Fox News’ senior legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said Monday that President Donald Trump may be charged with three separate crimes. He also said that Trump could be indicted while still the president.
Prosecutors from the Southern District of New York (SDNY) filed a court document on Friday saying that Trump directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to commit campaign finance violations.
Although Trump has not been charged with any crime there is no law saying he can’t be indicted while serving as president. Justice Department memos issued during the Nixon era suggested that sitting presidents should not be subject to indictments, but that is only informal guidance, and not a strict rule. The issue has never been tested in court. Robert Mueller or the SDNY attorneys could issue an indictment for the president, and then it could be taken to a court — probably the U.S. Supreme Court — for a final decision on the matter.
Napolitano said that he believes prosecutors might go forward with an indictment now, but wait until Trump leaves office before prosecuting him.
“My view is that he can be indicted but cannot be prosecuted until leaving office because the disruption to the government of the prosecution would be far more than the Constitution tolerates,” Napolitano said.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, has previously said that if Trump were subpoenaed they would take the case to the Supreme Court. Napolitano is a former judge and pointed out that a Trump indictment would probably lead to a long and drawn out legal battle.
“I think they’ll fight both all the way to the Supreme Court,” he said. “They’ll lose on the subpoena because the Supreme Court has already ruled on that. I don’t know where they’ll go on the indictment, if an indictment comes.”
After Friday’s filing Trump claimed in a tweet that it “Totally clears the President” which is ridiculous and insane. And since then he has been claiming that the Mueller investigation is part of a “witch hunt.”
But Napolitano said that Trump and Giuliani should take the latest developments seriously.
“I believe that the president and Rudy mock the government at their peril,” he said. “That’s how serious these allegations are.”
Napolitano pointed out that Trump could face more legal peril than Cohen.
“Trump is on their radar screen for paying someone to commit a crime, which in itself is three crimes,” Napolitano said. “It’s the crime, it’s conspiracy to commit the crime and it’s procuring someone to commit a crime. So he’s actually, if all this is correct and they have the evidence for it, exposed to more criminal activity than Michael Cohen.”
Andrew Napolitano is not a Fox News hack like Sean Hannity. He is a respected legal expert, and he doesn’t mince words. In August we reported that Napolitano believed that Donald Trump Jr. can legally be charged for committing the crime of conspiracy by arranging the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.