Perjury vs. Campaign Finance Violations

OK, we’re in GQ here, so please don’t get any warnings for political jabs on my behalf.

Bill Clinton was ultimately impeached for perjury, I believe. I’m not sure if perjury has degrees like assault and murder, and if it does, I don’t know which degree he was found guilty of (or, maybe impeached for – I’m not sure if he was ever found guilty of it in a court of law).

Michael Cohen just accused Trump of some campaign finance law violation which I understand is a felony. For the purpose of this thread, let’s assume Trump is found guilty of that, and only that, from this investigation.

Here’s my question: Is it possible to compare crimes as disparate as those two crimes? I know within the homicide chain, there are different degrees, plus various kinds of manslaughter, and these can be compared one to the other. I think there are also different kinds of felonies – felony 1 or A vs. felony 2 or something. Plus different crimes may have different minimum and maximum sentences, which could be used for comparison.

I’m hoping this is a GQ question, not an IMHO question, mostly because it will get more direct responses and fewer political jabs. So, which crime is “worse” – whatever perjury Clinton was found guilty of, or whatever Cohen accused Trump of?

Full disclosure – I will be out of touch for several hours after I post this.

Are you talking about impeachment, or crimes? Because those are two entirely different things. Bill Clinton was never prosecuted for a crime.

I’m talking about the crime of perjury vs. whatever federal election crime that Cohen accused Trump of. Of the two accusations, which crime is “worse”?

(I really am signing off for a few hours shortly)

OK. In the federal system, perjury is defined as follows:

In Cohen’s plea allocution, he admits to five counts of income tax evasion, one count of bank fraud, one count of “causing” an unlawful campaign contribution, and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution. The latter two charges are potentially related to Trump, as the plea allocution states that he was directed to these things by “a candidate for federal office”, so let’s look at those.

Both of the charges relate to campaign finance crimes which are punished according to the same section of statute

In Cohen’s case, subsection (i) applies, and has exactly the same maximum sentence as perjury. How bout that.

However, there is also the federal sentencing guidelines to take into account, which contain all sorts of potential mitigating circumstances, such as cooperation, prior criminal history, etc.

Regarding Clinton. He was basically entrapped. In one proceedings the definition of sex did not include oral sex. He testified that he did not have sex with Monica Lewinsky. Which was true in this matter. In another proceeding apparently there was a broader definition. He gave the same answer. So, this wasn’t so good.

Like Bill Maher said: We had a constitutional crisis over the difference between third base and all the way.

Note that Clinton’s issue had nothing to do with his election or official actions as the President.

With Trump, we are talking about actions taken in furtherance of getting elected.

E.g., suppose a PotUS got drunk and killed someone while driving around. Bad thing but not part of his duties as PotUS. Suppose a PotUS irresponsibly ordered an action where some innocent person got killed as an effect. That was part of his duties as President. Two very different things.

Also, does anybody seriously think that if Trump was forced to testify like Clinton was that he’d tell absolutely zero lies about any matter, personal or official???

I would have loved to have had Bush I forced to testify on his sex life. Either he would lie a ton or a bunch of interesting info would have come out.

ftg, thanks, but I’m trying to keep this in GQ and restricted to those two crimes.

friedo, thanks for tracking that down. Looks like it’s a tie – same maximum sentence. That probably means that they are the same level of felony, right? Assuming felonies have levels or degrees or whatever.

Typically the Justice Dept., will not bring charges against a sitting POTUS. So there will be no “found guilty” point. The evidence of any potential crimes will be referred to the House, which will then decide if they want to pursue impeachment proceedings. Given the current status of the house, even if Mueller and the Justice Dept. were to refer evidence of campaign finance law violations to the house, IMHO, I do not believe that is likely that the House will pursue impeachment proceedings against Trump. This will then likely play out during the mid term elections as to whether our not the voters agree with this strategy.

This question can be answered factually as it has: by comparing the maximum sentences allowed for punishment.

I can come up with several reasonable-sounding metrics which make Trump’s alleged crime more detestable than Clinton’s: Trump’s involves a matter of legitimate public interest, while Clinton’s was about purely private matters, for instance.

But then . . . Trump supposedly broke the law in trying to keep his purely private indiscretions from going public. So did Clinton. :slight_smile:

I don’t think there is much additional factual room here, in other words. Most any view of the comparative crimes can be argued, and rebutted, in reasonable-sounding tones.

Thanks, Bricker. I agree – I think the factual question was answered in post 4. I’ll wait until tomorrow, but if no new information shows up (maybe whether they are the same felony class), I’ll ask the mods to close this. I really don’t want this moved to IMHO or GD or Elections to become yet another Trump thread.