Since the emergence of the Mueller report, President Trump has been proclaiming that it proves him innocent of collusion with Russian intelligence agencies to subvert the American electoral system.
The bar for proof in an impeachment hearing is slightly lower than in a court of law. But even in a court of law, the burden on the prosecution is not proof beyond the shadow of a doubt, but beyond reasonable doubt. Plenty of convictions are based on massive circumstantial evidence without the proverbial "smoking gun".
According to the Mueller report, some 18 members of the Trump family, campaign organization, friends and lawyers, met with 13 Russians with known ties to Putin himself or Russian intelligence organizations. According to the US press, more than 150 of these meetings occurred before, during, and after the campaign.
All these meetings were surreptitious. Everyone involved tried to hide them from law enforcement and the public, lying time and again to the FBI and other investigative organs in the attempt to cover them up.
The very first visitors to the Oval Office were the Russian foreign minister and ambassador along with members of the Russian press. No Americans were allowed in the room, certainly not members of the US press. This was a meeting between Trump himself and Russians who had direct contact with Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence.
The Russian oligarchs are close friends of Putin and his cabinet members. Many of these oligarchs are prevented from traveling to North America and Western Europe by a sanction called the Magnitsky Act. The funds they hold in these countries are frozen, so they are deprived of access to the billions they stole from the Russian people.
One of the sanctions on Russia prevented some American investments in Russia. ExxonMobil had arranged to purchase drilling rights to 63.6 million acres of Russian territory. They had sunk one well which proved to hold more oil than expected, but then the sanctions prevented any further drilling. ExxonMobil estimated the cost of its loss on this collapsed deal to be $1 billion.
On his first day in office, Trump tried to remove the sanctions on Russia and the Russian oligarchs. He made Rex Tillerson, president of ExxonMobil, our secretary of state. Congress responded swiftly by passing a hugely by-partisan bill that made Obama's sanctions firmly a matter of law, out of the reach Trump's executive orders.
In all the meetings between Trump associates and agents of Russian intelligence, we are supposed to believe that not one word was spoken about the release of documents stolen by the Russians from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign, about Clinton's stolen e-mails, or the sanctions. Not one single time did the topic of the enormous disinformation campaign the Russians were carrying on against Secretary Clinton arise.
Of course, we now know from the Mueller report, that the assistant of Paul Manafort, then Trump's campaign manager, gave Trump polling data on four key states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota, to Konstantin Kilimnik, a known agent of Russian intelligence. Trump then surprisingly carried three of those four states which should have gone to Clinton.
All these facts are explained only by a quid pro quo between Trump and Putin however communicated: if Putin helped Trump get elected, Trump would lift the sanctions against Russia and its oligarchs. A massive amount of evidence points to Trump's collusion with Russian intelligence agencies to subvert US elections beyond any reasonable doubt, even without evidence of Trump talking directly with Putin. And that is a "high crime".Harrisburg Patriot/PennLivecom May 2, 2019