Thursday, August 16, 2018

Trump and testifying

This is Joseph

There have been a lot of calls for president Trump to testify about his actions in office, for some pretty understandable reasons.  However, this seems to misunderstand the way that the modern US criminal justice system is designed.  Here is a great twitter thread explaining it.  My favorite part is:

Making incorrect statements has been a source of many easy convictions from what I can tell.

This is not to say that this is a good system.  I am especially sad that federal agents may lie and suspects face criminal jeopardy for any statements that they make that are not perfect.  Heck, it may even be an innocent error on the part of the investigator that they think you are lying about.  Guess who faces charges for this innocent error?

So I do think that I would like to hear the president defend his actions and I worry greatly about the optics here.  But saying "just tell the truth" has the risk of misleading people into thinking that they shouldn't consult extensively with a lawyer first (which to be fair, the president does have one) and that the situation is not one of extreme danger.  I was impressed with how Peter Strzok refused to commit to exact numbers without his case files.  Because if he had made a mistake, recollecting events over a year ago, he might have been charged with perjury or making a "material false statement".  He was a law enforcement professional, which Donald Trump is not.  Not are you and I.

So I do think that we should be very clear about how it is not incriminating to avoid interviews with law enforcement (the point of the 5th amendment), especially given the way that the legal system works.  Has anybody not seen this video yet?

So I do want to have explanations for all sorts of things.  But I can totally understand why agreeing to an interview with a prosecutor is both a) risky and b) enormously time consuming (in terms of careful and relentless preparation).

No comments:

Post a Comment