In addition to his frequently repeated assertion that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump has also followed the lead of his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, claiming that even if Russian collusion did exist, “collusion is not a crime,” as the Washington Post reported.
In fact, Trump said exactly that on his Twitter account in July, stating “Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!”
But if Trump and Giuliani were planning to forestall the investigation into Russian collusion led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller by arguing that “collusion is not a crime,” a federal judge appointed to the Washington, D.C., district court last year by Trump himself handed the president a major defeat last week, as Law & Crime reported.
Ruling in a case brought by Mueller against the Russian company Concord Management and Consulting, which Mueller accuses in an indictment of bankrolling and organizing a team of Russian online “trolls” who used social media disinformation and propaganda to sway the 2016 election toward Trump, Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled that merely collaborating with a foreign entity in a “conspiracy to defraud the United States” violates federal law — even if none of the acts by either party are themselves crimes, as reported by legal expert Randal Eliason, writing on the legal blog Sidebars.
Concord Management, a company owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a 56-year-old Russian oligarch known as “Putin’s chef,” asked Friedrich to rule on the constitutional legitimacy of Mueller’s appointment.
But Friedrich joined three other federal judges who previously ruled that nothing in the U.S. Constitution prohibits the hiring of a special counsel to run investigations of government wrongdoing, Politico reported. Prigozhin’s firm then argued that nothing that he is accused of is, in itself, illegal. Therefore, a conspiracy charge would be invalid.
But Friederich also rejected that argument, ruling that an agreement to perform legal actions can itself be a criminal conspiracy, if the intent of the agreement is to defraud a U.S. government agency, Law & Crime reported.
In July, Giuliani first introduced the “collusion is not a crime” defense, in response to inquiries about a June, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower between Donald Trump, Jr., Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, and a group of Kremlin-connected Russians. The elder Trump himself has acknowledged that the meeting’s purpose was “to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics,” as Inquisitr reported.
“I have been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime,” Giuliani said in an interview, quoted by CNBC. “Collusion is not a crime.”