News & Politics

Robert Mueller Contradicts His Own Report On Collusion and Conspiracy

Former special counsel Robert Mueller is sworn in to testify before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, July 24, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

To say Robert Mueller is doing a bad job during Wednesday’s hearing so far would be an understatement. In what should have been a pretty quick and unremarkable exchange, Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA) asked former special counsel Robert Mueller whether collusion and conspiracy were treated as “synonymous” by him and his team. What happened next severely damaged Mueller’s credibility.

Here’s the full text of the relevant section of the Mueller report:

1. Potential Coordination: Conspiracy and Collusion

As an initial matter, this Office evaluated potentially criminal conduct that involved the collective action of multiple individuals not under the rubric of “collusion,” but through the lens of conspiracy law. In so doing, the Office recognized that the word “collud[e]” appears in the Acting Attorney General’s August 2, 2017 memorandum; it has frequently been invoked in public reporting; and it is sometimes referenced in antitrust law, see, e.g., Brooke Group v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 509 U.S. 209, 227 (1993). But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the U.S. Code; nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law. To the contrary, even as defined in legal dictionaries, collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy as that crime is set forth in the general federal conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371. See Black’s Law Dictionary 321 (10th ed. 2014) (collusion is “[a]n agreement to defraud another or to do or obtain something forbidden by law”); 1 Alexander Burrill, A Law Dictionary and Glossary 311 (1871) (“An agreement between two or more persons to defraud another by the forms of law, or to employ such forms as means of accomplishing some unlawful object.”); 1 Bouvier’s Law Dictionary 352 (1897) (“An agreement between two or more persons to defraud a person of his rights by the forms of law, or to obtain an object forbidden by law.”).

So, during his testimony, Mueller attempted to give the impression that his team did not investigate “collusion,” only “conspiracy.” Yet the Mueller report states in plain English that they were treated as synonymous.