Can we just back up for a second here? Not to get all Overton Window on a Friday afternoon, but can we acknowledge that Rudy Giuliani just accused Robert Mueller of prosecutorial misconduct? Because it's one thing for Hannity and the rest of the moron squad to flap their yaps about PERJURY TRAPS. It's quite another to see the president's own lawyer do it.

Donald Trump doesn't have to sit down with Robert Mueller. He's free to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, or he can continue this game of chicken and fight a subpoena if Mueller wants to roll the dice and issue one. But you can't shout PERJURY TRAP as a shield against being interviewed by the cops. Because SHUT UP, THAT IS NOT A THING!

If the FBI hauls you in front of a grand jury and asks you questions with no investigative purpose, with the express intent of getting you to lie so they'll have something to charge you with, then you can assert "perjury trap" as an affirmative defense to prosecution. But (a) it almost never works, (b) there's generally no perjury trap if you get Mirandized, and (c) no one thinks That Idiot will agree to go before a grand jury.

So when Rudy Giuliani goes on Sean Hannity's Hour of White Power and says Mueller wants to entrap his client, he is making an explicit accusation of prosecutorial misconduct.

He knows the answers to every question that he wants to ask. He's going to ask him, 'Did you tell Comey to go easy on Flynn.' The president will say, 'No, I didn't.'

Hey, Bob, you know it. Why do you want to get him under oath? Do you think we're fools? You want to get him under oath because you want to trap him into perjury.

How would Donald Trump be PERJURY TRAPPED by making true statements? Or if, as Giuliani seems to suggest right there, the plan is literally to go in and lie? THAT IS NOT A TRAP! (By the way, that's the latest in Giuliani's ever-changing list of demands for a Mueller interview: no questions about Trump firing Comey, no questions about Michael Flynn. You betcha!)

But in case anyone missed Giuliani suggesting that the former head of the FBI would eagerly commit misconduct to frame the president, he'll spell it out again.

Stop the nonsense. You are trying to trap him into perjury, because you don't have a case.

Oh, look! Here's walking hairpiece Jay Sekulow interrupting Laura Ingraham's rants about WHO GETS TO VOTE ON DEMOGRAPHICS with a rant of his own.

And here's Fox News's Dagen McDowell, complaining that it is NO FAIR you don't even get to tell one lie when being interviewed by the FBI.

Uhhhh ... okay.

And now, indulge us in a little Wonk-Rant of our own. Because we are supposed to be pinko commie liberals, and we do not appreciate being forced to take the side of the goddamn FBI against criminal defendants! The most offensive thing about this argument, even more offensive than the president's willingness to burn down the entire Department of Justice to save his own flabby ass, is watching the most powerful human being on earth cloak himself in the defense of the weak. Because perjury traps are real, and people without power wind up in deep shit all the time because of relatively minor fuck-ups. As First Amendment lawyer Ken White (AKA Popehat) said in the National Review:

Investigators and prosecutors will tell you that this is a good thing — that their power to convict targets for lying or obstruction helps catch criminals who would otherwise go free because of problems of proof. But people who hold vast power rarely think they ought not. In fact, the most petty and weak human reactions can lead to federal felony convictions during an investigation. [...]

That's how FBI agents caught my client that early morning when he lied fruitlessly about being at a meeting the FBI knew with certainty he had attended. People — good people, decent people, people who are usually honest — lie foolishly when frightened and under great stress. Is that immoral? That's a philosophical question. Should it lead to a debilitating federal felony when it does not hinder a federal investigation in the slightest, when the federal government was fishing for a lie? No. That gives the feds far too much power to turn human frailty into crime.

Donald Trump isn't being railroaded by a power-mad prosecutor. He's either a witness or a subject of a criminal investigation that has already resulted in multiple guilty pleas. At this very moment, his campaign manager is being tried in federal court for multiple crimes, some of which were committed during the campaign. Of course the prosecutor wants to ask him what he knows about coordination with Russian hackers! And for the president to assert that he's being PERJURY TRAPPED like some indigent defendant who got caught with a dime bag is ... well, it's even more offensively ridiculous than most of the shit that comes out of his assmouth.


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[WaPo / US Attorneys Manual / National Review]

Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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