Friday December 01, 2023

Collusion not a crime as first Russia probe trial begins: Trump

August 01, 2018

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump stepped up his onslaught on federal Special Counsel Robert Mueller´s probe into Russia and the 2016 US election on Tuesday, saying that his campaign did not collude with Moscow but that collusion is not a crime anyway.

Trump launched his new attack hours before his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was due to go on trial on tax and bank fraud charges in Virginia.As the first trial in the 14-month Russia probe, the case throws a fresh spotlight on an investigation that has dogged Trump´s presidency.

Mueller is investigating whether Trump campaign officials worked with Moscow to try to sway the 2016 US presidential election, something commonly referred to as collusion by the media and public officials. “Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn´t matter because there was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

While collusion is not a technical legal charge, Mueller is probing any coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, and could bring conspiracy charges if he finds that any campaign member worked with Russia to break US law.

Trump has denied any collusion for months. On Tuesday, he echoed his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who said in television interviews on Monday that collusion is not a crime. The strategy may be the latest in Trump´s efforts to strip legitimacy from the Mueller probe, which he has long denounced as a “witch hunt.

“Legal experts said that working with a foreign national with the intent of influencing a US election could violate multiple laws.A campaign finance law makes it a crime to solicit a “contribution or donation of money or other thing of value” from a foreign national in connection with an election, which could include opposition research. “Collusion is basically a partnership in crime, which is conspiracy,” said Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor and a law professor at George Washington University.