Lying to the cops should not be a crime

Martha Stewart and Michael Flynn have something in common. Both were nearly ruined for lying to the cops.

In Stewart’s case, she was accused of insider trading for accepting the recommendation of her broker to sell some stock. In doing so, she avoided a loss that was paltry by her standards, less than $50,000.

She was acquitted on the charge that her stock sale was illegal, but was convicted on charges that she had lied to federal investigators about the circumstances of it.

For that, she served time in a federal prison and her media empire was nearly destroyed. She rebuilt her companies, and today she’s once again the crème de la crème of homes and gardens.

Stewart’s decorating style is not my style, mind you, but readers who’ve seen my homes will know that’s a compliment to her.

In Flynn’s case, the FBI wanted to bring a case against the new president for criminal treason. Only one thing was missing: Evidence of treason.

The FBI figured that Flynn, the president’s new National Security Advisor, might have some dirt on the president. They just needed some leverage to get him to dish it.

So two FBI agents casually dropped in to see Flynn in his White House office. Without informing him that he was under investigation and without suggesting he may wish to consult his lawyer, they asked about his phone calls with the Russian ambassador.

Documents unearthed only recently from the FBI files show that the FBI’s goal all along was not to gather information about the phone calls. They had eavesdropped on the phone calls and already knew there was nothing illegal or even improper in them. Rather, their goal was to trick Flynn into saying something that might be construed as a lie. Lying to the cops is a crime.

The FBI plotted to trick a man they knew was innocent to lie, prosecute him for lying, and use the prosecution to pressure him into becoming a witness for them in the treason case they were conjuring up against the president.

They failed. According to their own report, Flynn didn’t lie about the calls. That’s no surprise, since Flynn knew from his earlier work as Obama’s Director of the National Intelligence Agency that phone calls with the Russians are routinely listened in on. He knew that he couldn’t lie, and he didn’t.

But these feds are indefatigable. With some help from their bosses, they re-wrote their report to twist Flynn’s words into a lie (though even the re-write is ambiguous).

The FBI didn’t record their office conversation with Flynn, so they were free to say he said whatever they wanted.

Armed with their re-written report, they indicted Flynn. Not for anything he did or said in those phone calls, but for purportedly lying to the FBI agents about them. Faced with crushing legal bills (Flynn was a career army officer, not a fashion mogul) and the prosecutors’ threat to bring his son into the case, he agreed to a plea bargain.

Even with Flynn’s cooperation, the FBI was unable to build a treason case against the president.

In a bizarre twist, a career U.S. Attorney in the Justice Department recently determined that the case against Flynn was wrong all along. The Justice Department has moved to dismiss it.

Such motions are routinely granted by judges. A judge has no power to force a prosecutor to prosecute.

But in yet another extraordinarily bizarre development, the presiding judge has invited public comment on this routinely-granted motion and has appointed a non-party to the case to argue against it. He has openly mused that perhaps Flynn should be prosecuted for perjury, this time for entering a guilty plea in his plea bargain about lying to the FBI when in fact he did not lie.

(This creative judge is a Clinton appointee who went to a law school that’s only three letters from “Harvard,” called “Howard.”)

Flynn is damned either way. If he lied to the FBI, then he’s guilty of lying to the FBI. If he didn’t lie to the FBI, then he’s guilty of lying to the judge in saying in his plea bargain that he did. Either way, it’s jail time.

This modern American jurisprudence would shiver the spine of Franz Kafka.

Where does it all end? Imagine you’re at the airport security check and a TSA goon asks if you have any fluids greater than 100 milliliters. (Not that they have the foggiest notion what a milliliter is.) You say no.

They check your carryon and find a little hip flask of single malt medicine to ease the pain that they and their comrades routinely and gladly inflict on you every time you fly. They also recognize your name as a writer who is sometimes critical of government overreach and has even been known to refer to TSA goons as “goons.” Your trip is now detoured for 5 to 10 at the federal Supermax.

You laugh, but in my hypothetical example, at least you did violate the regulation against bringing fluid aboard an airplane. In Stewart’s and Flynn’s cases, they violated no laws except the law against lying to the cops.

I call bullshit. The American rule is innocent till proven guilty, not innocent till they can trick you into a lying to the cops.

Postscript: The prosecutor in the Martha Stewart case was one James Comey.

(Published May 21, 2020 in American Thinker)

9 thoughts on “Lying to the cops should not be a crime

  1. The federal and state governments have unlimited amounts of cash to pursue anyone. Bankruptcy or jail is the usual result for the defendant. It is too bad we the people can’t defend ourselves against judicial overreach. LTG Flynn should be compensated for his financial losses.

  2. I have thought about this often since the Martha Stewart case. It is like Stalin’s Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and a score of other tyrannical regimes to stike terror in their citizens. I guess the intent of Congress in creating this law was to provide combative tools to the FBI during the Cold War period. It is encouraging that you bring this up; I hope for a clamour to right this wrong.

  3. The law is becoming an entity unto itself to the point that it serves itself and no longer serves us. Perhaps it is time to simply ‘junk’ the law as it exists and start over with the understanding that basic human law holds sway in the interim such as murder is still murder, lying is still lying, cheating is still cheating and thieving is still thieving. That’s against each other as determined by the community! ___—Sound familiar—___? It’s a GREAT idea. but ONLY an idea that will never work. The law CAN’T be lawful itself! The law is ANATHEMA to the law. One would be better served by knowing who, ‘what’ and more importantly, WHY the law IS the law! A deep, deep thought. good luck. It’s NOT going to get better……

  4. For us hockey fans, it’s like we’re always a man short when fighting the government. The perpetual power play if you will, us skating our brains out just to get back to even strength, them laughing that toothless grin in our face – then Slashing a coupla kneecaps when the ref isn’t looking. It’s like playing Philly in perpetuity. They cheat!
    There’s hope though; we’ve got Barr in goal and Trump plays offense AND defense. SCOOOOORE!!!

  5. Cops are allowed to lie to us in order to get what they want but we can’t lie to them.

    There’s something Unconstitutional about this.

    I’ve learned through experience to never, ever speak to the Cops, Federal or otherwise nor anyone from a Governmental Organization without a Lawyer.

    They’re Masochistic Con Men that are Fat, Lazy and Stupid

  6. I am generally supportive of law enforcement and have never been arrested. However, I have been stopped a few times at “check points” when I was driving, where I was asked to open my trunk by game wardens or otherwise questioned about why I was at a particular location (on public streets). As far as I knew, I had nothing to conceal and complied, but if I had exercised my right to refuse to open my trunk or comment on what I was doing, I quite possibly could have been arrested on a manufactured charge or at least hassled. And, since I don’t know the laws of every state and locality where I drive, what if I had unknowingly has something illegal in the car and inadvertently incriminated myself? So, I can sympathize with others who find themselves in a situation like that, and can understand why black men in particular who are confronted by law enforcement personnel while acting perfectly legally would come to resent it.

    Having said that, however, I also recognize the rationale for “stereotyping” certain people who, as a group, have a higher tendency towards lawbreaking than others. If the people who complain most loudly about that would also acknowledge the responsibility of the members of those groups to comply with the same laws as everyone else, I would be more enthusiastic about supporting their complaints.

  7. Glenn, your article on the subject of the railroading of Flynn is the clearest explanation I have had. Thank you, and keep up the great work, and Aspen Times can and should go to hell.

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