liability talking to a federal agent

For years I have been bothered by the practice, hopefully rare, of federal prosecutors charging people with a felony for providing information that misleads a federal investigator. Note that the information provided doesn’t have to be about a crime, it could be about anything. If it is incorrect and the feds at some later date decide it mislead them in some investigation, you are supposedly guilty of a felony. At least that is what I had concluded from reading the news. But now I can’t find the law in question. My searches in the Cornell law library site failed to turn up the law. I remember reading the law years ago. It was passed when the feds got tired of the run-around from members of organized crime. But like any law, once it is on the books, it applies to anyone. So Ken Starr was supposed to be going around Little Rock threatening store owners with prison unless they turned on Clinton (presumably that was an exaggeration) because they told an agent they had lunch on Tuesday and he could prove it was Weds.

So, my question-if a person is questioned by a federal agent (lets say an FBI agent but it could be any investigator) and says something that turns out to be wrong, what liability does that leave the person? Lets exclude any questions about a crime that the person may have committed. Lets limit ourselves to simple things that by themselves in no way relate to the person committing a crime. Can a prosecutor haul out the interview notes three years later and charge the person?

hmm. want to watch this one…

My lawyers advice to me: when questioned by cops, say the following:

“Based on the advice of legal counsel, I prefer to make no comment without legal counsel present.”

Which part of you have the right to remain silent is unclear?

I think you’re thinking of 18 usc 1001, which provides:

The “false statement” must be “knowingly and willfully” and “material”.

But indeed rfgdxm is correct. STFU.