Thursday, April 05, 2018

The Trump Campaign Was Colluding With The Kremlin… Is That Illegal? Illegal Enough To Put People In Prison?


Writing for the New Yorker yesterday, Jeffrey Toobin explored the notion that collusion with a foreign government to steal the U.S. presidency is a crime or not. Wasn’t it conspiracy? “Is collusion a crime? That is one of the central questions of the investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections. Even if it could be proved that Donald Trump and his supporters worked with the Russian government, or with Russian citizens, to win the Presidential race, would that activity have violated United States law? It’s long been an article of faith for Trump supporters, and for Trump himself, that collusion is not illegal. As the President told the Times in an interview last December, ‘There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime.' Now, it appears, Trump’s own Justice Department may have a different view. That conclusion appears in a document released earlier this week, in the course of pre-trial litigation in the case of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, on charges including money laundering. Lawyers for Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, asked that they be dismissed on the grounds that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, did not have the right to bring them; Manafort’s lawyers assert that the case—which centers on work that Manafort did for the pro-Russia government of Ukraine—was outside Mueller’s jurisdiction.” Yesterday, the judge just about laughed in his face and threw out Manafort’s case entirely.
Mueller… makes clear that he has the authority to investigate obstruction of justice--including obstruction of his own investigation. This, too, is a crucial disclosure. But, if collusion is a crime, what crime is it? What criminal statutes forbid collusion? In an article for the New Yorker in December, I explored this subject, and raised several possibilities, including conspiracy to solicit illegal campaign contributions and conspiracy to engage in illegal computer hacking. But Mueller’s subsequent actions give a hint of his own interpretation of the subject. In February, he obtained an indictment of thirteen Russian citizens and three Russian entities for using social media to help Trump win the election. The key charge in the case… is called conspiracy to defraud the United States.

…This case, of course, only deals with Russian defendants. But if Mueller were able to prove that Americans worked with the Russians in this kind of endeavor-- that is, if he can prove that Americans colluded with the Russians-- then he could bring a similar charge against them. On Tuesday night, the Washington Post reported that the President himself remains a subject of the special counsel’s investigation, meaning that his conduct is being scrutinized, but that no decision has been made about whether charges will be brought against him.

Nevertheless, Mueller now has the authority, and the legal theory, to bring criminal charges for collusion. The unanswered question is whether he has American defendants, too.
Reuters reported that “A federal judge tore into all of the legal arguments that a lawyer for President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort made on Wednesday in his long-shot civil case to convince her that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has run amok and should be reined in. ‘I don’t really understand what is left of your case,’ U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said to Kevin Downing, Manafort’s attorney, after peppering him with a lengthy series of questions.”

By nighttime yesterday, CNN was running with an exclusive about Mueller’s team questioning unnamed Russian oligarchs with strong connections to Putin. Both had traveled to the U.S. and Mueller had one stopped at the private airport where he landed his private jet too search his computer and cell phone. The point: Investigators are asking whether wealthy Russians illegally funneled cash donations directly or indirectly into Donald Trump's presidential campaign and inauguration.” The idea of “indirectly” certainly includes the NRA, which helped money-launder millions of dollars from the Kremlin into the Trump campaign.
The approach to Russian oligarchs in recent weeks may reflect that Mueller's team has already obtained records or documents that it has legal jurisdiction over and can get easily, one source said, and now it's a "wish list" to see what other information they can obtain from Russians entering the US or through their voluntary cooperation.

Foreign nationals are prohibited under campaign finance laws from donating to US political campaigns.

The sources did not share the names of the oligarchs but did describe the details of their interactions with the special counsel's team.

One area under scrutiny, sources say, is investments Russians made in companies or think tanks that have political action committees that donated to the campaign.

Another theory Mueller's office is pursuing, sources said, is whether wealthy Russians used straw donors-- Americans with citizenship-- as a vessel through which they could pump money into the campaign and inauguration fund.

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At 11:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The longer this investigation goes on, the more I question its efficacy. To quote The Beadle of Dicksonian literature, "The Law is a ass" [CHARLES DICKENS, Oliver Twist, chapter 51, p. 489 (1970) {Source}.]

There have been so many crimes committed by US government officials for decades that have gone unpunished that I begin to question why we even have laws in the first place. The more I hear about how Trump abuses the law to go after those who have the audacity to sue The Donald the more I come to believe that The Law is but another tool that the well-connected use to maintain their status privileges.

This is nothing new. Somewhere in my archives I have a book detailing the ways Thomas Edison used the law to eliminate his competition, much as Trump attempts to do today. Edison had better PR than does Trump. It took JP Morgan to put Edison in his place. Is there someone like Morgan in Trump's future? I seriously doubt it.

To sum up, so what if the Russians did hack the election? The evidence is that almost anyone could. Show me that what the Russians did had any effect, then show me that there is an effort to remove the threat to future elections. Unless the effort to remove the threat includes returning to the use of hand-marked paper ballots counted by human beings and tabulated by hand, then it is all just a smokescreen intended to protect the real electoral swindlers who will again walk free of any fear that The Law will be applied to them.

At 4:40 AM, Blogger CNYOrange said...

For christ sakes, if Hillary did this she would have been impeached and removed from office by now and all of the demorats would have voted with the turds to do it.

At 5:40 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

How can this keep going on and on? Every night I watch the reality show and the only ways to react are derision or suicidal thoughts. The talking heads are now so blatant about Trump's lying, corruption and insanity but yet it keeps rolling. This crap about Pruitt is just unbelievable. The only thing stopping Trump from making this despicable unethical human being Attorney General is the fact that corporations love his destruction of regulations within the EPA and want him to stay there to keep at it.

Even if the Dems take over Congress and start impeachment proceedings, it will be more months of this horror. The destruction Trump can and will accomplish during this time will be more and more devastating to our country and the world.

At 7:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, gooning elections in 2000, 2002, 2004 and primaries in 2016 wasn't illegal.
$20 trillion in fraud wasn't illegal. 100k cases of robo-signing fraud wasn't illegal in FL et al. Millions of cases of consumer fraud wasn't illegal when W-F committed it. Torture isn't illegal. The emoluments clause is just a piece of paper. thousands of cases of foreclosure fraud weren't illegal in CA because mnuchin did it. Lying on the air and calling it news hasn't been illegal for 30 years on fox. lying on twitter by a president isn't illegal. Even treason isn't illegal when a prez candidate does it. Certainly money laundering isn't illegal when a trump or Clinton does it.

We're just talking about some organized lying on 'social media', which were created and designed to self-affirm our own lies about ourselves and everyone else.
Since it might have gooned an election, and that clearly isn't illegal, then nothing illegal happened.

Laws are only goddamn pieces of paper in this shithole. Unless you're not rich or a prez candidate.

At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hillary did do it to Bernie"s campaign and she became the Democrat's nominee.

At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are they colluding or trying to support our Democracy?

{ A document leaked by one of the suspected Russian hackers in 2016 showed lobbyists for Goldman Sachs and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association—whose PACs had donated to the DCCC—complaining to DCCC chair Ben Ray Luján about “messaging demonizing Wall Street” and the influence of Elizabeth Warren. Luján reassured them that Warren didn’t speak for the party.}

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:35, you'd have to be pretty stupid to think that Warren and Bernie SPEAKS for the democrap party. The party actually gave permission for some of its worst candidates to come out in favor of MFA because it thought that POSITION might help in the election. The party has reaffirmed with the HI lobby that no such bill will ever see the floor.

Like I said, you'd have to be pretty stupid... But stupid *IS* as stupid does. And 'we' does vote for democraps, doesn't we!!

At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Aarin said...

Lots of tragically hip cynics and loser mentality commenters in this thread above. Thank goodness their willful ignorance and contraindicated fatalism won't carry the day. They believe just because many other war, financial, and governance crimes haven't been prosecuted (like crimes committed by the Bushies and the Reagan/Bushies and Nixon himself, and maybe ones by Clinton and Obama), that nothing provable under Trump has risen to the level of serious and illegal betrayal of this country, or that Trump's crimes are not truly crimes, and that just makes them so cynical that they've become delusional. In fact, it really seems like the above comments are from paid shills or people with anger and resentment issues so intense and so chronic that their cognitive functioning has been warped.

At 1:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The neoncon apologists are out in force tonight.

At 7:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aarin, you sweet, gullible idealist. The truth is thus:
As crimes go unprosecuted, they become normalized. Normalized either due to who committed them or due to the crime itself.

Precedents are set; nothing is done; normalization occurs.
How can TBTF be tolerated even as Sherman is still active? normalization.
How can bank fraud be tolerated even 12 years after bush prosecuted similar fraud by his bestest buddy? normalization in action.
How can treason go unpunished? cowardice and normalization.
Torture? We prosecuted and hung Japanese war criminals for waterboarding in the '40s. We now specialize in and boast of waterboarding in spite of the fact that the Vienna Accords are still US law. bloodlust, apathy and normalization.

Election fraud? foreclosure fraud? Shit, I could go on for hours with examples!

Aarin, if anyone named trump or Kushner or anyone in his cabinet or staff goes to prison for even a day, I might get a twinge of your delusion. Until then, I'm going to go with the past 50 years of experience. I lost all of your twinges when obamanation/holder refused to prosecute $20 trillion in fraud and cheney's torture regime.


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