Rep. Collins Gets Mueller to Change Answer on Whether Collusion and Conspiracy are Synonymous


Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia is the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, where the hearing with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller was held Wednesday. In that hearing, Collins scored a dictionary victory during his back-and-forth with Mueller about definitions.

After some establishing points, Collins went for the understanding of collusion as it pertains to conspiracy.

“Although your report states collusion is not a specific offense — and you’ve said that this morning — or a term of art in federal criminal law, conspiracy is,” said Collins. “In the colloquial context, are collusion and conspiracy essentially synonymous terms?”

After repeating the question at Mueller’s request, Collins got the answer.

“No,” said Mueller.

“If no, on page 180 of volume one of your report, you wrote: ‘as defined in legal dictionaries collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy as that crime is set forth in general federal conspiracy statute [18 U.S. Code § 371],” said Collins. “You said at your May 29th press conference, and here today, you choose your words carefully. Are you sitting here today testifying something different than what your report states?”

Mueller responded that he could answer if Collins would offer a citation for the reference, and Collins replied that he was reading from Mueller’s own work.

“I just stated your report back to you, and you said that collusion and conspiracy were not synonymous terms, that was your answer, was no,” said Collins.

“That’s correct,” said Mueller.

“In that, page 180 of volume one of your report, it says: ‘as defined in legal dictionaries collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy as that crime is set forth in general federal conspiracy statute 18 USC 371,” Collins said again. “Now you said you chose your words carefully, are you contradicting your report right now?

“Not when I read it,” replied Mueller.”

“So you would change your answer to yes, then?” asked Collins.

“No, no, if you look at the language…” Mueller stuttered.

“I’m looking at your report, sir,” Collins said again.

“Page 180?” asked Mueller with some uncertainty.

“Page 180, volume one. This was from your report,” Collins explained again.

“I would leave it with the report,” said Mueller.

“So the report says yes they are synonymous,” said Collins, clarifying once more.

“Yes,” said Mueller.

“Hopefully for finally, we can put to bed the collusion and conspiracy,” said Collins.

The essential point he was making was that despite many reports and some statements from Mueller himself that the investigation didn’t actually look into collusion, per se, that the report itself, and now Mueller in testimony Wednesday, argue collusion and conspiracy as essentially interchangeable terms in this context. Which would obviously mean that if the report investigated the conspiracy, and could not or did not find Trump or his campaign or administration participated in one, then that is the same as saying there was no collusion. He was basically establishing what would be the linchpin of argument from the Republicans.

Watch the exchange above, via C-SPAN.

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