“Let’s see what Mr. Mueller does. I think it would be funny if they arrested me. I think it would be really, really funny if they wanted to arrest me because I don’t want to spend 80 hours going over emails I had with Steve Bannon and Roger Stone,” Sam Nunberg said on MSNBC.
As Sam Nunberg flirts with disaster by recklessly daring Special Counsel Bob Mueller to arrest him for refusing to comply with a grand-jury subpoena, perhaps he needs a refresher regarding how Republican Ken Starr treated recalcitrant witnesses.
The Republican Party’s previous Clinton obsession years tell the story of just how “funny” it is not when they arrest you.
Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare thought Nunberg might want to “reflect” on the case of Susan McDougal, for example, who refused to answer questions and was held in civil contempt, for which she spent 18 months in jail.
“But Starr wasn’t done. Civil contempt is about coercion, not punishment. After her civil contempt detention was finished, he sought and received a grand jury indictment against McDougal for criminal contempt (criminal contempt is about punishment of the crime of contempt of court) and obstruction of justice as well. McDougal was eventually acquitted of the obstruction charge, while the jury deadlocked on the two contempt charges.”
“The point is that federal prosecutors have robust powers to deal with recalcitrant witnesses, and special prosecutors in high-stakes matters involving the president of the United States have particular incentives not to tolerate contumacious conduct on the part of witnesses they subpoena. Nunberg may think it would be “funny if they arrested me.” We suspect he’ll find it less so if and when “they” actually do.”
“Donald Trump caused this, because he’s an idiot,” Nunberg said to Jake Tapper on CNN.
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) March 5, 2018
Someone might want to tell Sam Nunberg that Donald Trump is not the only “idiot” who is causing “this”. Refusing to turn over documents is kind of causing “this” as well.
The takeaway from all of the panicked drama and the 180 Nunberg has done in 24 hours is there is a reason he doesn’t want to turn over these emails. Perhaps it’s completely unrelated to Russia, but there is something in those emails. Nunberg’s alleged objections to the request is that it will take so long to go through his emails and download them, which might have worked 10 years ago, but everyone knows it doesn’t take very long to do an email search by name.
The danger here for Nunberg is Nunberg might be trying to hide something, but he has no way of knowing if Mueller does not already have what he requested. This subpoena might be a Muller test for Nunberg, and if so, Nunberg just failed and flailed so badly he is practically begging for Mueller’s full attention.
The danger here for Trump is the more Nunberg screams and hollers that he won’t go and Mueller can’t make him, the more hardened the image of collusion becomes, even if he is just trying to protect his mentor Roger Stone.
The obvious irony that it could be emails that cause Trump associated to be “locked up” is just one more way that Donald Trump has reminded us that he is not very bright, and he does indeed telegraph so much with his projections. It is also possible that Sam Nunberg is more afraid of Roger Stone and or Donald Trump than he is of jail.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.