Trump’s Notion That He Cannot Be Indicted Crushed By Independent Counsel Who Investigated Bill Clinton

Robert Mueller, 2012

A 56-page memo written by independent counsel Kenneth Starr has been unearthed that might help bring this nightmare of an administration to an end.

The New York Times unearthed a previously undisclosed memo from Kenneth W. Starr’s independent counsel investigation into then-President Bill Clinton.

As The New York Times reported: “The 56-page memo, locked in the National Archives for nearly two decades and obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, amounts to the most thorough government-commissioned analysis rejecting a generally held view that presidents are immune from prosecution while in office.

Elaborating, The New York Times reported that Starr’s memo concluded with the following statement:

“It is proper, constitutional, and legal for a federal grand jury to indict a sitting president for serious criminal acts that are not part of, and are contrary to, the president’s official duties. In this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law.”

That document, released to The New York Times in July 2017 took on new relevance in light of last week’s court filings by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) and from the Office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the case of Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen.

As Slate reported shortly after those filings, “SDNY prosecutors named the president of the United States as a direct participant, if not the principal, in felonies.”

In support, Slate provided the following relevant passage from the SDNY filing:

During the campaign, Cohen played a central role in two similar schemes to purchase the rights to stories – each from women who claimed to have had an affair with Individual-1 – so as to suppress the stories and thereby prevent them from influencing the election. With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election. Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments. In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1. As a result of Cohen’s actions, neither woman spoke to the press prior to the election. [Emphasis by Slate]

Continuing, Slate elaborated on the seriousness of that filing:

The flagship U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York walked right up to the line of accusing Donald Trump (identified as “Individual 1”) in a federal court filing of complicity and conspiracy in Cohen’s felony campaign-finance crimes related to the payment of hush money to women to squash sex stories.

Trump is no mere accomplice, but is alleged to have directed the criminal activity. And this is no minor crime. The SDNY submitted to the court that “the nature and seriousness of the offenses” should “weigh heavily in favor of a substantial term of imprisonment.” And as though they were speaking about Trump himself, the prosecutors state that the “two campaign finance crimes on the eve of the 2016 election for President of the United States struck a blow to one of the core goals of the federal campaign finance laws: transparency,” “deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election,” and should be met with a stiff penalty “to counter the public cynicism that may arise when individuals like Cohen act as if the political process belongs to the rich and powerful.“ That language is not reserved for Cohen, but presumably applies to the individual who directed Cohen’s activities as well if not more so.

While many are claiming that a sitting president is immune from being indicted while in office, take another look at Starr’s summary remark:

“It is proper, constitutional, and legal for a federal grand jury to indict a sitting president for serious criminal acts that are not part of, and are contrary to, the president’s official duties. In this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law.”

 

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