What do stolen cigarettes have to do with Russian collusion? In my imagination… everything. I’ve been frustrated by the Republican reaction to the Barr letter on the Mueller Report. It’s possible that Republicans just don’t get it. Therefore, I’ve taken it upon myself to explain it. That, my friends is where the stolen cigarettes come in.
It’s Friday night. I’m relaxing. I get a text message from a friend who works at a local warehouse. He’s managed to smuggle out a case of cigarettes. However, he’s concerned that they’re on to him. He wants to know if I would like to buy them from him cheap. Thus, he can avoid trying to sell them himself in case he’s being watched.
I express interest. He instructs me to meet him behind the 7-11 at 2am. I show up with money to buy. However, I’m disappointed with the offering. What he has is a carton of generics he will sell me for $20. I don’t smoke. Therefore, I need more room for profit. Hence, I pass.
On Monday, I am informed that I am under investigation for colluding with the cigarette thief to receive stolen property. The investigation lasts 4 days. On Friday, the police release the following bullet points to the local paper.
- Steve Parry received a text message offering him the opportunity to purchase stolen cigarettes.
- He responded saying that he would like to purchase them.
- Steve attended a meeting where the cigarettes were to be sold.
- Dissatisfied with the quality and price, Steve declined to purchase the stolen merchandise.
- Therefore, Steve will not be charged with receiving stolen property.
See there? I was completely exonerated. Right? Not exactly. I have avoided criminal prosecution. However, I am guilty in a moral sense. I escaped criminal charges simply because I was dissatisfied with the product.
Consider the Barr letter in the light of this example. Here’s what we know. On June 3rd, 2016 Donald Trump Jr. received an email which stated the following.
To which Trump Jr. sent the following reply.
On June 9th, 2016 members of the Trump campaign met with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. Those members were Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Don Jr. The lawyer was Natalia Veselnitskaya, who admits to being a Kremlin informant. Also present at the meeting was Rob Goldstone.
It is true that Barr’s letter states that “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” However, it does not state that there was no collusion.
There was clearly a deceitful agreement between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The same way that there was a deceitful agreement between myself and my friend with the stolen cigarettes. However, in order to rise to the level of criminal action, there must be a joining of our efforts in a criminal act. I would have had to purchase the stolen cigarettes. Trump would have to take and use the Russian dirt.
Why are the Republicans celebrating?
What we have learned from this letter about the Mueller report isn’t good. Agreed, President Trump didn’t break the law. The trouble is, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. We learned that the campaign for the sitting President of the United States met with a Kremlin informant to receive help with his 2016 campaign. Legally, he is absolved by the fact that the plans didn’t go through. Morally, that makes no difference. If the Republicans think that I will celebrate that the President colluded but didn’t conspire, I’ve got some stolen cigarettes I’m willing to sell them. Just don’t tell them that the deal fell through.