The buzz phrase du jour in Washington is “perjury trap.” The airwaves were bursting with the light of verbal warning flares, shot off by our president's lawyers, advisors and supportive talking heads. All of this activity was prompted by the president who popped into the press room during a briefing and responded to a question by stating that he would welcome a sit-down with Special Counsel Robert Meuller. He added further that he would do it under oath.
His lawyers have stepped his statements back a bit, saying that they will decide whether he appears. But that isn’t exactly true. The truth is he has no choice if he is: 1. Subpoenaed to appear before the special counsel for an interview; or 2. Summoned to appear before a grand jury.
Either one requires that he appear.
What his lawyers can do is negotiate various aspects of a potential, less formal interview. They can try to limit the scope of questions. They can ask that written questions be provided with written responses returned. They can negotiate the location of the interview if a face-to-face is required. They can ask for just about anything … Meuller has all the power.
But back to the sinister “perjury trap." I don’t get it. Trump can’t be “trapped” if he tells the truth. If he has acted inappropriately and wishes not to divulge any information, he has the same rights as any American citizen to invoke the 5th Amendment. If there is criminal wrongdoing, like his underlings, he can cut a deal in exchange for information.
If you don’t lie, there can be no trap.
Putting all of that aside, let’s focus on the warnings themselves. The lawyers and influential supporters of Trump who are accusing Meuller of concocting some kind of perjury trap sort of baffle me. If I were him, I would be really miffed because it would seem that they all think: 1. I have been lying before; or 2. I actually did something wrong.
But that’s just me!
If he does have to appear, he is in for a grueling experience; and I don’t mean the appearance itself. The preparation will be a nightmare for a man who has admitted to not reading, has a short attention span and is used to “running the meetings” in which he participates. If he balks at his half-hour, condensed security briefings, can you imagine how difficult the preparation for this interview will be for him?
I tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. If the president’s insistence that he has never colluded with the Russians in any way and all the rest of the accusations floating around are false, I believe he really is not worried about an interview.
Even if his ego is hurt or if he is embarrassed in some way with no further actions taken, he still has at least 35 percent of Americans who don’t seem to care much about what the president has said or done. The economy is good, really good by some accounts. People will see some tax relief in the near future. Our judiciary, including the Supreme Court, is distinctly leaning more and more conservative.
Perjury trap? What do they all have to worry about?