It’s well known that Senator Larry Craig (R-Closet Case) went on TV yesterday to deny being gay and apologize for his grievous error in pleading guilty to a criminal charge arising from a June 2007 incident in a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport men’s room.
Last night legal analyst Jeff Toobin appeared on Anderson Cooper’s CNN program and opined that Craig may well have opened himself up to a perjury charge. Toobin said that if Craig was in fact guilty of nothing, as he claimed during yesterday’s press conference, then he lied under oath when he entered that guilty plea before a Minnesota judge. Here’s video of Toobin’s commentary courtesy of Crooks and Liars.
I’ve never much cared for Toobin, and this sort of half-assed, amateurish pop legal “analysis” is the reason. The state of legal reporting in this country is abysmally poor, and Jeff is part of the problem.
The Plea Petition that ol’ Larry signed indicates that he was charged with two offenses: (1) Disorderly Conduct; and (2) Interference with Privacy. He entered a guilty plea to the disorderly conduct charge only, admitting in the process that in the airport bathroom he “[e]ngaged in conduct which [he] knew or should have known tended to arouse alarm or resentment or [sic] others which conduct was physical (versus verbal) in nature.” (Emphasis added.) It certainly looks as though the disorderly conduct charge was based on Craig’s overtures to the undercover cop and not just the bullshit statements he made after the cop flashed his badge.
However, Minnesota law defines perjury as making a false statement, without belief in its truth, where the statement is required or authorized to be made under oath or affirmation. Craig didn’t sign the Plea Petition under oath or affirmation, and the document indicates that he didn’t make any in-person court appearances during which he could have made sworn statements. Thus, the perjury thing seems like a pretty big stretch.
Come on, Jeff. This story is funny enough all by itself without embellishment, isn’t it?