From MSNBC, August 8: “The President’s lawyer’s public negotiating position is ‘the President is so guilty of SOMETHING that he will lie about it and commit perjury if he is interviewed by the Mueller team.’”
From MSNBC (this time said by a guest, New York Times reporter Nicholas Confessore), August 9: “They said in that interview that the President’s story if told to Mueller would put him into perjury. So what he’s saying is that the President’s story is wrong. It’s a lie. He just admitted it on national TV.”
Both of these statements are outrageously false. Either the on-air personalities –- I won’t call them journalists –- spouting this kind of garbage are too stupid to be yakking about legal matters beyond their comprehension, or they think YOU’RE too stupid to figure out they’re deliberately lying to you. In other words, they either don't know or don't care. Logically, it has to be one or the other, because what they’re telling their audience is not true. Either way, it’s time to stop being complacent about the anti-Trump media’s lies and the number of wildly misinformed people walking around thinking they know things (and believing them passionately). It’s not just MSNBC misinforming them –- far from it –- though that source is one of the more blatant and consistent examples of incredible wrongness and misguided hysteria. Every day, I see factually wrong or, at best, incomplete stories from numerous media outlets that people used to be able to trust for information.
One major piece of misinformation making the rounds right now is related to perjury; specifically, the “perjury trap.” We’ve talked about this before: how someone can be as innocent as a fluffy baby chick and still be charged with perjury (if under oath) or lying to investigators (if not sworn in), and how it’s often a trap that should be avoided if at all possible. But since the issue is being so distorted in the media, with some even saying there’s no such thing as a perjury trap, I thought it might be time to go over it again. Rudy Giuliani thought so, too, and clarified it for Howard Kurtz –- also for Confessore, whom he called “that idiot” –- on Sunday’s FOX News show “Media Buzz,” even suggesting that it might be legal malpractice not to advise a client against going into such a situation. Legal expert Andrew C. McCarthy evidently thought the subject was timely as well, because he coincidentally has a great new column that goes into enlightening detail on how “perjury traps” work in practice. The folks at MSNBC should read it, and so should their lamentably misinformed audience, but they probably won’t.
“...The pundits are completely wrong,” Giuliani said. “The reality is, and any lawyer will tell you this, truth is in the eye of the beholder. And my client can be telling the truth, their witness can be a total scoundrel, and if they decide to go with their witness, my client’s gonna get indicted or charged with perjury in some way. So I don’t know if they just don’t want to understand or they want to say the President’s lying. I will tell you, he’s not lying. All the evidence is against Comey on this.”
Okay, that’s from Trump’s own attorney, but McCarthy has no horse in this race and is just helping us understand. He theorizes that because some of the people saying there’s no such thing as a perjury trap are “very smart” (the operative word here might be “some”), that “nonsensical” view is being “driven by politics, not law or logic.”
What McCarthy says is consistent with Giuliani’s explanation: “The theme the anti-Trump camp is pushing...is that an honest person has nothing to fear from a prosecutor. If you simply answer the questions truthfully, there is no possibility of a false-statements charge. But see, for charging purposes, the witness who answers the questions does not get to decide whether they have been answered truthfully. That is up to the prosecutor who asks the questions. The honest person can make his best effort to provide truthful, accurate and complete responses; but the interrogator’s evaluation, right or wrong, determines whether those responses warrant prosecution.”
McCarthy goes on to explain how this scenario played out in the interrogation of then-national security advisor Michael Flynn, in which prosecutors didn’t really even need to question him because, having (unbeknownst to him) SURVEILLED HIS PHONE CALLS, they already had the answers. Worse, they didn’t even advise him that he was being investigated and he had no lawyer present; on the fourth day of his new job, he likely thought the meeting was just business as usual, not a formal interrogation. He might have simply had a faulty recollection; remember, his questioners gave him the benefit of the doubt and didn’t think he'd lied, but then Mueller’s team decided differently. That’ s how subjective it all is.
Read the full article, and you, too, will be an expert on perjury traps, wise in the ways of the FBI and special counsels who are hell-bent on prosecution. This is how they do it, and right now they’re getting cover from “journalists” who despise President Trump so much that they’re happy to provide it. As McCarthy says, “It’s fatuous to claim this stuff doesn’t happen. It happens all the time.”