In an interview with MSNBC broadcast on Saturday, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance explained why Attorney General William Barr might not be able to protect Donald Trump administration officials from prosecution, reports Raw Story.
Host Joy Reid opened the discussion by pointing out that impeachment witness E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland changed his testimonies numerous times, leading to accusations of perjury.
The host also pointed out that the Department of Justice, under Barr’s control, will likely not seek to prosecute the ambassador, asking Vance how Trump administration officials can be charged with crimes.
Vance explained that Sondland “almost set himself up to have an imperfect memory defense here, saying he wasn’t permitted access to his records,” before explaining why Barr might not be able to protect the officials forever.
“Something that they need to remember is, whatever William Barr’s Justice Department is up to, the statute of limitations runs for five years,” the legal expert said, arguing that Trump administration officials are counting on the president winning again in 2020 to avoid prosecution.
If Trump loses re-election, however, and a different attorney general is appointed, those close to him might end up being prosecuted, including witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.
“They are gambling on whether there might be a different Justice Department after elections in 2020, and whether or not people who deliberately surrounded Trump with a cover-up, whether they might not be finally be facing justice.”
Sondland, who was appointed ambassador by Trump after donating $1 million to his inaugural committee, initially told the United States Congress that the president’s actions toward Ukraine were perfectly legal, testifying that the commander-in-chief was only looking to investigate corruption in the eastern European country.
.@JoyceWhiteVance: Something that #Sondland and others need to remember is whatever William Barr's Justice Department is up to the statute of limitations for lying to Congress runs for five years. #AMJoy pic.twitter.com/dml2YbMdyB
— AM Joy w/Joy Reid (@amjoyshow) November 30, 2019
He later changed his testimony, however, telling Congress that Trump pressured Ukraine to launch investigations into his political opponents, freezing military aid until his requests were fulfilled. This turned Sondland into one of the key witnesses in the impeachment investigation, prompting attacks from the president’s allies in the conservative media.
According to Democrats in the House of Representatives, Sondland’s and other testimonies confirm the allegations initially made by an anonymous intelligence community official. According to the official, Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate Democrat Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in order to damage Biden’s White House bid.
According to documents released by the State Department following a lawsuit from American Oversight, multiple Trump administration officials are implicated in the Ukraine scandal, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The documents show the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was also involved in the case.