Former US Attorney Preet Bharara said Sunday that special counsel Bob Mueller’s report left open the possibility that President Donald Trump could be indicted after leaving office.
"The Mueller view, it seems to me, if you look at the document, is that they absolutely believe there is a potential viable prosecution once Donald Trump leaves office," Bharara said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Bharara, who was fired from the Southern District of New York by Trump in 2017, told CNN that it could not be “more clear” that Trump could be charged at a later time.
"[Mueller] says in great particularity that, although you cannot prosecute a sitting president under the OLC [Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel] interpretation, we are nonetheless preserving evidence, while memories are fresh and documents are available, because a president, once he leaves office, can be charged with crimes committed while in office. I don't think it could be more clear," he said.
"Whether or not a prosecutor will seek to do it and whether or not there will be viable defenses, I don't know. But the position of the Mueller team, to me, is clearly the case they think there's future legal jeopardy," he added.
Mueller left decision to Congress, other prosecutors:
Mueller makes clear in his report that his team found explicit incidents of obstruction of justice by the president but the team was precluded from indicting the president because of the DOJ guidelines that Bharara cited.
“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts, that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mueller wrote, adding that the report does not “exonerate” the president.
Instead, Mueller wrote, the president "does not have immunity after he leaves office" and that his team "conducted a thorough factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available."
Democrats considering impeachment:
Mueller wrote that only Congress has the constitutional authority to prosecute the president. Democrats in Congress do not seem confident that they want to move ahead with impeachment.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News that impeachment would likely be unsuccessful because Republicans "are willing to carry the president’s water no matter how corrupt or unethical or dishonest the president’s conduct may be."
"It may be that we undertake an impeachment nonetheless. I think what we’re going to decide as a caucus is what is the best thing for the country," he added.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler told NBC News that the Mueller report shows “plenty of evidence of obstruction” but said, “I don’t think we’re doing that” when asked if he was laying the groundwork for impeachment.
“We may get to that, we may not,” he said. “That’ll come down the road when we see what we have.”
“If proven, some of this would be impeachable, yes,” he added. “Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable.”