Saturday, November 16, 2019

When Attempting To Commit A Crime Isn't A Crime

If you haven't already heard this, you have to see it or believe it.  Trump TV prime-time host Laura Ingraham on Thursday evening stated (as seen beginning at :18 of the video below)

Of course, Nancy, it's in the Constitution. We can read. The President can be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors but even assuming the Democrats' strained and ridiculous interpretation of the facts- and I do not assume them- but just for the sake of their argument, attempted bribery isn't in the Constitution.

Now here is the truth is stranger than fiction fact: Laura Ingraham is a lawyer.

It's hard to believe but according to her Wikipedia page, after working in the Reagan Administration, she

earned a J.D. degree and Ingraham went on to work as a judicial clerk in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and then for United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She also worked for the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York City. Ingraham began her media career in the mid-1990s.

Maybe working for Clarence Thomas accounts for her ignorance of the law. Otherwise, she would understand the strong nexus between bribery and solicitation of a bribe. Those who are strict constructionists would understand "the general federal bribery statute applies to persons who “demand” or “seek” anything of value for the purposes prohibited by the statute." Scholars taking a wider, historical view would recognize

In short, the Founders’ conception of bribery—and thus the scope of that term in the Constitution—cannot be understood with reference to modern federal statutes and the interpretation of those statutes by modern courts. As Tribe and Matz explain, “[T]he Framers were concerned with abuse of power, corruption, and injury to the nation. At no point did any delegate link the ultimate safeguard against presidential betrayal to intricacies of a criminal code... the Founding generation understood bribery broadly, as covering the corrupt abuse of power to obtain personal benefit.

A more legalistic interpretation would suggest

The difference between an attempt to bribe and the actual passage of money or property as a bribe is of little practical importance where the definition of the crime includes an attempt to commit it. This was true at common law and is often true under statutory definitions of bribery. However, separate statutes may be enacted to proscribe a bribery and an attempt to bribe and different punishments may be prescribed for the separate offenses.

"Attempted bribery isn't in the Constitution," Laura Ingraham, University of Virginia Law School 1991, claims. She doesn't explain why attempted bribery isn't a high crime or misdemeanor. It's just another "alternative fact" of, by, and for supporters of Donald Trump.

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