BELL VIEW--Once, during a jury trial, opposing counsel asked my witness – who was not my client – whether she had spoken to me prior to testifying. “Yes,” she answered. “And what did Mr. Bell tell you to say today?”
There’s an old adage that an attorney should never ask a question in front of a jury that he doesn’t already know the answer to. We can’t always be that lucky – but I’m not exactly sure what this guy was fishing for with his question. Luckily for me, I wasn’t surprised when my witness smiled and said “He just told me to get up here and tell the truth.”
Truth. We live in such strange times that we might be forgiven for believing that the concept of truth no longer has any meaning. But truth has a persistence, and any decent trial lawyer can tell you that nothing is scarier than the truth. As an advocate, the truth is the only thing I have to work with. I can spin it, shade it, bend it, and try to bury it in a blizzard of nonsense – but I can’t deny it.
California has a jury instruction that reads “A witness false in one part of his or her testimony is to be distrusted in others.” That’s good advice. The lies of the president have begun to seep past the physical body of Donald Trump like a drop of ink on a wet napkin.
Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway have been so stained by Trump’s lies that nothing they say has any meaning any more. HR McMaster, Mike Pence, and Rod Rosenstein have already started to feel the stain creep in around the edges of their reputations. (I’d say the same for Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell if they had any reputations worth sullying.) And it looks like a few million Americans might have to delete their Facebook profiles eventually lest their grandchildren find out the extent of their complicity.
Enter James Comey – a former prosecutor – well aware of the power of the truth, he’s begun using it to build the brick wall against which this train of deception might crash. Trump has publicly called Comey a liar – but Comey appears to have put on his hazmat suit before he ever came within a hundred yards of the president. Comey tiptoed through the torture years of the Bush White House and walked out with a promotion. He’s not about to let a failed gameshow host get his wingtips dirty.
I’ve predicted all along that this administration won’t last the full term. Lately, I’ve begun to doubt that prediction. We live in a world where which side you’re on determines how you look at reality.
The truth doesn’t stand a chance in a lesser-of-two-evils world. But Trump has made it personal with Jim Comey, and he doesn’t look like a patsy to me. There’s probably a reason why FBI Directors are not routinely fired.
James Comey made a few million enemies when he tipped the scales in the election. He did it because he was covering his own ass. Now Trump’s poking the same rattlesnake that took out Hillary Clinton. My money’s on the snake.
(David Bell is a writer, attorney, former president of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and writes for CityWatch.)