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PostCollusion vs Coordination in the Mueller Report (Paul Pitlick, USA, 05/21/20 2:05 pm)
Some follow-up on one of George Aucoin's statements (May 21st):
George wrote, referring to the Mueller Report: "Seeing how collusion was definitively not found by a team of independent investigators..."
Did George actually read the Mueller Report? Here is what Mueller said (page 18):
"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 we 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."
Page 30: CONCLUSION
"Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President's conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President's actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had conﬁdence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."
In summary, it is correct to say "collusion was definitively not found," but Mueller wasn't looking for "collusion," so he wouldn't find it. But I interpret the last paragraph as saying there was some smoke there, and he just didn't explore far enough to determine if there was a fire or not. I read somewhere that there were 140 contacts between members of the Trump team and various Russians. While that doesn't prove anything, if you were a US Intelligence operative, wouldn't you want to know more about that? Maybe 2 or 3 conversations could be accepted by a normal person (but if you are in Intelligence, 1 should be the trigger), but 140? If the Intelligence Agency was willing to overlook that many, they should all be fired.
Before the Mueller Report came out, I also read some of the interviews that were done. In particular, I remember Carter Page. Seemed like a nice young man, perhaps a bit naive. He was invited by some Russians to go there and give an address to some business school graduates. While there he met with some previous business associates. At the time he was a low-level operative in the Trump campaign, but of course (in his mind) he has there of his own accord. As I recall, one of the people he met with was known to the CIA. Again if you are an intelligence operative, do you just say those kinds of things happen?
So, it's true Mueller didn't prove "collusion" (nor did he try), but when you read the report, you can't help but think he remained suspicious. He left a trail of bread crumbs that others could follow, if they chose. As we know, some in Congress (after 2018) chose to do so, but received only obstruction from the Trump administration and the Republicans. With all the lying, I certainly felt that they had things to hide. Why didn't Trump just turn over the requested information? If he was innocent as claimed, it would have been over 2 years ago. To me, he acted like he had a lot to hide.
As for Flynn, how can you be "entrapped" into telling the truth? He either lied, or he didn't. In court, as I recall the judge even asked him if he understood what he was saying, that he admitted to lying. He said he did. Then he changed his mind. How can a person trust anything he says?
By the way, all of the investigations were done while Trump was president. Does George think somehow Obama (and Biden--let's not forget him; he's the real target here) were still pulling strings in the DOJ and with Mueller? I assume you think that would be preposterous, as do I.
So, tell me again how Mr. Obama is involved in this? Whatever happened when he was president was OK--that's what presidents do. Or did that only start in 2017? My suggestion would be to turn off the television, and go back to old-fashioned reading--from the original sources, not from partisan interpretations.
JE comments: Paul, thank you for walking us through these details. The Mueller Report was long, long ago given recent events, but it's important to remember the Conclusion, which really concluded nothing at all: neither indictment or exoneration.
George Aucoin's point was that the Obama "transition" period declared war of sorts on the incoming Trump team. He explains further (next).