PBS NewsHour: Collusion is broad, murky and hard to prove


If the Trump campaign or a pro-Trump political group accepted funds from a Russian source, that would represent an obvious case of illegal “coordination,” the official term under Federal Election Commission law that most closely resembles collusion, according to Larry Noble, who served as the agency’s general counsel from 1987 to 2000.

But the guidelines against coordination cover a wide spectrum of activities that go well beyond a clear-cut transfer of money from a foreign bank account to a campaign’s coffers in the U.S.

Foreign entities are barred from providing a campaign with any “thing of value,” such as useful information on a political opponent. In cases that don’t involve a direct transfer of money, there must be proof that a campaign understood the information it exchanged with a foreign entity would be used for the illegal purpose of influencing an election, said Noble, one of the nation’s leading experts on campaign finance law.

“Let’s say you meet a Russian diplomat at a party and you say, ‘We have a great campaign and a shot of winning if we can win the Midwest,’” Noble said, describing in hypothetical terms the type of conversation that might have occurred during documented meetings that took place last year between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials.

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