Dems weigh what to do about Trump’s deeds

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a familiar chant, President Donald Trump’s backers regularly called for Hillary Clinton to be thrown in prison during the 2016 campaign. Now top Democrats are grappling with fraught questions about whether to lock HIM up.

As Democrats in Congress press for continued investigation of Trump while he remains in office, the party’s presidential candidates are weighing how to address his alleged misdeeds when he’s no longer in the White House. It’s a question that raises the potential of Democrats politicizing law enforcement, something they’ve blasted Trump for doing.

Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris said in an interview released Wednesday that if she wins the White House, her Justice Department “would have no choice” but to pursue an obstruction of justice case against Trump after he leaves office.

Harris’ comments come after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told fellow Democrats that she would rather see Trump defeated in the election, then imprisoned, than impeached in Congress. That’s partly a way to quiet the push from multiple Democrats vying to replace Trump, who want their party to start the impeachment process.

Vowing to seek charges against Trump after he leaves office brings risk for Democratic White House hopefuls, given their own party’s repeated excoriations of the president for politicizing the Justice Department, as when he threatened repeatedly in the 2016 campaign to prosecute Clinton once he became president.

Even the idea of impeachment, though popular with Democrats’ base voters, is shy of majority support with the general public, polls indicate.

Harris’ comments raise questions about how willing Democrats are to keep bending norms of governmental behavior, such as the usually bright line between politics and federal prosecutions, that Trump has shattered.

The California Democratic senator, who is running in part on the strength of her legal and law enforcement experience, appears to have taken a step farther than her opponents in affirming that a Justice Department in her administration “should” look at charging Trump with obstruction after his presidency.

“Everyone should be held accountable,” Harris told NPR interview. “And the president is not above the law.”

Mueller has said he was unable to exonerate Trump of obstruction but couldn’t pursue potential charges because of a Justice Department policy that bars the indictment of a sitting president. Harris has said she would ask her Justice Department to reexamine that policy. Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has pledged outright to end it if she’s elected president.

Harris, a former California attorney general who previously was San Francisco’s district attorney, later said she would not dictate the outcome of any prospective efforts to charge Trump.

“The facts and the evidence will take the process where it leads,” she said.

But she also told NPR that “I’ve seen prosecution of cases on much less evidence” than Mueller’s report amassed against Trump.

Mueller examined nearly a dozen acts by the president for potential obstruction of justice, including his firing of FBI Director James Comey, his request of Comey that he end an FBI investigation into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and his involvement in the drafting of a misleading and incomplete statement about his eldest son’s meeting to receive dirt on political opponent Hillary Clinton.

Nearly half of the more than 20 Democratic primary candidates are calling for the start of an impeachment inquiry, Harris and Warren among them.

Few contenders, though, are making that stance a centerpiece of their campaigns. And none of Harris’ rivals followed her on Wednesday in stating directly that their Democratic-run Justice Department ought to act on a case against Trump.

COMMENTS