Donald Trump doesn't appear to have any idea what a 'perjury trap' is

In an ...

Posted: Aug 22, 2018 11:19 AM
Updated: Aug 22, 2018 11:19 AM

In an interview with Reuters on Monday, President Donald Trump tried to explain why he is wary of sitting down with special counsel Robert Mueller to answer questions about Russia's interference in the 2016 election and the possibility of collusion between his campaign and the Russians.

Here's what he said:

Continents and regions

Court witnesses

Donald Trump

Eastern Europe

Europe

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government organizations - US

Investigations

James Comey

Law and legal system

Political Figures - US

Politics

Robert Mueller

Rudy Giuliani

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

Trial and procedure

US Department of Justice

US federal departments and agencies

US federal government

White House

"So if I say something and he [former FBI director James Comey] says something, and it's my word against his, and he's best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: 'Well, I believe Comey,' and even if I'm telling the truth, that makes me a liar. That's no good."

This is, to be clear, how the President views a "perjury trap" -- a move that his lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has long insisted is the main reason why the President shouldn't even consider sitting down with Mueller.

But what Trump is describing above isn't a perjury trap at all.

Let's define the term first: A perjury trap is when a prosecutor asks questions of a witness knowing that witness will lie. In order to lure someone into a perjury trap, you have to know two things beyond any doubt: 1) The facts behind the question and 2) That the person you are asking the question of is going to lie about the facts.

It's not at all clear that's what would be going on with a Mueller-Trump sit-down -- on matters related to Comey or anything else. And in fact, the scenario Trump lays out isn't even close to a perjury trap. Instead it's a "he said, he said" with a bit of conspiracy theory thrown in. It's a lot of things all at once, sort of like the Triple Lindy.

Trump is saying that his version of events on certain things might well differ from, say, what Comey's version of those events are. That's similar to the argument that Giuliani made during an appearance on "Meet the Press" on Sunday:

"I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury. And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he's going to tell the truth and he shouldn't worry, well that's so silly because it's somebody's version of the truth. Not the truth."

The problem here is that Giuliani (and Trump), whether intentionally or unintentionally, are conflating a "he said, she said" debate with a perjury trap. What they are describing are two people having different recollections of an event. That happens all the time in legal proceedings. Citing it as a perjury trap is a red herring to change the conversation about why Trump might not want to sit down with Mueller.

Then there is the conspiracy theory angle. In Trump's mind, he could somehow be brought up on perjury charges solely because Mueller would choose to side with Comey's version of events rather than his because Comey and Mueller are friends. Which is, um, a pretty big logical leap.

To believe what Trump told Reuters, you have to think that Robert Mueller, a man who has served four presidents -- of both parties -- and who spent a decade as the head of the FBI would be willing to risk his credibility by siding with someone he is friends with rather than the President of the United States. And, by the way, that the entire special counsel team would just go along with it -- thereby risking their own careers and credibility.

Which is, um, not likely.

There is also the issue of whether Comey and Mueller are as close as Trump, Giuliani and the conservative media like to paint them. There's little question that the two have, in the past, had a very close working relationship. They began working together in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and were unified in opposition to Vice President Dick Cheney's attempt to force a re-upping of a broad-scale surveillance measure in 2004. (For much more on that, read this terrific Washingtonian profile of the two men by Garrett Graff.)

Comey's lawyer, David Kelley, told Snopes this:

"Jim and Bob are friends in the sense that co-workers are friends. They don't really have a personal relationship. Jim has never been to Bob's house and Bob has never been to Jim's house. ... They've had lunch together once, dinner together twice, once with their spouses and once after Jim became FBI director so Bob could give him a run-down on what to look out for. [Bob] is not a mentor. He's friendly, as colleagues are."

In truth, however, how close -- or not -- Mueller and Comey are is irrelevant per the point above. Do reasonable people really believe that Mueller would risk his career to take sides with a friend (or work buddy) over the president? No.

All of this is to say: None of what Trump (or Giuliani) is alleging is a perjury trap. Not even close.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37624

Reported Deaths: 1503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12150785
Ramsey4805226
Stearns234519
Dakota228690
Anoka2180107
Nobles16626
Olmsted110115
Washington106940
Mower9452
Rice8357
Scott7004
Clay58538
Kandiyohi5701
Wright4565
Blue Earth4532
Todd4002
Carver3641
Lyon3092
Sherburne3075
Freeborn2900
Steele2281
Watonwan2160
Benton2143
St. Louis17715
Martin1635
Nicollet15912
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1298
Winona12215
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
Le Sueur981
Chisago971
Otter Tail931
McLeod880
Carlton850
Dodge840
Polk812
Chippewa781
Unassigned7637
Isanti720
Itasca6412
Waseca640
Douglas620
Meeker611
Morrison591
Murray580
Becker550
Faribault550
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington500
Pipestone371
Mille Lacs342
Renville322
Wabasha310
Brown302
Rock300
Yellow Medicine300
Beltrami290
Fillmore280
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood180
Cass152
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Roseau130
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30975

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6464179
Woodbury321544
Black Hawk225258
Buena Vista171111
Johnson12648
Dallas126329
Linn126282
Marshall104319
Scott77810
Story7623
Pottawattamie72111
Wapello70630
Dubuque68322
Crawford6772
Muscatine62944
Sioux4630
Tama46229
Wright3801
Louisa36013
Jasper32317
Plymouth3165
Warren2731
Dickinson2642
Washington2369
Webster2132
Hamilton1871
Cerro Gordo1561
Boone1481
Clay1330
Clarke1312
Allamakee1284
Mahaska11517
Shelby1140
Clinton1071
Poweshiek1048
Carroll961
Pocahontas941
Bremer926
Franklin890
Des Moines882
Henry863
Emmet850
Cedar821
Taylor790
Monona760
Cherokee751
Floyd722
Hardin700
Marion700
Guthrie664
Benton651
Sac630
Jefferson590
Osceola590
Jones560
Humboldt541
Butler532
Harrison530
Lee532
Hancock510
Iowa510
Buchanan501
Monroe506
Calhoun492
Delaware491
Fayette480
Madison452
Clayton433
Lyon410
Palo Alto410
Davis391
Winneshiek380
Grundy370
Mitchell370
Mills360
Howard350
Kossuth340
Lucas304
Greene290
Jackson290
Chickasaw280
Winnebago280
Union270
Ida230
Cass220
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
Van Buren200
Worth190
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Adair150
Ringgold150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont70
Rochester
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 91°
Mason City
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 88°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 87°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 90°
Charles City
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 87°
Hot and sticky fourth of July weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Alternative baseball hopes to come to the Med City in 2021

Image

FOURTH OF JULY IN AUSTIN AND STEWARTVILLE

Image

Seans 6pm Weather 7/4

Image

Fans excited for Honkers return

Image

Honkers fall to St. Cloud in home opener

Image

Baseball returns to the Med City

Image

Seans 10pm Weather 7/3

Image

Leaders advocate for the homeless

Image

Fireworks Show During the Pandemic

Image

Pillars of the City Unveiled

Community Events