A sitting president can be indicted, says former acting solicitor general

A sitting president can be indicted, says former acting solicitor general

(CNN) – Former acting United States Solicitor Walter Dellinger believes that a sitting president of the United States can be indicted.

“There is nothing in the constitutional text or judicial precedent that provides for a categorical bar to the indictment of a sitting president,” Dellinger wrote in an op-ed published in The New York Times Monday, adding, “No one should be above the law.”

The former assistant attorney general argued that without the power to indict, a president could never be held accountable for crimes committed while in office.

“I don’t think a president can be made to go through a trial while he was serving,” Dellinger told CNN’s Don Lemon on “CNN Tonight” Tuesday. “I think that would be too disruptive of his role of being chief executive of the nation’s government. But there’s really not a good argument against indicting a president.”

Dellinger cited an opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel for the Department of Justice that stated in 2000 a president could not be indicted.

“Although the thoughtful opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel is persuasive in establishing that a president cannot be put on trial, it addresses only briefly the question of whether he could simply be indicted but not tried,” he wrote in The New York Times op-ed.

In regards to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election, Dellinger said special counsel Robert Mueller could “consider himself bound by that opinion.”

“He could ask the Justice Department, the legal counsel, to give serious consideration as to whether there’s any reason not to indict a president,” he said.

Prior to the resignation of President Donald Trump’s lead attorney for the Russia investigation, John Dowd asserted that a president can never be guilty of obstructing justice because he is the country’s top law enforcement officer.

“That is the lamest argument that I have ever heard,” Dellinger said. “A president has the power to appoint people, to fire people, but he can’t do it for a corrupt reason without triggering criminal liability.”