The Robert Mueller conspiracy theory posits someone conspired to defraud the U.S.; he’s not wrong.
The Mueller conspiracy against Donald Trump is to find a way to accuse him of “conspiring” to defraud the United States.
The whole basis of his position as special prosecutor came from the Clinton campaign conspiracy to use a British intelligence agent to gather misinformation from Russians and then use Clinton loyalists in the FBI and intel agencies to use that information to spy on the Trump campaign.
Bloomberg reports, “Forget Collusion. Conspiracy’s the Watchword in Mueller’s Filings.”
Not coordination or collusion, but conspiracy.
One charge in particular — conspiracy to defraud the U.S. — has cropped up in several of the Mueller team’s major cases. The allegation shows up in filings against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, as well as in indictments of Russian nationals accused earlier this month of hacking into Democratic Party organizations and election infrastructure. Conspiracy charges are significant because they’re building blocks: Once prosecutors allege a conspiracy, they can add more individuals later.
Donald Trump and his circle have long focused on a different buzzword, saying that there was no collusion with Russians, and subsequently that if there was collusion, Trump wasn’t aware of it. Now comes Trump attorney-cum-spokesman Rudy Giuliani. ”I don’t even know if that’s a crime, colluding about Russians,” Giuliani told CNN this week. Trump echoed that in a tweet: “Collusion is not a crime.”
That is at once technically correct and, according to former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah, beside the point.
“To say there’s no crime of collusion means nothing,” said Rocah. “That label isn’t in the criminal statutes. But that doesn’t matter because the conduct that underlies collusion can be, under certain circumstances, conspiracy to defraud the U.S.”
The statute — Title 18 U.S. Code 371 — makes it a crime for two or more people to “conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.” The maximum penalty is five years.
It’s among a list of similar charges that Mueller’s prosecutors have brought in their investigation, including conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to obstruct justice, which can lead to longer sentences.
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