Federal laws are something with which attorneys are familiar. Section 18 U.S.C. 371 provides that:
“If two or more persons 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, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
This law specifically makes it a crime to conspire to commit an offense against the United States. The word “conspiracy” is defined as a “a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful, such as “a conspiracy to destroy the government.”
In June, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said that individuals linked to the Kremlin attempted to infiltrate election-related computer systems in more than twenty states. Authorities do not believe that Russian hackers tampered with the vote count, but said they were likely scanning the systems for weaknesses. Mueller has a mandate to examine any links or coordination between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government, as well as any matters that may arise from the investigation itself, including any efforts to obstruct it.
In February 2018, federal prosecutors led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged several Russian entities with crimes associated with an effort to interfere in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 election. The central question is whether members of the Trump team conspired with Russians to break a criminal statute or whether they broke the law themselves. For instance, investigators will ask whether any member of the Trump campaign conspired with Russian agents to hack into Democratic National Committee (DNC) email accounts, which would be a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Section 18 USC 1030 is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that expressly makes it a crime to use a computer to interfere wtih an election.
2. Under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 if a foreign national spends money to influence a federal election it can be a crime. “And if a U.S. citizen coordinates, conspires or assists in that spending, then it could be a crime.”
In a 2011 U.S. District Court case, a federal court expressly ruled that based on the 2002 law foreign nationals are barred “from making expenditures to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a political candidate.”
Another election law specialist, John Coates at Harvard University Law School, said if Russians aimed to shape the outcome of the presidential election, that would meet the definition of an expenditure. Under that statute, it is a federal crime to conspire with anyone, including a foreign government, to ‘deprive another of the intangible right of honest services,’ ” Coates said. “That would include fixing a fraudulent election, in my view, within the plain meaning of the statute.”
3. Josh Douglas at the University of Kentucky Law School explained that collusion in a federal election with a foreign entity could violate criminal laws. “Collusion in a federal election with a foreign entity could potentially fall under other crimes, such as against public corruption,” Douglas said.
4. “There’s also a general anti-coercion federal election law.”
In sum, legal experts mentioned four criminal laws that might have been broken. The key is not whether those statutes use the word collusion, but whether the activities of the Russians and Trump associates went beyond permissible acts. The word “collusion” and “conspiracy” are synonyms. To say that “collusion” is not a crime is a testament to the ignorance of Giulilani.
A “conspiracy” by any other name stinks just as badly!