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  • Writer's pictureFred Guerin

The Mueller Report: A Preliminary Expectoration

“The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign. Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” (Mueller Report, Introduction to Volume 1 p. 1-2)


1. Russia worked to get Trump rather than Hillary elected. That would make complete sense given the fact that Hillary Clinton compared Putin to Hitler and continuously promoted US military intervention abroad, while Trump said it would be better to cooperate with Russia than to treat it as an enemy.


2. The Trump Campaign "expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts". Nothing especially new here--if either Democrats or Republicans thought they would benefit from information 'stolen and released' by the Canadian or Israeli sources about a political rival no one would even raise an eyebrow. The problem is that it is Russia! Or, more accurately, the problem is ongoing Russophobia.

Additionally, it is fair to say that no country has worked more assiduously than the US to undermine foreign elections or governance of other nations. And, more often than not this meddling is done to prevent the election of governments sympathetic to Russia or China.

Was it a conspiracy? Was it Collusion? What about Coordination? Here's what Mueller said:

"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.” In so doing, the Office recognized that the word “collud[e]” was used in communications with the Acting Attorney General confirming certain aspects of the investigation's scope and that the term has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation. But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law. For those reasons, the Office’s focus in analyzing questions of joint criminal liability was on conspiracy as defined in federal law. In connection with that analysis, we addressed the factual question whether members of the Trump Campaign “coordinat[ed]”—a term that appears in the appointment order—with Russian election interference activities. Like collusion, “coordination” does not have a settled definition in federal criminal law. We understood coordination to require an agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference. That requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other's actions or interests. We applied the term coordination in that sense when stating in the report that the investigation did not establish that the Trump Campaign coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."

So this investigation was entirely circumscribed by existing federal criminal law. It was a criminal probe. Unlike 'conspiracy' neither coordination nor collusion are specific criminal offences. The Mueller investigation clearly did not establish either coordination, collusion or conspiracy. Does that mean there was no evidence of the latter?

No. There may well have been some evidence of all three. I take this to mean that the investigation did not gather sufficient evidence of such probative value that would support a finding of the fact of conspiracy 'beyond a reasonable doubt.'

Beyond the narrow confines of a criminal investigation of conspiracy, the Mueller investigation gathered facts related to foreign intelligence and counterintelligence. These facts were not part of the report but handed over to the FBI, since they fell within the parameters of the latter's broader national security mission.

Presumably the FBI investigation into Russian interference at an intelligence and counterintelligence level is ongoing, but it is clear that there was no intentional or criminal conspiracy by Trump or the Trump campaign with the Russian government.

There may very well have been Russian exploitation and manipulation of the 2016 election; and it may well be that even if Trump and his people did not “collude” with the operation, they were certainly enticed into it because they, like most political campaign operatives, are rank opportunists.

What does the Mueller Report say about GRU (Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) hacking of the Clinton Campaign? \

Stay tuned...

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