The mainstream media has long insisted that there is a Department of Justice (DOJ) policy that prevents it from indicting a sitting president. However, there actually is no such policy. As a result, Donald Trump may very well be indicted and charged with various crimes while he is still in office.
First, it is important to point out that what has been referred to as a DOJ “policy” was nothing more than a memo written by some DOJ staff person in the 1970’s. It has never been tried or tested in court. Therefore it carries no legal weight, and it is not even backed up by any legal authority.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the issuing of an indictment — i.e., charging someone with a crime — is not the same thing as ARRESTING a suspect and throwing them in jail.
So if the theory is that a president is too important to have his job interrupted with an indictment, that theory fails. The issuing of an indictment by itself would do nothing whatsoever to interfere with Donald Trump’s “busy” schedule. It’s merely a piece of paper a prosecutor obtains from a grand jury. It could authorize an arrest, but it does not require it.
Last night Rachel Maddow had on a guest who provided new historical evidence which shows that the old DOJ memo is not an official policy. It was in fact written to argue why the DOJ could indict then-Vice President Spiro Agnew. It argued that a vice president wouldn’t be nearly as busy as the president, and so he could be indicted.
This was all explained by Walter Dellinger, former U.S. Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel. He said his office had never accepted that a president could not be indicted, which he believed was a “shaky” conclusion.
"They did not accept the proposition that a president could not be indicted" -Walter Dellinger, former assistant attorney general, Office of Legal Counsel pic.twitter.com/IMbOy4W6jY
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) February 22, 2019
So there really is no DOJ “policy” that prohibits Robert Mueller, SDNY, or any other prosecutor from indicting Donald Trump while he’s still in office.
Of course, if that does happen, Trump would immediately appeal to the Supreme Court, hoping to get it overturned. But there does not seem to be a majority on the court that would rule in favor of Trump, especially without some clear legal authority to do so. And such authority does not exist.
If the Supreme Court rules that the indictment against Trump is valid and enforceable, they may also say that he can’t be arrested while still in office. That’s an open question. But the key point is that an arrest does not necessarily follow from an indictment. And an indictment against the president may very well be imminent, since there is no legal basis to prohibit it.
Clearly an indictment against Trump, which explains in detail his crimes and the evidence against him, would destroy him politically. It would necessarily lead to impeachment proceedings in Congress. And it would certainly leave him with no choice but to resign from the office which he fraudulently won in the first place.
As rumors abound that the Muller probe is almost at its end, there remains an intriguing mystery which is yet unresolved:
Before he rides off into the sunset, will Bob Mueller make one final stand, and indict the sitting President of the United States?
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.