Indicting President Trump
I’ve been meaning to write a post on this subject for a while and thanks to Adam Schiff, I found the inspiration.
In an interview with CNN, Adam Schiff said the Department of Justice should “re-examine” its policies on whether a sitting president can be indicted, something I’ve agreed with from the beginning.
“I think the Justice Department needs to reexamine that OLC opinion, Office of Legal Counsel opinion, that you cannot indict a sitting president under circumstances in which the failure to do so may mean that person escapes justice.”
“If it were the case that it was now or never … that if you wait until after the president leaves office they can no longer be brought to justice, that ought to create certainly an exception to that OLC rule.”
Here’s my take.
First of all, as Schiff said, it is merely a guideline, not a law, which means it would be easier to change and indict President Trump if need be. But let’s look at this logically.
No one could have ever guessed in a million years that this would be an issue, and if it were, I’m sure those at the DOJ thought it would be something on a lesser scale such as campaign finance law violations. But it’s not.
Per the DOJ guidelines, let’s apply a hypothetical.
Suppose the President decides to sneak out of the White House one evening and jumps behind the wheel of his Presidential limousine after having too much to drink. The President smashes into a tree in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue.
While DUI’s are a serious matter, no one got hurt except for the tree. Now, the President runs for re-election, wins, and when his term is up, the statute of limitations has expired so the President cannot be charged with a DUI, destruction of property, or anything else.
But, what if the President ran someone over and killed that person? The statute of limitations on vehicular manslaughter is different in every state, but suppose that by the time the President’s term is up, the statute of limitations has expired.
So, we are going to allow the President of the United States to get away with the killing of another human being? Per DOJ guidelines, that would be the case unless the President commits his crime towards the end of his second term and there is plenty of time to file charges. But do you really think that was the intention of the DOJ guidelines? To decide if a President is charged criminally based on a stroke of luck and when the President’s term is over?
The statute of limitations on President Trump will expire in 2021 and President Trump could run for a second term in 2020. So, it is possible the Department of Justice will have a sit back and wait approach to see if President Trump wins or even runs in 2020, even though it only makes sense for the President to run again to protect himself legally.
Truth be told, I don’t foresee a 2020 run based on the way that Special Counsel Mueller’s case is pushing forward, and I’ll explain why in my next post.
Alexander Hernandez, Esq.
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Alexander Hernandez has been representing clients since 1999 in the areas of bankruptcy, family law, and personal injury.
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