I just posted a column detailing why I am “skeptical” of collusion theories against President Donald Trump, a view that the President recently tweeted. CNN Legal Analyst and former White House ethics attorney Norm Eisen responded yesterday to my quote in the Trump tweet with his own analysis that the criminal case for collusion is now “devastating” and that Trump is “colluding in plain sight.” His evidence? Trump’s failure to respond sufficiently to Russian attacks. It does not seem to factor into Eisen’s analysis that the government is responding on various levels, imposed some sanctions, and that the specific means used to combat the Russians is a discretionary policy question that balances a wide array of technical, legal, and diplomatic factors. Nevertheless, Eisen assured the public that the criminal case is now devastating.
Eisen responded to the Trump tweet with a tweet of his own: “Sir, you are colluding in plain sight by refusing to prepare for the coming Russian attack. As for obstruction, we lay out the case against you here. It is devastating.”
Eisen previously issued a report last October of “substantial evidence” that Trump obstructed justice.
Eisen has also claimed the House Intelligence Committee chair Peter Nunes could be indicted. Eisen previously declared the meeting at Trump Tower with Russians promising evidence of illegal contributions to the Clinton Foundation to be the long-sought “smoking gun” for prosecution. Eisen invoked the Logan Act, a law from 1799 that makes it a crime for citizens to intervene in disputes or controversies between the United States and foreign governments. It has never been used to convict a single U.S. citizen and is widely viewed as facially unconstitutional.
My column in the Hill is an effort to actually bring some legal content to this debate. There have been countless hours of broadcast “analysis” but very little of the actual cited evidence and how it could fit with any criminal provision or even credible definitions of collusion. The primary acts of collusion form a rather implausible basis for a criminal case. While I have stated that there is still the possibility of new evidence, it is astonishing to hear that this evidence makes for not just a strong but devastating case for prosecution.