The word most often used regarding possible cooperation between members of the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia is collusion. But as a former Watergate prosecutor explained Saturday, the actual crime that may have been committed is conspiracy.
Nick Ackerman said on MSNBC that Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to be preparing a case for conspiracy against Trump himself, and he explained his reasoning:
“I think the big enchilada here is the conspiracy to break into the Democratic National Committee in violation of the federal computer crime law and to use those emails to help Donald Trump get elected.”
Ackerman added that Trump has obstructed justice in an attempt to hide the larger conspiracy he’s a part of:
“All of that is motive as to why Donald Trump and others were endeavoring to obstruct the investigation, and why Donald Trump told [former FBI Director] James Comey to let the investigation on [former national security adviser Michael] Flynn go. All of this is going to come together in 2018.”
Collusion isn’t actually a federal crime, except in antitrust cases. But conspiracy is, and can even be prosecuted under federal RICO statutes (The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act). Those same RICO statues have been used in the past to prosecute members of organized crime in the United States and members of drug cartels.
Conspiracy against the United States was one of several charges filed against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates when the two were indicted in late October. The two were also charged with money laundering and lying to federal investigators.
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