/Pelosi: ‘Open Discussion’ Whether Trump Can Be Indicted While in Office

Pelosi: ‘Open Discussion’ Whether Trump Can Be Indicted While in Office


House Speaker designate Nancy Pelosi (D, Calif.) speaks to reporters after meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C., December 11, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Representative Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), who is expected to be elevated to Speaker of the House Thursday, has refused to rule out the possibility of indicting President Trump while he is in office.

Asked whether special counsel Robert Mueller should respect Department of Justice guidelines that suggest a sitting president can not be indicted, Pelosi seemed to suggest that guidance could be ignored in certain circumstances.

“I do not think that that is conclusive. No, I do not,” Pelosi told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie during an interview that aired Thursday on “Today.”

“Let’s just see what Mueller does. Let’s spend our time on getting results for the American people,” she added when asked directly if Mueller can indict a sitting president.

Mueller’s team is currently investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. Mueller has indicted multiple high-ranking Trump campaign officials on crimes seemingly unrelated to Russian interference and he is expected to release a report to Congress detailing his findings as soon as mid-February.

The relevant Justice Department guidance, drafted in 2000 by the office of legal counsel, states: “The indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions.”

In making the case that the guidance in question might be ignored, Pelosi pointed out that it there is no existing legislation prohibiting the indictment of a sitting president.

“It’s not the law,” Pelosi told Guthrie. “Everything indicates that a president can be indicted after he is no longer president of the United States.”

“A president who’s in office? Could Robert Mueller come back and say I am seeking an indictment?” Guthrie responded.

“I think that is an open discussion,” Pelosi said. “I think that’s an open discussion in terms of the law.”

Pelosi, who served as the first female Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011, is expected to reclaim the gavel in a Thursday afternoon leadership vote. The veteran California lawmaker has attempted to avoid the question of Trump’s impeachment in the weeks leading up to the leadership vote but has pledged to thoroughly investigate the president using Congressional subpoena power.

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