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CBS News Legal Analyst Says Weiner Likely Not Pursuing Official Law Enforcement Investigation to Avoid Statements Under Oath


From CBS News:

New York City Congressman Anthony Weiner has not asked the FBI or U.S. Capitol Police to investigate a bizarre Twitter incident in which a lewd photo of a man’s groin was sent to his 45,000 followers from his account.

Weiner told CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes in an interview Wednesday he has asked a law firm and an Internet security operation to “give advice” on the situation.

He said, “I don’t believe this is a federal case, I don’t believe that this is a capital crime. I believe this is a bit of mischief.”

But why is Weiner so seemingly reluctant to involve law enforcement authorities in the case?

On “The Early Show” Thursday, CBS News Legal Analyst Jack Ford said if he’s not pursuing official assistance in this situation, it’s about not getting wrapped up official statements.

“If I’m a lawyer, and I’m representing a politician, in general, it’s not against the law to lie to the media. It’s not against the law to lie to your constituents. It is against the law to lie to law enforcement authorities,” he said. “Martha Stewart went to jail not for insider trading, but for lying. Barry Bonds gets charged, goes to trial, not for using steroids – for lying about it. So if I’m a lawyer looking at a case such as this, I’m going to be real careful before I let my clients talk to law enforcement authorities, because I don’t want to find my client, you know, jammed up here criminally because, despite what happened here, they’re not telling the truth.”

Ford said the content of the tweet also has to be considered.

“There are laws against sending out pornography on your account,” he explained. “People will look at this and say, ‘This might be really distasteful, but it’s not pornographic.’ You know, the young lady, if she felt she was being harassed in some fashion. But she hasn’t expressed that. And you might say one instance of something like this wouldn’t rise to that level, either. I don’t think you’re really talking about possible criminal activity there.”

However, this situation may escalate to an investigation by an ethics committee, Ford said.

“Congress has the ability to investigate its own. And they have the capacity to censure somebody, to suspend somebody, even to remove somebody if they find there’s conduct unbecoming a representative, a member of Congress. Those are pretty elastic, but certainly they have the ability to take a look at it.”

Full article here.


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