Donald Trump’s Twitter rants have become the stuff of legend. They will also be remembered in history. In fact, every single tweet that Donald Trump has ever written is saved and stored at the Library of Congress, including the one he wrote on Monday, in which he seemingly tampered with a federal witness. In public. In front of the eyes of the world. By some legal arguments, Donald Trump committed a federal crime in front of millions and millions of witnesses.
“‘I will never testify against Trump.’ This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories ‘President Trump,’” Trump tweeted on Monday. “Nice to know that people still have ‘guts!’”
Now, that tweet can be interpreted as an effort on Trump’s part to persuade Stone to continue to refuse to provide testimony. On a wider level, the tweet can even be construed as a message to others who may be preparing to testify — or who are in the process of testifying — to clam up, so to speak.
However, it is very difficult to prove witness tampering in court, according to Vox.
But even in the eyes of attorneys, Trump’s tweet is dicey — as are all other tweets he has written about the ongoing Mueller investigation.
“Trump’s tweets do look a lot like witness tampering, but it’s complicated because Trump is a politician who says a lot of things for many different purposes. To prove that Trump engaged in witness tampering, prosecutors would have to prove that he made those tweets with a corrupt intent — in other words, the intent to obstruct an official proceeding — and that he wrote with the intent to influence Stone’s testimony,” wrote Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor.
“Trump says a great many things on Twitter and isn’t careful with his words, so some courts have concluded that his words can’t be taken literally or seriously.”
Samuel Gross, a law professor at the University of Michigan, was a little more blunt with his response.
“Are Trump’s tweets admissible evidence of witness tampering? Yes. Period. Would they be enough to convict a president who lies and cheats in plain view every week of the year, about matters small and huge, and gets away with it? Who knows?”
George Conway, a lawyer who is known for having a conservative viewpoint, says that Trump’s tweet could be seen as an attempt to influence witnesses, according to Mother Jones. George Conway is married to Kellyanne Conway.
Intent is a very difficult thing to prove in court. While it looks like witness tampering, it’s impossible to know what Donald Trump’s intentions or motives were when he wrote that tweet. And even if it was, his lawyers could come up with lots of great arguments why this crime can’t be punished.