Mueller’s Legal Theory

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

I am uploading this essay by Ben Wittes and Emma Kohse on where Mueller is going with his latest indictment.  Briefly, he has taken the abstract word “collusion” — a word Trump and others use, but is legally meaningless to Mueller and other legal eagles — and pinned several statutes to it, most notably 18 U.S.C. §371, the conspiracy statute.

It applies here in many aspects:

  • conspiracy to thwart the Federal Election Commission, who must receive accurate information from the candidates and political committees that are required to file reports under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA)
  • conspiracy to defraud the Justice Department in its regularly capacity with respect to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)
  • conspiracy to defraud the State Department in its role issuing visas

These conspiracy charges do all the “heavy lifting” as the essay says. Now, in addition to the Russian already indicted here, you can add to it anyone else who participated in the conspiracy, including those on this side of the Atlantic (e.g., anyone who passed on stolen DNC emails, anyone who gave information about which states to target for Facebook fake-newsing, etc.)

It’s a grand theory, in more than one way:

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