When the House Judiciary Committee sent document requests to dozens of Donald Trump’s associates on Monday, part of the goal was to find people who were willing to cooperate by turning over the relevant documents. But in these kinds of mass-requests, there is also clearly a secondary of goal of sending everyone involved scrambling, and some of them are going to screw up in the process. That scrambling is already underway.
Donald Trump’s former longtime adviser Michael Caputo announced on Tuesday night that he is going to refuse to cooperate with the document request he received. He says that he’s also aware of four other unnamed Trump associates who are going to refuse to cooperate, according to the Washington Post. This can’t end well for any of the five of them.
Caputo says that he’s refusing to cooperate partly because he fears the House Judiciary Committee is going to try to use the documents to hit him with perjury charges. He may be onto something, because he testified before the House Intelligence Committee back in 2017, when it was under control of Devin Nunes, who was all but begging Trump’s associates to come in and insist that they and Trump were innocent. We don’t know if Caputo in particular lied under oath, but it’s a safe bet that a whole lot of people did.
So anyone who lied under oath to the Republican House, and now turns over documents to the Democratic House, could end up incriminating themselves for perjury in the process. But not cooperating comes with its own legal risks. For instance, Donald Trump’s longtime associate Tom Barrack announced to CNBC on Tuesday that he’ll be turning over everything. He won’t be the only one.
The trouble for Michael Caputo ad his fellow dissenters is that, statistically speaking, someone else among the eighty-one names is likely going to turn over the documents in question. For instance, if two people have a conversation via email or text, only one of them has to cooperate. By fighting this, Caputo will rack up huge legal fees, even as others will probably turn over the documents involving him anyway – and if he is incriminated, prosecutors will seek a harsh sentence due to his lack of cooperation. This can’t end well for any of them.