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What are they hiding? “Collusion” and “Perjury Traps” in the Mueller probe.

What are they hiding? “Collusion” and “Perjury Traps” in the Mueller probe.

Every day a member of Congress attacks Special Counsel Robert Mueller by claiming there’s been “no evidence of collusion” and they argue that the Mueller probe should be “shut down.” A major television network even pushes this narrative as “news” but in a manner you’d expect to see from a state-run propaganda network.  Here’s a simple explanation of the issues that may seem confusing, from a lawyer’s perspective.  I hope this helps you to make your own informed decision about the significance of these comments.  So remove your political lens before reading and form your own opinion.

Conspiracy vs. Collusion

There’s no crime called “Collusion.”  We know that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.  The Mueller probe is seeking to discover whether any US citizens (to include members of the Trump campaign) assisted in the attack on the 2016 US Election & if so, whether any criminal statutes were violated.  The media has framed the issues with the term “collusion” but in reality, Mueller and his team will be considering whether anyone “conspired” to commit a criminal offense(s).

 “No evidence of collusion”

A major television network makes this claim multiple times a day.  Think about this: What does Robert Mueller’s voice sounds like? What about President Trump’s voice? One is recognizable and one is not. Robert Mueller hasn’t made a peep since he began his work. Some claim that his silence means that he hasn’t found evidence of collusion.  They follow up with the argument that the investigation should be “shut down.”  To say that the FBI has found no evidence of collusion because they haven’t shown it publicly is like saying there’s no evidence that the sun exists because it’s nighttime and you simply don’t see it. Evidence simply does NOT get released to the public for many very important reasons.  Then why do we hear so many using this coordinated talking point?

Criminal investigations seek the truth & apply facts to the law to see if criminal statutes were violated. When subjects in an investigation are interviewed, they often lie to cover-up their own crimes.  If law enforcement agents were to release evidence piecemeal over the course of an investigation, it would destroy it’s integrity because it would telegraph the evidence to subjects. The confidential evidence that agents keep in their arsenal are designed to seek the truth & include some of the following:

  • Transcripts of Grand Jury testimony from others; 
  • Telephone records showing texts & calls (often obtained by search warrant or subpoena);
  • Bank records;
  • Emails & other writings; 
  • Notes from interviews with other witnesses;
  • Forensic evidence from electronic devices processed

...the list goes on. 

Seeking the truth

Criminal investigations are an effort to find the truth and it’s always important for an agent to know about things that the witness doesn’t expect they’ll know. Witnesses generally just want to get though an interview without digging a deeper hole for themselves with lies while trying to appease agents that they’re giving a 100% truthful account.  Nobody wants to have to testify against friends and colleagues and many try to give up only what they think the agents already know while they keep new information concealed from them.

But if a witness is willing to lie, there’s a reason for it.  You don’t lie to the FBI purely out of sport.  It often suggests that the witness knows the conduct was illegal and/or it may indicate a specific allegiance to another subject of the investigation. Either way, lies provide information to agents just as the truth does.

A simple example of a common scenario:

A law enforcement agent asks “Witness A” if he’s aware of any information about “Subject B” conspiring with “Subject C” to launder money through the “ABC Organization.”  Since the question doesn’t specifically implicate “Witness A” in a crime on it’s face there’s no inherent reason to lie for self-protection.  If “Witness A” replies “No.  I haven’t spoken with them in years.”  The agent might break out a phone record showing a recent phone call that he had with “B.”  “Witness A” then tries to outsmart the agents by assuming that they ONLY have his phone records.  Afterall, if they had the emails showing the actual conversations about money laundering they surely would’ve showed him.  Thus he modifies his answer with “Oh I forgot. Yes, I called him but we only spoke about our kids and work stuff.” The agent might move on to another topic and let the witness think he fooled the agent for now.  “Witness A” is relieved that they only seemed to have his phone records and he becomes confident it’s just a “fishing expedition.”  This can go on for a while touching on a variety of topics until the agent is ready to tighten the screws to get to the truth.  The agent breaks out an email they obtained from a sealed search warrant showing that he and “B” discussed money laundering with “C” through the “ABC Organization.”  That’s a game changer. “Witness A” knows he’s done.  He just got caught lying to the FBI so they have an easy felony charge and he has to explain why he lied to them about it.  This puts the witness on the edge and closer to his breaking point.  He also knows that the FBI is aware that he’s involved with money laundering and could be facing a lengthy prison sentence. He still may minimize his involvement some but each time he does, the agent breaks out a new email, bank record, etc. and without knowing what they have and what they don’t, he decides that the safest route is to completely flip up new details, names of co-conspirators because he now knows it’s far more than a fishing expedition. He may become a proactive cooperator where he wears a wire to record conversations with Co-conspirators. He consents to the agents taking his phone for forensic processing and gives them new email accounts that were previously unknown. The causes the investigation to branch out further as agents now use the same tactics to interview the new witnesses on their list in the same manner.  This happens over and over again and the scope of the investigation grows exponentially.  It’s been going on for more than a year and by now, there are likely many cooperators.

The ability of closely held FBI investigations to get to the truth is why some now refer to the Mueller probe as a “Perjury Trap.”  It traps those who lie and sets free those who don’t.

Many members of Congress are coordinating on this talking point in order to convince the public that the Mueller investigation should be “shut down because Mueller hasn’t publicly produced evidence of collusion.” This is a fearful cry to sway the public opinion into believing that which they know is a lie.  If the Mueller team had released evidence of collusion on a rolling basis as some say Mueller would, then “Witness A” could’ve successfully lied his way through the interview without fear of being “caught” and forced to admit with truth with hard facts.

This is an elementary example for many, but given the consistently coordinated messages of there being “no evidence of collusion” and arguments for it to be “shut down,” I hope that this simple example might help some to understand why the FBI hasn’t released periodic updates about their evidence.  Law enforcement agencies simply don’t do it because it destroys their ability to discern the truth from witnesses who are predisposed to lie.

Evidence from the public sphere:

Although Robert Mueller and his team have kept quiet regarding the evidence they’ve acquired, there’s been plenty of evidence in the public sphere that strongly suggests there was in fact “collusion.”  Investigative reporters have uncovered numerous contacts with Russian agents that members of the Trump campaign seemed to work hard to conceal.  The media has exposed numerous lies by folks closely related to the campaign.  This is the “smoke” that’s been billowing from this case for over a year and the agents  quietly remain hard at work to find the fire. So the fact is, when folks claim that there’s no evidence of collusion from Mueller, that’s generally true because the Mueller is following a very standard protocol that’s been time tested to get to the truth.  Mueller has chosen to not jeopardize the investigation by releasing evidence and telegraphing to witnesses the best path to successfully lie. Investigative reporters have found a plethora of evidence and it can all be easily researched through reliable media sources online.  It’s important to note also that five subjects have already pled guilty to felony offenses and another 15+ have been indicted, including 13 Russian nationals.  Shutting down a productive investigation that’s important for our national security would be one more act of Obstructing Justice.

The “Perjury Trap”

There’s no such thing as a “Perjury Trap.”  That term, like the term “fake news” was introduced by the Trump campaign since 2016.  When politicians refer to a “Perjury Trap,” they’re referring to questions like the ones I used in the example above where a witness gets caught in a lie because he doesn’t know what information the agents have prior to the interview.  I suppose you could call it a “trap” of sorts because it does in fact trap people.  But the ONLY people it traps are those who try to lie their way out of their predicament. When it happens under oath, it can be charged as Perjury.  So there’s your “Perjury Trap.”  It’s a trap that ensnares only those who lie by using the surprise of hard evidence like emails, phone or bank records or some other reliable barometer of the truth.

Many members of Congress are lawyers and they know this all too well.  Even the non-lawyer members of Congress know that there’s no such thing as a “Perjury Trap” to ensnare truthful witnesses.  Additionally, the “No Collusion” narrative has been coordinated and is repeated often by the same subjects. They spend much energy & effort to shape public opinion to believe that the investigation is a “Witch Hunt.”

Ask yourself “What are they hiding?”

When a major television network or a member of Congress continuously disseminate propaganda about “Perjury Traps” and shutting down the Mueller probe due to lack of “collusion evidence,” ask yourself why they’re working so hard to stop Mueller from finding the truth?  Why do they try to convince people that Mueller would’ve released evidence of collusion when they know that this virtuallly NEVER happens in an investigation?  When someone makes one of these false claims, make a note of who said it and remember that when they run for re-election.  A member of Congress should want the truth to come out in an important investigation with such serious national security implications.

If you hear this narrative from a source who should know better, ask yourself, “What are they hiding?”

 

 

 

Paul Manafort trial begins in Federal Court; EDVA

Paul Manafort trial begins in Federal Court; EDVA

Clowns lurking in the darkness

Clowns lurking in the darkness

 
Todd Stone