Democratic Representative Adam Schiff says that if the Department of Justice (DOJ) does not indict Donald Trump, it will send a dangerously clear message that presidents are above the law.
Schiff stated that opinion during the most recent broadcast of CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” where he said it was the testimony of former Cassidy Hutchinson that brought him to the conclusion that the former president must face criminal charges.
During some of the most dramatic testimony in the hearing so far, Hutchinson, alleged that Trump sought to lead a mob of his supporters to the Capitol on January 6, 2021, knowing some were carrying weapons. She said he was prevented from going by the Secret Service.
Schiff argued that the testimony warrants official action from the DOJ, which he said had to act or risk sending the message that criminality by a president is acceptable.
“I think there’s evidence the former president engaged in multiple violations of the law, and that should be investigated,” Schiff said.
“For four years, the Justice Department took the position that you can’t indict a sitting president,” he added.
“If the department were now to take the position that you can’t investigate or indict a former president, then a president becomes above the law. That’s a very dangerous idea that the Founders would have never subscribed to.”
Schiff argued that not investigating someone because of their political status is “far more dangerous thing to our Constitution than following the evidence wherever it leads, including when it leads to a former president.”
Schiff’s words reflect those of Rep. Liz Cheney, the ranking Republican on the committee, who has said the committee might make a criminal referral to the DOJ.
A referral would not oblige the DOJ to do anything, but would be a very public prompt.
The DoJ is also pursuing its own, separate investigation into the Capitol riot. It is not clear whether this investigation includes Trump himself in its scope.
A source close to former Trump Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Tony Ornato says that Ornato never said anything to Hutchinson regarding Trump “lunging” at a secret service agent in the presidential limo as she alleged during her testimony.
For his part, President Trump continues to assert that he hardly knew Hutchinson and that he then and now genuinely believes his election fraud claims. He has called Hutchinson’s mental health into question and has her testimony about him as false and misleading.