Tags: Russia Probe | Memo | President | Indicted

Clinton-Era Memo: A Sitting President Can Be Indicted

Image: Clinton-Era Memo: A Sitting President Can Be Indicted
Special Counsel Robert Mueller (Getty Images)

By    |   Saturday, 22 Jul 2017 01:20 PM

A newly-obtained memo written during special counsel Kenneth Starr's investigation of President Bill Clinton rejects a commonly held view that a sitting president can't be indicted, The New York Times reported.

The discovery adds a possible new wrinkle into the investigation into Russia and President Donald Trump's campaign.

The memo has been locked away in the National Archives since 1998, but was obtained by the Times' Charlie Savage through a Freedom of Information Act request, and represents a thorough analysis of the opinion, the newspaper reported Saturday.

According to the findings, the memo concludes that "no one, even President Clinton, is above the law" and says it is "proper, constitutional, and legal for a federal grand jury to indict a sitting president for serious criminal acts that are not part of, and are contrary to, the president's official duties."

Ronald Rotunda, a prominent conservative professor of constitutional law and ethics, was assigned to write the memo when deputy prosecutors told Starr they had enough evidence to send to a grand jury against Clinton. The prosecutors also compiled a draft for an indictment against Clinton.

The Times has also put in a request for that, but the National Archives is still determining if the document could fall under secrecy rules for grand juries.

Starr's findings were not the first time a special counsel had determined a sitting president could be indicted. Watergate special counsel Leon Jaworski, in 1974, also got a memo from his staff saying then-President Richard Nixon could be indicted.

Both Starr and Jaworski chose to allow the matter proceed to impeachment, rather than indictments, but the memos bring up a possibility that former FBI Director Robert Mueller, in charge of the Russia investigation, could have options allowing him to proceed with a criminal case.

In addition, the Constitution and federal law does not ban presidents from being indicted, but others argue that the Constitution's "structural principles" forbid it.

In the Starr memo, Rotunda argued that if the "framers of the Constitution wanted to create a special immunity for the president, they could have written the relevant clause."

In addition, he said that if indictments had to wait until a president left office, some crimes would not come to trial because of statute of limitations considerations.

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A newly-obtained memo written during special counsel Kenneth Starr's investigation of President Bill Clinton rejects a commonly held view that a sitting president can't be indicted, The New York Times reported. The discovery adds a possible new wrinkle into the investigation...
Memo, President, Indicted
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2017-20-22
Saturday, 22 Jul 2017 01:20 PM
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