Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
Three House Judiciary Committee Democrats, including South Florida’s Ted Deutch, is pushing legislation to pause the statute of limitations while a president is in office. The No President Is Above the Law Act is aimed squarely at President Donald Trump.
Many Democrats — and hundreds of former federal prosecutors from both parties — believe Trump has committed crimes listed in the Mueller Report. Trump is protected from criminal charges by a Justice Department policy preventing prosecution of a sitting president until he or she leaves office. That means a president could escape prosecution altogether, because the five year statute of limitations would have run out by the time the president is out of office.
The legislation is sponsored by Deutch, who represents Broward and Palm Beach counties; Jerry Nadler, the committee chairman from New York; and Eric Swalwell, a committee member from California, the statute of limitations would be paused for any federal offense committed by a sitting president — before or during the president’s reign.
“No one should be able to escape responsibility for their crimes by hiding in the Oval Office,” Deutch said in a statement. “If the Justice Department maintains its policy giving presidents a break from the threat of criminal prosecution during their term, Congress should act to ensure that it doesn’t ultimately prevent the pursuit of justice.”
Nadler said the presidency “is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.” The legislation stands almost zero chance of becoming law. It would have to pass the Republican controlled Senate — and then go to Trump to sign. Democrats don’t have enough votes to override a veto. Some constitutional scholars disagree with Justice Department policy and believe a president can be indicted while in office.
But the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has long said that a president can’t be prosecuted while in office, but could be after the term ends. Mueller cited that policy as a reason Trump couldn’t be charged. More than 800 Republican and Democratic former federal prosecutors signed a letter stating that Trump’s conduct described in the Mueller report would result in prosecution on “multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice” for anyone who isn’t the president.
The Nadler-led committee is leading Democrats’ efforts to conduct oversight of the Trump administration. Last week the committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt, a move White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called a “desperate ploy.”
If you have an opinion on The No President Is Above the Law Act, you can contact your Senators and share your concerns.