I’ll make this short. President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani are now trying to claim that “collusion is not a crime.” Several months ago, I wrote a New York Times Op-ed about the misuse of the term “collusion,” and earlier this summer I testified before Congress and very purposefully never once used the word “collusion” in my written testimony which outlined possible crimes for working with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. I stuck instead to the terms one finds in the U.S. federal code such as conspiracy and federal campaign finance law violations.
That said, the acts we would ordinarily associate with collusion could easily amount to a crime. We could have a detailed discussion of which acts and which crimes exactly. But here I want to just make one point. Any discussion in this space should include an understanding that the U.S. Justice Department has set out explicitly that acts of collusion can amount to a federal crime, and has done so specifically with respect to the jurisdiction of special counsel, Robert Mueller.
An Aug. 2, 2017 Justice Department memorandum—signed by Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and titled “The Scope of Investigation and Definition of Authority”—details the individuals and activities that fall within the Order appointing the special counsel.
The August 2017 memorandum states:
The following allegations were within the scope of the Investigation at the time of your appointment and are within the scope of the Order:
Allegations that Paul 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.