Former Prosecutor: 'If Trump's Campaign Chair Conspiring with a Suspected Russian Operative Isn't 'Collusion,' What Is?'

President Donald Trump frequently insists that there was "no collusion" between his associates and Russia, but a new indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller makes that talking point completely futile now, as former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti explained Friday.


Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager during a crucial portion of the campaign, had already been charged with several counts of money laundering, tax evasion, and failing to register as a foreign agent. But the new allegations in Mueller's indictment on Friday show a direct link to an individual, Konstantin Kilimnik, believed to have ties to Russian intelligence.

"This 'superseding' indictment replaces the D.C. indictment and adds new charges against Manafort," Mariotti explained on Twitter. "Specifically it adds charges that Manafort and Kilimnik conspired to obstruct justice by working together to tamper with witnesses."

He added: "That evidence would likely be extremely damaging to Manafort at trial--if he was innocent, why would he try to engage in witness tampering?"

These new charges suggest Manafort is under even more pressure than he was before, raising the likelihood that he could begin cooperating with Mueller. But beyond the direct effects this indictment will have on Manafort, Mariotti argued that it had wider implications for the Russia investigation as a whole.

"The indictment is more significant from a broader perspective. It is Mueller's first indictment charging an American and a Russian for working together to commit a crime. He charged the former chair of Trump's campaign and a suspected Russian intel operative with conspiracy," he said.

"'Collusion' is not a legal term," Mariotti continued. "Conspiracy is. But if Trump's campaign chair conspiring with a suspected Russian operative isn't 'collusion,' what is? This should force the Trump team and the media to change their narrative regarding 'collusion.'"

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.