I'm sometimes shocked at how many people merely repeat the trite talking points from President Trump's Twitter feed when discussing the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into possible Russian interference. One would think that patriotic Americans would set aside partisanship long enough to determine whether or not a foreign enemy managed to exert influence over the candidate who now sits in the Oval Office.
"Collusion is not a crime!", they proudly declare. Yet, the word "collusion" doesn't even appear in the Special Counsel appointment letter signed by the DOJ's Acting Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein. It's true. "Collusion" in and of itself is not a crime. To collude is to come to a secret understanding. If the presidents of the United States and Russia, or their representatives, were to collude over color coordinating their neckties for the next foreign summit, it would not be illegal.
However, if the two leaders or their representatives were to collude over an exchange of economic sanctions relief in exchange for a positive deal for their privately owned businesses, then that collusion would constitute a crime.
Has there been collusion between Team Trump and Russians? Yes. Without any question. Such has been thoroughly established already in courts of law. Trump and his supporters like to use the tactic of pinning this "witch hunt" on one person: Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But that ignores the fact that multiple grand juries, consisting of scores of average Americans from all backgrounds and perspectives, have (as of this date) issued 36 indictments in the investigation. And, 7 Trump associates have been found guilty of various crimes.
Trump supporters wish to blame Mueller for all of this, yet it was not Mueller, but New York federal prosecutors from Trump's own DOJ that have stated in court that the evidence shows that Trump is guilty of two felony crimes.
But let's stay focused on Mueller and his investigation. Has he gone beyond his mandate as Trump repeatedly claims? Rather than speculate, let's read the official mandate that was given to Mueller at the time of his appointment. He was tasked with the job of finding:
"any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a)."
"If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters."
The mandate does not say that Mueller is restricted to only looking for evidence that Donald Trump personally colluded with Vladimir Putin or the Russian government. The mandate does not say that Mueller is supposed to look only for evidence that the 2016 presidential election was "rigged".
The mandate instructs the Special Counsel to look for ANY LINKS or COORDINATION between ANY INDIVIDUALS from the Trump campaign or OTHER CRIMES that are discovered in the process of investigating potential Russian interference. As it is possible, even likely, that such meddling could have been carried out through various intermediaries, Mueller is given wide berth to conduct the probe to ensure that the mandate of a "full and thorough investigation" is achieved.
As patriotic Americans, we owe it to one another to allow this investigation to run its course, to set aside political party loyalties momentarily, and to give open-minded consideration to the facts and evidence that result from this investigation.