Nancy Pelosi Suggests Trump Could Be Indicted While in Office - Rolling Stone
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Nancy Pelosi Comes Out Swinging

The incoming speaker of the House suggests Trump could be indicted while in office

Democratic House Minority Leader and likely next Speaker of the House from California Nancy Pelosi speaks with the media while walking through the US Capitol prior to meeting with US President Donald J. Trump, over the budget stalemate in Washington, DC, USA, 02 January 2019. The partial government shutdown is in its 10th day.Pelosi to meet with President Trump over budget stalemate, Washington, USA - 02 Jan 2019

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is poised to resume her speakership on Wednesday.

Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

President Trump’s life isn’t going to get any easier when Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) takes the House speaker’s gavel Thursday afternoon. The veteran lawmaker has made clear that she’s going to do all she can to hold Trump accountable for his corruption and check his reckless abuses of power. On Thursday morning, she suggested to Savannah Guthrie of the Today Show that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be able to indict the president while he’s still in office. “I do not think that that is conclusive, no I do not,” Pelosi said when asked if Mueller should honor the Justice Department’s guideline that a sitting president cannot be indicted. “It’s not the law,” she added. “Everything indicates that a president can be indicted after he is no longer president of the United States.” When asked if this also applies to a president who is in office, she clarified that she thinks it is still an “open discussion in terms of the law.”

As Guthrie noted, the Department of Justice has long held that a president cannot be indicted while in office. In 2000, the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel issued guidance 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.” Mueller has said that he will honor this precedent, leaving it up to Congress to determine whether it wants to impeach the president depending on the results of the special counsel’s investigation. Trump’s legal team is well aware that their client is more or less safe as long as he occupies the White House. “They can’t indict,” Trump legal counsel Rudy Giuliani said in May. “Because if they did, it would be dismissed quickly. There’s no precedent for a president being indicted.”

On Wednesday night, Giuliani bashed America’s witch community for being offended by Trump’s preferred nickname for the investigation.

Whether a sitting president can be indicted is relevant in 2019 because the current sitting president has been implicated in a felony by a federal court. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in December wrote that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction” of the president when he violated campaign finance law prior to the 2016 election. “My takeaway is that there is a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office the Justice Department may indict him,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who is poised to take over the House Intelligence Committee, said at the time. “He may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.”

Mueller is unlikely to veer from Justice Department policy, but Pelosi suggesting he could is another sign the president should be worried about the new House speaker. In the same interview, Pelosi added both that impeachment is still a possibility, and that there is no way congressional Democrats are going to give in to Trump’s demands for border wall funding. “No, no. Nothing for the wall,” she told Guthrie. “We’re talking about border security. There is no amount of persuasion he can do to say to us, ‘We want you to do something that is not effective, that costs billions of dollars.’ That sends the wrong message about who we are as a country.”

Unfortunately for the 800,000 federal workers currently out of a paycheck, Trump doesn’t appear like he’s going to cave, either. No progress was made when the president met with Democrats on Wednesday to discuss re-opening the government, with Trump reportedly telling Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that he would “look foolish” if he agreed to re-open the government while Democrats and Republicans worked on a compromise. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) agrees. “If he gives in now, that’s the end of 2019 in terms of him being an effective president,” he said on Fox News Wednesday night. “That’s probably the end of his presidency.”

Trump’s obstinance isn’t keeping Democrats from going forward with efforts to end the shutdown, which is coming up on its second week. “Tomorrow we will bring to the floor legislation that will open up government,” Pelosi said in front of the White House on Wednesday. “It will be based on actions taken by the Republican Senate.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said earlier on Wednesday that the Senate will not “waste its time considering a Democratic bill.”

“We asked the president to support the bills that we support that will open up government,” Schumer said following the meeting. “I asked him directly. I said, ‘Mr. President, give me one good reason why you should continue your shutdown of the eight Cabinet departments while we are debating our differences on homeland security. He could not give a good answer.”

Part of the reason the two sides are at an impasse is Trump’s continuing disassociation with reality, as Pelosi pointed when Guthrie asked her how she approached negotiating with the president. “When you’re negotiating with someone, you have to know — you stipulate to some fact. It’s hard to do that with the president, because he resists science, evidence, data, truth,” she said. “It’s hard to pin the president down on the facts.”

Pelosi’s daughter Alexandra wasn’t as diplomatic while responding to the same question Wednesday on CNN. “She’ll cut your head off and you won’t even know you’re bleeding,” she said. “That’s all you need to know about her.”

In This Article: Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi


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