McCONNELL SAYS “CASE CLOSED”; MUELLER DISAGREES

[This post first appeared on May 13, 2019 at Dan Rather’s News & Guts]

From the Senate floor on May 7, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told his colleagues to pack up their Trump-Russia investigation bags and go home: “The special counsel’s finding is clear: case closed.”

Robert Mueller disagrees. For starters, he didn’t exonerate Trump. But he concluded that, under Justice Department policy, indicting Trump wasn’t an option either. Rather, Mueller deferred to Congress in dealing with the misconduct of a sitting president — and examples of such misconduct pervade the report.

Mueller also identified five obstacles that keep the case against Trump open because they hindered the investigation. Those obstacles may have prevented the development of criminal cases beyond the 37 Trump-Russia players he charged. In Mueller’s own words, here they are:

#1: Some witnesses, including Trump, refused to talk

“Some individuals invoked their Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination….” (Vol. I, p. 10)

“We also sought a voluntary interview with the President. After more than a year of discussion, the President declined to be interviewed.” (Vol. II, p. 13)

“[Donald] Trump Jr.…declined to be voluntarily interviewed by the Office….” (Vol. I, p. 117)

#2: Some evidence was beyond Mueller’s reach:

“[T]he Office [of Special Counsel] faced practical limits on its ability to access relevant evidence as well — numerous witnesses and subjects lived abroad, and documents were held outside the United States.” (Vol. I, p. 10)

#3: Some witnesses lied to investigators:

“[T]he investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference. The Office charged some of those lies as violations of the federal false-statements statute.” (Vol. I, p. 9; emphasis supplied)

“Even when individuals testified or agreed to be interviewed, they sometimes provided information that was false or incomplete….” (Vol. I. p. 10; emphasis supplied)

#4: Some witnesses destroyed evidence:

“Further, the Office learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated — including some associated with the Trump Campaign — deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records. In such cases, the Office was not able to corroborate witness statements through comparison to contemporaneous communications or fully question witnesses about statements that appeared inconsistent with other known facts.” (Vol. I, p. 10; emphasis supplied)

#5: Some witnesses obstructed justice and got away with it:

Mueller applied a criminal standard —“proof beyond a reasonable doubt” — in deciding not to charge members of the Trump campaign with conspiracy or obstruction. But along the way, many of them frustrated his search for the truth:

“[A]lthough the evidence of contacts between Campaign officials and Russia-affiliated individuals may not have been sufficient to establish or sustain criminal charges, several US persons connected to the Campaign made false statements about those contacts and took other steps to obstruct the Office’s investigation and those of Congress.” (Vol. I, p. 180; emphasis supplied)

Why Lie and Obstruct? Mueller Suggested Answers

“As described in Volume I, the evidence uncovered in the investigation did notestablishthat the President or those close to him were involved in the charged Russian computer-hacking or active-measure conspiracies, or that the President otherwise had an unlawful relationship with any Russian official. But the evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns.” (Vol. II, p. 76; emphasis supplied)

The Counterintelligence Probe

The released report does not include the results of Mueller’s counterintelligence probe, which involves the nation’s security. This could include details of Trump’s financial dealings, as well as information about Putin’s potential leverage over Trump and his associates. As Mueller developed that evidence, it went to the FBI.

But that’s not all: “[T]he FBI also embedded personnel at the Office who did not work on the Special Counsel’s investigation, but whose purpose was to review the results of the investigation and to send — in writing — summaries of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information to FBIHQ and FBI Field Offices. Those communications and other correspondence between the Office and the FBI contain information derived from the investigation, not all of which is contained in this Volume.” (Vol. I, p. 13)

One More Thing

Mueller’s report also lists 12 redacted criminal matters that he referred to other federal prosecutors. Congress and the public don’t know anything about their subject matter or status.

The special counsel’s role in the investigation may be concluding, but the Trump-Russia case isn’t closed. Congress and the FBI have the task of completing the job that Mueller began. As Yogi Berra said: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

This is the fifth in a series of posts by Steven J. Harper, creator and curator of the Trump-Russia Timeline,  on the Mueller Report. The first four installments are available here, here, here, and here.

TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATE THROUGH MAY 13, 2019

Trump wants the story to disappear. Even with an attorney general who acts as if he is Trump’s personal defense attorney, it won’t. There are too many holes in his ship of state. FBI Director Christopher Wray accounts for the latest ones.

Wray has been off-message for a while. He has warned repeatedly about Russian interference in US elections. He denied the Trump-Barr assertion that the FBI had “spied” on the 2016 Trump campaign. He rejected the notion that special counsel Robert Mueller was engaged in a “Witch Hunt” or participating in a “Russian Hoax.” And he now has at his disposal the results of Mueller’s counterintelligence probe — which Congress and the public haven’t seen. To Trump, all of that makes him dangerous.

Trump’s next move? It always starts with a tweet. Wray got his first one on May 12:

So how do you suppose this one ends? No differently from his predecessors James Comey and Andrew McCabe, I suspect.

Here’s the latest update to the Trump-Russia Timeline at Dan Rather’s News & Guts and at Just Security.

1985-1986: Trump Loses Millions 

1991: Trump Is Deep in Debt (revision of previous entry)

MID-APRIL 2019: Senate Intelligence Committee Subpoenas Don Jr.

APR. 19, 2019: Trump Asks McGahn to Deny Obstruction

APR. 19, 2019: Trump Twitter Rampage Continues as He Attacks McGahn’s ‘Notes’, Threatens to ‘Bring Justice to Some Very Sick and Dangerous People Who Have Committed Serious Crimes, Perhaps Even Spying or Treason’ (revision of previous entry)

MAY 6, 2019: Cohen Reports to Prison

MAY 6, 2019: Trump Late on Magnitsky Act Sanctions

MAY 6, 2019: Former Federal Prosecutors: If Trump Weren’t The President, He Would Have Been Charged With Obstruction of Justice

MAY 7, 2019: White House Instructs McGahn Not to Comply With Congressional Subpoena

MAY 7, 2019: Wray Tells Congress: No Evidence of Spying on Trump Campaign

MAY 7, 2019: McConnell: Trump-Russia ‘Case Closed’, Defends Barr

MAY 8, 2019: Trump Tweets: McConnell Says ‘Case Closed’; Attacks Democrats and Defends Barr; FBI ‘Tried to Sabotage’ Trump Campaign’; ‘Fake Dossier’; ‘TREASONOUS HOAX’

MAY 8, 2019: House Judiciary Committee Holds Barr in Contempt; House Intelligence Committee Subpoenas Unredacted Mueller Report

MAY 7-10, 2019: US Ambassador to Ukraine Recalled; Giuliani Seeks Ukrainian Help for Trump’s 2020 Election, Then Abandons Trip

MAY 9, 2019: Trump Attacks Comey

MAY 11, 2019: Trump Retweets Defend Barr, Attack Democrats, GOP Sen. Burr for Approving Don Jr. Subpoena, Clinton, Ohr, Comey; Tweets ‘No Collusion, No Obstruction, No Crime’, Attacks McGahn

CAN RUSSIAN HACKERS STEAL VOTES? DOES TRUMP EVEN CARE?

[This post first appeared on May 4, 2019 at Dan Rather’s News & Guts]

This is the fourth in a series of posts by Steven J. Harper, creator and curator of the Trump-Russia Timeline, on the Mueller Report. The first three installments are available here, here, and here.

It’s just one sentence in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, but it packs a powerful punch. In 2016, Russian intelligence penetrated a Florida voting system: “We understand the FBI believes that this operation enabled the GRU to gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government.” (Vol. I, p. 51) Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) then followed up with the revelation that Russian hackers were “in a position” to change voter roll data in his state.

On Apr. 26, 2019, FBI Director Christopher Wray sounded a similar alarm. “We recognize that our adversaries are going to keep adapting and upping their game,” he said. “So we are very much viewing 2018 as just kind of a dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020.”

Hardly anyone noticed. On Saturday, Apr. 27, 2019, The New York Times reported both stories on page A18. The Washington Post covered the Florida system penetration; News & Guts reported Wray’s warningThe Wall Street Journal didn’t mention either story.

The President’s Job: Defending “Against Enemies Foreign and Domestic”

The Trump-Russia Timeline reveals a pattern of Russian attacks on state voting systems far more ominous than hacking into candidates’ computers and promoting divisive social media campaigns. Trump’s refusal to shine a spotlight on the attacks — or to criticize Putin at all — remains one of the most dangerous aspects of the Trump-Russia story.

NOV. 8, 2016: On Election Day, voters in many states experience difficulties at the polls. At a North Carolina polling station, for example, poll workers tell dozens of would-be voters that they are ineligible to vote and turn them away, even though some have current registration cards.

It turns out that Russian hackers had targeted election systems in at least 21 states and successfully penetrated many of them, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin. Among the victims is VR Systems, an outside vendor that operated voting systems in North Carolina and seven other states. The GRU had also gained access to the network of at least one Florida county government and put Russia “in a position” to change voter roll data there.

FEB. 27, 2018: Adm. Mike Rogers, Trump’s then-director of the National Security Agency and chief of the US Cyber Command, tells the Senate Armed Service Committee that Trump hasn’t granted him the authority to disrupt Russian election hacking operations where they originate.

MAR. 1, 2018: Trump’s nominee to replace Rogers testifies at his confirmation hearing that Russia, China, and other countries do not expect a significant US response to their cyber attacks.

MAR. 6, 2018: Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats tells the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Trump administration lacks a “coherent strategy” for dealing with Russian election interference.

JUL. 13, 2018: Coats says that the persistent danger of Russian cyberattacks is akin to the warnings of stepped-up terror threats ahead of the Sept. 11 attacks: “The warning lights are blinking red again… These actions are persistent, they are pervasive and they are meant to undermine America’s democracy.”

AUG. 2, 2018: Coats and Wray appear together at the White House daily press briefing and discuss efforts to defend against Russia’s ongoing attacks on American elections. “Russia attempted to interfere with the last election,” Wray says, “and continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day.”

AUG. 8, 2018: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who is seeking re-election in November, says that Russians have already successfully attacked some of Florida’s voter registration systems. After the election, a recount shows that Nelson loses the race by 10,000 votes out of more than 8 million cast (or .125%).

JAN. 29-30, 2019: The US intelligence community’s annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment” to Congress states, “Russia in 2016 and unidentified actors as recently as 2018 have already conducted cyber activity that has targeted US election infrastructure….”

Trump’s Motivated Reasoning

MAY 3, 2019: Trump calls Putin and they speak for more than an hour. They discuss Mueller’s report, and Trump later tweets that they talked about the “Russian Hoax.” Asked later if he told Putin not to interfere in the 2020 election, Trump says, “We didn’t discuss that.”

Trump could confront Putin and provide full-throated support for Wray, Coats, and others seeking to preserve democracy. But out of 136 million votes cast in 2016, he won by a combined total of 77,000 votes (0.6%) in three states that tipped the Electoral College victory to him. At least two — Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — have subsequently been confirmed as targets of Russian voter election system attacks. Perhaps that explains Trump’s behavior.

On Apr. 24, Dan Rather tweeted:

The story of whatever is happening to votes in Florida — and perhaps elsewhere — might qualify.

 

TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATE THROUGH APR. 29, 2019

As William Barr dominates the Trump-Russia headlines, other important things are happening. Here are the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline:

AUG. 2, 2016: Kilimnik Meets with Manafort, Discusses Ukraine Plan (revision of previous entry)

NOV. 8, 2016: Election Day Troubles (revision of previous entry)

AUG. 8, 2018: Russians Have Hacked Florida’s Voter Registration Systems, Says Sen. Bill Nelson; FBI Believes Russia Penetrated a Florida Voter Network (revision of previous entry)

SEPT. 23, 2018: Rosenstein Assures Trump: ‘I Can Land the Plane”

APR. 7, 2019: Nielsen Resigns

APR. 22, 2019: Trump Attacks Continue on Obama, Mueller Report Witnesses, ‘PRESIDENTIAL HARRASSMENT’

APR. 23, 2019: Trump Remains on the Offensive

APR. 23-24, 2019: Trump Vows to Resist Congressional Subpoenas for All Witnesses

APR. 24, 2019: Putin Continues Moves Against Ukraine

APR. 24, 2019: Trump Twitter Frenzy Continues: Obama Administration Spying, “I DID NOTHING WRONG’, ‘No Collusion, No Obstruction’, ‘Rigged System – WE WILL DRAIN THE SWAMP’

APR. 25, 2019: Trump Attacks McGahn, Mueller, ‘No Collusion, No Obstruction,’ Strzok, Democrats, McCabe, Baker, Page, Comey, ‘Collusion Delusion’

APR. 25-26, 2019: Rosenstein Praises Trump, Criticizes Obama and Comey; The Washington Post Publishes Unflattering Story About Him 

APR. 26, 2019: Trump: ‘I Never Told McGahn to Fire Mueller’

APR. 26, 2019: Trump Tweets: ‘NO C OR O!’

APR. 26, 2019: Wray Warns of Russian Election Interference in 2020

APR. 26, 2019: Butina Sentenced

NO OBSTRUCTION? NO WAY

[This post first appeared on May 1, 2019 at Dan Rather’s News & Guts]

This is the third in a series of posts by Steven J. Harper, creator and curator of the Trump-Russia Timeline, on the Mueller Report. The first two installments are available here and here.

Start with these undisputed facts: A foreign adversary launched a sophisticated attack aimed at helping Donald Trump win the presidency. His campaign welcomed the help and he won. His chosen deputy attorney general then appointed a special counsel to investigate the attack. Repeatedly and often successfully, Trump tried to undermine that investigation.

That’s not a narrative of innocence. It’s the narrative of obstruction that seeks to hinder proof of potential underlying crimes. So not only is Trump’s claim of “no obstruction” false, but his previous actions also further undermine ongoing claims of “no collusion” and “total exoneration.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s evidence would have put anyone other than a sitting president in handcuffs. Mueller acknowledges the possibility that after Trump leaves office, it still might.

The Facts

The obstruction volume of Mueller’s report opens with “The Campaign’s response to reports about Russian support for Trump,” which summarizes the Trump team’s repeated lies about its interactions with Russia. Ten categories of evidence then document Trump’s efforts to interfere with investigations into those contacts.

“Conduct involving FBI Director Comey and Michael Flynn”: The FBI caught Trump’s national security adviser lying about his Russia contacts and he resigned. Trump then pressured Comey to “let Flynn go.”

“The President’s reaction to the Russia investigation”: Trump pressured Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “unrecuse” himself from the investigation. He asked the directors of national intelligence and the CIA to help dispel suggestions that Trump had connections to Russian election interference. And he pushed Comey to “lift the cloud” of the investigation by publicly exonerating Trump.

“The President’s termination of Comey”: Trump lied to the public about his reasons for firing Comey, but then privately told Russians in the Oval Office that he “faced great pressure because of Russia” (which Comey’s firing had “taken off”). Eventually, he admitted on national television that his motivation was “this thing with Trump and Russia.”

“The appointment of a Special Counsel and the efforts to remove him”When Sessions told Trump about Mueller’s appointment, “the President slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.’” He blamed Sessions for not protecting him, began a relentless public and private campaign to undermine the investigation, and asked White House counsel Don McGahn to have Mueller removed.

“Efforts to curtail the special counsel’s investigation”: Trump told former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to tell Sessions that he should limit Mueller’s probe to investigating future elections. Then Trump told chief of staff Reince Priebus to obtain Sessions’ resignation.

“Efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence”: Trump directed aides not to publicly disclose emails about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between senior campaign officials and Russians. The emails promised derogatory information on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” When the press broke the story in early July 2017, Trump dictated Donald Trump Jr.’s misleading response about the meeting’s purpose. Trump’s personal lawyer denied that Trump played any role in drafting the statement.

“Further efforts to have the Attorney General take control of the investigation”: Repeatedly, Trump asked Sessions to “unrecuse” himself from the Russia investigation and to “take a look” at investigating Clinton.

“Efforts to have McGahn deny that the President had ordered him to have the Special Counsel removed”: Following accurate news reports that Trump had told McGahn to have Mueller removed, Trump told McGahn to deny the story.

“Conduct towards Flynn, Manafort and [Redacted]“: Following Flynn’s resignation, the FBI continued to investigate his activities, and Trump asked advisers to encourage Flynn to “stay strong.” After Flynn began cooperating with investigators and withdrew from a joint defense agreement with Trump, Trump’s lawyer pressed for information anyway. Flynn’s lawyers properly refused. In response, Trump’s lawyer said he would make sure Trump knew Flynn’s actions reflected “hostility” toward Trump. Separately, while Manafort’s jury was deliberating, Trump publicly said Manafort was being treated unfairly, praised him, and dangled the prospect of a pardon. (Mueller’s discussion of Trump’s conduct toward a third person — likely Roger Stone— is redacted because it involves an ongoing Justice Department matter.)

“Conduct involving Michael Cohen”: When Cohen lied to Congress about Trump’s involvement in Trump Tower Moscow negotiations during the 2016 campaign, Trump praised him. But when Cohen began cooperating with the government, Trump publicly called him a “rat” and suggested that Cohen’s family members had committed crimes.

So why isn’t Trump awaiting trial? The answer is that Mueller didn’t think indicting Trump was an option.

No “Traditional Prosecutorial Judgment”

For reasons that have nothing to do with Trump’s false self-proclamation of exoneration, Mueller did not allow himself even to consider whether Trump had committed a crime:

“[W]e determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes.” (emphasis supplied)

Instead, Mueller deferred to the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) finding that a sitting president is not subject to indictment. But as Mueller explains, “The OLC opinion also recognizes that a President does not have immunity after he leaves office.” So Trump is not out of the prosecutorial woods forever.

“No Person Is Above the Law”

Mueller conducted “a thorough factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available.” If that evidence had cleared Trump, Mueller ‘s team would have said so. But it didn’t:

“[I]f 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, however, 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.”

Ultimately, Mueller’s report is really a referral to Congress for further action based on its role in “addressing presidential misconduct”:

 “[W]e concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.”

“The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”

But regardless of what House Democrats do next, the Trump/GOP strategy is set: Falsely claim “no collusion,” “no obstruction,” and “exoneration” — and attack anyone who says otherwise. Trump survives on lies, intimidation, and the culture they create. And that may be the most important lesson of Mueller’s investigation.

NO COLLUSION? THEY’RE WRONG

[This post first appeared on Apr. 24, 2019 at Dan Rather’s News & Guts]

This is the second in a series of posts by Steven J. Harper, creator and curator of the Trump-Russia Timeline, on the Mueller Report.

Trump and his defenders claim that special counsel Robert Mueller found “No Collusion.” They’re wrong.

The executive summary of Mueller’s report includes a section highlighting evidence of the Trump campaign’s interactions with the Russians, who wanted to help him win the election. Among the items:

Deal for Trump Tower Moscow: 2015 …The Trump Organization pursued the project through at least June 2016….”

“Dirt” on Clinton from Russia: Spring 2016. Campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos made early contact with Joseph Mifsud, [who] told Papadopoulos that the Russian government had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails.”

June 9, 2016 Trump Tower Meeting Offers Russian Support: Summer 2016. …[A] Russian lawyer met with senior Trump Campaign officials Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort to deliver what the email proposing the meeting had described as ‘official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary.’ The materials were offered to Trump Jr. as ‘part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.’”

WikiLeaks and US Polling Data for Russia: “On July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks posted thousands of internal DNC documents revealing information about the Clinton Campaign. Within days, there was public reporting that US intelligence agencies had ‘high confidence’ that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the DNC.”

Ukraine “Peace Plan”: “[O]n August 2, 2016, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met in New York City with his long-time business associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI assesses to have ties to Russian intelligence.” Kilimnik delivered a peace plan for Ukraine that was a “backdoor” way for Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine. The two men also discussed Manafort’s strategy for winning Democratic votes in Midwestern states. Before and after their August meeting, Manafort shared polling data with Kilimnik.

Access Hollywood Tapes, WikiLeaks, and US Intelligence Community Warning on Russian Interference: Fall 2016. On October 7, 2016, the media released video of candidate Trump speaking in graphic terms about women years earlier, which was considered damaging to his candidacy. Less than an hour later, WikiLeaks made its second release: thousands of John Podesta’s emails that had been stolen by the GRU [Russian Intelligence] in late March 2016… That same day, October 7, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a joint public statement ‘that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.’ Those ‘thefts’ and the ‘disclosures’ of the hacked materials through online platforms such as WikiLeaks, the statement continued, ‘are intended to interfere with the US election process.’”

Putin’s Full-Court Press: Post-election 2016Immediately after the November 8 election, Russian government officials and prominent Russian businessmen began trying to make inroads into the new administration. The most senior levels of the Russian government encouraged these efforts. The Russian Embassy made contact hours after the election to congratulate the President-Elect and to arrange a call with President Putin. Several Russian businessmen picked up the effort from there.”

So why didn’t Mueller bring criminal charges against members of the Trump campaign?

How Much Evidence Is Enough?

Mueller’s explained his decision not to prosecute in the final phrase of this sentence:

“[W]hile the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges.” (emphasis supplied)

That wasn’t a proclamation of innocence. It was Mueller’s prosecutorial judgment that there was not enough admissible evidence to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” at trial. Justice Department guidelines required him to apply that standard.

But it also didn’t mean that the evidence was insufficient to remove a president who was unfit for office because, for example, his campaign, “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts” — which Mueller said he couldprove:

“Although the investigation establishedthat the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” (emphasis supplied)

Conspiracy v. Collusion

During his Apr. 18 press conference, Attorney General William Barr said repeatedly that Mueller had confirmed Trump’s “No Collusion” mantra. The truth is that Mueller expressly excluded collusion from his analysis:

“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.”

Mueller added that collusive behavior doesn’t necessarily satisfy the legal prerequisites for a criminal conspiracy, which “requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other’s actions or interests.” Declining to prosecute collusive behavior doesn’t equal a finding of “No Collusion.”

Spinning The “No Collusion” Bridge Too Far

At first, Trump liked Barr’s spin. But then Mueller’s actual report caught up with both of them. The truth won’t stop Trump from repeating the “No Collusion” lie. But his tweets now reveal that even he doesn’t believe it:

Trump’s last tweet is right in one respect: Regardless of the descriptive term, what Russia and the Trump campaign did during the 2016 election should never happen again.