When I first saw the tweet attributed to Attorney General Jeff Landry, I thought the source might be one of those mischievous parody accounts, not the official lawyer for the state of Louisiana.
Nope, the account includes the blue checkmark that marks it as “verified,” and it links directly to Landry’s campaign web site. It appears to be the real deal.
So it seems that this is something Landry actually said in response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s press statement Wednesday: “Let me be CLEAR: in this nation, when a court doesn’t find you guilty, you’re found INNOCENT! @realDonaldTrump was exonerated and Dems need to move on!”
Let me be CLEAR: in this nation, when a court doesn’t find you guilty, you’re found INNOCENT! @realDonaldTrump was exonerated and Dems need to move on!— Jeff Landry (@JeffLandry) May 29, 2019
Now, a few points.
It doesn’t take a lawyer of any sort, let alone one of Landry’s elected stature, to know that when a court doesn’t find someone guilty, that does not mean he or she has been found “INNOCENT!” What it means is that prosecutors weren’t able to establish proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Pretty much everyone who’s ever watched an episode of “Law & Order” knows this. Or as my colleague Keith Spera tweeted, “I skipped law school to write about rock 'n' roll, but even I know 'not guilty' is not the same as 'innocent.' “
And Mueller came right out and said, as he had in the written report, that his investigation did not exonerate President Donald Trump of possible obstruction allegations.
“As set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime,” Mueller said.
I’m picking up a little bit of defensiveness from Attorney General Jeff Landry when it comes to this whole protecting people with preexisting …
In his tweet, Landry also blew right past the fact that no court heard the matter, for reasons that Mueller also clearly explained. Mueller referred to long-standing Justice Department policy that “a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office” and said that the DOJ’s opinion is that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
That, of course, would be impeachment by Congress.
So count Landry as zero-for-three on the law, which, as pretty much all of Twitter pointed out, is downright horrifying for a state attorney general.
The question for his constituents when he runs for reelection this fall is whether Landry really doesn’t know these things, or does and is so determined to defend Trump that he doesn’t care.
Which leads directly to a second question: Which of these scenarios is worse?