If you watch enough British detective series, you'll hear the expression “perverting the cause of justice.” Arresting officers in Great Britain use it all the time as they slap restraints on some hapless culprit, and it usually bodes nothing good for the culprit.
It’s a most compelling expression, possibly because perverting something—anything—seems particularly odious. For instance, in the U.S. if I deliberately hide evidence in a criminal case, I can be charged with destroying or tampering with evidence. Kind of vanilla, I guess. But in England it would be perverting the cause of justice, and I’d be the perverter. Yikes!
I’ve been thinking about that phrase these past few days, ever since the Mueller report—what we know of it—has been released. Specifically, I’ve been wondering how many times in the past four years Donald Trump has perverted the cause of justice, and more important, how many times his less ignorant associates have used legal expertise and a rudimentary knowledge of the Constitution to prevent further such perversions.
If nothing else, the Mueller report has laid bare Donald Trump’s inveterate, maybe pathological, disregard for the justice system, the legal system, and the Constitution. Throughout his attacks on all three, only circuit court judges, experienced aides, even some Cabinet members have stood between Trump and further misdeeds. They’ve staved off travel bans, salvaged the the Affordable Care Act, even (most recently) thwarted Trump’s desire to allow the mining of coal on federal land—thank you Judge Brian Morris of the United States District Court of the District of Montana!
Thankfully there have been these and other roadblocks, but Trump remains the perverter-in-chief, especially by British standards: in England, perverting the cause of justice may include
(1) persuading, or attempting to persuade, by intimidation, harm or otherwise, a witness not to give evidence, to alter his evidence or to give false evidence;
Think of Trump’s diatribe against “flippers” and his veiled threats to Michael Cohen.
(2) giving false information, or agreeing to give false information, to the police with a view to frustrating a police inquiry; for example, lying as to who was driving when a road traffic accident occurred;
Think of the Air Force One or the Trump Tower Russia conversations and who said what and when.
(3) making a concerted attempt to interfere with jurors, to launch an attack on counsel or the judge, or conduct acts designed to cause the legal proceedings to be completely abandoned.
Remember the Get-out-of-jail-free card for Joe Arpaio (sadistic racial profiler), for Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond (occupied the National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon), and for Scooter Libby, (convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the outing of Valerie Plame.)
Trump aspires to be king—envies and admires the autocrats of the world. Maybe if he were king in a country like England, perverting the cause of justice on a daily basis, there’s another tower where he could reside, one that with some renovation could be repurposed to its original function.
Don't worry, Anglophiles—it won't happen. The Tower of London does quite well as a tourist attraction: no sense letting Donald Trump drive another going concern into bankruptcy.