Elizabeth Warren's Plan Allowing Sitting Presidents To Be Indicted Is... Interesting
Have you been keeping up with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts)? The White House hopeful has been making headline after headline over her plans for her potential presidency — the latest one coming on Friday, May 31. And while Elizabeth Warren's plan allowing sitting presidents to be indicted is interesting, it comes amid a pretty tense time.
The senator laid out her plan on Friday morning in a detailed post shared to Medium. The comments came just days after Special Counsel Robert Mueller gave a short speech detailing his findings in the investigation into potential collusion between Russia and members of the Trump 2016 campaign. Though the 448-page report found no collusion, it said the campaign expected to benefit from Russian election meddling. It also did not reach a finding on obstruction, but made it clear that it did not exonerate President Donald Trump. Elite Daily previously reached out to the White House for comment on the details of the report, but did not hear back.
While elaborating on the findings on May 29, Mueller cited a Justice Department policy prohibiting the indictment of a sitting president, noting that due to the policy, charging the president with a crime was "not an option." The long-standing Department of Justice (DOJ) policy is meant to avoid a disruption of government. "That is unconstitutional,” he said, in reference to the possibility of bringing charges. As of May 31, the president has not been formally accused of nor charged with any crime.
Nevertheless, that still hasn't stopped Warren from criticizing it. She wrote,
Congress should make it clear that Presidents can be indicted for criminal activity, including obstruction of justice. And when I’m President, I’ll appoint Justice Department officials who will reverse flawed policies so no President is shielded from criminal accountability.
In practice, she wrote, that would mean passing a law "clarifying Congress's intent that the Department of Justice can indict the President of the United States," amending obstruction of justice statues to permit indictment when a president abuses the powers of the office, and appointing an attorney general "who does not believe the president is above the law." That last line seems to be some shade toward Attorney General William Barr, who shared a summary of the Mueller report ahead of its release that many later suggested was "misleading." He's also, as of May 31, refused to comply with congressional requests for the full, unredacted report, leading to conflict between himself and House Democrats.
At this point, it's obvious that Warren isn't happy with how this situation has played out at all.
When Mueller shared the comments about the DOJ policy and suggested that the Constitution "requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing," it appeared as if he was referring to impeachment proceedings. Mere minutes later, several members of Congress took to social media to express their support for impeachment, from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) to former Texas Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke. As of May 31, no serious impeachment proceedings have been started.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that "the Special Counsel has completed the investigation, closed his office, and has closed the case." She continued,
Mr. Mueller explicitly said that he has nothing to add beyond the report, and therefore, does not plan to testify before Congress. The report was clear — there was no collusion, no conspiracy — and the Department of Justice confirmed there was no obstruction. Special Counsel Mueller also stated that Attorney General Barr acted in good faith in his handling of the report. After two years, the Special Counsel is moving on with his life, and everyone else should do the same.
So, there's obviously a bunch of Democratic support for impeachment, but it looks like Warren wants to take things one step further. Will the plan get the support it needs, though? We'll have to wait and see if her idea sticks.