- Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
- Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced that if she is elected president, she will appoint officials who will reverse a Department of Justice policy that says sitting presidents can’t be indicted.
- Warren’s announcement came after the former special counsel Robert Mueller cited that policy as the main reason he didn’t charge President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice in the Russia probe.
- Warren also said she would sign a law “clarifying Congress’ intent that the Department of Justice can indict the President of the United States.”
- She added that Congress should also “amend obstruction of justice statutes to explicitly allow for indictment when the President abuses the powers of the office.”
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Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced Friday that if she is elected president in 2020, she will appoint officials to the Department of Justice (DOJ) who will “reverse flawed policies so no President is shielded from criminal accountability.”
Warren’s statement comes amid a firestorm surrounding the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in the Russia investigation and the conclusions he drew about whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice in the inquiry.
Mueller did not make a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” on the obstruction question and did not make a determination, one way or another, on charging Trump with a crime. The main reason he cited was a 1973 Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memo which said a sitting president cannot be indicted. For that reason, Mueller said, charging Trump “was not an option we could consider.”
Mueller added that even suggesting the president had engaged in criminal conduct would be unfair because it he would be deprived of the opportunity to clear himself in a court of law. After reviewing Mueller’s findings, Attorney General William Barr concluded there was not sufficient evidence to charge Trump with a crime.
Barr’s judgment invited sharp scrutiny, given the attorney general’s broad view of executive authority and his belief that a president cannot legally be guilty of obstruction of justice.
Warren laid out several proposals Friday for both Congress and the DOJ to address the fallout from Mueller’s report:
- “Pass a law clarifying Congress’s intent that the Department of Justice can indict the President of the United States.”
- “Amend obstruction of justice statutes to explicitly allow for indictment when the President abuses the powers of the office.”
- “Appoint an Attorney General who will protect the rule of law.”
- “Appoint an Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) who will reverse the OLC opinion arguing that the President cannot be indicted.”
Warren, like many fellow Democrats, believes that Mueller laid out multiple instances clearly showing the president illegally obstructed justice in his handling of the Russia investigation. And Warren was the first 2020 presidential candidate to call for Congress to open an impeachment investigation into the president following the report’s release.
“There is no political inconvenience exception to the United States Constitution,” she said last month. “If any other human being in this country had done what’s documented in the Mueller report, they would be arrested and put in jail.”
Warren’s proposal is just the latest in a long series of detailed and ambitious policy plans she’s unveiled during the course of her presidential campaign.