FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Prosecutors: Flipping Off the Law with Impunity

“It’s called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal,” US president Donald Trump said in a recent Fox News interview. “I know all about flipping …. Everything is wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go.”

Self-serving? Sure. The president’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, recently struck a deal with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to several crimes — and testified that then-candidate Trump had directed him to make an illegal campaign contribution. In return for his cooperation, he expects a lighter sentencing recommendation from those prosecutors.

Self-serving, yes, but also true. The American criminal justice system is shot through with the behavior in question. The “flipping” President Trump describes isn’t something that “almost ought to be illegal.”  It’s something that is illegal.

Title 18, Section 201 of the United States Code provides that

“Whoever … corruptly gives, offers, or promises anything of value to any person … with intent to influence the testimony under oath or affirmation of such first-mentioned person as a witness upon a trial, hearing, or other proceeding, before any court … shall be fined under this title … or imprisoned for not more than fifteen years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”

The same section similarly forbids seeking or accepting such inducements. And it includes no exceptions for prosecutors hunting bigger game than they’ve already cornered, or for defendants expecting lighter sentences — certainly things “of value” — if they agree to serve as those prosecutors’ hunting dogs.

If the goal of the American “justice” system is indeed to seek justice, prosecutors should charge defendants with the actual crimes they  can prove those defendants committed and judges should levy the penalties prescribed for those crimes, assuming the laws and penalties are indeed just (that’s a different question).

But that’s not the goal, as many prosecutors see it. The goal is to horse-trade toward more and bigger convictions by simultaneously bribing and extorting defendants, offering reduced charges and sentences in return for guilty pleas and “cooperation,” often initially “over-charging” those defendants so there’s more on the auction block.

If, as rumored, every prosecutor sees a future attorney general, governor, or even president in the morning mirror, then above and beyond the aforementioned crimes,  “flipping” becomes a matter of soliciting and receiving illegal campaign contributions, doesn’t it?

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 23, 2019
Peter Belmont
The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order
David Schultz
The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice
Geoff Beckman
Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats
Medea Benjamin
Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup
Patrick Cockburn
What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring
Jim Goodman
Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements
Lance Olsen
Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too
William Minter
The Coming Ebola Epidemic
Tony McKenna
Stephen King’s IT: a 2019 Retrospective
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail