Elizabeth Warren Wants Congress To Say That A President Can Be Indicted
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is pitching a plan to "make sure no President is above the law."
The proposal, the latest in a series published to the Democratic presidential hopeful's Medium page, shows frustration with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's assertion that Department of Justice policy made him incapable of charging President Trump with a crime no matter his findings.
"If Donald Trump were anyone other than the President of the United States, he would be in handcuffs and indicted. Robert Mueller said as much in his report, and he said it again on Wednesday," Warren wrote this morning.
Warren's plan calls on Congress to clarify in law that the Justice Department can indict a sitting president and specifically that the president can be charged with obstruction of justice. It also calls for a U.S. code amendment to explicitly allow for indictment if the president abuses the powers of the office to obstruct justice.
"When I made this decision to run for president. It wasn't going to be about impeachment. It was going to be about plans, what's broken and how to fix it. And then the Mueller report came out 42 days ago," Warren said yesterday on The View.
Warren has been one of the most vocal presidential candidates calling for Mr. Trump's impeachment, but argues now that impeachment shouldn't be the only path to remove a president. Because it calls for the passage of laws, however, it won't be much help in the fight to pull Mr. Trump from office; it would only make it feasible to indict future presidents—beginning with Warren should she be elected.
At issue are two Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos from 1973 and 2000 that interpret the law to mean the Justice Department cannot indict a sitting president. The argument for that immunity hinges on separation of powers and looks to protect the president from politically motivated legal attacks.
Such protections, however, do not explicitly appear in the Constitution, so Warren's proposed law clarifying the Justice Department's ability to prosecute the president would theoretically take away the president's protection. But they would also require Congress to step into the lane of the courts with a law that in effect interprets law.
Warren also pledged to appoint an attorney general "who will protect the rule of law." Even if such measures were successful, any presidentially-appointed attorney general could stop a Justice Department indictment. She also said she would appoint an assistant attorney general in charge of the OLC to reverse the opinions protecting the president.
"No matter what he may think, Donald Trump is not a King. No President is. And our democracy only works if everyone can be held accountable," Warren wrote.