Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she wouldn’t rule out the possibility of special counsel Robert Mueller seeking an indictment against President Donald Trump, splitting from some legal experts who say it can’t be done.
In an interview that aired Thursday, NBC’s “Today” co-host Savannah Guthrie asked Pelosi whether Mueller’s team “should honor and observe” Justice Department guidance that states a sitting president cannot be indicted.
“I do not think that that is conclusive,” Pelosi responded. “No, I do not.”
“Let’s see what Mueller does,” Pelosi said when pressed to confirm whether the special counsel had the ability to indict Trump. “Let’s spend our time on getting results for the American people.”
Pelosi added that there is no law against a sitting president being indicted.
“I think that is an open discussion in terms of the law,” she said.
Her comments to NBC make her the highest-ranking official to suggest Trump could be indicted while in office, Axios reported. Pelosi is expected on Thursday to become the first lawmaker in more than 50 years to have held the office of House speaker twice.
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel concluded in 1973 that indicting a sitting president would “impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions.”
The Constitution does not specifically say whether a sitting president can be criminally prosecuted, nor has the Supreme Court ruled on the possibility.
Pelosi told NBC that Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump obstructed justice should wrap up before Congress decides if impeachment is appropriate.
“We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report,” she said. “We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason. And we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason.”