Sep 20, 2019

Nancy Pelosi: Congress should allow sitting presidents to be indicted

Nancy Pelosi speaks while gesturing with her right hand

Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that the Justice Department should be able to indict sitting presidents, per an exclusive NPR interview.

What she's saying: "I do think that we will have to pass some laws that will have clarity for future presidents. [A] president should be indicted, if he's committed a wrongdoing — any president. There is nothing anyplace that says the president should not be indicted," Pelosi told NPR's All Things Considered.

Why it matters: Former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into President Trump, which neither concluded that Trump obstructed justice nor exonerated him, operated on the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel opinion that prevents a sitting president from being indicted.

  • Mueller said Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice after he leaves office at a July House Judiciary Committee hearing, while repeatedly referring to the DOJ's stance against indicting sitting presidents.
  • Mueller's investigation did not establish that Trump campaign members colluded with the Russian government, but that the president's actions may have influenced Russia's actions.

Background: In the Mueller report, the special counsel said "it recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President's capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct."

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