Serious Trouble
Serious Trouble
Don't Admit Your Crimes in Televised Interviews or Soul-Baring Autobiographies
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Don't Admit Your Crimes in Televised Interviews or Soul-Baring Autobiographies

Trump creates more legal trouble for himself; Hunter Biden may (or may not) avoid jail; Merrick Garland is second-guessed
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Dear listeners,

We’re back with another episode of Serious Trouble. And this week, Ken feels compelled to summon the scream of a goat to express his feelings as we add two more items to the list of contexts in which one should just shut up if under criminal investigation.

One of those contexts is a televised interview with Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier. We look at the admissions Donald Trump made about which documents he retained and why, and how those could help the government, particularly if Judge Aileen Cannon were to throw out other evidence of Trump’s knowledge and intent that is needed to prove the charges against him.

Another such context is Hunter Biden’s 2021 tell-all autobiography, in which he made admissions related to a gun purchase for which he has not yet been charged with a crime. The issue is that Hunter falsely claimed not to be addicted to any illegal substances when he purchased a gun in 2018. As Ken notes, this is a crime that’s rarely prosecuted, and one that prosecutors might never have thought of if he hadn’t written the book. Federal prosecutors are expected to place Hunter Biden in a diversion program, foregoing the gun charge so long as he stays sober and meets other conditions for two years.

Hunter will also plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors, and news reports say prosecutors will recommend a sentence of probation for those crimes. Ken says resolving this sort of tax case with a misdemeanor guilty plea is pretty standard, but that a sentence with no jail time would be on the light side — sentencing guidelines would appear to call for about 12 to 18 months.

That said, Hunter is not out of the woods. Even if prosecutors recommend probation, the judge does not have to accept that recommendation, and tax cases like this are the sort of context where judges sometimes get aggressive on the misdemeanor sentencing — look what happened to Wesley Snipes. And even if he does get probation, he’ll have to stay out of trouble and stay sober as one of the conditions of that probation, which… we’ll see.

Also this week, we look at news reports about internal disagreement within the Department of Justice about whether the January 6 investigation should have turned sooner to the question of criminal liability on the part of Donald Trump, and Ken sticks up for DOJ’s order of operations. We also look at initial orders from Judge Aileen Cannon in the documents case — boilerplate so far — and at the complicating role that the Classified Information Procedures Act could play in the case’s early days.

We hope you enjoy the episode.

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

NYT: How Classified Evidence Could Complicate the Trump Documents Case

WaPo: FBI resisted opening probe into Trump’s role in Jan. 6 for more than a year

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Serious Trouble
Serious Trouble
An irreverent podcast about the law from Josh Barro and Ken White.
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