Words count, at least for those interested in the truth. One cannot seriously invoke state power against one’s adversaries and later complain that he is the victim of a state witch-hunt; or else, there is some coherent explaining to do. Coherence and truth are related. Reporting on the investigation of the Trump Organization by the New York Attorney-General, remarks in this morning’s Financial Times may serve as an illustration:

The Trumps have repeatedly denied wrongdoing and dismissed the attorney-general’s investigation as a politically motivated witch hunt. …

In a civil case, jurors are allowed to make an “adverse inference” when a defendant refuses to answer a question and instead pleads the Fifth Amendment. Or, as Eric’s father put it during the 2016 presidential campaign: “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the fifth amendment?” At the time, he was casting aspersions on aides to his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. “The mob takes the fifth,” Trump said.

Of course, if it needs to be added, the Fifth Amendment was not meant to protect the state against individuals but, on the contrary, to protect individuals against the state. On the function of constitutional constraints from the point of view of the individual, it is worth reading the classic book by James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent, or at least my recent review in Liberty Classics.