House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remains on the fence about impeaching the current occupant of the Oval Office, but she says Congress should make it clear that bringing criminal charges against a crooked commander in chief is absolutely lawful.
In an interview with NPR on Friday, Pelosi said Congress should pass laws to clarify that a sitting president can indeed be indicted.
“[A] president should be indicted, if he’s committed a wrongdoing—any president,” Pelosi told NPR. “There is nothing anyplace that says the president should not be indicted.”
As Politico explains, the issue of whether a sitting president can be criminally charged was brought to the fore this spring when then special counsel Robert Mueller issued his long-awaited report on whether the Russians interfered with the 2016 presidential election, with Trump obstructing justice regarding the matter.
In his report, Mueller indicated that due to the Justice Department’s long-standing practice of not indicting sitting presidents, he’d had no plans to charge Trump, no matter his findings, leaving the decision for Congress.
The aftermath has left the country and Congress much divided, with a sizable number of House Democrats calling for impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Pelosi remains hesitant on the issue of impeachment, fearing backlash ahead of an election year, but she told NPR that she was clear about the need to make it clear that there is nothing in the Constitution that precludes indicting a president. She called such an erroneous take “something cooked up by the president’s lawyers.”
The lawmaker from California said the nation’s founders simply never could have imagined the type of excess and blatant disregard for presidential norms as has been displayed by Trump:
“The Founders could never suspect that a president would be so abusive of the Constitution of the United States, that the separation of powers would be irrelevant to him and that he would continue, any president would continue, to withhold facts from the Congress, which are part of the constitutional right of inquiry,” Pelosi said.
Perhaps prison—over impeachment—really is more what Pelosi has in mind when it comes to the current sitting president.
Earlier this year, Pelosi reportedly remarked to members of her caucus, when asked about beginning an impeachment inquiry: “I don’t want to see him impeached. I want to see him in prison.”
Guess only time will tell.
But in any case, in remarks to NPR, Pelosi stood firm—in her hesitancy—when it came to the issue of impeaching Trump, telling the public radio station:
Congress would continue to follow “the facts and the law.”