Almost every single time he’s asked about the ongoing Russia investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Donald Trump says the same thing:
Trump’s defenders have also claimed that collusion isn’t even a crime and isn’t listed in the U.S. Code, which specifies each and every criminal charge the Department of Justice can prosecute a person for.
Collusion, we now know, is just another way of saying “conspiracy,” which is a major crime, punishable by decades in prison.
But as it turns out, the man who oversees Mueller’s probe into the 2016 election — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — also uses the word collusion, and a recently released document given to Mueller by the Deputy AG makes it clearer than ever that members of Trump’s campaign did indeed collude/conspire with Russia.
In a classified memo Rosenstein sent to Mueller on August 2, 2017 which authorized Mueller to investigate former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, the Deputy AG wrote that Mueller’s team was to look into whether or not Manafort:
“Committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election for President of the United States, in violation of United States law.”
Keep in mind that one of the many charges Manafort was indicted for includes conspiracy against the United States. Clearly, conspiracy and collusion are the same thing, and a member of Trump’s 2016 team has been charged with exactly that.
So far, Manafort has been unwilling to cooperate with Mueller, but that seems likely to change in the days ahead. As CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin noted Tuesday evening:
“[Manafort] is in desperate legal trouble. Now that his right hand man, (Rick) Gates, has pleaded guilty and cooperate against him, I think his case is nearly indefensible.
“And I just think the walls are closing in on Manafort, where he’s really in an untenable legal position.”
Manafort is charged with collusion/conspiracy. If he turns on Trump and tells what he knows to avoid spending the rest of his life in federal prison, he could provide all the evidence Mueller needs to make Trump’s boasting of “no collusion” prove not only moot, but ironic as hell.