Former prosecutors Seema Iyer and Paul Butler said on Sunday that President Donald Trump could be indicted while still in office, Newsweek reports.
Iyer and Butler went on MSNBC’s AM Joy to discuss Donald Trump’s legal troubles. The former prosecutors concluded that the president is indeed in a lot of trouble, and that it is only a matter of time before he is indicted for a slew of criminal offenses.
Host Joy Reid began the discussion by asking whether Trump can be indicted for tax evasion, money laundering, insurance fraud, and bank fraud while still president.
“One hundred and fifty percent, yes!” Iyer replied.
“The Justice Department regulations that govern Mueller’s appointment say Mueller is allowed to deviate from policy in, ‘extraordinary circumstances,'” she explained, adding that the current situation certainly qualifies as extraordinary.
Even though the alleged crimes occurred in 2011 and 2013, before Trump even ran for president, he is not immune from prosecution and will not be, according to Iyer.
Paul Butler agreed with Iyer’s assessment, but added that a sitting president can be indicted, but not prosecuted. Butler then explained that the Justice Department’s guidelines state the opposite — that a sitting president cannot be criminally prosecuted or even indicted.
But as The Washington Post pointed out, these are simply guidelines. The Justice Department’s recommendations are not law, which is why this issue is frequently debated by legal scholars. According to the Washington Post, Special Counsel Robert Mueller — who is investigating whether Trump conspired with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential campaign — is unlikely to deviate from these guidelines, however.
Former prosecutor and defense attorney Seema Iyer explained the Southern District of New York has its “own venue to prosecute” Trump for “all these insurance fraud crimes, bank fraud, financial crimes.” https://t.co/B2x6mfylUx
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) March 3, 2019
Nevertheless, according to Butler, even though Trump cannot be prosecuted, there could be a sealed indictment waiting for him. As soon as the president leaves office, the former prosecutor said, he will be indicted, providing that there is indeed a sealed indictment against Donald Trump.
“Prosecution is the key word. A sitting president can’t be prosecuted. He may be able to be indicted, which means there could be a sealed indictment waiting right now for the day that Trump leaves office.”
According to Newsweek, the matter remains unclear given that the U.S. Constitution states that a sitting president can be removed from office through impeachment, without explicitly stating whether or not a sitting president can be prosecuted in a court of law.
According to the Department of Justice, however, a sitting president is “constitutionally immune” from both indictment and prosecution.
Many legal experts have long disputed the DOJ’s memo, according to Newsweek, arguing that it directly contradicts the core principle of law — that no one is above it, not even the president.