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In a Trump Hunt, Beware Mueller’s Perjury Trap

Asked if he would agree to be interviewed by Robert Mueller’s team, President Donald Trump told the White House press corps, “I would love to do it…as soon as possible. …Under oath, absolutely.”

On hearing this, the special counsel’s office must have looked like the Eagles’ locker room after the 38-7 rout of the Vikings put Philadelphia in the Super Bowl.

If the president’s legal team lets Trump sit for hours answering Mueller’s agents, they should be disbarred for malpractice.

For what Mueller is running here is not, as Trump suggests, a “witch hunt.” It is a Trump hunt.

After 18 months investigating Trumpian “collusion” with Putin’s Russia in hacking the DNC’s and John Podesta’s emails, the FBI has hit a stone wall. Failing to get Trump for collusion, the fallback position is to charge him with obstruction of justice. As a good prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, the tactic is understandable.

Mueller’s problem: He has no perjury charge to go with it. And the heart of his obstruction case, Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, is starting to look like something Trump should have done sooner.

Consider what is now known about how Comey and the FBI set about ensuring Hillary Clinton would not be indicted for using a private email server to transmit national security secrets.

The first draft of Comey’s statement calling for no indictment was prepared before 17 witnesses—and Hillary herself—were even interviewed.

Comey’s initial draft charged Clinton with “gross negligence,” the requirement for indictment. But his team softened that charge in subsequent drafts to read “extreme carelessness.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, among others, appears to have known in advance an exoneration of Clinton was baked in the cake. Yet Comey testified otherwise.

Also edited out of Comey’s statement was that Hillary, while abroad, communicated with then-president Obama, who had to see that her message came through a private server. Yet Obama told the nation he only learned Hillary had been using a private server at the same time the public did.

A trial of Hillary would have meant Obama in the witness chair being asked, “What did you know, sir, and when did you know it?”

More information has also been unearthed about FBI collusion with British spy Christopher Steele, who worked up—for Fusion GPS, the dirt-divers of the Clinton campaign—the Steele dossier detailing Trump’s ties to Russia and alleged frolics with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel.

While the Steele dossier was shopped around town to the media, which, unable to substantiate its lurid and sensational charges, declined to publish them, Comey’s FBI went all in.

Not only did the dossier apparently trigger a wider FBI investigation of the Trump campaign, it served as the basis of FBI requests for FISA court warrants to put on Trump the kind of full-court press J. Edgar Hoover put on Dr. King for the Kennedys and LBJ.

Amazing. Oppo-research dirt, unsourced and unsubstantiated, dredged up by a foreign spy with Kremlin contacts, is utilized by our FBI to potentially propel an investigation to destroy a major presidential candidate. And the Beltway media regard it as a distraction.

An aggressive Republican Party on the Hill, however, has forced the FBI to cough up documents that are casting the work of Comey’s cohorts in an ever more partisan and sinister light.

This cabal appears to have set goals of protecting Obama, clearing Hillary, defeating Trump, and bringing down the new president before he had even taken his oath of office.

Not exactly normal business for our legendary FBI.

What have these people done to the reputation of their agency when congressmen not given to intemperate speech are using words like “criminal,” “conspiracy,” “corruption,” and “coup” to describe what they are discovering went on in the FBI executive chambers?

Bob Mueller, who inherited this investigation, is sitting on an IED because of what went on before he got there. Mueller needs to file his charges before his own investigation becomes the subject of a Justice Department investigation by a special counsel.

As for Trump, he should not sit for any extended interview by FBI agents whose questions will be crafted by prosecutors to steer our disputatious president into challenging or contradicting the sworn testimony of other witnesses.

This a perjury trap.

Let the special counsel submit his questions in writing, and let Trump submit his answers in writing.

At bottom, this is a political issue, an issue of power, an issue of whether the Trump revolution will be dethroned by the deep state it was sent to this capital to corral and contain.

If Trump is guilty of attempted obstruction, it appears to be not of justice, but of an injustice being perpetrated against him.

He should be in no hurry to respond to the FBI, for time no longer appears to be on Mueller’s side.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

43 Comments (Open | Close)

43 Comments To "In a Trump Hunt, Beware Mueller’s Perjury Trap"

#1 Comment By Youknowho On January 25, 2018 @ 11:51 pm

There is a surefire way to avoid the perjury trap.

Tell the truth.

#2 Comment By Pear Conference On January 26, 2018 @ 4:27 am

A Glossary of Trumpism
______________________

Accountability (obsolete): see “Deep state”

Rule of law (obsolete): see “Deep state”

Separation of powers (obsolete): see “Deep state”

#3 Comment By Lefty On January 26, 2018 @ 6:09 am

Mueller’s fallback position isn’t obstruction of justice, it’s laundering of Russian mob money involved in hundreds of Trump real estate transactions that continue to the present day.
The fact that these transactions open the President and his family to blackmail makes them even more dangerous to the United States.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Look it up, it makes for fascinating reading.

#4 Comment By Jim Swarthout On January 26, 2018 @ 6:52 am

HAHAHAHA. Buchanan, you have always been unethical, but now you have descended into pure delusion . . . Not to say that there have not been mistakes on the side of the FBI, but to put those mistakes into the realm of ‘vast left-wing conspiracy’ and deep-state hooey, all the while ignoring the clear connections that the DJT campaign had to the Russian state (EVEN if there wasn’t ‘collusion’ in the end) is to simply reveal that you have long since broke free from whatever mooring to which you may, once, have been tethered.

#5 Comment By Scott in MD On January 26, 2018 @ 7:40 am

“If the president’s legal team lets Trump” – Because we have already seen how well this President listens to the advice of his advisors.

Keep on advocating for him, sir. Eventually, he may become worthy of your support.

#6 Comment By Ray On January 26, 2018 @ 8:26 am

Mr Buchanan,

I’m not sure why you assume that Special Prosecutor Mueller has it in for Trump. He is a Republican, appointed by Mr Trump, for one thing.

More importantly, he is almost universally acknowledged to be a man of integrity and loyalty to the United States. A former Director of the FBI (confirmed by unanimous vote of the Senate). He is even a freakin’ decorated Marine for God’s sake. He is personally unimpeachable.

He was assigned the task of investigating whether there was wrongdoing related to Russian influence during the 2016 election and that is what he is doing. And until that investigation wraps up neither you nor I will know whether there was or was not wrongdoing. Furthermore, this investigation is only just starting. The Iran-Contra, Watergate and Whitewater investigations lasted years, for example.

[1]

Your assumption that Mr Mueller has it in for the President can only be true if (1) the President actually has done no wrong and (2) Mueller already knows that.

Neither you nor I are in a position to know whether (1) is true and (2) cannot be true until the investigation has run its course – likely over many years.

Since your assumption – that Mueller is on a Trump-Hunt – cannot be true, Occam’s Razor would suggest that the most obvious explanation is the best: Mueller is simply doing the job he was assigned to do.

#7 Comment By collin On January 26, 2018 @ 8:39 am

How many do DAs prepare drafts of charges before witnesses?

1) The FBI leaked against HRC like crazy before the election while not admitting to investigations against Trump. Few people don’t see this.
2) Again the Steele dossier is not first evidence by the FBI on FISA.
3) Why shouldn’t Trump testify? HRC did numerous ties and was in front of Republican committee for 11+ hours.

Again, the reality is the Russians hacked e-mails from the DNC and Trump administration is doing nothing about it. Or they are trying to hack Senators accounts. And they are still doing this to European nations and Twitter bot ReleaseTheMemo nonsense. (TBH the bots have little effect)

#8 Comment By Shinred On January 26, 2018 @ 9:15 am

This is a very unusual column. How is the collusion investigation crumbling? it just asserts this as a known fact but does not say how. Maybe if you get your news from “Fox and Friends” it may look like the investigation is crumbling but in the real world it looks like it is closing in. Mr Buchanan is reliving his experiences in Watergate where he announced on many occasions that Nixon was out of the woods. I do not know where the investigation is going but it characterize it as “crumbling” is deliberately wrong.

#9 Comment By Dan Green On January 26, 2018 @ 10:04 am

The Democrats may have to expedite their use of the 25th amendment, declaring Trump insane.Treason may be a long shot and could backfire.

#10 Comment By John On January 26, 2018 @ 10:08 am

Here it is: “At bottom, this is a political issue, an issue of power, an issue of whether the Trump revolution will be dethroned by the deep state it was sent to this capital to corral and contain.”

Mr. Buchanan does not really care all that much about the evidence. His assertion that the investigation is ‘crumbling’ is pure fantasy, believed by no one but Nunes and Gowdy. The diversion into the Clinton email investigation is just another red herring. And so on.

We know, Mr. Buchanan supported Republican presidents who saw dozens of indictments and jailings of their officials. It’s understandable that he does not want to live through another round of so many of his allies resigning in disgrace or going to prison. However, perhaps the solution is to nominate presidential candidates with a shred of integrity rather than trying to destroy the prosecutor.

#11 Comment By Allen On January 26, 2018 @ 10:54 am

There’s an old lawyer saying: “If you can’t try the case, try the cop.” If your case is a total loser, you have to go on attack. Try to find a glitch in the probable cause, in the police officer’s testimony, in the chain of custody, in a misspelled word-anything that distracts from the facts. Desperate lawyers do desperate things and it’s obvious that Mueller and the MSM are getting increasingly desperate.

#12 Comment By Michael Kenny On January 26, 2018 @ 11:04 am

If Pat Buchanan is panicking, that suggests that he thinks that Mueller is on the right track.

#13 Comment By Winston On January 26, 2018 @ 11:11 am

Impeachment requires a simple majority in the House and a 2/3 majority in the Senate. Permanent removal requires a 2/3 vote in both houses.

Even if Mueller could, as intended, influence the mid-terms enough for the globalist Dems to gain a simple majority in the Senate, they’d never gain enough seats to get a 2/3 removal vote.

However, they might be able to assemble enough RINOs to get a 2/3 Senate vote to impeach without removal at which point the Senate may subsequently vote on whether the impeached official shall be disqualified from again holding an office of public trust in the United States. Only a simple majority Senate vote is required in that case.

The Deep State (aka Swamp) gets what it was after ever since it failed to prevent Trump from gaining office – a one term Trump. Mission Accomplished!

#14 Comment By Ken T On January 26, 2018 @ 11:17 am

Allow me to point out the obvious – a “perjury trap” is by definition a trap set to catch someone who is committing perjury. Perjury is a crime, even when committed by the President. The President is not above the law. No, Mr. Buchanan, this is not at bottom a political issue. This is at bottom a legal issue. The question that is in the process of being answered (again!) is “are we in fact a nation governed by the rule of law?”

The Republican Party has spent the last 45 years trying desperately to answer that question with a resounding “NO!” It started with your first hero declaring “When the President does it, it’s legal”. Well, we know where that got him. And IF the US still exists as a constitutional republic, it will get Trump no further.

Actually, you and Trump should be glad that rule of law still exists. Remember what happened to King Louis when he tried the same gambit “L’etat c’est moi”. We all know what happened to him, too. It wasn’t pretty.

#15 Comment By SDS On January 26, 2018 @ 12:02 pm

OH, Pat- NOW you’re starting to sound like FOX NEWS!
Stop it already!
Admit it and accept it- Trump conned lots of us hook, line and sinker!

#16 Comment By KevinS On January 26, 2018 @ 1:06 pm

There are two reasons his lawyers should not allow him to testify: 1) he probably did try to obstruct the investigation and 2) he is either a serial liar or just plain makes stuff up on the spur of the moment and is unable to remember what he said before. But as Judge Judy always says….if you tell the truth, you don’t need a good memory.

And remember that Bill Clinton was impeached by the republicans for obstruction of justice, not any of the “crimes” that initially motivated Ken Starr’s Whitewater investigation.

#17 Comment By KevinS On January 26, 2018 @ 1:12 pm

Dan Green writes, “The Democrats may have to expedite their use of the 25th amendment, declaring Trump insane.”

The 25th amendment would most likely have to invoked by the cabinet and VP. Last time I looked, they were not Democrats.

#18 Comment By ukm1 On January 26, 2018 @ 1:30 pm

Businessman-President Donald J. Trump deserves to go down the history just like President Dick Nixon did for lying and just like President George Bush II did for starting war of choice in Middle East.

After giving amnesty to the illegals, Businessman-President Donald J. Trump should be avoided by American voters for re-election at this point.

Businessman-President Donald J. Trump is a phony and a fraud.

#19 Comment By Robert Otis On January 26, 2018 @ 2:36 pm

It time for President Pence–nice ring to it

Pat, it time for you to reclaim your integrity and grow up. He is going to ruin the Republican party for years to come.
Where I live, we don’t like Commies, Nazi’s and child molesters
Enough is enough.

#20 Comment By andy On January 26, 2018 @ 2:52 pm

Here’s a summary: We can’t hold Trump responsible for his actions because HILLARY.
You’re better than that, Pat.

#21 Comment By john On January 26, 2018 @ 3:30 pm

Get him on the stand under oath and ask him how tall he is.
Done, Barry Bonds was put away for less.

Seriously though I tend to think of law enforcement as “leaning right” politically. The notion that the FBI are a bunch of pinko commies is absurd.

Trump did real-estate in NY in the 80’s he for sure had to deal with the mob, statute has run but I bet there is plenty of fishy financial stuff going on in the Trump orginization seek and ye shall find

#22 Comment By Tulsa Ron On January 26, 2018 @ 4:01 pm

Pat:
I’ve always been a Buchanan supporter, and read and agree with everything you say.
But, this time you’ve gone too far. Trump invents his own reality, and now you’ve bought into it. All of Trump’s people colluding, conspiring, coordinating with the Russians without Trump’s knowledge is impossible & unbelievable.
What’s happened to you, Pat?

#23 Comment By Dale On January 26, 2018 @ 4:08 pm

Is Pat Buchanan surrounded by yes people all the time? How can someone have lived as many years as Mr. Buchanan has lived and learned so little.

#24 Comment By Dee On January 26, 2018 @ 4:17 pm

It’s ridiculous for folks to say there’s no evidence of collusion either. There are literal emails of Don Jr agreeing to meet w/ Russians in order to get “dirt” on Clinton. The intent is clear. Bannon rightly described that as treasonous.

#25 Comment By JK On January 26, 2018 @ 4:23 pm

I think Trump should freely talk to Mueller (under oath) and that The Donald will come through with flying colors. Mueller will fall in love with him. What’s not to like about him? Mueller’s mother voted for Trump. It’s true. It’s true.

#26 Comment By Lenny On January 26, 2018 @ 9:29 pm

So James Comey, a life long Republican came out 11 days before the elections to declare he was re-opening the investigation into Clinton, most likely costing her the elections, but somehow is a leftist conspirator?

#27 Comment By sean mcauliffe On January 26, 2018 @ 10:01 pm

KEN T:

Louis X1V said “I am the state (L’etat c’est moi”. )
Louis XV said “after me the flood”
Louis XVI could not say anything because his head was not connected to his body.

I remember very little from my european history class but somehow this stuck in my head.

#28 Comment By trackfan On January 26, 2018 @ 10:12 pm

“Also edited out of Comey’s statement was that Hillary, while abroad, communicated with then-president Obama, who had to see that her message came through a private server. Yet Obama told the nation he only learned Hillary had been using a private server at the same time the public did.”

Really Pat? You think Obama checks the servers of everyone he receives email from? Who does this? What percentage of the American people even know how to do this?

#29 Comment By Dan Green On January 27, 2018 @ 8:02 am

The home run the left pursues of impeachment will be very unsettling during this period when our economy is recovering from the damage Wall Street was allowed to inflict.

#30 Comment By amused bystander On January 27, 2018 @ 9:01 am

…the kind of full-court press J. Edgar Hoover put on Dr. King for the Kennedys and LBJ….

Coming from Mr. Buchanan this is – to use a term my kids use frequently – AWESOME

#31 Comment By Sandra On January 27, 2018 @ 1:02 pm

Here is miscarriage of justice far worse than anything being implied here: A special prosecutor is appointed to investigate real estate deals gone awry. He investigates for two years but finds nothing substantive against the president. He does, however, discover there is some tawdry stuff going on in the oval office that, if made public, would damage the president. Problem is, it is NOT ILLEGAL. So the prosecutor has to find a way to make it illegal so he invents some loose connection to his investigation like “pillow talk” and uses it as an excuse to question the president about his affair which of course the president denied. Because the prosecutor had extraordinary powers he brought an obstruction of justice charge because the president lied under oath about something that wasn’t illegal in the first place and had no relevance to the investigation. THAT Mr. Buchanan is justice run amok. What you are describing doesn’t even compare. Now if Mueller brings Trump in and questions him about his sex life then you might have something to write about.

#32 Comment By EngineerScotty On January 27, 2018 @ 4:07 pm

Buchanan was a Squealer for Nixon, and now he’s a Squealer for Trump.

#33 Comment By KevinS On January 27, 2018 @ 7:52 pm

Sandra: BRAVO!!!

#34 Comment By Joe On January 28, 2018 @ 9:16 am

“…..an issue of whether the Trump revolution will be dethroned by the deep state..”

The Trump “revolution” is really the status quo. I’ve liked Buchanan’s articles for years, but with Trump its getting difficult to take him seriously.

#35 Comment By Brendan Sexton On January 28, 2018 @ 2:17 pm

I think Youkonwwho, said it all: the perfect defense against a ‘perjury trap’ is to NOT perjure yourself. That is, tell the truth. Tell it over and over and from every angle, but make sure whatever you say is true.
What is going on is a remarkable thing to witness: Trump’s supporters here (and all over the place), asserting that Trump must not swear* to tell the truth because someone will show it is not the truth–therefore perjury, therefore don’t say nothin’ to nobody, nohow if it’s going to be under oath.
A mobster’s dictum if I ever heard one.

*Under the relevant law, lying to a federal agent even if not under oath is treated more or less the same as ‘usual’ perjury. Just tell the truth, my President.

#36 Comment By Moishe On January 28, 2018 @ 5:10 pm

Pat, You write that the president is “disputatious.” I think you meant to write “compulsive liar.” This is truly amazing. All week on Fox, I’ve been watching commentators twist themselves with terms like “loquacious” and “bombastic” when describing our president and why he shouldn’t testify under oath. What you all obviously mean is that our president is a liar, and a compulsive serial liar at that. This is a “perjury trap” because our president cant help but lie. It’s really not hard to avoid perjury: You just tell the truth. Simple, no? But it’s fairly obvious that even the majority of republicans are terrified that Trump can’t do that because he’s …well…Trump. So there seem to be two obvious possible conclusions here: One, there was collusion with a foreign government, and/or obstruction, in which case Trump is unfit to be President. (Spare me the nonsense about collusion not being a crime- I’m talking about fitness for office) or Two: There was no collusion/Obstruction, but Trump will perjur himself regardless because he just naturally lies…In which case he’s not fit for office. I suppose there’s a third possibility, in which both of the preceding are true. But the bottom line, which just about every talking head, columnist, pundit, etc has agreed on, whether they couched their language or not, is that Trump is a serial liar. And no amount of “Hillary did this” or “Obama promised” will change that fact, or make it okay.

Conservatism used to be about integrity.

#37 Comment By EngineerScotty On January 29, 2018 @ 3:23 am

Allow me to point out the obvious – a “perjury trap” is by definition a trap set to catch someone who is committing perjury. Perjury is a crime, even when committed by the President. The President is not above the law. No, Mr. Buchanan, this is not at bottom a political issue. This is at bottom a legal issue. The question that is in the process of being answered (again!) is “are we in fact a nation governed by the rule of law?”

A “perjury trap” refers to an act of prosecutorial misconduct in which a prosecutor, unable to prove the substance of the matter he his investigating, instead seeks to use the grand jury forum (where one cannot plead the Fifth) to ask incriminating or embarassing questions that the prosecutor already knows the answer to–and then indicts the subject for perjury (for lying to the grand jury). As was allegedly done to Bill Clinton–he wasn’t impeached for Watergate or any other matter, but for perjuring himself in the Lewinsky affair.

The essence of the “perjury trap” defense is that a witness wasn’t called for the purpose of furthering an investigation, but with the purpose of catching him in a lie under oath for a perjury charge. Such charges are hard to prove. (Since Clinton was never indicted, only impeached, the affirmative defense that might have been available never came into play).

[2]

The problem with Buchanan’s article is the ridiculous assertion that perjury is all that Mueller has.

#38 Comment By DJ Tanyan On January 29, 2018 @ 9:33 am

Buchanan must be have an ‘equity stake’ in AC. why else would you let this gasbag still comment on anything having to do with “presidential affairs.” Truly pathetic.

#39 Comment By BobS On January 29, 2018 @ 9:49 am

“Conservatism used to be about integrity.”

When exactly was that?
When candidate Nixon interfered with Vietnam peace negotiations?
Watergate?
When candidate Reagan interfered with Iran hostage negotiations?
Iran-Contra?
Powells dog-and-pony act at the UN?

#40 Comment By A DC Wonk On January 29, 2018 @ 11:16 am

“Mr. Buchanan does not really care all that much about the evidence. His assertion that the investigation is ‘crumbling’ is pure fantasy, believed by no one but Nunes and Gowdy.”

Even Gowdy doesn’t believe that! For maximal irony, let me quote Brietbart.com here, for what Gowdy said on Fox (!!) :

On this weekend’s broadcast of “Fox News Sunday,” House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said he had “100 percent” confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller.

Gowdy also urged Republicans criticizing Mueller to “leave him the hell alone.”

#41 Comment By Moishe On January 29, 2018 @ 12:51 pm

To BobS: Okay, Conservatism was supposed to be about integrity. Is that better?

#42 Comment By A DC Wonk On January 29, 2018 @ 2:25 pm

Josh Marshall, in a post today, summed up the obstruction of justice situation thusly:

If we step back and look at the entire first year of Trump’s presidency, the clarity and consistency of Trump’s effort to use all the powers of the presidency to obstruct the Russia probe is remarkable. We start with demanding loyalty from the FBI director; next, he’s asking the Director to drop a key part of the probe; next he’s firing the Director; next he’s ordering the firing of the Special Counsel, the man who replaced the Director as the head of the probe; next he’s trying to bully the Attorney General into resigning so he can replace him with a loyalist who could reclaim control of the probe; intermixed with this he is demanding a purge of the men he believes are loyal to the FBI Director he fired to end the Russia probe; now we learn the President wanted them fired because they could testify against him.

When you piece the entire drama and storyline together it is remarkable for its consistency ….

One way to look at this is that the President not only sought to obstruct Comey’s investigation. He tried to obstruct the investigation when it continued under Mueller. That’s sure to inflame a career prosecutor who has been trained and acculturated to see obstruction as an attack on the law enforcement process itself. But a better way to look at it may be to see that Trump treated Mueller to six-plus months of what we might call obstruction of justice performance art, right in front of his face, that he could surveil, record and investigate in real time.

It occurs to me that this is part of the reason the investigation will continue for a while: Trump keeps committing further acts of obstruction

#43 Comment By Anon On January 29, 2018 @ 7:21 pm

“Perjury Trap”? You mean like the one Republicans used to get Bill Clinton?