House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expressing support for a law change that would allow for a sitting president to be indicted — possibly in response to pressure from her Democratic colleagues to help impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
“I do think that we will have to pass some laws that will have clarity for future presidents. [A] president should be indicted, if he’s committed a wrongdoing — any president. There is nothing anyplace that says the president should not be indicted,” Pelosi told NPR on Friday. “That’s something cooked up by the president’s lawyers. That’s what that is. But so that people will feel ‘OK, well, if he — if he does something wrong, [he] should be able to be indicted.’ ”
The House Speaker also took aim at a Department of Justice (DOJ) rule which prevents prosecutors from pursuing charges against a sitting president, saying that the protocol should be modified.
“The Founders could never suspect that a president would be so abusive of the Constitution of the United States, that the separation of powers would be irrelevant to him and that he would continue, any president would continue, to withhold facts from the Congress, which are part of the constitutional right of inquiry,” she said.
By coming out in favor of the rule change, Pelosi is effectively attempting to shift the burden from Congress to the executive branch when it comes to potentially ousting President Trump. Currently, Democrats in both the House and Senate lack the votes to do so.
Her comments follow the House Judiciary Committee kicking off its impeachment investigation into President Trump despite the speaker’s staunch opposition and a new poll showing the American people dislike the move. As Politico reported last week, Pelosi is at odds with House Judiciary panel chair Jerry Nadler’s (D-NY) handling of his impeachment probe.
According to the outlet, in a closed-door meeting last week, Pelosi criticized the committee’s aides for advancing impeachment “far beyond” where the Democrat caucus stands. She added that Democrats simply did not have the votes on the floor to impeach Trump.
Pelosi’s remarks sounded more like Republicans’ during the hearing than Democrats’. Ranking Republican Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) pointed out that Democrats wanted to talk about impeachment without actually taking a vote on the House floor, where they currently would not have the votes. The number in favor stands just above 130. They need 218 for impeachment.
Only 37 percent of voters support beginning impeachment proceedings, while 50 percent oppose doing so, and 12 percent are undecided, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll.
Although Pelosi has shown no signs of relenting on her opposition to impeachment, some in the Democrat Party’s progressive wing believes the California Democrat will ultimately back the president’s ouster.
“What I have always said was that it wasn’t if we were going to impeach, it is when we were going to impeach,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) recently told CBS News’s Face the Nation. “I think it is okay for some people to have hesitations, for other people to catch up to where some of us have been for a really long time. And I think with Chairman Nadler, he understands that, you know, we have a constitutional duty and we must exercise that constitutional duty.”