracy theory once peddled by far lefties until they got embarrassed by it and started issuing retractions and editors’ notes.

                      So it’s you, The Nation, and Vladimir Putin on one side, and the United States intelligence services on the other.

                    4. Recall that these are the same intelligence services that were absolutely positive Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that directly led to a decade of pointless war.

                    5. No they weren’t, and that’s some mind-numbingly stupid logic that says we can never trust the CIA ever on anything.

                    6. So it’s you, The Nation, and Vladimir Putin on one side, and the United States intelligence services on the other.

                      Tell us Tony, how it is that you can speak so authoritatively on behalf of Mr. Putin?

                    7. I think it is relevant that just about *every* hack has a tie to Russia. As a result, some of my IT friends simply block all traffic from Russia.

                      DNC should have been that clever.

                    8. Maybe they needed to get connections from computers in Russia?

                  2. What experts?

                    Dmitri Alperovitch?

          2. Forgive me if I don’t take the intelligence community at their word.

            1. Forgive me if I don’t take John at his.

              1. You don’t have to. The IC report I linked to makes it clear that there is no proof it was the Russians. It could have been but there is definitive proof it was.

                1. That whole document is about Russian interference. It’s in the fucking title. What are you trying to get over here?

                  1. No Tony the title is “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions
                    in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber
                    Incident Attribution

                    Do you know what “Assessing” means? Read the fucking document. Stop lying about it.

                    1. So if there’s not 100% degree of certainty it’s fake news to you?

                    2. Is the existence of Jesus thus fake news?

            2. Do you take the majority side of the House intelligence committee at their word? Because they concluded it was the Russians too.

              1. Based on the same report sighted above. Again, stop appealing to authority and show me the evidence. There isn’t any. Go read the report for yourself.

                1. Stop lying.

                  1. No one is lying here except you. You are the one making claims about reports without providing any links or any quotes from them.

                    1. i fucking quoted it below. That would be the part in quotations. The report is on the committee’s website. Use google, you dipshit. You are the dumbest person I’ve ever interacted with.

                    2. John upstaged you trolls again. Nice try but John will best you every time.

    2. Dude, even the House Republicans on the intelligence committee, led by Nunes, concluded that “the intelligence case for attribution to Russia is significant” and “no credible evidence was found supporting either alternative” explanation that had been put forward. You need to update your talking points.

      1. Dude, they concluded that based on the report above. Read the fucking report. They have no evidence that that is what happened. And they say as much and say they have no real confidence it is true. The facts are what they are.

        1. No, they didn’t. The report you’re citing in well over a year old. Between then and now, there has been a lot of investigation. As stated in their report, the majority concluded that Russia did it based on their own review of the evidence, which is discussed in several pages of their report, although most of it is blacked out because it’s classified. None of us can assess the classified evidence, so we have to rely on the conclusions of others who can review it. If even Nunes is forced to admit that Russia did it based on that evidence, I think it’s safe to say evidence is strong.

          1. As stated in their report, the majority concluded that Russia did it based on their own review of the evidence, which is discussed in several pages of their report, although most of it is blacked out because it’s classified.

            One you have no citation for that. And two are you fucking kidding me? I really don’t care what Nunes says. It doesn’t make any sense.

            1. It’s on page 22 and 28 of the majority report. Keep living in your fantasy land.

  6. Even if everything in the fevered dreams of Democrats were true, why would it be a bad thing? Suppose a foreign country approaches a Presidential candidate with proof that his opponent is taking bribes or has a tape of the person raping a young girl or some other horrible thing. Should the person not take the information because doing so is “collusion”? That doesn’t make any sense to me. It would be one thing if a candidate worked with a foreign government to slander their opponent. That would be terrible. But, if the information is truthful, why shouldn’t the candidate take it and use it?

    1. Anyone who would so much as speak in a civil manner with Russians is unfit to be President.

      1. +1 spoof.

      2. So who assembles this list of countries? China? Israel? Libya? India? Japan? Poland? South Africa? Turkey? Saudi Arabia? Iraq? Cuba? Venezuela? Canada?

        Which countries would it be okay to get dirt on your opponent from? Do you have a list? Who makes that list?

      3. A+

        We shall not speak of the reset button.

    2. It would be illegal. And loathsome to any patriot. But nobody thinks you’re a patriot John, just a loyal Republican bootlicker.

      1. Sure Tony. That is why you are so outraged over Hillary paying for the Steele Dossier.

        1. It’s not a campaign donation if you pay for it.

          1. So what? It is still working with a foreign government to slander an opponent.

            1. It’s not slander. Oh yeah, the dossier is fake news.

              Why would they pay for fake information? Couldn’t they just make it up themselves?

              1. Campaigns commonly pay for dirt of dubious provenance. You don’t need it to be true. You just need to have a story you can sell that makes you opponent look weak and corrupt. And maybe evil.

                Nobody in that chain has much incentive to make sure that the information is correct.

                1. There’s good reason to believe much of it is correct, though.

                  Pity they didn’t use it when they had the chance.

                  1. Aw Tony does not know about plausible deniability.

                    See, this British spy guy said Trump pissed on women, not me Hillary Clinton. I just passed the lies to the FBI and convinced President Obama to domestically spy on Trump without a search warrant. The motive being to make sure Trump does not win the election.

          2. Did you just say that it’s loathsome to accept factual information from a foreign agent, but it’s ok if you buy a fake dossier because it’s not a campaign donation?

            That is simply brilliant. I need to steal that.

            1. Loathsome comes in when a candidate for office lets a foreign government interfere with our election, by whatever means. There are other words for it too.

              1. Hillary actively participated in interfering with the election – we have loads of evidence about the primary. She also actively sought to interfere in the republican primary and had her operatives in her campaign and in the media pushing her preferred candidates – most notably Trump. When Trump won she was obtaining information from the Russians through intermediaries in an effort specifically designed to interfere with the election.

                We even have cancelled checks for over $3.5 million that we can trace back to this collusion with Russia. We know it was an ongoing relationship that lasted for months and involved multiple payments.

                With Trump we have “everyone says the Russians wanted Trump to win” and a meeting with a lobbyist lawyer that lead nowhere.

              2. Tony|5.2.18 @ 3:52PM|#
                Loathsome comes in when a candidate for office lets a foreign government interfere with our election, by whatever means. There are other words for it too.

                You mean Hillary, right?

                Hillary let a foreign government agent interfere with our election and paid cash for the means to do so.

      2. Tony|5.2.18 @ 2:34PM|#
        It would be illegal. And loathsome to any patriot. But nobody thinks you’re a patriot John, just a loyal Republican bootlicker.

        I think John’s a patriot.

    3. If a foreign government came forward about a crime committed and a person did not act on that, that alone would be a criminal act of at least negligence. it can’t be both ways and if talking to a foreign government is a crime is not also a crime when foreign leaders go on tv and tell Americans who to vote for which is exactly what they did on behalf of Hillary

  7. Excuse me, but a crime is whatever the FBI says it is. This is known.

    1. And anyone who criticizes the FBI is just a traitor. This is also known.

      1. We are never going to get an ending to that book/series. This is also known.

  8. Collusion is not a crime but money laundering is. Trump has laundered money for the Russian mob for decades.

    1. I can’t imagine why Mueller hasn’t called you in to testify to that effect.

    2. Sure he has. And the FBI spied on him for months and either didn’t find any proof or has and just hasn’t leaked it out of kindness I guess.

      And Hillary never mentioned this during the election because it wouldn’t have been cricket.

      1. GOP voters didn’t give a shit that Trump bragged about not paying taxes so why would they care about laundering mob money?

        Trump Taj Mahal casino settles U.S. money laundering claims
        Jonathan Stempel

        Feb 11 (Reuters) – The parent of Trump Taj Mahal, one of Atlantic City, New Jersey’s struggling casinos, has settled U.S. government charges that it violated federal laws designed to thwart money laundering, court filings show.

        Trump Taj Mahal Associates LLC agreed to the assessment of a $10 million civil penalty by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, according to a proposed consent order filed on Tuesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

        1. GOP voters didn’t give a shit that Trump bragged about not paying taxes so why would they care about laundering mob money?

          Maybe so. Either way, he is going to get re-elected. In fact, this being true would make his doing so even better because it would make the pain and suffering it causes people like you even acuter. I used to think it was a good idea to try to debase you of your delusions. But lately, I have come to enjoy just how much pain and suffering they cause you.

          1. The Con Man has caused me no pain or suffering and won’t do so unless he tanks the economy like the Bushpigs did.

            1. The economy tanked due to mark-to-market pricing and mortgage regulations, two things that Bush and Clinton colluded to bring to the world.

              Obama took the things intended to fix this problem and diverted them into completely different industries.

              Three presidents colluded to bring you the great recession.

            2. Butt hopes the economy tanks because then it will prove him wrong again. He likes being wrong.

  9. it happens to be true that collusion per se is not a crime. It’s a point that Trump’s opponents frequently seem to forget.

    They do? I’m pretty sure we just point and laugh at the moron for his apparent belief that it is a crime (which he has not committed).

    Extra pointing and laughing at what must actually be an attempt at 16th-degree chess: Trump was mad that Mueller leaked the questions which were actually leaked by his lawyer. He said there were no questions his lawyer wrote involving collusion, except there were like several questions that involved collusion. Wtaf?

    1. Some people get chess and people like you don’t.

  10. The people who committed the real crimes are Barack Obama (aka the Negro Nixon) and his minions.

    That’s why Andrew McCabe and possibly Rod Rosenstein are far more likely to end up going to prison than Trump or anyone in his cabinet or campaign.

  11. If it wasn’t for those Russians posting on Facebook, Hillary would be our rightful ruler!

    1. But wouldn’t everyone be happier? Her supporters obviously, but her haters are only truly happy when they have a Clinton to beat up on. They’re still trying, as pathetic as it looks. And they’d be spared the embarrassment that we’re living through, not to mention the generation-long political consequences.

      1. Giant Douche or Turd Sandwich. Meh.

      2. Hillary would have been a disaster.

        She lost and she is still a disaster.


  12. Mueller seems to be operating under the assumption that such actions can amount to obstruction, depending on the motive for them.

    Yeah, except that notably this is absurd. They’re looking for a ruling that any firing by the President can be disputed as yet another way to insulate the political class. I triple-dog dare Mueller to charge Trump with obstruction of justice for something that isn’t a crime. I imagine that’ll work out real well for him and the Democrat party.

    1. It’s “Democratic” you ignorant hillbilly.

      “The president is above the law!” –Libertarianism 101

      1. lol, you have a true obsession with cousins and hillbillies. I assure you Dallas is quite metro.

        Anywho, the reason I say he should go for it is because Clinton got off of actual honest-to-god perjury so something tells me that Trump will get away with lying while not under oath about things that are specifically not crimes.

        A Trump impeachment will mean a likely second Trump term, so I guess in that sense I hope Democrats don’t pull the trigger on the gun they’ve put to their own head.

  13. Mueller seems to be operating under the assumption that such actions can amount to obstruction, depending on the motive for them.

    Why not? Judges have used devined motivation as justification for blocking EOs.

  14. “Lying to federal investigators, by contrast, would be a clear violation of the law,”

    Which is why Hillary should be in prison right now.

    1. Which is why Hillary was never truly “questioned” about her email server. She was going to win. Everyone knew it. You don’t set a perjury trap for the presumptive first female president and prominent democrat. Not if you want to have any hope of having a career after the election.

  15. All of this is dancing around the real story here.

    They all said they were going to get Trump immediately after the election. Obama operatives are on record with the New York Times as saying they purposefully declassified government secrets and distributed them around the government with the intention that they would be leaked after the inauguration – specifically intended to bring Trump down. “Preserve the information” was the turn of phrase they used.

    1. They used this and the Clinton opposition research files to justify an investigation which was ostensibly into “Russian interference in the election”. Remember that?

      This is superficially similar to Ken Starr, but there is a huge difference. Starr was investigating an actual criminal enterprise. There was actual obstruction of justice in his investigation (at a minimum Hillary’s billing records were a clear case of obstruction of justice. That one can’t reasonably be argued otherwise). He ended up at affairs with interns because of the way the special counsel statute was operating and the fact that they were shuttling any allegation about the president to him for investigation.

      1. In the current case we have an investigation which has a specific target. They are not even pretending to be investigating that target (Russian interference). As far as anyone knows, they have never talked to anyone over at the DNC about their connections to Russia, the Sanders campaign (who were specifically mentioned as a target of aid from the Russians because of the chaos it would cause), Fusion GPS who were paid by both Clinton and the DNC to get “intelligence” from Russia… and strangely enough, the lawyer from Russia who reached out to the Trump campaign in what was apparently a lobbying effort which is at the center of the only thread the FBI seemed to have that might have connected Trump with Russia.

        So we have the worst of the dangers of special prosecutors coming true – that they get focused on “getting their man” instead of investigating a specific criminal allegation – and at the same time we have a failure to even pretend to actually investigate the underlying “crime” as is evidenced by the fact that they never even bothered to follow the evidence where it leads … which is to Clinton and the DNC.

        1. It took about a week for them to leave “Russian interference” behind and pivot to “collusion” with Trump. And from there they very quickly moved to “get anyone close to Trump that we can indict for anything at all, so we can start flipping people.

          I would say this is a transparent attempt to use the FBI to overturn the will of the people, but that short sells it. Everyone in the press, even at Reason, keeps pretending that everything is happening in good faith. This is just plain stupid. They didn’t even hide it. They told you they were going to do it. Then they broke national security laws to start the investigation. Then they abandoned all pretext and now we have the list of questions from Mueller, which clearly demonstrate that he has no interest in collusion and is looking to lay a perjury trap by talking about obstruction of justice.

          Everyone – particularly Reason, but everyone should be up in arms that we have a special prosecutor who has the private mission to “get Trump” at any cost.

          1. This is a particular curiosity for me. We’ve seen it several times before, where the Democrats telegraph their punch by bragging to their friends in the media about their strategy and then having those same folks in the media pretending like the strategy never existed.

            Twice during Bill Clinton’s administration the White House told the press that they were going to shut the government down and blame it on Republicans in order to get their way. Both times they followed through on their threats. And both times the press reported that the Republicans shut down the government. It isn’t like I hear this as some back-channel rumor. The exact same White House correspondent who told me that the Clinton Administration planned to shut down the government reported one week later that the Republicans shut down the government and the White House was outraged.

            1. So here we have it again: They told us they were going to do it. Several prominent Democrats came out immediately after the election and said they were planning an impeachment. The administration leaked the behind the scenes plot to lay the groundwork for an investigation to the New York Times almost immediately after the inauguration. And everyone is pretending that this is a real criminal investigation and they are just following the facts. It is rediculous. They told you what they were going to do, and now they are doing it. Why does the 4th estate think that the story here is “what is Mueller going to do?” The story is the plot by the democrats to undermine Democracy.

              1. The worst part about this is that Mueller and the rest have their heads stuck so far up their asses they have no idea how bad it looks to the rest of the country. If they try to go after Trump for this bullshit it will do irreparable damage to the institutions of government in this country and would risk a no shit popular insurrection. Yet, they continue to pursue this because they think if they do it it must be right and the country will go along. They are dreadfully mistaken.

                1. I dunno. In large swaths of the country people don’t even dare admit that they are Trump supporters. Trump and his supporters have been quite successfully demonized in a way that I’ve never experienced.

                  Every Republican presidential candidate and prominent legislator in my lifetime has been demonized as Evil. Reagan. Bush. Gingrich. Dole. Bush II. Cheney. Even Mitt effing Romney, the most milquetoast presidential candidate of all time. Evil. every one of them.

                  But all of them put together don’t touch Trump. He’s super-cereal evil. And only the Klan supports him.

                  1. There are large areas of this country where Trump is very popular and large numbers of people who are just looking for an excuse to do something awful. Beyond that, once you start a whirlwind like this, there is no stopping it. These people are so stupid they don’t know what a real tyrant looks like or how reasonable Trump actually is. At some point, we are going to get someone who really is a tyrant and they are going to understand just how reasonable Trump is.

                  2. Well said Cyto, It’s basically an open coup in search for a justification at this point. I’m not necessarily willing to go as far as this might be our last true election, but things are not looking good. Democrats are boiling mad, I think they really thought the fix was in.

                    Trump is uniquely ‘Unpresidential’ in a lot of ways to a lot of people, but frankly that doesn’t really mean shit to me since the qualifications to actually be President are…basically be breathing and past a certain age with a certain place of birth. It’s not a highly qualified position. The fact people think it is just shows how far the Imperial view of the Presidency has really permeated the populace.

                    I’m not one of his supporters, but I find it remarkable how people ignore anything decent he does and magnify things he does that might even be considered slightly bad. Then the actual bad things get lost in the clusterfuck.

                    He’s made some shit decisions, absolutely, but frankly from the point of view of a Democrat…he’s done a lot of things they should like yet you never hear about them.

                    Curious. And I didn’t think you could illuminate a Republican in a more negative light than Bush 2. Boy, was I wrong!

  16. The Russians who stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. If people in the Trump campaign knew about the hacking in advance, they could be complicit in those crimes, but so far there does not seem to be any real evidence of that.

    Remember, all of this occurred before Trump was the nominee – and the evidence they revealed was about DNC collusion with the Clinton campaign to rig the Democratic primary elections, robbing Bernie Sanders of a chance at the nomination.

    So the notion that Russian operatives posing as Anonymous hackers under the name Guccifer were breaking in to DNC emails at the direction of Trump in May of 2016 is just silly. At that moment in time, Clinton’s campaign was actively encouraging the media to promote Trump as a preferred candidate. As evidence, I’ll refer you to those same hacked emails.

    1. The thing to remember about all of this is that everyone in Washington was certain Hillary was going to win. The Russians were therefore certain as well. How would they have any more insight into the election than the open sources and their connections in Washington did? They wouldn’t. When you realize that the Russians were certain Hillary was going to win, it all makes sense. Let’s assume that they were behind the DNC emails and the Podesta leaks, which I am still not convinced of. As you point out, all those emails did was show the left how Hillary stole the nomination from Bernie. They were not released to help Trump win because the Russians didn’t see that as possible. They were released to weaken Hillary. The Russians wanted to make Hillary as weak of a President as possible. The thought of Trump being President was neither not something they wanted nor something they thought possible.

  17. The Russians who stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    By the way, I know many of you already know this, but some of you might not: this never actually happened. The Russians never “stole any e-mails” from either John Podesta or from the DNC. Sullum is repeating bogus DNC propaganda.

  18. Russia if you’re listening — he publicly asked Russia to hack those emails, then they did, then they released them as the Pussy Grabber tape was released. During the June Trump Tower meeting, Trump Jr gets a call from a blocked number. Trump’s number comes up blocked, Republicans wouldn’t get the phone records on who that call was, Mueller knows who that call was.

    1. No dumb ass, he asked for the Russians to release the Hillary emails off of her private server that was known to have been compromised. He didn’t ask the Russians to hack anything much less these emails. And the DNC and Podesta emails hit wikileaks in July of 2016. The pussy grabber tape was in September.

      Why don’t you stop lying? You are not fooling anyone.

  19. muler is a “cockroach”!!

  20. The author state that ‘Collusion per se is not a crime’:

    Definition of Collusion: secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.

    *** Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. “A foreign national spending money to influence a federal election can be a crime,” Persily said. “And if a U.S. citizen coordinates, conspires or assists in that spending, then it could be a crime.”

    *** The Logan Act: 953. Private correspondence with foreign governments. Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

    I’d say that Trump. his son Donald Jr, Manafort, Flynn and any numebr of others in his campaign did collude, and are subject to both laws….Don’t you?

    1. Of course, the entirety of Washington D.C. would be under lock and key according to those statutes so I say go for it. But only if you lock up everyone in Washington D.C., because otherwise you’re just selectively enforcing the law against someone you happen to not like.

    2. Only two people have ever been charged for violating the Logan Act since it was enacted in 1799. Neither was convicted. The law is likely unconstitutional. Yeah, go with that.

    3. “””*** Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. “A foreign national spending money to influence a federal election can be a crime,” Persily said. “And if a U.S. citizen coordinates, conspires or assists in that spending, then it could be a crime.”””

      So who at Facebook will charged?

  21. Sigh… kids, what is the definition of collusion?

    noun
    noun: collusion

    secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.
    “the armed forces were working in collusion with drug traffickers”

    synonyms: conspiracy

    And of conspiracy? Says Wikipedia

    Conspiracy has been defined in the United States as an agreement of two or more people to commit a crime, or to accomplish a legal end through illegal actions. A conspiracy does not need to have been planned in secret to meet the definition of the crime.

    This is like jr. high level of research/understanding Sullum. Whether Trump and/or his campaign staffers are guilty of collusion with Russia or any other foreign player to break campaign laws is a different question.

    1. Sigh. You can’t have a conspiracy without an object that is a crime. Working with the Russians is not a violation of campaign finance laws. To say it is is to embrace a theory that anything done to benefit a campaign is an in kind contribution. No court has ever read the law that way.

      This is junior high level stuff. Sigh.

      1. When the people you’re working with are committing crimes and you’re aware of those crimes and those crimes directly benefit your position then you have entered into a conspiracy and as a member of the conspiracy you are criminally liable for all the crimes committed by your co-conspirators.

        1. That sums up the Clinton’s activities in the Whitewater scandal.

  22. Paying off porn stars to keep them from going public on the eve of an election and doing so through bank fraud are definitely criminal acts.

  23. Who will provide the expert testimony that proves “Russians” hacked the DNC and Podesta?

    1. “”Dmitri Alperovitch?””

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  25. When I read pieces like this about the NPT, they usually never reference the NPT, There’s a reason for that. It’s because if the pieces referenced the NPT, the whole piece wouldn’t make any sense.

    The central premise of the NPT is that each nation has the right to enrich their own uranium–so long as they never enrich uranium in secret. If they are found to enrich uranium in secret, they forfeit the right to enrich their own uranium.

    Iran was caught red-handed enriching their own uranium in secret, and they have forfeited the right to enrich their own uranium as a result.

    The alternative to Iran enriching their own uranium is for them to procure uranium sufficiently enriched for civilian use from other parties to the NPT. The United States government offered to supply such uranium, but there is no reason why they couldn’t procure it from Russia, their ally.

    In short, Iran has willing forfeited the right to enrich their own according to the NPT–forever. However, there is an alternative to Iran enriching their own uranium built into the NPT itself, and there is no reason why Iran can’t avail themselves of that alternative.

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