During the current debate over what might happen if Special Counsel Robert Mueller does indeed find evidence that President Trump colluded with or has ties to Russia interests, you may have heard it repeated endlessly that a sitting president cannot be indicted, only impeached.
But a journalist for the New York Times, using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), has obtained a 55-page memo which was written during the independent counsel investigation of President Bill Clinton by Ken Starr and suggests a president can indeed be indicted while in office.
According to the memo, which was written by prominent conservative legal mind Ronald Rotunda:
“It is proper, constitutional, and legal for a federal grand jury to indict a sitting president for serious criminal acts that are not part of, and are contrary to, the president’s official duties. In this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law.”
And Starr is not the first person investigating the actions of a president who has reached the very same conclusion. As the Times notes:
“In 1974, the Watergate special counsel, Leon Jaworski, had also received a memo from his staff saying he could indict the president, in that instance Richard M. Nixon, while he was in office, and later made that case in a court brief.”
The memo prepared for Starr used a hypothetical situation: What if the president punched someone who was heckling him during a speech? The memo suggests:
“No one would suggest that the president should be removed from office simply because of that assault. Yet the president has no right to assault hecklers. If there is no recourse against the president, if he cannot be prosecuted for violating the criminal laws, he will be above the law.”
And we could also have another piece of the blueprint needed to indict Trump if it should come to that. The Times also informs us:
“Other prosecutors working for Mr. Starr developed a draft indictment of Mr. Clinton, which The Times has also requested be made public. The National Archives has not processed that file to determine whether it is exempt from disclosure under grand-jury secrecy rules.”
Remember when Trump suggested he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York and his poll numbers wouldn’t go decline? That doesn’t mean he couldn’t be indicted and prosecuted. No man is above the law, and Donald Trump may find that out the hard way.
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org