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 WarrenGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court 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 MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE said in public remarks that his team could not have brought charges against President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE given Justice Department guidance that forbids bringing charges against a sitting president.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 BookerGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate MORE (D-N.J.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate Gillibrand unveils mental health plan 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.”