Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse tells CNN the DOJ can sitting president can be indicted.
A Democratic senator on the Judiciary Committee says he believes the federal government is ‘moving toward indictment and charges’ against President Donald Trump.
But not surprisingly, the supposed agents are nowhere near a point where they can lodge a specific accusation at the President.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said on CNN’s ‘Cuomo Prime Time’ that he doesn’t agree with the Department of Justice opinion previous opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted.
Sheldon asserts that the question should be put before a court.
“It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he said.
“and the proposition that you can’t indict a sitting president never gets tested.”
Barr said he believed that the status quo should be sustained while he was under questioning from a Democratic senator on the Judiciary Committee.
He also admitted he hadn’t seen the 40-year-old Office of Legal Counsel, OLC, opinion in a long time.
“But I see no reason to change them,” he added.
Whitehouse told host Chris Cuomo that his view differs to Barr’s claims on the on the ability of DOJ, and by special extension counsel Robert Mueller, to indict a sitting executive.
“I think that if there with crimes that he has committed, that he should be indicted,” Whitehouse said.
“I do not at all subscribe to the OLC theory that a president can’t be indicted.”
He added the best place for the debate is the court.
“So we’ve gotta look at ways to try to get that question before a court, so that it can be determined where questions of law get determined in the United States of America, and that’s in the court and not the upper offices of the Department of Justice,” the Rhode Island Democrat said.
‘But I think a court taking a look at this would say, “No, no, no,” ‘ he assessed.
According to the DailyMail: He said the precedent set by former President Richard Nixon’s crimes and other instances, ‘they don’t align with a president not being answerable to the public in this way.’
The inability to properly question a president indicted of crimes would ‘create a terrible situation’ with ‘no resolution’ and ‘no pressure to answer’ the allegations, he contended.
That’s not to say that DOJ has developed a case against Trump, but Whitehouse proposed that Mueller and his team are working to that end.
“I would want to know a lot more,” Whitehouse told Cuomo of the evidence.
“I am at the stage, based on what I do know, that I would be sitting down with the agents and saying, “OK, we need to run down this, we need to run down that. We need to pin down some things before we go.”
“We are certainly in a mode, I believe, of moving toward indictment and charges of the president, but I do not believe based on what I know, Mueller may know more, that we’re at the stage of actually being able to make the charge.”
Barr’s nomination hearing on Capitol Hill that ran the length of the Tuesday focused heavily on his positions regarding the special counsel probe of Russian election meddling.
Trump pushed out his first attorney general for recusing himself from the DOJ investigation that culminated in the Mueller probe that has cast a shadow over the first two years of his administration.
Barr told senators he would counter pressure to ax Mueller, including from the president unless there were good cause to do so.
He revealed that he and Mueller, a former FBI director, are family friends, a fact he said that Trump is aware of.
Asked if he would fire the special counsel if he would change Justice Department regulations and then fire him if asked to do so by the president without ‘good cause,’ Barr responded: ‘I would not carry out that instruction.’
“I don’t believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt,” Barr said under questioning from Democrats about Trump’s use of the term to describe the Russia probe.
He revealed he met with President Trump in June 2017 when the president was seeking to expand his legal team and told him at the time how well he knew Mueller.
“I said Bob is a straight shooter and should be dealt with as such,” Barr said he told the president.
The comments were among multiple markers of independence Barr put down during the hearing, where he also praised fired Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions’ ruling to recuse from the Russia probe and praised Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein, another popular target of the president’s.
He also gave reasons for the unsolicited memo he sent to Rosenstein arguing Mueller’s probe was ‘fatally misconceived’ by going after possible obstruction of justice by the president.
Barr also refused to provide Democrats commitments they repeatedly asked that he would yield to ethics professionals if they advised him to recuse himself from the Mueller probe.
“I’m not surrendering that responsibility. I’m not giving it away,” he said.
On other matters, Barr told lawmakers he didn’t need the high-level job he has previously held, would not be ‘bullied’ by anyone, and stated explicitly several instances of interference in a prosecution that would be improper or illegal.
Nancy Pelosi said that the indictment of a sitting president is an “open discussion.”