Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Trump-Russia: Time To Change C-Words - From 'Collusion' To CONSPIRACY

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With the new revelations about Donald Trump Jr being forced to release damning emails that reveal he eagerly embraced (what he was explicitly  told) was a Russian government attempt to damage Hillary Clinton’s election campaign, we have now entered the conspiracy meme. Up to now, the media has uniformly kept that more "extreme " c -word off the table, opting to use the more vanilla term "collusion" instead. This despite the fact most legal scholars assert collusion is not a crime, but conspiracy is. More on this to follow.

Anyway, the stunning Trump Jr. (aka "Fredo")  disclosure raised questions over whether campaign laws were broken and why senior Trump associates failed to report a hostile act by a foreign power.
Trump Jr also admitted on Tuesday night that he could have handled the situation better but he had not told his father about meeting a Russian lawyer because “it was a nothing”.  (This was later amped up to a "nothing burger" by WH lackey and lapdog Reince Priebus in the Sunday talk show circuit).

The emails show Russkie contact and music promoter Rob Goldstone telling Trump's dumbo son that “the crown prosecutor of Russia” had offered “to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father”.

Goldstone added,  in the exchange of June 3rd, 2016: “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

He didn't mince words or soft soap it, absolutely pointing out the "support for Mr. Trump".  Any sensible individual with more than air between the ears would have run - not walked - to the nearest FBI office and turned in the material. What did Don Jr. do instead?

Seventeen minutes later, the jug-headed imp welcomed the email with the reply: “If it’s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer.”     He then forwarded the incriminating material to his comrades in crime, as his email betrays:

From:   Donald Trump Jr.
Sent:    Yesterday, June 8, 2016, 12: 55 p.m.
To:       Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort
Subject: FW: Russia - Clinton -  Private and Confidential

Just a few weeks later the first batch of DNC emails were released.

(In a later email, Goldstone described the Russian lawyer they are due to meet, Natalia Veselnitskaya, as a “Russian government attorney. She had denied this, but the Kremlin probably ordered her to do so and assert it was all her own impetus and idea.)

So it's now clear Don Jr. was lying when he claimed not to know who the Russian lawyer was.

So now what do we have? Is it collusion or conspiracy? An informative segment on 'Morning Joe' yesterday saw House Intel Committee standing member Adam Schiff explaining:

"We've been using collusion as a term to cover a lot of potentially problematic conduct. There is no statute that uses that term or 'coordination' which is the term the FBI Director more often uses. 

The statute would be conspiracy. If you conspire with others to violate any number of laws it is a crime. So if there is a conspiracy to violate the election laws and get help from a foreign power. If there's a conspiracy to engage in illegal quid pro quo, so you get help in exchange for a legislative change. If there's any conspiracy to obtain illicit information, or to steal the information. Any number of those things could be a violation of law."

So there you have it: no legal basis for collusion in the statutes, but a definite basis for conspiracy. So why doesn't the media use that word instead? As I said, it is on account of a decades -long effort to scrub that c-word out of existence, especially so Americans will not invoke it - say to do with the JFK assassination conspiracy.

Former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade identified the specific type of conspiracy last night as a "Klein conspiracy". She defined this as "a conspiracy to impede the functioning of any department of government."

She added that this would include the "administration of fair elections".   One technical legal website (USLegal) defines the elements as follows:

(1) an agreement between two or more people to accomplish an unlawful objective against the United States;

(2) the commission of an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy; and

(3) the knowing and voluntary participation of the defendants in the conspiracy.


Such conspiracies to defraud are not limited to those aiming to deprive the government of money or property, but include conspiracy to interfere with government functions also.

It seems clear on this basis that the media need to halt the incessant use of the vanilla term 'collusion' and use 'conspiracy' instead, and specifying the exact nature (e.g. "Klein conspiracy") if possible. That is, assuming they want their readers to have a clear legal idea of what Don Jr. and others have done, and what legal charges they can actually be brought up on.

1 comment:

Caleb Shay said...

A finely argued article showing why Mueller has more than enough 'ammo' to put Trump Jr away as well as Manafort and Jared. I always believed this was all about conspiracy.