“There is an open frustration among many who want confirmation that we are finally close to a Trump indictment. It is neither satisfying nor entertaining to consistently say that this is far short of any cognizable criminal case. However, the cable news is filled with experts assuring viewers that we are closer than we are. It is like finding a scientist willing to assure viewers that the moon is half its actual distance. It may be an exciting prospect, but it makes any attempt a dangerous pursuit.”
—-George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley, decisively debunking claims that President Trump was guilty of “witness tampering” when he helped hos son craft a misleading description of his meeting with Russians offering “opposition research.”
When the nauseating history of “the resistance” is written, laying out how Democrats, progressives and the news media abused, harassed, undermined, obstructed and withheld basic respect of his office from this President unlike any before him in hopes of overturning an election, Professor Turley will stand tall, just as he did during the run-up to the Clinton impeachment, when he was one of the few liberal scholars with the courage to spit on the Democrats’ “everybody does it” and “it’s just sex” defenses. Along with fellow liberal legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, Turley has steadfastly insisted on legal precision and fairness from the various members of his profession, some distinguished indeed, who have rushed to give aid and comport to anti-Trump zealots by jamming the square pegs of Trump’s conduct into the round holes of criminal statutes.
One of the repeat offenders has been former Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe. Tribe quickly announced that what Trump had done by working on his son’s statement was witness tampering. Tribe previously has opined that Trump and his family was guilty of evidence of obstruction of justice, criminal election violations, Logan Act violations, extortion and possible treason by the president or his family, as well as by May joining Maxine Waters in the indefensible fantasy that Trump could and should be impeached. Tribe also recently tweeted that White House aide Stephen Miller was a “non human,” though that tweet has been taken down by its impulsive author.
Come on, Larry! You can’t do “the resistance” any good by broadcasting your biases like that!
Yes, there is strong evidence that the Trump Hate Virus has eaten away at the once brilliant professor’s prodigious brain, but Turley respectfully treats his latest impeachment fantasy with the respect it might deserve if Tribe were still at its peak:
[A] misleading statement is not a crime in itself — or half of Washington would be serving time. It is spin. It turned out to be remarkably ill-advised and self-defeating spin, but it was a classic effort to emphasize the least damaging part of the story. It was also dumb. The president knew there was a special counsel in the field investigating his role into a possible effort to obstruct the Russian investigation. There were various options in responding to the New York Times story about emails to Trump’s son.
This was the worst of all available options. The president prevented his staff from insulating himself from the story and creating some crush space between him and his controversy. By inserting himself into the controversy, he harmed both his and his son’s legal position. Trump, once again, made the White House the center of gravity for the scandal rather than Trump Tower or the campaign….
However, it still does not make it a crime. Take Tribe’s witness tampering claim. The statutory provision in 18 U.S.C. 1512 addresses an effort to “corruptly persuade another person” to “influence” testimony of that person in the withholding of information. This language has never been extended to a public statement of this kind.
First, there was no existing demand for testimony from Trump Jr. on this meeting. Second, there is no evidence that Trump told his son to lie about the email or the original understanding of the meeting. This was not coaching for testimony but a public defense. Third, even if this were construed to be about testimony, the law contains an express affirmative defense (that needs only be proven by a preponderance of the evidence) that “the conduct consisted solely of lawful conduct” and that the defendant intended to encourage truthful testimony. The Trumps have emphasized what the meeting primarily addressed while downplaying what it was intended to address. They did not address the original purpose in the statement.
Turley goes on to note the pernicious double standards being employed by Tribe and others corrupted by their “resistance” fervor.”
“The Clintons were famous for such spins. Indeed, with knowledge of an ongoing investigation in the field, Clinton repeatedly changed her account of the use of a personal server to transmit sensitive and classified information. It went from an assertion that no classified material was sent (which is untrue) to a statement that she never “received nor sent any material that was marked classified” (which is also untrue).”
Of course, Tribe never raised a peep about Hillary’s conduct on Twitter or anywhere else.
Turley agrees that Trump’s involvement with his son’s explanations was, like so much else the President does, spectacularly stupid:
For those of us who have been skeptical of claims of any prima facie crime, it remains perplexing to watch the president constantly fulfill the narrative of his opponents by seeking to control and spin events. He is someone who is used to controlling an image or brand. It is difficult for him to resist framing a story, despite every indication that his involvement is creating the appearance of criminality, even without any strong evidence of a crime. He is like the guy who constantly runs down the street whenever a car alarm goes off. Special Counsel Robert Mueller would now be within his mandate to look into Trump’s involvement in this highly misleading public statement. That will again broaden the investigation and place the terminus at the Oval Office.
Again, however, that does not make his conduct criminal. His analogy to the paranoid fleeing suspect is apt, as Donald Trump is now like the young African American urban male in danger of being arrested for “walking while while black.” That the President’s liberal foes can not see that a presumption of guilt is equally wrong and threatening no matter who the victim of it is demonstrates how thoroughly their partisan fury has crippled both their judgment and their ethics alarms.