If Trump, or campaign officials were working with Russian agents or officials or had knowledge that Russia was engineering the theft of the emails it could be in violation of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
In an interview with NBC News, taped earlier this week that aired Sunday, Graham confirmed that the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with the Russian hacking and disinformation campaign is under federal investigation.
“I believe that it’s happening,” he said when asked if such investigations were underway. “But you need to talk to them [investigators] because I don’t want to speak for them,” he told the network.
Money & Power reported in detail Jan. 6 on the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia. A top Russian official confirmed the Kremlin was in communication with high-level Trump campaign operatives during the election.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov confirmed in an interview on Russian television that high-level Trump campaign officials were “in touch” with Russian representatives.
“Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” Ryabkov said. I cannot say that all of them but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.”
The contacts “were on a sufficient, responsible level,” Ryabkov said in an interview with the state-run Interfax news agency.
Trump’s closest advisers, including his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and incoming National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and Trump campaign adviser Carter Page have notable ties to the Russian government.
The emails themselves may not have had that much impact on the election on their own. But Trump repeatedly hammered Clinton about details from the stolen emails that were released by WikiLeaks throughout the campaign.
If a connection can be established with the Russians, Trump campaign officials, or even Trump himself, could be in violation of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
The law makes it illegal to obtain national security information, compromise confidentiality, trespass on a government computer and access data to defraud and obtain value.
It also damaging a computer or information, trafficking in passwords and threatening to damage a computer. Attempts to commit these crimes are also criminally punishable, according to legal references.
In one of the most celebrated prosecutions under the law, Ryan Collins, 36, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for hacking the accounts of such Hollywood stars as Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and scores of other celebrities.
Collins release hundreds of private photos and videos. Dozens involved nude images and even sex acts.
Specifically, the the US Justice Department said the computer hacking charges were related to illegally accessing “over 100 Apple and Google email accounts.
The Russian hacking also involved illegally accessing private email accounts.
“Hackers violate federal law whenever they access private information stored online and in digital devices,” Eileen Decker, US attorney for the central district of California, said at the time.
Theoretically, Putin, and his Russian government operatives could be indicted.
Graham and Arizona Republican John McCain have been the most vocal critics of Russian subversion of the election and have vowed strong sanctions against the government of President Vladimir Putin.
Trump spoke highly of Putin during the election and continued to defend the Russian leader in the face of a top secret report by U.S. Intelligence agencies that fingered the Russian leader in the hacking effort.
Even after he was briefed on the U.S. Intelligence findings, Trump continued to downplay the Russian intervention in the election. He even went so far as to fabricate a claim that the report found no influence on the election.
In fact, the report did not address the issue.
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