Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks told MSNBC on Friday that she had “always believed” a sitting president could be indicted — and that the new BuzzFeed allegations that President Donald Trump suborned perjury from his former fixer Michael Cohen may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
“The Justice Department’s long standing view is no, you cannot prosecute a president, for a variety of reasons,” said NBC reporter Pete Williams. “I’ll just boil it down to simply: the president can’t run the country from jail, at least not while he’s in office you can’t charge him.” Williams added that unless special counsel Robert Mueller isn’t bound by that legal opinion, Trump’s removal remained “a political issue for Congress.”
“I have always said that I believe that the president, even when sitting, can be indicted,” said Wine-Banks. “And if the facts justify it, and they are starting to look ominously like they do, justify indicting the president.” She added, however, that “impeachment is a very fine alternative”.
Host Hallie Jackson noted that both Presidents Nixon and Clinton were impeached in part for witness tampering and asked if that would spur Democrats to move “more aggressively toward impeachment.” Surprisingly, Wine-Banks replied that even Republicans might turn on Trump.
“I think this is the kind of evidence that could influence Republicans as well as Democrats to act faster, because they are the ones who got lied to, and the public got lied to,” she said. “There [was] also evidence of Nixon lying to the public as grounds for impeachment.”
Watch the video below.