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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

President Trump Should Immediately Order This Be Standard Operating Procedure

Alex Tabarrok posts a snippet, with the title, "Why Doesn’t the FBI Videotape Interviews?," from a Michael Rappaport essay at Law and Liberty.

The clip:
…if the FBI believes that an interviewee has lied during the interview, he or she can be prosecuted for false statements to the government. The penalty for this is quite serious. Under 18 U.S.C. 1001, making a false statement to the federal government in any matter within its jurisdiction is subject to a penalty of 5 years imprisonment. That is a long time.
How does the FBI prove the false statement? One might think that they would make a videotape of the interview, which would provide the best evidence of whether the interviewee made a false statement. But if one thought this, one would be wrong, very wrong.
The FBI does not make videotapes of interviews. Apparently, there are FBI guidelines that prohibit recordings of interviews. Instead, the FBI has a second agent listen to the interview and take notes on it. Then, the agent files a form—a 302 form—with his or her notes from the interview.
What is going on here? Why would the FBI prohibit videotaping the interviews and instead rely on summaries? The most obvious explanations do not cast a favorable light on the Bureau. If they don’t tape the interview, then the FBI agents can provide their own interpretation of what was said to argue that the interviewee made a false statement. Since the FBI agent is likely to be believed more than the defendant (assuming he even testifies), this provides an advantage to the FBI. By contrast, if there is a videotape, the judge and jury can decide for themselves.
...One might even argue this is unconstitutional under existing law. Under the Mathews v. Eldridge interpretation of the Due Process Clause, a procedure is unconstitutional if another procedure would yield more accurate decisions and is worth the added costs. Given the low costs of videotaping, it seems obvious that the benefits of such videotaping for accuracy outweigh the costs.

This is obviously done to protect the FBI and not those interviewed. This is Stalin-like. Without videotape, they can spin stories any way they want. There is no reason, in this day and age, that all FBI interviews shouldn't be taped.

President Trump should realize how unAmerican this lack of taping is given what has happened to those around him as part of the "witch hunt." For example, the way General Flynn was tricked into a perjury trap.

The President should immediately order his acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, to institute videotaping of all FBI witness and suspect interviews. It would be a great step by the President that our Founding Fathers would applaud.

-RW 

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