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Serious Trouble is not a Trump show — it’s a show about law. But the top legal story this week is about Trump, so that’s how we’re starting: with a discussion of the theory of Trump’s criminality advanced by the January 6 investigating committee.
What would it entail to prove in court that Donald Trump criminally sought to interfere with an official proceeding, and should the Justice Department try? What sort of criminal defense would Trump mount if it got to trial? Would Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani end up on the witness stand?
We also talked about how some of the witnesses in deposition videos presented by the committee seemed to be almost enjoying themselves, especially former Attorney General Bill Barr. Can a deposition be fun? Ken has some thoughts on why it can be a good strategy for lawyers to try to keep things feeling fun and light even when the matters at hand are deadly serious.
And we talked about our ambivalence at having missed the defamation lawsuit between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard — arguably the most prominent defamation case in decades and also a huge, embarrassing mess. We’ve talked a lot over the years about how hard it is to prove defamation, especially against a public figure — so how did they both prevail on at least some of their claims? And what does the verdict mean for future defamation litigants?
We hope you enjoy the episode. If you have questions or responses, please share them in the comments section below, or you can email us at RICOhotline@serioustrouble.show.
And here are some links to documents and statutes we discussed on today’s show — you might find these useful as you listen. We’ll prepare a list like this for you to accompany every episode we release.
Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(c)(2) is the statute prohibiting obstruction of an official federal proceeding — did Trump violate it?
Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 contains both the plain-vanilla federal law prohibiting conspiracy to violate federal statutes and the prohibition on defrauding the federal government — did Trump violate that?
What does “defraud the United States” mean? Well, we know what the Department of Justice thinks that it means — take a look at the relevant section of the United States Attorney’s Manual, which includes the case Ken quotes in the episode.
What law governed the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial, and what issues were actually before the jury? Read the jury instructions and find out:
Here’s the SNL cold open about the Depp/Heard trial being “for fun”:
We’ll be back with another episode for you next week.
Ken White, Josh Barro & Sara Fay