All the Special Counsel needs, in order to charge a subject of an investigation with lying to a prosecutor, is a single witnesses willing to contradict the subject.
The witness may not only be “singing,” he may also be “composing” – that is making up or embellishing a story because he knows that the better his story, the better the deal.
Under federal law, the testimony of such a flipped witness need not be corroborated in order to secure a conviction.
Even one question that results in an answer that is contradicted by one witness would be enough to spring the perjury trap.
When Rudy Giuliani stated, perhaps inartfully, that “truth isn’t truth,” he was getting at a higher – or should I say lower – truth. This is a truth that virtually every experienced defense attorney and prosecutor understands: namely that prosecutors get to pick which witness — and which “truth” — to believe.
Giuliani was discussing President Trump’s decision whether or not to be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Giuliani made the point that even if President Trump testified truthfully, he could be accused of lying to a prosecutor – a serious felony – if the prosecutor chose to believe witnesses who have provided a different account.
To be specific, US President Donald J. Trump has stated publicly that he was not aware of the Trump Tower meeting between a Russian woman and his son until after it took place. One of Trump’s attorneys at the time, Michael Cohen, has apparently said that Trump was aware of the meeting.
President Trump has also stated that he did not ask former F.B.I. Director James Comey to go easy on Michael Flynn. Comey has said that President Trump did.
If President Trump were to repeat these denials in an interview with a prosecutor, he would be walking into a perjury trap even if he truly believed that his denials were the complete truth, or even if he actually were telling the complete truth. All the Special Counsel needs, in order to charge a subject of an investigation with lying to a prosecutor, is a single witness willing to contradict the subject. The witness may himself be a criminal who has been squeezed into “singing” in order to save his own skin. The witness may not only be “singing,” he may also be “composing” – that is making up or embellishing a story because he knows that the better his story, the better the deal. Under federal law, the testimony of such a flipped witness need not be corroborated in order to secure a conviction.
US Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating US President Donald J. Trump. Commentators who repeatedly pronounce that if the president is telling the truth he risks nothing by submitting to an interview, are simply wrong. (By The White House from Washington, DC (P072012PS-0298) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Because of these realities, most experienced defense attorneys would never allow their clients to get into a swearing contest with a flipped witness, even if the client were telling the absolute truth. That is what Rudy Giuliani meant when he said, in the context of a decision whether to have his client interviewed by the Special Counsel, that “truth isn’t truth.” Truth may be truth in science (although even scientific truth is subject to challenge and revision), but when it comes to Special Counsel, truth is often in the eyes – and ambitions – of prosecutors, who decide which “truth” to believe.
Every experienced defense attorney with whom I have discussed this issue has said that he or she would never advise a client in President Trump’s situation to be interviewed by the Special Counsel, even if that interview were limited to a handful of questions. Even one question that results in an answer that is contradicted by one witness would be enough to spring the perjury trap. That is why pundits and commentators who repeatedly pronounce that if President Trump is telling the truth he risks nothing by submitting to an interview, are simply wrong. Many former prosecutors who repeat this falsehood in their roles as “expert” commentators know the truth. But in their “anything goes” when it comes to nailing President Trump attitude, they are willing to mislead the public into believing that only witnesses who willfully lie are at risk from an interview.
Traditionally, it has been liberals and civil libertarians who have complained about prosecutors springing perjury traps using questionable flipped witnesses. Traditionally, it has been conservatives and law-and-order types who have defended this tactic. But now that President Trump is in the cross-hairs of the Special Counsel, the attitudes have been flipped as quickly as a witness threatened with prosecution.
Hypocrisy abounds on both sides. I, for one, am pleased that Rudy Giuliani, who himself was a tough prosecutor, now understands how this tactic can be used to trap innocent people. I am disappointed, however, that so many liberals, civil libertarians and defense attorneys are unwilling to criticize this tactic when it is directed at a President of whom they disapprove.
Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of The Case Against Impeaching Trump, Skyhorse Publishing, July 2018.
Published in Gladstone institute site
“The Truth, the Truth” When It Comes to Prosecutors? by Alan M. Dershowitz
We all know that the midterm elections are different this time around. They are usually like “all politics,” namely local. But this time around they’re different. They are all presidential, all about Trump, as most everything is. And for the anti-Trump crowd — I’m talking about the political commentators and “analysts” — any and all things bad are held to be Trump’s fault. This is presumably because they believe that their condemnations of Trump will result in a Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives.
A new book explores how graffiti artists in Beirut skirt limitations on expression to share political criticism in the streets.
A photograph of the book “Drawing Lines” by Tamara Zantout, taken at the launch of the book at Beit Beirut cultural center, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 25, 2018.
BEIRUT — Beirut’s alleyways and streets are peppered in bright, detailed and provocative graffiti. Street artists use the medium, which exists in a legal grey area, to express their identity and give voice to political frustrations.
On Tuesday, San Francisco will become the largest city in the nation to allow noncitizens to vote, and the city has spent $310,000 on a “new registration system” specifically aimed at illegals. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the plan is the first in the state and follows Proposition N, a 2016 ballot measure allowing votes by noncitizens over the age of 18, reside in the city, and have children under age 19.
By the count of the Chronicle, only 49 noncitizens have signed up to vote on Tuesday, which works out to $6,326 for every illegal voter, but there’s more to the story. City officials are worried that voting could expose illegals to ICE, who might come looking and possibly deport somebody. So supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a backer of Proposition N, urged the city to spend $500,000 to warn the illegals.
At first Sabbath service after massacre, shooting survivors are blessed; rabbi says to those who condemned Trump’s visit: ‘No one tells me how to welcome a guest in my own home’
On November 3, 2018, a joint communal Shabbat prayer service at Pittsburgh’s Beth Shalom Conservative synagogue following the massacre a week prior which saw 11 Jewish community members killed. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — A week after an anti-Semitic shooter massacred 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, the community embraced each other in prayer on Saturday.
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.” He sees this trend creating a surge in “xenophobic populism.” Writing in Politico, Katy O’Donnell agrees: “Nationalist parties now have a toehold everywhere from Italy to Finland, raising fears the continent is backpedaling toward the kinds of policies that led to catastrophe in the first half of the 20th century.” Jewish leaders like Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, sense “a very real threat from populist movements across Europe.”
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.”
We’ve been told for a long time that the ceasefire is on the way. It had many names in the past, such as tahdiah, hudna, and most recently—”an arrangement.” On Friday, once again, reports started emerging that an agreement has been reached. Several hours later, southern Israel was hit with a barrage of rockets. What happened?
And He said, “You will not be able to see My face, for No Human Being shall see Me and live.” — Shemot 33:20
Faith is deeper than knowledge. While scientific data is absorbed only in the brain, faith permeates all parts of the human personality. Nothing is untouched, all spiritual limbs quiver, and everything is transformed. It is thus more difficult to acquire faith than knowledge, and faith has a more radical effect on the human being.
A Catholic archbishop recently touched on an unspoken but highly subversive phenomenon: How anti-Christian forces exploit Christian teachings to empower those who seek to dismantle Christian civilization, Muslims being chief among them.
In an interview published last summer by the Italian outlet IlGionarle.it, Catholic Archbishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan said:
The King of Jordan, not some lowly clerk, announced that Jordan will not extend the currently existing leases renting two parcels of land to Israel. One is the so-called Island of Peace in the northern Naharayim area and the other located in the southern Arava, near Tzofar, an agricultural cooperative village (moshav). Jordan was entirely within its rights to decide not to renew the leases