Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie that though it would be up for discussion, she wouldn’t rule out the idea of indicting the president. The rule that a sitting president cannot be indicted inevitably comes up in conversation amongst Democrats angling to oust Trump, but no one is sure how strict that rule is. Because of that, the rule’s legitimacy is a divisive, potentially groundbreaking argument that Pelosi seems equally split on.
Special counsel Robert Mueller could attempt to indict the president while he’s in office and, according to Pelosi, supercede the Justice Department guidelines that say otherwise. She told Guthrie the guideline isn’t “conclusive,” but she punted, never taking one side or the other. Instead, she settled on the idea that it’s “an open discussion. I think that is an open discussion in terms of the law.”
When it comes to actually indicting the president, Pelosi was equally wavering. She believes that politics should not affect whether the president is removed from office—but she’s open to ideas. She said, “We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report. We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason. So we’ll just have to see how it comes,” again deferring to a wait-and-see stance.
When Guthrie moved to clarify that Pelosi believed Trump could be indicted while in office, she doubled down, saying, “let’s see what Mueller does.” Pelosi continued to avoid providing an outright answer, only saying that “everything indicates that a president can be indicted,” then emphasizing, “after he is no longer president of the United States.”
At least she was adamant on one thing: When asked about the government shutdown, Pelosi threw all responsibility on the president and his holding the government and its employees hostage, saying she would give “nothing” for the wall. She said, “this is the Trump shutdown, through and through. That’s why he has proudly taken, in his view, proudly taken ownership of it. There’s no escaping that for him. That doesn’t mean we take any joy in the fact that there is a Trump shutdown. We want government to open.”
At this point, it seems like Pelosi is in the battle for the long haul. She’ll only move to impeach the president if Mueller brings back something big; but she’s certainly digging her feet in to push Trump all the way until 2020.