Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Statement from Fitz

This is a great statement from the prosecutor in the Libby trial. Everyone should listen to it.

I need to add my editorial comment:

Libby lied to a grand jury about a material matter in the investigation. How is this different from what Clinton did?

Clinton lied in a fact finding deposition. He was being interrogated by the opposition attorneys in discovery. This is still serious. It does not, however, rise to the standard of perjury unless he lied about a materiel matter in the case.

That is, you can dissemble regarding matters of interpretation, under oath, and still not commit perjury as long as you are not making a "verifiably false statement on a material matter in a court of law or in any of various sworn statements." Further "Statements of interpretation of fact are not perjury because people often make inaccurate statements unwittingly and not deliberately. Individuals may have honest but mistaken beliefs about certain facts or their recollection may be inaccurate. Like most other crimes in the common law system, to be convicted of perjury you have to have had the intention (the mens rea) to commit the act, and to have actually committed the act (the actus reus)."

You will note that Clinton was not found guilty of perjury by the court in which he was being tried. He did not, in fact, lie about a material matter in the case He claimed he did not have "sexual relations." This is, of course, open to interpretation. Clinton's interpretation of "sexual relations" is the loophole he tried to exploit.

I would guess that the judge did not believe he perjured himself because he lied about a relationship with an Monica Lewinski. This relationship happened well after the incident with Paula Jones, and thus would not have been admissible in court. It was thus not a "material matter" in the case.

Had Clinton not gone on national television and said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" he may have lessened his political problem. The damage had already been done, as far as Congress was concerned.

And there you have it, the difference between what we have seen in the Clinton case vs. what we have seen in the Libby case.

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