Pelosi: Possible to indict president in office

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, poised to be the next house speaker, says it is open for discussion as to whether a sitting president can be indicted. CNN's John Berman has more.

Posted: Jan 3, 2019 10:51 PM
Updated: Jan 3, 2019 10:51 PM

Nancy Pelosi, who is poised to be the next House speaker, said that it remains open for discussion whether the Justice Department could indict a sitting president.

Ahead of the new Democratic majority taking control of the House on Thursday, the California Democratic representative was asked whether special counsel Robert Mueller should honor the Department of Justice's opinion that a sitting US president should not be indicted. Mueller is currently investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible connections between President Donald Trump's campaign and the Kremlin.

"I do not think that that is conclusive. No, I do not," Pelosi said in an interview with NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie that aired Thursday on "Today."

Asked if Mueller could legally indict a sitting president, Pelosi said: "Let's just see what Mueller does. Let's spend our time on getting results for the American people."

The Office of Legal Counsel's guidance, issued in 2000, says, "The indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions."

"It's not the law," Pelosi told Guthrie. "Everything indicates that a president can be indicted after he is no longer president of the United States."

Guthrie asked, "What about a sitting president?"

"Well, a sitting president when he is no longer president of the United States," Pelosi answered.

Guthrie pressed again, asking, "A president who's in office? Could Robert Mueller come back and say, 'I am seeking an indictment?'"

"I think that is an open discussion," Pelosi said. "I think that's an open discussion in terms of the law."

She also did not rule out impeachment proceedings against Trump.

"We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report," Pelosi said. "We shouldn't be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn't avoid impeachment for a political reason."

For the first time since he took office, Trump will be faced with a new opposition in the House from Democrats, who plan to scrutinize the President and use their subpoena power.

The Mueller investigation, which began in 2017, could issue its final report this year, making referrals or recommendations to the US House.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told CNN in May that Mueller's team had informed Trump's lawyers that it has concluded a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, said in court in August that Trump directed him to make payments during the 2016 election to silence women who claimed they had had affairs with the future President. Cohen pleaded guilty to two campaign finance violations related to those payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Prosecutors have said that in executing the payments, Cohen "acted in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump, who has denied having the affairs with the two women.

Trump often derides the Mueller investigation as a "witch hunt" and denies any collusion between his campaign and Russia to sway the 2016 election in his favor.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 9728
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion846851338
Lake45676687
Allen32980552
Hamilton29649315
St. Joseph27531382
Elkhart24478345
Vanderburgh19610250
Tippecanoe18108141
Johnson15191295
Porter14944169
Hendricks14485250
Madison11044222
Clark10811144
Vigo10795181
Monroe9458113
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Kosciusko810183
Warrick680299
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Bartholomew6640100
Floyd6507110
Wayne6177162
Grant6027116
Dubois558680
Boone556468
Morgan548695
Henry511464
Marshall506984
Cass486964
Dearborn486545
Noble475659
Jackson427747
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Lawrence393780
Clinton375044
Gibson374459
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Carroll159715
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Union6297
Ohio4977
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 868656

Reported Deaths: 10768
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin102154707
Cuyahoga865201153
Hamilton64744448
Montgomery43516419
Summit35250762
Lucas31663631
Butler31268232
Stark26096443
Warren19830142
Lorain19296229
Mahoning17471339
Lake16250154
Clermont16128112
Delaware1453680
Licking13326137
Fairfield1294981
Trumbull12920317
Greene12174141
Medina11732168
Clark11058265
Wood10457158
Allen9988127
Portage9454111
Miami924473
Richland9236118
Marion7486113
Tuscarawas7440183
Columbiana7409124
Pickaway732150
Wayne7111172
Muskingum710342
Erie6221130
Ross5558100
Hancock555292
Scioto542764
Geauga515955
Darke473492
Lawrence460658
Union456928
Ashtabula456473
Sandusky439562
Mercer435089
Seneca433866
Huron432841
Auglaize424164
Shelby422522
Jefferson422469
Belmont421145
Washington394240
Athens38389
Putnam378075
Madison358129
Knox356122
Ashland349038
Fulton340443
Defiance334486
Crawford325774
Preble322737
Brown315821
Logan312132
Ottawa296543
Clinton291543
Williams280367
Highland279018
Jackson265845
Guernsey257126
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Morrow23464
Perry233718
Holmes226774
Henry221953
Hardin215533
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Van Wert203445
Gallia199826
Wyandot196751
Pike178017
Adams177715
Hocking173224
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Paulding145321
Noble121040
Meigs109724
Monroe102232
Harrison89921
Morgan83931
Vinton71314
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