Not to be confused with perjury, false statements made to Congress or to federal law enforcement are punishable under its own statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1001.

The distinction between perjury and false statements is largely lost on the media talking heads. Particularly during various recent hearings on nominations and investigations, the talking heads routinely accused persons testifying and making untrue statements has having committed perjury. By statute, perjury can only be committed either in court or before a grand jury. Anything else is not perjury.

The federal false statement statute provides that “whoever…knowingly and willfully…(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; (2)makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or (3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry….”[1]1.18 U.S.C. § 1001(a). The penalty for violation of fine or imprisonment with the length of imprisonment depending upon the nature of the offense.

The false statement statute applicability to the legislative branch is limited to administrative matters or “any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress….”[2]18 U.S.C. § 1001(c)(1-2).

Additionally, the false statement statute expressly does not apply to “a party to a judicial proceeding, or that party’s counsel, for statements, representations, writings or documents submitted to a judge or magistrate….”[3]18 U.S.C. § 1001(b). The federal perjury statute covers such violations.
© 2022 Ralph D. Davis


1 1.18 U.S.C. § 1001(a).
2 18 U.S.C. § 1001(c)(1-2).
3 18 U.S.C. § 1001(b).