How Mueller Could Have Convicted Trump

How Mueller Could Have Convicted Trump



on the air right now Paul Ryan Paul Ryan former Speaker know Paul Ryan vice president policy and litigation with common cause of the many things that have the risk of being lost by focusing on the theater of yesterday's hearing is one piece of that hearing one piece of that testimony with which regarded the attack the interference on American elections and it was really nice if this were not viewed primarily or merely through a lens of political power be really nice if this weren't seen through a lens of who would benefit and who would lose if in fact we protected the sanctity of our elections there is White House stonewalling there have been requests for election security bills to talk about that is with us right now Paul Ryan Paul s Ryan vice president common cause Paul thank you so much for joining us thanks for having me so what are some what we're important takeaways what are things that you think were missed or you want to make sure aren't missed by what much of America watched yesterday well one of the things that not a single member of the House bothered to ask special counsel Muller yesterday was were questions about the legal standard he applied when he was trying to determine whether or not the Trump campaign Donald Trump himself illegally coordinated political activity with Russians Robert Muller applied the wrong legal standard he applied a standard that he he said that there is no statutory definition of collusion so he looked to conspiracy law and they went on to say that there is no statutory definition of coordination so he made up a definition of coordination that required an agreement and that's in direct conflict with long-standing federal campaign finance law I have no idea why he did that and I was hoping we'd hear some questions about that yesterday no one mentioned it no member of Congress mentioned you have speculation that's such it that is such an incredibly important point that I was not dazzled by the the legal work by by their molar report in in somebody in their desire to actually get at what was going on if you were gonna make a guess as to motive why do you think was there was there particular piece of precedent that would suggest going the route that he went why do you think that why do you think that he applied the standard that he applied I have no hypothesis I have no guess I mean one of the way he phrased this section of the report and this is at the very beginning of volume one of his report the introduction where he talks about how collusion is not a legal term so he's looking at conspiracy and coordination and it is in fact true that there is no federal criminal statute there's no provision in the criminal code that deals with this term coordination or defines it but again there is a term in the federal campaign finance law the federal election campaign Act which can be enforced with criminal penalties that defines all this so I have no idea why he limited the scope of his investigation I mean and that what all this means at the end of the day is if you read through Volume one of the report everywhere you see Robert Muller and his team wrote we didn't find any evidence or strong evidence of illegal coordination between the Trump team and Russians what he really meant was we didn't find any strong evidence of an agreement between so so important what should this standard have been and I know that for faux this might seem a little weeds II this might seem a little detailed but we got some smart listeners but our folks care about stuff and pay attention and getting this level of detail I think it's really important so the so what you're saying the standard to define coordination and allowed to coordinate between certain between foreign governments and domestic domestic campaigns for purposes of winning an election and you're saying the standard they use is whether or not there was agreement whether or not Donald Trump sat in a room with Vladimir Putin's buddy and said hey I want to help elect you president and Donald Trump said yes I would like you to help me I'd like you to help me be like the president and if you do that I will give you the following things I'll put those in the republican party platform and they shake on it and there's a videotape of it and you show the videotape and said i got you what the standard have been so there's a couple important building blocks or foundational principles in campaign finance law number one is that if someone other than a candidate or a candidate campaign staff makes an expenditure as that term is defined in federal law its defined I mean money spent for the purpose of influencing a federal election if they make such an expenditure in coordination with a candidate its treated as a contribution to the candidate foundational principle number two is that foreign nationals are prohibited from making contributions to federal candidates in US elections and number three the statute the federal election campaign Act defines this term coordination as any expander any expenditure made in cooperation consultation with or at the requester suggestion of a candidate that's number four there's no mention in the federal coordination statute of an agreement requirement for agreement say you have three words again three words you said cooperation what were the other consultation in cooperation consultation with or at the request or suggestion and the requester suggested okay go ahead and then in 2002 in the passive provision in the federal mccain-feingold law the bipartisan campaign Reform Act of 2002 Congress included a provision it's section 214 ordered the Federal Election Commission to strengthen the FE C's coordination rules and explicitly prohibited the FEC from requiring an agreement as part of the coordination test under the FCC's regulations so all of this taken together makes it abundantly clear that agreement is not what special counsel muller should have been looking for when trying to determine whether or not the Trump team illegally about 30 seconds before the break I don't know if you're able to stick with us past the break I would love to follow up on this but let me at least quickly ask this question if it used a standard not using the word agreement but cooperation consultation or at the request for suggestion of what is the evidence you would point to suggests that there would have been that it would have cleared that standard and and justified either an indictment or at least a different recommendation at a minimum the man affording tricky privation in tunnel polling data too rough yeah molar used what he would argue is the wrong and I would agree is the wrong legal standard for coordination illegal coordination of campaign finance activities he used the standard of agreement when in fact what the statute calls for is cooperation consultation or at the request or suggestion of then ask the question well what turns on that why does it matter if used the standard agreement versus either cooperation consultation or at the request or suggestion of he said well at the very least the providing to Russian actors the voter information to be used to impact the elections feel free to continue that point Paul thank you so much for waiting so patiently um happy to have waited the one other thing I want to mention is that when the Federal Election Commission did strengthen its coordination rules in response to Congress saying hey FEC you got to strengthen your rule do not require an agreement a couple of the criteria that the FEC put into the rules that would determine or establish when coordination existed was that if the campaign itself had any material involvement in the spenders in this case Russia's decisions about the intended audience for the communication or the timing of the communication so at a minimum we know that Paul Manafort as well as Rick gates at the direction of Paul Manafort provided a bunch of internal Trump campaign polling data to some intermediaries ukrainian-russian that eventually we presume made its way to the Russians themselves who are responsible for this interference election err ferrets if the Russians relied on that information figure out who they were going to target what states they were going to run their social media campaigns and what segments of the populations or social media users Facebook users for examples should be seeing those ads then it's quite possible there was a legal coordination but we don't know because Robert Muller didn't look for that type of evidence once he concluded presumably that there was no agreement that Paul Manafort did not agree to anything by the rush or with the Russians on behalf of the Trump campaign he seemingly stopped looking so I want to use an analogy that may or may not be apt but I think about like antitrust law I think about like price-fixing okay so if I'm Delta Airlines and I call up the head American Airlines and I say okay if you set your if you raise the the price of your ticket to $1,200 we will also raise the price of our ticket $1,200 and we won't try to undercut you by charging $1100 but we know that's a violation for price-fixing what if I'm the head of Delta Airlines and I just send over to American Airlines the the prices that I am going to send I do that in advance of setting them all right and then I watch to see what they do back is that is that unlawful coordination I know that the and Trust law at price-fixing is different but I but I still I want to look at other contexts in addition at election context I think your analogy is a good one I'm an expert on election law I've been doing election law for 20 years I'm not an expert on airlines price-fixing antitrust law but it sounds like a reasonable analogy to me so as what you're saying is there didn't need to be the return response they oh hey thanks for this al I didn't have to first be a request necessarily hey would you please provide to us that election information but that kind of request had it happened or more importantly for your point had Miller investigated to see if it had happened that even if they hadn't added a please give us information if you do we will help you win the election and if you do and we help you win the election we will get some consideration for that some payback for that that even if there was just the requests are just that information and they used it that that could have been enough to show a violation of campaign finance law I think your point is Corden airily important is that matter now foreclosed because mother's testimony is done is there any and and and of course Attorney General bar doesn't want to take down this president he is there to serve as a blocker for him is there anything that can be done with respect to that coordination that unlawful your argument of that unlawful coordination there's two avenues forward for holding this president accountable for illegal activity in 2016 as well as other illegal activities and one is an impeachment investigation perhaps concluding in articles of impeachment and common cause just last night announced that we are calling on Congress to open a formal impeachment investigate to Donald Trump an inquiry of impeachment and Congress could do something about this if Congress looks at this law concludes that robert muller applied the wrong legal standard and through its own investigation determines that the Trump campaign violated these campaign finance laws that would presumably be an impeachable offense there's a bunch of other grounds for impeachment or at least an impeachment investigation that we put forth in a report that we published last night that's available on our website at wwlp.com the Federal Election Commission has enforcement authority here I have filed complaints with the FEC on a number of these matters over the past a year and a half to two years and the FEC has a job now to take up at civil enforcement investigations and and punishing these wrongdoing now that the Department of Justice has seemingly concluded its investigation one other thing I want to again so I heard you so Congress would do something and impeachment proceedings could do something one other quick matter before we have to before we have to move on and thank you so much for spending time with this Paul Ryan again from common cause and this is the election that matter of the election security bills that's something that isn't just about Trump but that is about the sanctity of our elections and the interference in those elections and that in fact there were bills to address that and what's happened to those bills what McConnell's blocking them McConnell's blocked them he's getting some other senators to block them other Republican senators some of this legislation is even bipartisan there was bill blocked yesterday that was introduced by Democrats senator Wyden of Oregon as well as cotton senator cotton a Republican from Arkansas and it that was blocked by McConnell there are a couple other bills that would have required mandatory reporting if a US campaign got contacted by foreign national who wanted to help that campaign the under these two other bills that were blocked yesterday would have required that campaign to tell the Federal Election Commission and the FBI that a foreign national or foreign country was trying to interfere in our elections all being blocked by McConnell it's outrageous to put it bluntly I'm Special Counsel mother made clear yesterday not only did Russian interference happen in sixteen but foreign interference campaigns are underway now to influence and hijack our 2020 election the soprano all Americans regardless of party should care about and Congress has to act what's that what's the argument now I understand the motive all right or at least I can understand at least one or two motives the most conspiratorial of those could be well they're they're sort of in on the fix the other could just be well they're blocking it because they see that you know bro Trump interference the election it helps Republicans is why would Republicans stop that but they're probably not going to say that is their argument if they are friends I an analogy I'll use is various voter suppression stuff they don't come out and say well the reason what a black voter suppression is because we think that young people people of color and renters aren't going to support oligarchs and Republicans what they say is I don't know they have a different argument about why it's important because oh because there's voter fraud or some other thing what's the argument for not passing for not even allowing a vote on an election protection on election sanctity legislation well you might have perhaps it was inadvertent but you just hit the nail on the head the argument that they are making now for blocking these election security measures is that these bills are targeting foreign election interference and they don't have the voter suppression provisions that Republicans want to pass so these voter suppression bills the voter ID and other voter suppression tactics they get dressed up by Republicans as election security tactics they are solutions to problems that don't exist voter ID for example it is a it's a policy that makes it harder to vote and doesn't solve any actual existent fraud problem they their arguments this week McConnell's argument Senator McConnell's arguments hey these bills are partisan because they don't include the election so-called election security provisions we Republicans want even though those elections security so-called election security provisions are really voter suppression tactics

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