I got a chuckle reading this article today. I found it amusing since I had just had a conversation with an attorney over that precise topic a couple of days earlier. The subject being plea deals for prosecution-friendly testimony such as Rick Gates sold for use against Paul Manafort. Since this is the overt and exclusive tactic in Mueller’s stair-step indictments to cage Trump, I was curious as to its reputation.
So the question I specifically asked in that discussion was: What exactly is the probative value of purchased testimony? I meant that from a purely academic perspective, since most juries could be swayed by a talking turtle and coloring books. So its practical utility was not in question. But if, conceptually, the purpose of a trial is to endeavor toward the truth, what use are prostitute witnesses to that end?
For instance, no court outside the Ninth Circuit would presumably permit Trump-deranged billionaire Tom Steyer to pay a witness millions of dollars for perjury about Donald and Vlad copulating in a flying saucer. But surely even judges understand compensation doesn’t only take shape in green paper rectangles. Imagine if a leftist as clumsy in their contempt of Trump as Steyer were in position to pay for testimony with the most precious resource of all: years of a man’s life. Would that be any less an obvious bribe? The resounding legal answer is: yes, so much less as to be no bribe at all.
If, like me, you find that response somewhat counterintuitive, that is because neither of us understand the simple premise of Mueller’s plea deals. You see, when Mueller offered to pay Rick Gates with years of his life for testifying against Paul Manifort, that wasn’t suborning perjury since Gates was only being hired to tell the truth rather than lie. So if, for example, Manafort had handed a $100,000 check to the presiding judge while urging him to conduct a fair trial, you can imagine the shrugs all around—didn’t everyone want the trial to be fair? So what’s the problem?
I’m not really sure, but I think it would be the same problem as dramatically reducing a man’s sentence in exchange for his absolutely truthful testimony. Here’s an example of how that agreement might be negotiated.
Joe, you’re looking at hard time, my friend. 30 years quite possibly. But we may be able to help. All we’d ask of you in return is the truth about Drumpf.
Alright, I’m willing to give you that. The truth is I know of no illegal activities by him or his organization.
Well Joe, I’m sorry to hear you’re not willing to simply speak candidly on the stand. Not as sorry as your young children, I’m sure. How old will they be in 2048 anyway? I guess it won’t be so hard on your wife though. She’ll find solace with her next husband. Ahh well, take care.
Wait. I’m starting to recall several irregularities I must have previously suppressed. Yes, it’s all coming back in a rush now. I remember Trump and Putin both screaming the N-word while severing limbs during the Rwandan massacre. Would that truth be helpful?
Joe, I knew you were an honest man.
And now that I give the issue more thought, a few honest men is all Bob Mueller is looking for.