The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Republicans

Donald Trump

Youtube Screenshot

Donald Trump has invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in a civil case, and if he ever stands trial on criminal charges, neither a judge or a jury may take that as evidence of guilt. But in the court of common sense, we are entitled to reach the obvious conclusion: Trump has committed crimes and wants to keep them secret.

The Fifth Amendment privilege, after all, is not to refuse to exonerate oneself. It's to refuse to incriminate oneself. Answering questions truthfully, as a rule, is incriminating only to someone who has done something wrong.

In our daily lives, everyone understands this. If you ask a coworker if he took your sandwich and he declines to reply, you have identified the thief. If you ask your child if she cut class and she says it's none of your business, you can guess the answer. Innocent people with solid alibis are usually eager to speak up on their own behalf.

But Trump is a master of stonewalling. When he faces suspicions of wrongdoing, the man who never tires of talking about himself falls into surly silence. So when investigators for the New York attorney general asked him questions related to whether he engaged in financial deception, he took the Fifth some 440 times.


The privilege against self-incrimination serves as a shield against police coercion. It requires the government to shoulder the full burden of proof before it can send someone to prison. It's an important safeguard in our criminal justice system

But there is no denying that Trump's use of it suggests a consciousness of guilt. He had refused to appear when subpoenaed by the attorney general, and he complied only when a state court ordered him to do so.

Concealing the truth is as natural to Trump as cheating at golf. He has declined to release his tax returns, as every other presidential nominee has done for decades. He refused to be interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller during the investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 election. He made a practice of tearing up documents that he was legally obligated to preserve.

He denounced the FBI's search of his Mar-a-Lago estate as part of a partisan "witch hunt." But he chose not to make public the search warrant, which had to specify what material the FBI was looking for and the crimes it suspected. Attorney General Merrick Garland finally asked a judge to release it and a list of the evidence collected. Trump, his bluff called, decided not to object.

Trump claims the congressional committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot is determined to "damage me in any form." But he has tried to block every attempt to learn what he and his aides did during, before, and after the bloody siege.

The White House phone log from that day contains a gap of more than seven hours, even though he is known to have made calls during that period. Clearly, he was actively trying to avoid leaving a trail of his communications.

He ordered some of his chief advisers not to comply with the committee's subpoenas to give testimony. One of them, Stephen Bannon, was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to appear and could go to prison for two years.

Trump has not hesitated to justify his conduct around the Jan. 6 insurrection and in condemning his critics. He accuses the January 6 committee of presenting a shamefully one-sided case, with no witnesses to defend him. But why does he need witnesses to defend him? Nothing is stopping him from appearing before the committee to give his version of events. Trump, however, is unwilling to take that stage.

The reason, it's fair to assume, is the same as the reason that he took refuge behind the Fifth Amendment when grilled by the attorney general of New York. A guilty person, speaking under oath, has three options: 1) lie and risk being prosecuted for perjury; 2) tell the truth and risk being prosecuted for breaking the law,; and 3) zip his mouth.

The third option has its downside, such as reasonable people concluding that you're a criminal. But better for Trump to be thought a criminal by the general public than to be convicted in court and locked up for his crimes.

Trump can blather nonstop against the FBI, the Justice Department, state law enforcement officials, and the January 6 committee. But it's his silences that tell the real story.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Lauren and Jayson Boebert

The neighbors of Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) dialed 911 after a wild altercation with her husband, Jayson Boebert, after he reportedly threatened them and ran over their mailbox.

According to The Denver Post, Boebert’s Colorado neighbors called the cops before 9 pm on August 4, warning the 911 dispatcher that Jayson, who neighbors say is as “dumb as a post” was on a rampage.

“There's about to be some sh** going down here,” Boebert’s neighbors told the cops. "It's Lauren Boebert's jackass husband, Jayson Boebert." The neighbors accused Jayson of threatening them, driving under the influence, and property damage during what the Garfield County sheriff called a “neighborhood disturbance.”


A neighbor, whom the Post didn’t identify, told the Garfield County Sheriff’s office that one of Boebert’s sons had been racing a dune buggy down their quiet residential street in Silt. "He's going like 50 miles an hour and this is a residential lane — there's kids," the neighbor told dispatchers. "We tried to stop him, and he'd just freakin' cuss at us and just left."

In a request for the sheriff, the neighbor said to dispatchers, "It's the Boeberts, if you know who the Boeberts are.”

“Our wonderful congresswoman," another voice sarcastically added in the background, per the audio of the 911 call. “I need a sheriff out here.”

As the neighbors clamored for police intervention, they expressed their fear of what Boebert would do to them, given the pro-Trump House Republican and her family’s obsession with guns.

“I'm sure [Jayson] loaded to the hilt,” a neighbor told the 911 dispatcher. “Do you know who his wife is? Lauren Boebert. She's loaded. They all have guns.”

After complaints about Boebert’s son, Jayson allegedly hopped into his pickup truck and ran over a neighbor’s mailbox, prompting a second neighbor to call 911.

“Stop, you jackass! Get the fuck out of here,” the second neighbor hollered during the call, apparently addressing Boebert. “Come on, man. What are you doing? What did we do wrong? I live here!”

Jayson “threatened everyone I know that’s standing here,” the first neighbor told police, per the Post. “He just got chest to chest, face to face, looking to fight.”

The Garfield County Sheriff, Lou Vallario, dispatched four deputies to the scene, but despite the property damage, no investigations or arrests were made.

“It was a neighborhood disturbance between a couple of neighbors regarding kids on ATVs,” Vallario told the Denver Post. “It sounds like Jayson got upset about the neighbor confronting his kids about their riding. When it was all said and done, they all agreed to work it out as neighbors. No charges. No further action.”

Distressed by Vallario’s inaction, America Muckrakers, a political action committee dedicated to booting Boebert from Congress, called on Colorado attorney general Phil Weiser, the local district attorney, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigations to investigate Boebert’s relationship with Vallario’s office, according to HuffPost.

“This was clearly a serious situation as there were two 911 calls, five deputies, and at least four families involved,” the head of American Muckrakers, David Wheeler, said in an email demanding the investigation, the Post reported.

The office of Colorado attorney general Phil Weiser said they were asked to look into the incident but didn’t confirm whether any investigation would take place, the Daily Mail reported Saturday.

The altercation wasn’t Jayson Boebert’s first reported run-in with law enforcement. In 2004, he pleaded guilty to “public indecency and lewd exposure” after exposing his genitals to two young women at a bowling alley in Rifle, Colorado.

Boebert, a gun-toting House freshman, has had a string of dust-ups with law enforcement herself, starting from her teenage years. She was arrested in 2010 after her two pitbulls attacked a neighbor’s dog.

The future congresswoman was arrested again in 2015 for disorderly conduct; in 2016 for careless driving and operating an unsafe vehicle after her truck ran into a ditch; and in 2017 for failing to appear for her court hearing.