Sheldon Whitehouse, the senior Democratic senator from Rhode Island, said yesterday that Congress is almost ready to indict President Donald Trump. He also indicated that he is hopeful that Trump may soon face actual criminal charges.
Whitehouse, a former U.S. attorney and attorney general for Rhode Island, was on CNN Tuesday night speaking to anchor Chris Cuomo. He admitted that while Congress is closing in on Trump, more evidence is still required for them to make an air-tight legal case, saying:
“I do not at all subscribe to the Office of Legal Counsel theory that a president can’t be indicted. I think that if there are crimes that he has committed he should be indicted.”
“I think that the Office of Legal Counsel and the Department of Justice bends over backward to take the most executive branch-friendly position that it possibly can. But I think a court taking a look at this would say, ‘No, no no, no, no.’”
The Office of Legal Counsel has taken the position that issuing criminal indictments to a sitting president would “undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions.”
But Whitehouse referred to “the Nixon precedents and others,” which he believes do not support the idea that a president will “not being answerable to the public in any way.”
He also added that having an unanswerable president would be very dangerous for the country, saying:
“It would create a terrible situation—you’ve got a president who the public knows is the subject of criminal investigation, may very well be involved in criminal activity, and you don’t get a resolution of that question. You don’t get pressure on him to answer questions and get out—that doesn’t seem like an appropriate way to deal with it.”
The former prosecutor also said he would like investigators to have more time to develop the evidence against Trump to make criminal charges stick, saying, “I would want to know a lot more.”
Then he added:
“We are certainly in a mode, I believe, of moving toward indictment and charges of the president. But I do not believe, based on what I know― Mueller may know more―that we’re at the stage right now of actually being able to make the charge.”
“I think that there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that has piled up that one perhaps could take to a jury. But as a prosecutor carrying the burden of persuasion with reasonable doubt on the defendant’s side, I’d want to keep investigating and try to get some really direct evidence.”
Many people, including former Justice Department officials and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, believe Donald Trump can be — and should be — indicted for his crimes. Based on these new comments from Sen. Whitehouse it appears that the time for Trump’s indictment may be coming soon.
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.