The Constitution requires the President https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_the_Union to report to Congress on the "State of the Union". The Constitution is vague on the manner of reporting and the frequency:

He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

— Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution

In recent times the reporting has been by a speech to the combined House and Senate, with widespread media coverage.

In making this Constitutionally mandated report to Congress, is the President subject to perjury charges if he should lie to Congress?


No. The federal perjury statute applies only when there has been an oath taken to assert that the false statement was true, or the false statement was otherwise submitted under penalty of perjury.

There is another statute concerning false statements generally, but it is also limited in such a way that it would not apply to the state of the union speech.

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  • So people testifying to Congressional committees or speaking to Federal investigators, though not testifying under oath, are explicitly informed that their statements are made "under pain of perjury"? – DJohnM Oct 3 '18 at 15:53
  • @DJohnM I believe that congressional testimony usually is under oath. Speaking to an investigator is generally not under oath, and it does not fall under perjury law. The second linked statute would normally apply in those cases, however. – phoog Oct 5 '18 at 20:42

No. The only possible penalty is loss of political reputation and influence if there is a public perception that the President lied, or removal from office if a majority of the US House of Representatives chooses to impeach, and two-thirds of the Senate convicts on such Articles of Impeachment. The latter, while theoretically possible, strikes me as very unlikely indeed.

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