“Conspiracy is a crime of commission, like larceny or tax evasion. If you try really hard to steal a car but can’t manage to get it started, you haven’t actually stolen the car.”
Attempted crimes are still crimes, though. And conspiracy is very similar.
From the legal website Justia:
“A conspiracy occurs when two or more people agree to commit an illegal act and take some step toward its completion. Conspiracy is an inchoate crime because it does not require that the illegal act actually have been completed. For instance, a group of individuals can be convicted of conspiracy to commit burglary even if the actual burglary never happens.”
Since attempted conspiracy is still conspiracy, my guess is that Mueller’s thinking is simply that the attempt didn’t go far enough to be considered criminal.
Or, to expand on Justia’s example of attempted burglary:
The Trump campaign’s meeting with Russia is the Ocean’s 11 equivalent of George Clooney and Brad Pitt talking about knocking over a casino, but then never getting around to the planning stages. They never bought the equipment they would need. They never cased the joint. They never put together the rest of the crew. It was just two guys sitting at a bar talking about robbing a casino, which doesn’t quite rise to the level of criminal conspiracy.
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But the evidence of obstruction laid out by the report is pretty damning. Which is why it’s so frustrating to see how the media is already bumbling in their coverage. Just now on the local news I saw they were claiming “no verdict” on obstruction.