Sir Francis Bacon’s essay, “Of Truth,” begins, “‘What is truth?’ said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.” I can’t say with certainty that Bacon’s Pilate was jesting or capricious about truth, but I can say that Donald Trump is neither. He is a man who never jests and always lies. He lies when the truth would serve just as well. He lies because he enjoys it. You might even say that Trump lies artlessly, obviously, without guile.
In any case, Donald Trump’s propensity for lying is about to take a new and disagreeable turn for him. Sooner or later, almost certainly sometime in the New Year or the next, Donald Trump is going to find himself in a situation when lying all by itself could land him in prison. That is, Trump will find himself under oath. And he will lie.
Putting a man constitutionally incapable of telling the truth under oath is precisely the disaster Trump’s lawyers have been trying to avoid for years. It’s why they wouldn’t let him testify before Robert Mueller. No matter how often they rehearsed any hypothetical line of questioning from Mueller, Trump always wound up lying. He couldn’t stop himself. Freedom from prosecution isn’t the only thing Donald Trump will lose at 12 noon on January 20th. He will also lose his right to lie with impunity.
Even if Donald Trump were to be charged criminally and survive every single criminal charge inevitably coming his way without being sentenced to a prison term, he won’t be able to resist lying when testifying. That alone could be why he goes to jail. Like Nixon, Donald Trump, simply put, is his own worst enemy.
But the news gets worse (or better, depending on who you ask), because Trump is also facing many civil actions against him, especially in the State of New York. Current New York State law makes no distinction between perjury in criminal and perjury in civil cases, and perjury for both carries a statutory maximum penalty of seven years in prison.
New York law treats perjury in the first degree as a very serious crime. First degree perjury is defined as when a person under oath “swears falsely and when his false statement (a) consists of testimony, and (b) is material to the action, proceeding or matter in which it is made.” The only kind of testimony that will be of interest to criminal prosecutors and action in civil courts in any matter concerning Donald Trump will be “testimony” that is “material to the action.” In other words, no one will care if he lies about his favorite color. Every lie that counts will be material and will constitute first degree perjury.
What’s more, this is Donald Trump, a man who can cram more lies into the smallest ideas as any man on earth. So you can bet there will be multiple counts of perjury brought against him. If you reasonably reckon Trump being found guilty of telling five or six lies in the course of testimony, then you can expect him to draw at least three or four years in prison. And that’s only if the sentences for his five or six instances of perjury run concurrently.
But that’s just for one single case. Trump faces numerous cases, both civil and criminal at both the state and federal levels. Trump will be probably 75 or 76 years of age by the time he starts drawing sentences for jail time. He doesn’t have the possible decades of life remaining necessary to survive the amount of jail time he faces. In other words, Donald Trump could very well end up serving life in prison for his lying mouth all by itself. That alone is sweet, poetic justice. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.