Yahoo News explains: Is collusion a crime?

Kate Murphy

“No collusion” — it’s a defense President Trump has used against allegations that his campaign worked with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani recently offered up this argument on Fox & Friends: “I’ve been sitting here looking in that federal code trying to find collusion as a crime.” He added, “It’s not — collusion is not a crime.”

Trump echoed his lawyer’s argument on Twitter.

It’s true that in the U.S. legal code there is no crime called “collusion.”

So, is Trump off the hook in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation?

Not exactly.

While collusion isn’t a crime, that’s not a question the investigation is asking. This was pointed out during a CNN town hall by former FBI Director James Comey, who said, “The question that we would look at as a counterintelligence agency is, are any Americans conspiring, which is a crime defined by the U.S. code, with a foreign government to commit any offenses against the United States or to defraud the United States?”

The law Comey is referring to is federal statute 18 U.S.C. 371 — Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, which asks: “If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose…”

So if Mueller finds evidence that the 2016 Trump campaign worked with a foreign power to sway the election, then conspiracy — not collusion — would be the charge.