Mueller Investigation did not establish criminal conspiracy between Trump campaign and Russia on election interference


The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) finally released the long-awaited redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report regarding Russia’s illegal interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In his 448-page report, Mueller said his team found that “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. Russia interfered in the election by carrying out two operations:

  1. A social media campaign favoring then candidate Donald Trump and disparaging his opponent Hillary Clinton.
  2. A computer-intrusion by a Russian intelligence service against entities, employees and volunteers working on Clinton campaign.

Additionally, the Special Counsel’s team found multiple links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. However, they “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

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In his report, Mueller explained that his team “applied the conspiracy law, not the concept of collusion” in evaluating whether the collective action of individuals constituted a crime.

Mueller investigation focused on criminal conspiracy not collusion

The Special Counsel clarified that they did not address the question whether there is “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia. According to him, although the term has been frequently used in public reporting about the investigation, it is not accurate enough to fall within the scope of a criminal investigation.

“Collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law.  For those reasons, the Office’s focus in analyzing questions of joint criminal liability was on conspiracy as defined in federal law.”

Additionally, Mueller made it clear that his team used the term coordination in their report.

“Like collusion, coordination does not have a settled definition in federal criminal law. We understood coordination to require an agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump campaign and the Russian government on election interference. That requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other’s actions or interests. We applied the term coordination in that sense when stating in the report that the investigation did not establish that the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government…,” explained Mueller.

In his report, Mueller found evidences that members of the Trump campaign had contacts with the Russian government. For example, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with Konstantin Kilimnik, his long-time business associate, who has connection to Russian intelligence on August 2, 2016.

Manafort and Kilimnik discussed the status of the Trump campaign and a strategy for winning Democratic votes in Midwestern states. Prior to their meeting, Manafort allowed sharing internal polling data with Kilimnik, according to Mueller.

However, the Special Counsel did not find sufficient evidence to prove that the Trump campaign was directly involved with Russia’s illegal election interference activities such as hacking the email accounts the members of the Clinton campaign.

In other words, the evidences were not enough to prove that the Trump campaign committed criminal conspiracy.