August 6, 2018

Kavanaugh said law an't go after criminal presidents

LA Times 

Since the Watergate era of the 1970s, four presidents — Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and now Donald Trump — have faced criminal investigations into their actions led by special prosecutors. For Nixon and Clinton, those probes led to impeachment charges in Congress.

But Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, has argued these special investigations are a mistake and may well be unconstitutional. Though he was a key player in the investigation of Clinton, Kavanaugh has since concluded that a sitting president should be accorded temporary immunity from any criminal probe while in office.

To say a president cannot be indicted is not unusual. Most legal scholars agree the only remedy for a president who breaks the law and commits “high crimes and misdemeanors” is impeachment by Congress. Only after leaving office may a former president be criminally prosecuted, they say.

But Kavanaugh has taken the view of presidential immunity a step further than most. He argues that even an investigation or questioning of a president should not be permitted, unless done by Congress.

....As Kavanaugh wrote 20 years ago, removing a president from office is a political decision. “The framers explained the wisdom, and perhaps also the constitutional necessity, of the idea that the public judgment with respect to the president be rendered not by a prosecutor or jury but by the Congress,” he said. “If Congress declines to investigate or to impeach and remove the president, there can be no criminal prosecution of the president at least until his term expires.”

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