They say ignorance is bliss, but unfortunately, it won’t keep you out of jail.
The sane among us will agree that the man above is a complete and utter moron (the ‘smocking gun’ tweet being a prime example), which is just one of the reasons why he has had countless dealings with lawyers over the years.
During all of those dealings, however, he still hasn’t learnt one of the most important legal principles, and with Robert Mueller and his Special Counsel circling, it might just be the nail in his oversized coffin.
With Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison for federal crimes after participating with Mueller’s investigation, new information has come to light. Here’s Quartz:
Cohen says that Trump, while running for office, instructed him to pay off two women in exchange for silence about their alleged affairs with him. “Time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up [Trump’s] dirty deeds,” Cohen said at his sentencing hearing.
The president, for his part, blames Cohen, for any possible violations of the law. “Michael Cohen is a lawyer,” Trump told Reuters yesterday (Dec. 11). “I assume he would know what he’s doing.”
However, as the great American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes put it in his seminal 1881 legal text, The Common Law, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it.”
We have all tried to wangle our way out of a speeding ticket or parking fine with the “I didn’t know” approach (helps if you have a few notes sticking out of your top pocket), but when you’re the US president, it’s less easy to wriggle off the hook:
Ignorantia legis neminem excusat is a classic legal principle (pdf), dating back millennia to Roman civilization. It’s Latin for “ignorance of the law excuses no one” and means just what it says. Not knowing you’re breaking a law is not a viable defense if you’re charged with a violation. You’re responsible for following the laws, whether or not you can articulate them yourself, and can be held liable for violating strictures of which you were unaware.
If the president is charged and it’s proven that he did indeed direct Cohen’s actions, pleading reliance on his attorney’s judgment and arguing that he was unaware he was breaking rules will not help him evade liability. It’s an important notion many of us don’t know but all of us should keep in mind, especially Donald Trump,
Paying off porn stars and Playboy Playmates can be quite pricey, but in the end it could end up costing Trump his presidency.
At that point, the world will owe Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal a huge thank you.
By the way, if you have a quick legal question of your own, you can contact Legal Eagle Mariam for instant legal opinion – she’s available for voice calls and text chats on TIMON.
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