Warren unveils new plan to allow presidents to be indicted

Warren unveils new plan to allow presidents to be indicted
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Budget hawks frustrated by 2020 politics in entitlement reform fight MORE (D-Mass.) called on Friday for Congress to pass a law clarifying that the president can be indicted for alleged crimes.

She also vowed that if she is elected president, she will appoint Justice Department officials who would roll back a policy holding that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.

Warren’s comments, made in a post on Medium, came two days after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE said in public remarks that his team could not have brought charges 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 given Justice Department guidance that forbids bringing charges against a sitting president.

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Those remarks reignited Democratic calls for Congress to begin the impeachment process against Trump. But Warren, who was among the first Democratic presidential hopefuls to call for impeachment proceedings, said that lawmakers should go even further.

“Mueller’s statement made clear what those of us who have read his report already knew: He’s referring President Trump for impeachment, and it’s up to Congress to act,” Warren said.

“But impeachment isn’t supposed to be the only way that a President can be held accountable for committing a crime,” she continued. “That’s why I’ve got a plan to make sure that no President is above the law.”

She said that Congress should pass legislation making clear that a president can be charged for alleged criminal activity, even while in office, as well as amend obstruction of justice statutes “to explicitly allow for indictment when the President abuses the powers of the office.”

Warren also vowed that, if elected president, she would appoint an attorney general who will “protect the rule of law” and an assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel who will reverse a Justice Department opinion holding that sitting presidents cannot be indicted.

“That policy, first advanced in an opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel during Watergate and backed up by an additional memo in 2000, is why Robert Mueller couldn’t indict President Trump for obstruction of justice,” Warren wrote.

“Congress should make it clear that the President can be held accountable for violating the law, just like everyone else.”

The set of proposals is the latest from a candidate who has tied her 2020 presidential bid to a steady release of detailed policy plans.

Several other Democrats running for president have come out in favor of impeachment in recent weeks, including Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSpeculation swirls around whether Bloomberg will make Las Vegas debate stage Conway: Trump is 'toying with everybody' by attacking Bloomberg for stop-and-frisk comments Democratic rivals sharpen attacks as Bloomberg rises MORE (D-N.J.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHillicon Valley: US hits Huawei with new charges | Judge orders Pentagon to halt 'war cloud' work amid Amazon challenge | IRS removes guidance on Fortnite game currency Gillibrand proposes creating new digital privacy agency Lobbying world MORE (D-N.Y.), who announced earlier this week that they support the start of impeachment proceedings against Trump.

But Warren’s plan would allow federal prosecutors — not just Congress — to take action against a sitting president accused of criminal wrongdoing. Doing so, she said, is necessary to make clear that presidents can be held accountable in the same manner as any other government official.

“No matter what he may think, Donald Trump is not a King. No President is. And our democracy only works if everyone can be held accountable,” she wrote. “These changes will make sure that’s the case for generations to come.”