Back in October, when former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates, were indicted, one of the charges that may have gotten overlooked is one known as conspiracy against the United States. What exactly does that mean? Well, let’s refer to the law itself, as per the U.S. Code:
§ 371. Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud
“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.”
Would such a charge also apply to Donald Trump? Law professor Page Pate says it most certainly would, and that recent actions by Special Counsel Robert Mueller suggest this is the first charge Trump will be indicted for:
If Mueller believes the Trump Campaign had knowledge of Russia's hacking efforts, he may pursue conspiracy charges relating to the hacking. And this would be how it starts… Mueller Adds Veteran DOJ Cybercrime Prosecutor To Team https://t.co/zAnM9HYtoV
— Page Pate (@pagepate) January 12, 2018
The veteran Pate refers to is Ryan K. Dickey, who has served in the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and is most well-known for being on the team that successfully prosecuted Romanian hacker Marcel Lazar, aka Guccifer.
With Dickey now on board, it seems Mueller will be focusing in on the digital portion of the Trump campaign and the president’s connection to it. Keep in mind that during the campaign, none other than Jared Kushner was head of the digital portion of the 2016 race for his father-in-law. That means Mueller will be seeking conspiracy charges against both Kushner and Trump for their possible coordination with Russian hackers who spread disinformation on social media and also hacked into a computer server belonging to the Democratic National Committee.
Note that the punishment for conspiracy against the U.S. is five years, but there’s also a stipulation in the law that says if the conspiracy is in conjunction with other felonies, the penalty can be greatly increased. Manafort and Gates were also charged with money laundering, and it has long been believed that Trump has washed dirty money via real-estate deals.
Another thing to know about a conspiracy charge: If you even knew a crime was being committed and failed to tell authorities, you’re still guilty. So if Trump thinks his hands are clean, he’s wrong, because he never told the FBI he suspected something was amiss inside his campaign.
When the indictments are unsealed, Donald J. Trump will be charged with conspiracy and many other crimes. No wonder he’s afraid to sit down for a talk with Mueller.
h/t Law & Crime