As evidence of law breaking by Donald Trump continues to emerge, commentators are speculating about whether a sitting president can be indicted. The Department of Justice has twice opined in the negative — during both the Nixon and Clinton administrations. But nothing in the Constitution would prevent Trump from being criminally indicted while he occupies the Oval Office.
Trump is apparently implicated in at least three federal criminal investigations. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is examining violations of campaign finance laws in connection with Trump Tower Moscow. Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have documented campaign finance violations stemming from hush money paid to Trump’s alleged paramours in order to influence the presidential election. And the New York US attorney’s office is analyzing whether Trump’s inaugural committee received illegal payments for presidential access and policy influence.
State lawsuits and investigations also spell legal peril for Trump. Attorneys general in Maryland and Washington, DC, have issued subpoenas in a lawsuit alleging the Trump Organization’s business dealings violated the Emoluments Clause. Located in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, the clause prohibits US officials from receiving anything of value from foreign governments, including foreign government-owned businesses, without the approval of Congress.
And New York officials are reviewing possible income tax fraud by Trump and the Trump Foundation.
Moreover, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen; longtime Trump ally David Pecker, head of American Media Inc.; and Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, are providing information to Mueller that could incriminate the president.
A Sitting President Can Be Indicted
The Constitution provides for impeachment of high government officials for treason, bribery, or other high crimes…