Las Vegas Sun

September 17, 2019

Currently: 78° — Complete forecast

Sun Editorial:

How can Trump avoid ‘perjury trap’? By being honest


Andrew Harnik / AP

President Donald Trump speaks during a swearing in ceremony for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, left, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, in Washington.

Rush Limbaugh, the gang at Fox News and other Donald Trump allies are warning that Trump faces a perjury trap in Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Ooh, sounds diabolical. Except for one thing: This would be the most easily avoidable trap ever.

How to beat it? Don’t commit perjury.

Simple enough, and you’d think Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, might address the Mueller investigation that way with Trump instead of helping spread this perjury trap ridiculousness.

But instead, what this situation clearly tells us about Trump’s inner circle and his media boosters is that they know the president would be his own worst enemy in any interview. The only logical conclusion is that they’re conceding that the president is so dishonest and mentally slow that he would be at extreme risk of committing perjury if he went before Mueller or his investigative team.

That’s certainly a strong possibility. Trump has told so many lies about so many things, he’d have to be a master of deceit to keep his various stories straight. And despite his Twitter boasts to the contrary, his actions suggest he’s no genius. He can’t even seem to remember his own stances on major policy issues, as shown when he recently committed to supporting a DACA resolution independent of funding for his border wall, which the White House immediately had to clarify.

So how, if you’re a Trump insider, do you protect him without admitting you think he’s incapable of telling the truth? Suggest Mueller is up to something nefarious.

Which is not the case. A perjury trap is a real thing, but it’s generally defined as a situation in which someone who is not a material witnesses in a case is hauled in with the sole purpose of getting them to commit perjury. In Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Trump is most definitely a material witness.

Trump seems to think he’s in no danger. He told reporters recently that he wanted to testify to Mueller and was willing to do it under oath.

Cobb had to jump in on that one, saying Trump had made his comments “hurriedly” and that the president meant to say he was willing to meet with the special counsel.

Another day, another statement contending the president actually hadn’t said what he’d just said.

But if Trump truly has nothing to hide, why the need for a clarification? And why worry about Mueller setting a perjury trap for Trump if the president truly isn’t culpable and is a big boy who can handle himself?

If that’s the case, Trump could put all of this to rest pretty easily. Just show up and tell the truth.