Seth Abramson @SethAbramson NYT bestselling author. Current—Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, Next—Citizen Journalist (Macmillan, 2020). Lawyer. Professor. Poet. Views mine. Feb. 12, 2019 5 min read

When you read that a Congressional committee hasn't yet found "direct evidence" of something, understand that *all they're saying from an evidentiary standpoint* is that no one has *confessed* yet nor has any *explicit contract* been found—neither of which things anyone expected.

1/ Any attorney—rather than a journalist pretending to know what the legal terms they're using mean—will tell you that substantial evidence of collusion has been found and the only question is what the standard of proof is to be set at and if you think that standard has been met.

2/ When GOP Senate Intel chair Richard Burr was asked that question, he said Americans would have to read the report the Senate eventually creates—
likely a long time from now—and will then have to decide for themselves whether it's collusion. That's what he actually said to CBS.

3/ What journalists like @KenDilanianNBC did—instead of explaining how evidence works, and what Burr's words meant—was take a quote in which Burr was saying there'd been no confession or explicit contracts found yet, even though that's *self-evident, predictable, and irrelevant*.

4/ If you or I were in Ken's shoes—and we were writing about the most important story of our times—and we were using legal terms we didn't understand, we'd make sure we explained to readers *exactly what we were saying and what we weren't*. Unfortunately, that's not media today.

5/ No attorney with criminal law experience came into the Trump-Russia probe believing one of the conspirators would confess to Congress or that an explicit contract would be found. That absurd standard was set by non-attorney Trump supporters and was then *adopted by the media*.

6/ There may be confessions in the Russia probe before it's over, but they will come *via Mueller's charges/deals*, not Congress—and no explicit contract for a conspiracy like this would ever be created, let alone found. We knew all this two years ago. The media pretended not to.

7/ What was expected was that by interviewing witnesses the Senate would find *evidence* of collusion that could be put to a criminal or political jury. And Burr confirmed *that is what happened*. But because the media had misinformed the public about evidence, it misreported it.

8/ The journalists who misreported what Burr said to CBS and what it meant and how evidence works and the fact that most American criminal trials are in fact dominated by circumstantial or indirect evidence should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Rest assured, they are *not*.

9/ As an attorney, I'm ashamed that this has happened to us: that apparently no combination of attorneys and journalists was willing or able to explain at a time of national emergency even the most basic functioning of our justice system, though it was vitally important to do so.

10/ I can only hope that people reading this thread will share it as widely as possible so that the spread of disinformation about evidence and our criminal justice system being perpetuated by folks like @KenDilanianNBC can be mitigated slightly on this one social media platform.

11/ The percent of U.S. criminal cases in which one finds a contract agreeing to commit a crime is *virtually zero*. Confessions are *common*—and are *exactly* what Mueller has been getting, behind closed doors, from people like Flynn, Gates, Papadopoulos, Nader, and many others.

12/ The case for a conspiracy between members of the Trump campaign and Kremlin agents has been made right in front of our faces every week for 2 years. Meanwhile, the media and Trump supporters have made up a fake justice system with fake rules and are assessing Mueller by that.

13/ If you sense I'm angry at people like @KenDilanianNBC, it's because he's paid a healthy salary to misinform you on things he doesn't understand and can't explain while I'm taking time away from my career to fix the mistakes he should be ashamed of but isn't. I *resent that*.

14/ I also know that Ken being bad at his job immediately goes viral on social media when the way in which he's bad at his job fits into exactly the false narrative that Trump supporters desperately want to hear and that the media knows will get it viewers. *That* makes me angry.

15/ And when I take the time to carefully point out to folks like Ken what it is they don't understand and what it is they need to correct and instead of doing so they accuse an officer of the court—which is what a lawyer is—of ulterior motives, that makes me *goddamned furious*.

SUMMARY/ Fix your sh*t, media. You're getting paid *more* than well enough to do your job without getting constantly corrected by experts in the areas you're attempting to cover. But the only *inexcusable offense* is not listening to those experts when they point out your errors.

NOTE/ If you want to know what question a responsible media would've asked Burr, it's this: "Has the Senate found inculpatory evidence of any crime with an implicitly collusive component, as attorneys define 'inculpatory evidence'?" Burr's answer would have been a *definite yes*.

NOTE2/ The media would then have written stories explaining to Americans that "inculpatory evidence" is evidence that tends to point *toward* the guilt of a defendant—and collusive intent can be implied in many criminal acts in whose statutes the term "collusion" nowhere appears.

NOTE3/ For instance, if at an international conference Putin has a private conversation with you you don't immediately tell media about, in which he tells you to tell the media your son spoke with Kremlin agents about "adoptions," and the next day you write a statement...

NOTE4/ ...saying exactly that, you might be guilty of witness tampering or obstruction or hindering prosecution or aiding and abetting but *none of those statutes* would have the words "conspiracy" or "collusion" in them, though that's what any layperson would say you were doing.

NOTE5/ I don't mean to say there are no journalists doing extraordinary work—there are. But it's harder than it should to be find one who is consistently exacting in how they talk about criminal cases, and some—like Ken—are downright irresponsible. Try to find the good ones. /end

REFERENCE/ Here's my thread on the Burr CBS interview that @KenDilanianNBC and others are continuing to misreport. If you want to understand what Burr was really saying to CBS—or even what he was saying in the first place, as so much got lost—check it out:

You can follow @SethAbramson.


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