As Jared Kushner faced the Senate Intelligence Committee recently to discuss his role in the Russian election meddling case, President Donald Trump told reporters that his son-in-law could “lie all he wants because Jared never actually put his hand on the Bible when being sworn in for testimony. I was watching, he never did.”
The president’s dubious scheme to justify lying under oath — something he called the “Hovering Hand Method” — is a ruse he is reportedly teaching all close family members and White House aides as news broke yesterday that special counsel Robert Mueller has convened a criminal grand jury to consider indictments of the president, his family, and members of his administration.
Mr. Trump’s “Hovering Hand Method,” however, seems to be nothing more than a puerile ploy that a fourth grader might dream up, with no legal basis whatsoever.
Nevertheless, the president appeared to be completely serious about its legitimacy as he spoke to the media yesterday, explaining that “as long as you hold your hand a little bit over the Bible, like an inch, instead of on it, you’ve technically never been sworn in, therefore you have no obligation to tell the truth.”
Asked to comment on the president’s belief that one is not compelled to speak truthfully to a grand jury, in a court of law, or before an investigative body if that witness or defendant avoids touching the Bible while taking an oath, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg replied, “What is that ignoramus talking about? An oath is not about some fleeting hand gesture, it is about the intention of the defendant or witness to speak with veracity, candor, and clarity in order to illuminate details of a case or clear his or her name. The president appears to be looking for loopholes so he never has to tell the truth. That’s not only devious, it’s an abomination of his duties to the American people. What a moron.”
With several members of his family, White House insiders, as well as the president himself potentially being called before Mueller’s Washington-based grand jury in the months ahead, legal scholars are scrambling to determine whether there’s any validity to the president’s contention that a witness can avoid perjury charges by faking the taking of his or her oath.
Forest McCumber, a former Justice Department official and a constitutional law professor at Yale University, who holds a law degree from the University of Chicago, was baffled when he heard the president’s claims.
“First the president says he has ‘complete power’ to officially pardon his family and himself. Now he argues that he doesn’t have to tell the truth in court, to the FBI, to the special counsel, or in front of Congress because he never actually laid his hand on the Bible? Has anyone told Mr. Trump that he’s starting to look guiltier than Jeffrey Dahmer with a dismembered toe dangling from his mouth?”
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