A ‘no win’ prejury trap

By Bill Taylor

It seems to me that the recently revealed indictments of a bunch of Russians for interfering in and attempted disruption of the US election process starting as early as 2014 should put an end to the probe by that special prosecutor into possible “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russians. After all, the report found no evidence of any such relationship. Doncha bet the farm on that.

Nope, ya gotta realize these prosecutors are “scalp hunters”, that is, their prime objective is to convict somebody (read “anybody” ) of something (read “anything”) to justify their efforts. Furthermore, the more prominent the convicted individual(s), the bigger the “gold star(s)” on the prosecutor’s report card.

One favorite technique of these folks is the “perjury trap”. (“Perjury” is the offense of willfully telling an “untruth” after having taken an oath or affirmation. Also known as: lying under oath, giving false evidence/testimony, making false statements, or willful falsehood.) The way this works is that an individual is “interviewed” under oath by investigators or testifies before a grand jury on a subject of which the prosecutor already has other “hard” evidence.

Entrapment takes the form of questioning a witnesses with the intent of bringing perjury charges because the witness’s’ statements are contradicted by this other evidence . The intent is not to indict them for the crime which is purportedly the reason for the investigation but to nail them of more easily proven perjury. Accompanying such a charge is another known as “obstructing justice” which is levied because lying under oath necessarily “obstructs” the investigation.

Does anyone recall the Martha Stewart case? She was investigated for “insider trading” , convicted, and spent time in the slammer – except that she was never charged or convicted of insider trading. Nope, she was convicted of four counts of obstructing justice and lying to investigators. Pretty big scalp, huh?

Another prime example is the “Scooter” Libby case. A special prosecutor was to investigate the “outing” of a CIA agent – a serious federal offense. Mr Libby, then assistant to the Vice President, was considered a primary suspect. Well, the investigation rather quickly determined Mr Libby did not “out” the CIA employee. That was done by a then-Deputy Secretary of State who disclosed that information to a columnist and Mr Libby had nothing to do with it.

End of investigation and prosecution of the culprit, right? Nope, the “investigation” continued for some time with a number of “interviews” of Mr Libby that eventually resulted is his being charged and convicted of lying under oath and obstruction of justice, sentenced to prison, fined, and placed on post-prison probation. The “leaker”, a small fry, wasn’t charged but a big scalp taken. (By the way, the guy who started this investigation that ended up convicting Mr Libby was named Comey – sound familiar?)

The current “collusion” inquiry by the special prosecutor continues to indict and get guilty pleas for “lying” and “obstruction” but sentencing also continues being delayed – in some cases for months. That way the prosecutor can induce “cooperation” in return for more lenient punishment. To my knowledge, however, no one, except for those Russians who will never be brought to trial, has been indicted thus far for attempted interference in the election so why continue?

This investigation has obviously been focused on President Trump, his family, and close associates which helps explain why the probe has ranged into business practices and other matters unrelated to the supposed objective. Currently, the prosecutor reportedly desires to “interview” the President – a perfect setup for a “perjury trap” given the President’s penchant for “shooting from the lip”. Yep, it’s a prosecutor’s dream – a chance at the biggest scalp of all.

Well, we’ll have to see how this “political booby trap” plays out. If the President agrees to the questioning, be assured the prosecutor will be shooting for perjury and obstruction allegations – not “collusion” with the Russians. If the President doesn’t meet with the inquisitors, you can bet his political opponents will fill the air with accusations of a “cover up” and demands for impeachment.

You know, Dad used to say that the only reason most of us ever need a lawyer is as protection from other lawyers and his observation sure rings true today. Mr President, I hope you have really good lawyers because you’ll need them to escape this “no-win” perjury trap. At least that’s how it seems to me.


By Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]