Donald Trump Would Be Facing Multiple Felony Charges If He Weren’t President, Says A Group Of Lawyers

The question of whether or not a sitting president can be criminally indicted remains unanswered.

President Donald Trump appears in a suit.
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The question of whether or not a sitting president can be criminally indicted remains unanswered.

Donald Trump would be facing multiple felony charges of obstruction of justice if he weren’t president, a group of lawyers reportedly told the Justice Department.

As Yahoo! News reports, 417 attorneys — some of whom are current Justice Department officials — are signatories to an open letter that claims that any other person would have been handcuffed and charged with felonies if they were accused of the same things that Donald Trump is accused of. However, since he is a sitting president — and since current Justice Department policy seems to suggest that a sitting president can’t be criminally indicted — Trump won’t be facing any criminal charges, for now.

“Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.”

Medium presented the letter in its entirety for public view.

Signatories to the letter include Bill Weld, who is currently waging a long-shot campaign for the 2020 Republican Party’s nomination over incumbent Donald Trump; John Martin Sr., a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, which is currently investigating Trump and affiliated entities in a variety of different contexts; and Paul Rosenzweig, senior counsel to independent counsel Kenneth Starr.

The allegations of obstruction against Trump are contained in the Mueller report, a redacted version of which was submitted to Congress weeks ago. Within the report are details of at least ten episodes which seem to suggest that Trump committed, or attempted to commit, obstruction of justice.

But, say the signatories to the letter, Trump can’t be criminally indicted because of a decades-old Justice Department policy which holds that a sitting president cannot be the subject of criminal proceedings.

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As Reuters reports, back in 1973 the Justice Department released an internal memo that concluded that there is no avenue within the Constitution that allows for criminal charges to be levied against a sitting chief executive.

“The spectacle of an indicted president still trying to serve as Chief Executive boggles the imagination.”

However, the Constitution doesn’t specifically prevent the president from being criminally indicted, either. In fact, lawyer Laurence H. Tribe, writing for The Lawfare Blog, wrote that the Constitution does, indeed, allow for a sitting president to be criminally indicted.

Regardless, criminal charges against Trump, at least while he remains in office, seem extremely unlikely, per Reuters.