Avenatti pens op-ed saying Trump can be indicted

Avenatti pens op-ed saying Trump can be indicted
© UPI Photo

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing adult-film star Stormy Daniels in her case against President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE and his former lawyer Michael Cohen, argues in a new op-ed that Trump could be indicted, despite a longstanding Justice Department policy.


“The fact that Mr. Trump is a sitting president should not derail a process that applies to all Americans, regardless of stature or station. He would still have the post-indictment relief available to all citizens, including the ability to challenge the constitutionality of the indictment,” Avenatti wrote in an op-ed published Thursday by The New York Times.

“Some also argue that indicting the president would critically impair his ability to lead the country. But this is a White House already engulfed in chaos and daily distractions. And if the House were to initiate impeachment proceedings, it is hard to see how that process would be any less distracting than a criminal indictment,” he added. 

Citing constitutional scholars on both sides of the debate, Avenatti suggested that the option is still viable unless the Supreme Court definitively rules against indicting a sitting president. 

Avenatti's comments come days after former independent counsel Ken Starr, who led an investigation into President Clinton's sexual misconduct, said he thought a sitting president could be indicted. Avenatti cited Starr's remarks in his op-ed.

“No one is above the law,” Starr told MSNBC on Wednesday, noting that the principle outlined by the Supreme Court in Clinton v. Jones, which asserted that the president is subject to civil litigation, can be carried over to criminal issues.

Avenatti echoed Starr's claim, writing that prosecutors "must be blind to the officeholder’s position."

"[I]f the facts and evidence are adequate for indictment, then prosecutors must be blind to the officeholder’s position — especially so in this case because, unlike in President Clinton’s case, the investigations relate to how Mr. Trump won the election," Avenatti continued. "Ultimately, the question would almost certainly be decided by a panel of judges previously confirmed pursuant to the Constitution — either in the courts of appeals or, more appropriately, the Supreme Court."

The lawyer, who is mulling a 2020 presidential bid, also argued that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh would have to recuse himself should he be confirmed to the high court and be subject to hearing such a case, citing concerns about Kavanaugh's stance on presidential immunity and his avoidance of questions of whether he would recuse himself in cases related to Trump.

“Should Mr. Trump be indicted and in the event that the case reaches the Supreme Court, Judge Kavanaugh’s recusal should be mandatory. The American public’s view of impartiality of the rule of law and of the Supreme Court hangs in the balance,” Avenatti wrote.