The general consensus among legal experts is that a sitting president cannot be indicted for crimes.
However, former FBI agent Asha Rangappa thinks there’s a very good reason that special counsel Robert Mueller should pursue an indictment against President Donald Trump anyway.
Writing in the Washington Post, Rangappa says that an indictment of the president would have the beneficial side effect of letting the public see the evidence that Mueller has accrued against him.
“If… Mueller believes that he has gathered enough evidence that would warrant charging Trump with one or more crimes, he can provide that evidence in his final report to the attorney general, along with a recommendation that the president be indicted,” she writes. “The attorney general could approve that recommendation, in which case such an indictment would become public (with its constitutionality litigated in court).”
Even if the DOJ rejects the special counsel’s recommendation to indict, she says that rejection would in and of itself “automatically trigger the reporting requirement to Congress” and thus “might be the only way to guarantee a report goes to Capitol Hill.”
Rangappa acknowledges that Mueller may not recommend an indictment against the president because he’s a “by-the-book” prosecutor who knows DOJ guidelines recommend against such actions. However, she thinks Mueller could use the indictment as a way to jump start the political debate about whether the president should be removed.
“By recommending an indictment that will be overruled, Mueller could likewise automatically pass the baton to Congress and allow the political process to pick up when the criminal process can go no further,” she concludes.