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Instead, following the late April 2016 meeting, the Campaign supported Papadopoulos’s efforts to organize a back channel meeting with Russian officials and Campaign officials. Papadopoulos’ hand-written notes state that Trump Campaign members “would attend without the official backing of the Campaign (‘no official letter/no message from Trump’).” That meeting, however, never ultimately took place.

In late April 2016, a Russian operative did not simply reveal to Papadopoulos that they had derogatory information on Clinton in the form of thousands of emails.Those are important questions regardless of whether such activities amounted to crimes, regardless of whether individuals’ actions and intentions can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, regardless of whether Americans acted as unwitting Kremlin assets in support of Russian operations, and regardless of whether individuals and organizations can be prosecuted without endangering First Amendment interests.Although the Mueller Report does not squarely address these questions of “collusion” that fall outside the scope of potential criminal liability, it can be mined for substantive information that provides some meaningful answers.We don’t know what the Special Counsel’s Office or the FBI have assessed, for example, with respect to whether Trump associates engaged in reciprocal efforts with Russian agents without entering a criminal agreement to do so, whether Americans have been witting or unwitting Russian assets, and what leverage or influence Moscow may have over particular individuals.As a shorthand, we may use the term “collusion” to refer to these kinds of activities, which would be implicated in a counterintelligence analysis—though, as Asha Rangappa and I have written, the more analytically precise issues to consider are whether Trump Campaign associates “ to the Russia/Wiki Leaks election interference activities.

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