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Washington Post: Donít count on a perjury charge sticking against Sessions [Pointless Exercise]
Hotair ^ | 03/03/2017 | Ed Morrissey

Posted on 03/03/2017 9:57:34 AM PST by SeekAndFind

Will prosecutors — or Congress — force Jeff Sessions to face perjury charges? Don’t count on it, writes Philip Bump at the Washington Post, for a few reasons. Bump more or less skips the obvious one, which is that Sessions didn’t do much more than answer a question in a context in which it is no longer being taken. But even apart from that, two former federal prosecutors tell Bump that the case is flimsy, and perjury’s a lot more difficult to prove than people think:

Perjury demands that the falsehood be material to the testimony, and in the response to Franken, [Paul] Butler said he isn’t sure that Sessions’s statement about meeting with Russians was.

“He wasn’t asked directly about his own contacts, so he could say that his answer wasn’t material because that wasn’t really what the question was about,” Butler said. “In fact, he could say if they really wanted to know that, they could have asked that.” …

Even had Sessions been asked more directly — “Did you make contact with Russian officials as part of your duties with the campaign?” — Butler said he thinks Sessions could “make a credible case that the answer is no,” and that the contacts with the Russian ambassador mirrored his contacts with several dozen other ambassadors he contacted in 2016, as a senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Coincidentally, I spoke with a former federal prosecutor yesterday about this topic as well — Andrew McCarthy of National Review, who appeared as the final guest on my show. In a column he wrote just before that appearance, Andy called the perjury allegation “meritless,” both legally and substantively:

Perjury is not inaccuracy. It must be willfully false testimony. Willfulness is the criminal law’s most demanding mens rea (state of mind) requirement. Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the speaker knowingly, voluntarily, and intentionally — not by accident, misunderstanding, or confusion — said something that was untrue, with a specific purpose to disobey or disregard the law. Therefore, when there is an allegation of perjury, the alleged false statements must be considered in context. Any ambiguity is construed in favor of innocence. If there is potential misunderstanding, the lack of clarity is deemed the fault of the questioner, not the accused. …

In context, Sessions obviously meant that he did not have communications with the Russians in the capacity of a surrogate for the Trump campaign and that he was unable to comment on the explosive allegations in the dossier. Manifestly, he was trying to say that he did not believe that Franken’s outline of the dossier provided any basis for him, Sessions, to recuse himself from any potential investigation. He was not saying that in his capacity as a United States senator, unrelated to the Trump campaign, he had never had any contacts with Russian officials.

It is fair enough for critics to maintain that Sessions should have been clearer. But if we consider this matter not as a political dispute but a potential perjury prosecution, then the burden was on Franken, not Sessions, to be clearer. The witness’s obligation, as a matter of perjury law, is to refrain from willfully providing testimony that is both false and intended to deceive the tribunal. The burden is on the questioner to remove all doubt or ambiguity by asking exacting follow-up questions. …

So, was Sessions’s testimony inaccurate? Sure, especially taken out of context. But was it perjurious? Not even close.

In the serious world, no one would even discuss Sessions’ testimony in terms of perjury. The national news media, however, have rarely been serious over the last several weeks, and Democrats like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi haven’t been serious in years. Sessions created a political issue, clearly, but even that is predicated on an unfair reading of his testimony in the context the question was asked. Even gaming out perjury prosecution as a hypothetical is a silly exercise, although Bump reaches the correct conclusion at the end of it.

In our interview, I asked Andy about Sessions’ recusal, which he had announced just prior to Andy’s appearance. The pre-emptive recusal appeared reasonable to me as a layman, but Andy had a good question to ask in return: from what, exactly, was Sessions recusing himself? Recusals follow evidence of actual crimes and conflicts (and tort claims in the civil arena), not just suggestions and allegations of them. Be sure to listen to Andy’s full explanation of why he thought recusal was arguably premature in a legal sense, if perhaps ripe in a political sense. Our interview picks up at the 60-minute mark for those who wish to cut directly to it.

CLICK ABOVE LINK FOR THE VIDEO



TOPICS: Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; Russia
KEYWORDS: jeffsessions; perjury; russia

1 posted on 03/03/2017 9:57:35 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

“It is fair enough for critics to maintain that Sessions should have been clearer.”

No, it isn’t fair enough. Sessions gave a clear, direct, relevant, accurate and complete answer to the question.


2 posted on 03/03/2017 10:02:34 AM PST by rightwingcrazy
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To: SeekAndFind

Another 100,000 independents for 2018, we are running out of converts.


3 posted on 03/03/2017 10:03:01 AM PST by Jolla
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To: SeekAndFind
It is the serious nature of the charge, not whether it is true or not. The point is this is an exercise in tying up the administration in knots chasing shadows while the clock is ticking. The longer they keep the administration playing defense, the less the need to worry about the offense.

6 weeks after inauguration and many cabinet jobs unfilled, no action on the SC nomination. I guess the idea is also to get Trump to blow his stack.

Meanwhile, jackals like Ryan are crafting a healthcare bill that will ensure Trump will be a one term president as he will not be able to actually get rid of O care, just call it something else with a few changes.

I don't know which group I hate more, the dems or their collaborators in the GOPe.

4 posted on 03/03/2017 10:03:31 AM PST by Mouton (There is a new sheriff in town.)
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To: SeekAndFind

WaPo and Hotair, no less. It looks like this made up story will go the same way as so many others have done. Down the memory hatch.


5 posted on 03/03/2017 10:04:30 AM PST by ScaniaBoy (Part of the Right Wing Research & Attack Machine)
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To: SeekAndFind

Seeing as how the democrat-socialists, and their boot-licking MSM lackeys keep whipping the dead-horse-meme of “russian hacking”, how about we round up every single democrat-socialist who has ever come in contact with a real live “russian”, and put THEM on trial for sedition and insurrection.

We can start with hillary, obama, valjar, podesta, schumer, mc cain, graham, and every MSM journalist who leaked info from “anonymous” (ie: bullshit made up) sources.

President Trump and AG Sessions really need to start clamping down on this bullshit. Pull the plug, and drain the swamp.


6 posted on 03/03/2017 10:12:44 AM PST by factoryrat (We reserve the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: SeekAndFind

If one refuses to answer a Hypothetical question.
RE: If something occurred what would you do?

Q: How can this be perjury ?

Ans : It cant


7 posted on 03/03/2017 10:14:11 AM PST by CGASMIA68
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To: rightwingcrazy

Franken’s rambling diatribe and fishing expedition was nowhere near being a “question”.


8 posted on 03/03/2017 10:15:37 AM PST by FrankR (You're only enslaved to the extent of the charity that you receive!)
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To: Jolla

From this point forward any investigations of any Dem will be called retaliation and pushed by the MSM as such.


9 posted on 03/03/2017 10:30:47 AM PST by DaiHuy (May God save the country, for it is evident the people will not! Millard Fillmore)
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To: factoryrat
President Trump and AG Sessions really need to start clamping down on this bullshit. Pull the plug, and drain the swamp.

Don't think they have the smarts to really understand how important it is to clean house. Or they would have done much cleaning now. Perfect example of the power the organized communists Democrats have so they will destroy Sessions. There goes number two. When will President Trump get wise and he must use his power to destroy the communists.

10 posted on 03/03/2017 10:31:53 AM PST by Logical me
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To: SeekAndFind

The dems don’t care if there’s a perjury charge. They will be going around saying “Under a cloud of suspicion...” “the troubled AG” “started off under a shroud of uncertainty...” and other negative statements.

The public, being somewhat stupid, will forget what really happened, and pay attention to the fallacious language used.


11 posted on 03/03/2017 10:41:02 AM PST by I want the USA back (Lying Media: willing and eager allies of the hate-America left.)
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To: Logical me

We’re little over a month into the Trump administration, and the socialist-democrats are throwing everything they have at him.

They are scared shitless, and lashing out with anything they think will stick.

Ousting Flynn was the first Trump mistake. Never yield ground to the enemy, for ANY reason. Maybe the Trump administration learned something from that, I don’t know.

AG Sessions stays.


12 posted on 03/03/2017 10:45:57 AM PST by factoryrat (We reserve the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: factoryrat
AG Sessions stays.

Why? He is effectively neutered.

13 posted on 03/03/2017 11:20:32 AM PST by itsahoot (Return the power to the people, and Mexico will pay for the wall, 100%)
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To: itsahoot

No, he’s not. The dems can go f### themselves. Like I said, the dems are scared shitless of Sessions. This is why they’re throwing everything they have at trying to oust him, but it isn’t working.


14 posted on 03/03/2017 11:36:41 AM PST by factoryrat (We reserve the producers, the creators. Grow it, mine it, build it.)
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To: SeekAndFind

This isn’t about Sessions. It’s about opening “an” investigation, on anything, it doesn’t matter. This is why they keep screaming about anything “Russia”. They want Trump’s tax returns, they’ll tear it apart with the innuendo that he’s a liar, a paid Russian spy, uncharitable, a mobster, has ties to corrupt orgs, etc.. It’ll never end.


15 posted on 03/03/2017 12:49:05 PM PST by fuzzylogic (welfare state = sharing consequences of poor moral choices among everybody)
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To: SeekAndFind

...and ultimately for the cry for impeachment.


16 posted on 03/03/2017 12:49:29 PM PST by fuzzylogic (welfare state = sharing consequences of poor moral choices among everybody)
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To: itsahoot; factoryrat

I was somewhat underwhelmed by Jeff Sessions’ presser yesterday, but in fairness, this is the first time I’ve seen him speak.

Duchess47 reminds me that AG Sessions is an old southern lawyer type. Genial and gentile, friendly and smiling, until — out of nowhere — they slit your throat.

I’m ready to believe her.


17 posted on 03/03/2017 12:53:19 PM PST by Lazamataz (The "news" networks and papers are bitter, dangerous enemies of the American people.)
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To: Lazamataz
I’m ready to believe her.

There is always hope.

18 posted on 03/03/2017 2:25:14 PM PST by itsahoot (Return the power to the people, and Mexico will pay for the wall, 100%)
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