Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Can Intent Ever be Plausibly Inferred from Action?

"My client didn't intend to rob the bank. He walked in wearing a ski mask, waving a Glock, and yelling at the tellers to stuff the bag he was carrying full of cash because he wanted to help them improve their security procedures."

That's the approach Victor Davis Hanson takes vis a vis both the current impeachment probe and previous accusations of obstruction of justice by Donald Trump in the Mueller investigation.

That is:

There's no way to prove what Trump had on his mind when he asked the president of Ukraine the "favor" of investigating one of his most likely 2020 presidential election opponents, and therefore intent can't be established; and

There's no way to prove that when Trump acted multiple times and in various ways that frustrated Mueller's attempts to interview witnesses, etc., he did so because he intended to keep Mueller from finding out things. Maybe all that was completely unrelated, just coincidence. This guy couldn't talk to you because we had a tee time we didn't want to miss. That gal, well, I planned to grab her by the pussy that night and didn't want you ruining the mood, Bob.

If you wake up and discover me in your bedroom, rummaging through the safe you keep your cash in, is it reasonable to assume that I'm trying to steal your cash?

What if I say I just wanted to count it and make sure it was all still there?

What if I say the reason I turned off the lights and took off my shoes before doing so, and am using night vision goggles, is that I didn't want to disturb your sleep and make you cranky in the morning?

Is assuming otherwise "mind-reading?"

If so, pretty much every criminal prosecution goes out the window.

But that's what my Rational Review News Digest colleague Steve Trinward, having fallen completely under the spell of Scott Adams's "persuasion" parlor tricks, has convinced himself is going on with Trump.

I think it's bullshit. Disagree? Prove me wrong.

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