One subtext of the investigation into President Trump (especially its political dimensions) is the winking suggestion that the Russia stuff is small potatoes and the meat is in getting to prove everything else the man surely got up to: payola and piss tapes, oh my. But be wary of the expansive power of government to entrap, to trick, to effectively "produce new crimes" on their way to nailing a target. If they can do it to Trump, however satisfying and deserved it is, it's only a reminder how often they do it to the weakest and poorest among us. Here's Ken "Popehat" White, at the National Review:
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Investigators and prosecutors will tell you that this is a good thing — that their power to convict targets for lying or obstruction helps catch criminals who would otherwise go free because of problems of proof. But people who hold vast power rarely think they ought not. In fact, the most petty and weak human reactions can lead to federal felony convictions during an investigation. To be a federal crime, a false statement to the federal government must be material — that is, meaningful. But federal courts have defined materiality in a way that criminalizes trifles. Under current law, a statement is material if it is the sort of statement that could influence the federal government, whether or not it actually did. Hence, federal agents interrogating people always ask some questions as to which they already have irrefutable proof, hoping that the target will lie and hand the feds an easy conviction.