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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Criminality without Crime

Yesterday and today, there have been many articles and statements by people in the media as well as elected Democrats calling what the President's son did a criminal act.  One congressman called it perjury.  Another called it treason.  Some in the media have called it obstruction of justice.  All this is strange, since the proper legal description of what happened is that no crime of any sort was committed.

The media/Democrat complex has waited so long for anything that might show collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia that they are going berserk with the emails that Trump, Jr. released yesterday.  As a result they are not just using hyperbole, they are out and out lying about what the import of these emails really is.

Let's start with a basic fact:  it is not a crime by itself for a person in a political campaign to speak to a foreign agent.  If it were, many in the Hillary Clinton campaign would need to be indicted because that campaign colluded with the Ukrainian government to gather anti-Trump data.  The point here is that American political campaigns are free to gather information from any source.  There are limits on sources of money for campaigns, but it would be unconstitutional to limit the ability of campaigns to speak to people, no matter who they are.  That is not to say that a politician can speak with someone and agree to commit a crime like a senator selling his or her vote in exchange for cash.  Normal political discussions and activities, however, are not crimes.  I point this out because it means that even had Donald Trump, Jr. met with an actual Russian agent to discuss damaging information about Hillary Clinton, it would not be a crime.

Of course, Trump, Jr. did not meet with an actual Russian agent.  Nor was any information damaging to Hillary Clinton discussed.  All the emails indicate is that he went to the meeting with a Russian attorney in hopes of hearing that sort of information.  Clearly, that is not a crime of any sort.

Let's put this in the context of a serious crime.  Suppose you went to your neighbor's house and knocked on the door.  Suppose further that on the way over to the neighbor's house, you thought you would hit the neighbor over the head with a book you were carrying.  You were going to assault your neighbor.  When you get there, no one is home.  You don't see your neighbor.  You don't hit anyone.  No crime has been committed. 

When the act involved is not a crime by itself, like a person in a political campaign gathering dirt about the opposition, it is certainly not a crime if that act is thwarted.

So, there is no perjury.  That would require knowing false testimony under oath.  There is no testimony here of any sort.  It is not obstruction of justice.  That would require direct actions to prevent federal authorities from investigating possible criminal activity.  That just did not happen.  There is no treason.  It's ridiculous to even have to explain what treason is.  The claim is just pure stupidity.

The problem is not that the fools leveling these charges don't know what is required for the crimes about which they are screaming.  No, the problem is that they know full well what is required for these crimes to be committed.  The media and the Democrats know there is not crime here, but they level the charges anyway.  That is the problem. 

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