Now, all of us engage in favor swapping or quid pro quos every day. Nothing wrong with it most of the time. If you cook dinner, I’ll do the dishes. But when the “quid” is an illegal act, it’s a whole different story. Then the “quo” is often illegal, too, even if it wouldn’t be on its own. If you rob a bank and use the money you stole to help me, and in return I promise to help you out, then I’m in a lot of trouble, too, especially if I try to throw the cops off the scent.
In this case, you will learn that in return for the Russians stealing and releasing emails, the Defendant Trump and members of his staff promised—publicly and privately—that after being sworn in, the new president would drop U.S. government sanctions against the Russian government and Russian oligarchs who are close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The stolen emails and a variety of other illegal Russian efforts to hurt the Clinton campaign were the currency the Russians used to barter for sanctions relief.
That quid pro quo is the criminal conspiracy at the heart of this case. As you will learn, a criminal conspiracy means that the people involved had a mutual agreement, spoken or unspoken, to commit acts that were illegal. They didn’t have to sit in some dark room plotting or tell each other to commit crimes. An informal understanding to break the law constitutes a conspiracy.