• Sheila Penelope Thorne

What Do You Believe? Principle versus Practice

Many comments about the Mueller Report have a similar tone to “… as special counsel Robert Mueller apparently concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.” I spent an hour and read 100 pages of the report; page 2 of volume 1 describes that collusion is not a specific offense, hence, the investigation is an analysis of joint criminal liability for conspiracy. The investigation wasn’t looking into collusion, hence the report would inevitably result in “no collusion.”¹ I spent considerably more time listening to the news and reading news articles and opinion editorials (op eds) on this and nothing mentioned or reiterated that the focus was not on collusion. This reframes the discussion and changes the perspective of the findings. The more complex findings and evidence of election tampering and hacking are reduced to sound bites of no collusions versus no conclusion. 

Now, back to the opening question. In principle, should we believe and do what we are told rather than think for ourselves and draw conclusions? Does what we think in principle mirror what we do in practice? Do people read reports or rely on news sources for a conclusion? No judgement; just something to observe and think about this week as you hear comments and opinions.

¹From the Mueller Report; page 2, volume 1: “In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of “collusion.” In so doing, the Office recognized that the word “collud[e]” was used in communications with the Acting Attorney General confirming certain aspects of the investigation’s scope and that the term has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation. But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law. For those reasons, the Office’s focus in analyzing questions of joint criminal liability was on conspiracy as defined in federal law.

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