In light of James Comey's testimony yesterday, and the responses by President Trump (through his lawyer and personally) I was wondering, what could happen to President Trump.

According to this question, and this one, even if President Trump is found guilty of "obstruction of justice", it would be a long way to actual impeachment.

Today, President Trump offered to testify under oath about his meetings with James Comey.


Since the statements about Michael Flynn given by President Trump and James Comey directly contradict each other, someone is clearly lying.

  • Assuming that President Trump is, for any reason, found guilty of perjury, would the consequences be worse than if he had just admitted to what James Comey claimed he said? The question is a hypothetical scenario. I am not implying anything.


Just for clarification: President Trump offered to testify under oath. I assume this could happen in a similar manner to James Comey. So if President Trump was to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and afterwards found guilty of lying there, would this be worse than giving in to Comey's claims?

  • 1
    Only the Senate can try the President, and only after the House decides he should stand trial. He must be first impeached to be found guilty of anything. Since his party controls the House and the Senate, this essentially requires his own party to throw him under the bus. It is a political issue first and foremost. I believe this question is very relevant: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/18911/…
    – J Doe
    Jun 9, 2017 at 22:30
  • 1
    Perjury only applies under oath. Bill Clinton lied multiple times, but it was the one he told under oath that got him impeached and disbarred. I don't think Trump has ever been put under oath, and there's no legal penalty for lying to the press. Furthermore, Impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. So I'm not sure what the question here is.
    – Machavity
    Jun 9, 2017 at 22:37
  • @Machavity I corrected the question and tried to express myself more appropriately.
    – pat3d3r
    Jun 9, 2017 at 23:15

1 Answer 1


"An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history; conviction results from whatever offense or offenses two-thirds of the other body considers to be sufficiently serious to require removal of the accused from office."

(Gerald Ford's prescient remarks in the U.S. House of Representatives in an effort to impeach Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (15 April 1970); recorded in the Congressional Record, vol. 116, p. 11913.)

Basically, the answer is "no difference". They are both the same consequences. If Trump is politically toxic enough for GOP congress to throw under the bus - OR to lose the House/Senate majority in midterm elections in 2018 - he will just as likely to be impeached for sneezing out of order as for perjury as for obstruction of justice. As Joseph Stalin Stalin's Chief Prosecutor Vyshinsky stated: "Был бы человек, а статья найдется" ("Give me a man, and I'll find a law to convict him under"). Or, quoting idiomatically, from Wolfe's ""Bonfire of the Vanities": "a grand jury would 'indict a ham sandwich,' if that's what you wanted."

Having said that, purely theoretically, Senate refused to convict William Jefferson Clinton for perjury, so you can make a logical case that perjury consequences can't be any worse than obstruction of justice, since the former can get you off scott free and the latter isn't known (as nobody was ever tried by the Senate on that charge).

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