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 WarrenRahm Emanuel: Bloomberg, Patrick entering race will allow Democrats to have 'ideas primary' Feehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Jayapal hits back at Biden on marijuana 'prohibition' 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 MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE said in public remarks that his team could not have brought charges against President TrumpDonald John TrumpMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns Trump's doctor issues letter addressing 'speculation' about visit to Walter Reed 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 BookerJayapal hits back at Biden on marijuana 'prohibition' Poll: Biden holds 20-point lead in South Carolina Fox News anchor apologizes for saying Booker dropped out of 2020 race MORE (D-N.J.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMaloney primary challenger calls on her to return, donate previous campaign donations from Trump Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee She Should Run launches initiative to expand number of women in political process 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.”