Say what you will about Bob Lutz calling “global warming” a pile of something. He didn’t get caught lying. No one doubts he was telling the truth, at least as he sees it.

But, Chrysler’s president, Jim Press, has been caught.

Big time. As in under oath. Perjury, it seems.

Though both Chrysler and Toyota have tried to paper it over, her’s what Press old Business Week magazine – and they are sticking solidly that these are Press’ exact words:

Press (pictured here introducting the Toyota Tundra) said that the Japanese government “paid for 100 percent of the development of the battery and hybrid system that went into the Toyota Prius.”

If that’s the case, Press committed perjury before the United States Congress barely more than a year ago.

Automotive News has just published a piece in which they quote Press’ testimony from March 14, 2007 – while he was still Toyota’s head of its U.S. operations and a member of the parent company’s board of directors.

What he said then isn’t even close to what he said last week.

(more after the jump)

Press was testifying before a subcommittee of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee.

Here’s what Automotive News reports:

“U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, questioned Press about the seven years of r&d that went into Toyota’s hybrid technology. Burgess asked: ‘That seven-year interval, was any of that research and development funded by the government?’

“Press answered: ‘No, sir.’

“Burgess: ‘So that was all just done under your own initiative.’

“Press: ‘Yes.’

The government to which Rep. Burgess was referring was that of Japan.

Press worked for Toyota for 37 years and was on its Board of Directors when the decisions about which he spoke to BW would have been made. He was in a position to know. He must have known.

Press has a lot of explaining to do.

He would be unwise to try.

Any good lawyer would tell Press to remain silent.

Big mouth/small brain? Liar? Perjurer?

Those are the three possibilities.

Any good lawyer would define options one and two as wins. To late to apologize. Too late to explain. Time to let them prove it – which they probably cannot, because that would require getting a lot of info that Toyota has hidden away somewhere in Japan.

So, unless Press keeps talking, he might just walk out of this.

But, Jim – you wouldn’t be the first. Martha Stewart went to prison for less. Barry Bond has been indicted for less. Have you ever heard the name “Rafael Palmero?”

Best move at this moment would be to get really good legal counsel.

In Washington, D.C., the district in which Press committed perjury – if he did commit perjury, rather than lie to the press – the “go to” firm for those in trouble has long been Williams and Connolly, LLC. Edward Bennett Williams, one of the firm founders, fought the criminal charges lodged against Jimmy Hoffa – successfully. Then Attorney General Bobby Kennedy had told the press that he would “jump off the Washington Monument” if Hoffa was acquitted. William’s first act, after the jury returned the not guilty verdict, was to send Kennedy a parachute by messenger. It’s also the firm that defended the man who attempted to assassinate President Reagan, and won an insanity verdict. When Oliver North was called before Congress and later criminally indicted, he had a lawyer from Williams and Connolly at his side. He walked.

So, Jim,

Here’s the number: 202-434-5000.

Be a good move to call it.

What do you think?
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