Clinton: Trump ‘would certainly have been indicted’ if not president
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that President Donald Trump would have been indicted in the Mueller investigation if not for a long-standing Department of Justice rule that shields a sitting president from indictments.
” I think there’s enough there that any other person who had engaged in those acts would certainly have been indicted, ” Clinton said at the Time 100 summit Tuesday. ” But because of the rule in the Justice Department that you can’t indict a sitting president, the whole matter of obstruction was very directly sent to the Congress. ”
The Justice Department, including special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, has followed the Office of Legal Counsel’s guidance from 2000 stating that ” the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions. ”
Clinton pointed to the obstruction section of the redacted Mueller report released last week, saying it ” could not be clearer ” in compelling Congress to act.
” Basically what I thought it was saying is, ‘Look, we think he obstructed justice — here are 11 examples of why we think he obstructed justice, but we’re under the control of the Justice Department, and their rule is you can’t indict,’ ” she said.
” But we do have checks and balance in America, and there is this thing called the Congress, ” Clinton continued. ” I mean you could not be more explicit than, ‘ Please, look at this. You may look at it and conclude that it doesn’t rise to an impeachable offense — that’s your job — but I’m giving this to you. ‘ ”
Mueller’s team investigated several specific instances of potential obstruction of justice in the report. Prosecutors ultimately did not make a decision on whether the president had obstructed justice, but did not exonerate him of criminal conduct.
Prosecutors also determined that Congress still has the ability to find the President obstructed justice, writing: ” With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has the authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice. ”
The Democratic Party has split on whether the special counsel’s report warrants lawmakers beginning impeachment proceedings against the President, with some 2020 Democratic presidential candidates — like Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro — supporting the call while party leadership seems to have tamped down plans.
When asked on Tuesday about impeaching Trump, Clinton said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is ” right to be cautious, ” saying impeachment proceedings should ” be something undertaken in a really serious, diligent way, based on evidence. ”