Although the Democratic presidential primary is at this point far from over and the first debate among candidates hasn’t even happened yet, many are still operating under the shadow of a possible looming direct fight with the Donald Trump presidency. This weekend on MSNBC’s Meet the Press, South Bend, Indiana’s Mayor and Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg proved open to Trump facing criminal charges for his behavior in the case of Buttigieg winning the presidency. The mayor also slammed some of the key points of the agenda the Trump administration has rolled out recently, including the appointment of clearly politically biased judges and judicial officials and the recent revelation from the president himself that he would not rush to call the FBI if offered more foreign dirt on an opponent.
Those biased judicial figures — who ironically could help the president out if a case involving the foreign dirt issue went to court — stretch across the federal government at this point. Host Chuck Todd tacked this issue onto a question of whether or not a Buttigieg administration would pursue action against Trump once he leaves office for the obstruction of justice he’s committed and possible other crimes. Buttigieg definitely did not dismiss the notion, sharing:
‘The most important principle here is the independence of the judiciary. The independence of the [Department of Justice] is obviously not something this president respects. He’s treated it like it’s his own personal law firm… Prosecution decisions shouldn’t be made by politicians in that sense. Any attorney general that I would appoint is someone who would faithfully apply the concept that no one is above the law and that everybody ought to be held accountable.’
WATCH: Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg tells @chucktodd that politicians should not make “prosecution decisions.”
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 16, 2019
Numerous figures — including hundreds of former justice officials — have shared that they believe if he wasn’t president, Trump would have already faced criminal charges for obstruction of justice he carried out in the face of the Russia scandal. Special Counsel Robert Mueller shared that one of the key reasons he did not bring charges was standing Justice Department precedent against indicting a sitting president, since the argument goes it would inappropriately hinder their duties. Importantly though, the point was that the issue withholding criminal charges was not a lack of guilt.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has already previously suggested that Trump could face criminal charges and potential jail time once leaving office. Whether those culminate as federal charges brought under a Democratic president remains to be seen.
Besides this issue, Trump has swung the total other direction through the appointment of those biased judges and judicial officials that Buttigieg mentioned. Perhaps most infamously, Attorney General Bill Barr has gone so far in his defense of Trump that he’s been voted to be in contempt of Congress multiple times already. Buttigieg says that he would turn this tide.
During his time this weekend on Meet the Press, Buttigieg also discussed Trump’s recent insistence that he didn’t need to call the FBI if again offered foreign dirt on an opponent. The mayor asserted that his own campaign “would call the FBI” in such a situation because “this isn’t even complicated” and it’s “shocking to hear the president say what he said about the issue.” Trump’s belligerence on the subject is an ironically fitting symbol of his continued legal vulnerability.
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