Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains Exactly How Mueller Can Use Trump’s Tweets to Charge Him with Obstruction
News broke on Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller might use some of President Donald Trump’s past tweets to prove his intent to obstruct the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
As defense attorney Ken White writes on Twitter, Mueller and his team aren’t trying to make Trump’s tweets a crime, per se — rather, they might use them to piece together a mosaic, combined with other evidence, to determine the true motivations behind the president’s actions.
“A thing that is not a crime can be EVIDENCE of a crime,” writes White. “This is particularly true when it comes to a potential defendant’s mental state — what they knew and when they knew it, what they intended, and so forth.”
White then goes into the Rules of Evidence to give examples of how Mueller might use Trump’s tweets to establish intent.
“Take, for instance, FRE 404(b), which recognizes that uncharged bad behavior may be relevant to show things like intent, knowledge, motive, etc,” he writes. “Take, for instance, civil rights violations. I prosecuted some skinhead tweakers for menacing a multi-racial family to drive them from the neighborhood. Their skinhead dipsh*ttery was irrelevant to show ‘these are assh*les,’ but relevant to show their intent in attacking.”
Bringing it back to the president, White explains that Trump’s tweets attacking the Mueller probe, along with his attacks on key figures in the investigation such as former FBI Director James Comey, could really come back to burn the president when used as evidence against him.
“In the case of the President of the United States, it’s perfectly plausible that his tweets could be evidence of (1) what he knew and when, and (2) what he intended when he did other things off of Twitter,” he writes. “It doesn’t mean the tweets themselves are a crime.”
Read the whole thread below.
/2 Here we go: A thing that is not a crime can be EVIDENCE of a crime. Wasn't that easy? This is particularly… https://t.co/KDs9MAcFB7— MissionToNarsHat (@MissionToNarsHat)1532623176.0
/4 Take, for instance, FRE 404(b), which recognizes that uncharged bad behavior may be relevant to show things like… https://t.co/c2QFonRoUL— MissionToNarsHat (@MissionToNarsHat)1532623355.0
/6 In the case of the President of the United States, it's perfectly plausible that his tweets could be evidence of… https://t.co/cThR5iuPWj— MissionToNarsHat (@MissionToNarsHat)1532623528.0
/8 So: cast a skeptical eye upon the OMG CRIMINAL TWEETS, TWEETCRIME, CRIME MEETS THE 21ST CENTURY, MUH FREE SPEECH… https://t.co/JiTy6Tm4bw— MissionToNarsHat (@MissionToNarsHat)1532623673.0