There Was Collusion

Editor, News-Register:

When President Trump campaigned on the slogan “Make America Great Again,” he and millions of our fellow citizens simply ignored the factual data that showed that our country was already great by any metric on which data was available. We didn’t really like a lot of the choices we were given, so many decided to take a chance on a president who had no experience in governing but whose role on the “reality” show he created and owned made him look like a strong and decisive leader. Now, most Americans realize that may well have made a huge mistake because of the president’s entanglements outside his office. But about a third refuse to acknowledge a problem.

President Trump proclaims loudly and often “No Collusion!” While speaking on behalf of Patrick Morrisey on Aug. 21, he asked several times “Where is the collusion?” The reference is to collusion with Russia.

Real collusion with Russia has been visible for over a year. “Collusion” is defined in law dictionaries as agreement between two or more parties to perpetrate some fraud with the intention of depriving people of something they are entitled to or obtaining something for themselves that is forbidden by law. Collusion might manifest itself as coordinating activities, offering mutual aid and support, encouraging someone to commit crime(s), helping each other perpetrate fraud, being willfully blind to some activity one has a duty to try to prevent, etc.

Collusion need not succeed in achieving its goal(s). Collusion need not be carried out in secret.

Vladimir Putin admitted in the televised Helsinki press conference that the Russian government wanted Mr. Trump to defeat Mrs. Clinton and tried to help him. We have all seen the email sent to Donald Trump Jr., stating that in order to help Mr. Trump Sr., win the election, a Russian government representative would give Trump negative information about Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump Jr., replied by writing, “If it’s what you say it is, I love it.” Then he arranged a meeting in Trump Tower to receive the information. But before the Russians were willing to provide whatever information they had, they demanded something Mr. Trump could not deliver — a promise that the U.S. government would repeal a law imposing certain sanctions on Russian businessmen. The meeting ended without either side getting what it wanted.

Though unsuccessful in achieving the intended goals, this meeting and the correspondence around it has the elements needed to define it as collusion. There were shared goals as well as goals that only one side wanted. Early in the campaign, the FBI warned the Trumps that Russians might try to inject themselves into the campaign and asked them to report any such contact. At least three high-ranking Trump campaign officials were apparently willfully blind to the potentially criminal nature of what was occurring and unwilling to do their civic duty to report the proffer and the meeting to the FBI. When the whole thing began to be exposed, the Trumps’ first response was to formulate and publish a false account of what occurred. The truth came out shortly thereafter.

We have seen other evidence of collusion between the Trumps/Trump campaign and Russians. In a nationally televised speech, candidate Trump exhorted “Russia” to try to find Clinton emails he claimed were missing. According to indictments filed against 13 Russian military officers, they began doing precisely that the morning after Mr. Trump’s ill-advised invitation. The Russians justifiably believed Mr. Trump had given his blessing to their actions in pursuit of the shared goal of defeating Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump later claimed he was just being “sarcastic.” But by then, the Russian military was already hacking into Democratic emails. And they did not stop.

Anyone who does not believe that “collusion” occurred is being willfully blind to evidence to the contrary. The special counsel’s investigation is to determine whether these and perhaps other acts of collusion contain the elements required to define them as crimes like criminal conspiracy, aiding and abetting criminal acts, etc. The investigation needs to determine whether Mr. Trump, others involved with the campaign, foreigners, or other groups committed crimes. More than a dozen individual Russians, several Russian organizations, and a British organization that worked for the Trump campaign have been indicted for crimes. Four U. S. citizens have already pled guilty to criminal actions they took to cover up collusion.

This is not a some pointless or partisan “witch hunt.” Real collusion actually occurred. Real crimes (e.g., hacking) have been committed by real Russians. Real people received and published stolen property (e.g., emails). Real people aided and abetted these real crimes — and possibly others — by encouraging or facilitating them, attempting to cover them up, or otherwise offering aid and comfort to the criminals. Several million Americans have chosen to be willfully blind to real evidence of real collusion and some other criminal activities for which real people have been indicted and pled guilty.

We all need to acknowledge that evidence-based, objective reality.

Grace Norton

Wheeling

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