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
The US Treasury added three top Hezbollah figures to its list of sanctioned individuals on Tuesday, including two members of the Lebanese Parliament and a security official responsible for coordinating between Hezbollah and Lebanon’s security agencies.
It was the first time the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had designated a member of Lebanon’s Parliament under a sanctions list that targets those accused by Washington of providing support to terrorist organizations. Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
South African fans in Cairo celebrating their team’s win over Egypt at the African Cup of Nations. Photo: Reuters / Sumaya Hisham.
Three days after South Africa stunned the world of international soccer by knocking hosts Egypt out of the 2019 African Cup of Nations, the sound of elation remains clearly detectable in the voice of the team’s Jewish midfielder, Dean Furman.
“It was a fantastic victory, just fantastic,” Furman told The Algemeiner during a break in training on Tuesday, as South Africa prepared for its crucial quarterfinal game against Nigeria, another of the continent’s toughest sides, tomorrow.
Pieter van Oordt, left, with his brother, Roger, at the Israel
For the second time in recent history, a Dutch Christian organization dedicated to supporting Israel has gone head-to-head with the government. With their family tradition of belief in Israel that preceded the state of Israel by almost one hundred years, it seems unlikely that the van Oordts are about to back down, no matter what the odds.
Last month, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy made a request from the management of the Israel Products Center (IPC) to ensure they were in compliance with regulations adopted in 2015 by the European Commission requiring products made by Jewish owned companies in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and sections of Jerusalem to be labeled in a manner indicating their origins.
Studies have shown that dairy cows contribute large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the organisms living in their microbiomes.
Genetically modifying cows may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and feed world populations, a new study led by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev suggests.
“Our findings are both a major breakthrough for basic science and will have a positive impact on two major challenges facing the international community for the foreseeable future: climate change and food security,” Mizrahi said.
The decision by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi to promote Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter reflects his future political aspirations.
Incoming Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi walks out at the end of a handover ceremony where he replaces Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan. 15, 2019.
Israel has its own version of Napoleon’s famous saying, “Every soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his pack.” In these parts, every general carries a prime minister’s baton — or at least that of a defense minister — in his pack
As Islamist Watch has pointed out many times before, Islam is enormously diverse – containing many competing schools of theology, schools of jurisprudence, sects, ethnicities, cultures and mysticisms. Islamism is also not a single force; it comprises dozens of (both) competing and collaborating radical ideologies.
One of the most intriguing divisions, then, within both American Islam and Islamism of late has been growing dissent over the question of liberalism.
Right after Trump’s inauguration, I ran an article about how incredibly fake the news coverage was about his inauguration. (Those reading my site know I’m not a big Trump fan, but credit where credit is due and calling fake where calling fake is due.) The media was nothing short of spectacularly fake in the news it contrived that week on CNN, the New York Times and the other major fake media, and they mostly got away with it.
It wasn’t condescension or contempt. Recent remarks by former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit reek of racism. That is the proper way to frame them, calling them anything else is letting him off easy. In its classic, formal sense, racism is when a certain social sector perceives itself as superior because of clear racial criteria. Shavit represents an updated version of racism that doesn’t require ethnicity or religion as proof of a defect – you can call it “essential racism.”
Little Napoleon Barak is going to save Israeli Democracy? What a bunch of claptrap Orwellian doublespeak.
Well let’s check out history. How well did the original Napoleon save France’s democratic revolution against the monarchy?
Hmm, if I recall he crowned himself emperor!
For years, the pundits have been telling us that Israeli democracy is in danger because of the Arab birthrate, or because of the Jewish nation-state law, or because of the debates over the powers of Israel’s High Court.
I wonder if they will recognize the danger posed by the 10 left-wing American Jewish organizations that have formed a new umbrella organization, the essential purpose of which is to undermine Israeli democracy.