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As recently as 1989, oddly enough when President George H W Bush was in office, the American government captured the leader of Panama's government, charged him with drug trafficking and put him in prison in Florida, where he remained until his death in 2017. In 1989 Panama was a sovereign nation.
The Rule of Law? The premise of the rule of law is that no one is above the law. Yet our government is debating if a sitting president of The United States can be indicted. Robert Mueller has spent the last 18 months investigating the president for possible treason, but the press and many in the government are questioning whether the president can be indicted if Mueller's investigation concludes he has committed crimes.
The discussion around whether a sitting president can be indicted is based on a Justice Department policy that goes back to the Nixon administration, not the Constitution.
Article I Sections 2 and 3 states that the impeachment proceeding involves the House impeaching an official, and the Senate convicting them and removing them from office. However, these provisions do not preclude officials from being liable for criminal charges. In fact paragraph 7 of Article I Section 3 clearly provides for "...indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to the Law", and it DOES NOT require an official to be removed from office first.
Impeachment, as a political process, has no impact on the criminal process, and the Constitution does not exclude ANYONE from indictment for crimes.
Article I Section 2 Paragraph 5
Article I Section 3 Paragraphs 6 and 7
6: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
7: Judgment in Cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
Article II Section 4
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Top House Democrats have raised the prospect of impeachment or the real possibility of prison time for President Donald Trump if it's proved that he directed illegal hush-money payments to women, adding to the legal pressure on the president over the Russia investigation and other scandals.
"There's a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time," said Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chairman of the House intelligence committee. "The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next president has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump."
Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, described the details in prosecutors' filings Friday in the case of Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as evidence that Trump was "at the center of a massive fraud."
"They would be impeachable offenses," Nadler said.
In the filings, prosecutors in New York for the first time link Trump to a federal crime of illegal payments to buy the silence of two women during the 2016 campaign. Special counsel Robert Mueller's office also laid out previously undisclosed contacts between Trump associates and Russian intermediaries and suggested the Kremlin aimed early on to influence Trump and his Republican campaign by playing to both his political and personal business interests.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and has compared the investigations to a "witch hunt."
Nadler, D-N.Y., said it was too early to say whether Congress would pursue impeachment proceedings based on the illegal payments alone because lawmakers would need to weigh the gravity of the offense to justify "overturning" the 2016 election. Nadler and other lawmakers said Sunday they would await additional details from Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference and possible coordination with the Trump campaign to determine the extent of Trump's misconduct.
Regarding the illegal payments, "whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question, but certainly they'd be impeachable offenses because even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office," Nadler said.
Mueller has not said when he will complete a report of any findings, and it isn't clear that any such report would be made available to Congress. That would be up to the attorney general. Trump on Friday said he would nominate former Attorney General William Barr to the post to succeed Jeff Sessions.
Nadler indicated that Democrats, who will control the House in January, will step up their own investigations. He said Congress, the Justice Department and the special counsel need to dig deeper into the allegations, which include questions about whether Trump lied about his business arrangements with Russians and about possible obstruction of justice.
"The new Congress will not try to shield the president," he said. "We will try to get to the bottom of this, in order to serve the American people and to stop this massive conspiracy — this massive fraud on the American people."
Schiff, D-Calif., also stressed a need to wait "until we see the full picture." He has previously indicated his panel would seek to look into the Trump family's business ties with Russia.
"I think we also need to see this as a part of a broader pattern of potential misconduct by the president, and it's that broad pattern, I think, that will lead us to a conclusion about whether it rises to the level to warrant removal from office," Schiff said.
In the legal filings, the Justice Department stopped short of accusing Trump of directly committing a crime. But it said Trump told Cohen to make illegal payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom claimed to have had affairs with Trump more than a decade ago.
Top House Dems raise prospect of impeachment, jail for Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) — Top House Democrats have raised the prospect of impeachment or the real possibility of prison time for President Donald Trump if it's proved that he directed illegal hush-money payments to women, adding to the legal pressure on the president over the Russia investigation and other×