Lawmaker: Bill would extend the statute of limitations if a president is charged with a crime

Democrats in Congress are working on legislation that would extend the statute of limitations so that a sitting president accused of a crime could still be charged after their term in office ends, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said on Tuesday.

“I don’t think any person should be above the law,” Swalwell said during an interview on MSNBC. “And what concerns me is that right now the president may escape criminal liability because he could win a reelection and the statute of limitations could run [out].”

It’s still an open question — one hotly debated by legal scholars — whether a sitting president can be indicted. Swalwell said he believes the answer is yes, despite an oft-cited Justice Department memo suggesting that the prosecution of the country’s chief executive can only take place after they’ve left office.

To avoid the problem of the clock running out on some charges, Swalwell said that legislation extending the statute of limitations is “in the works.”

The California Democrat, who sits on the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, also he believes there are already indictments “waiting for this president” and that direct evidence exists that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

“The president knew the Russians were seeking to help him. So he went out as a candidate, invited them to hack more, did not tell his family not to take any of these meetings, was told by Roger Stone that Wikileaks — a Russian cut-out — was also going to be putting out materials damaging to his opponent, and he went on the stage and said, ‘I love Wikileaks,’” Swalwell said.

“This is circumstantial evidence which in a court of law can be treated as the same as direct evidence. Yes, he’s colluded. I don’t think that’s a hard question to answer at all.”

Swalwell added that he believes the public will see Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which is expected in the coming days, in full when it comes down.

“The most important thing we can do is show [people that] we can walk and chew gum,” Swalwell said, when asked why he believes it’s important the report is made public.

“Yes, we’ll hold this president to account. Where he didn’t have a stoplight, stop sign, or a cop on the beat before, now it exists. We’re up.”

He also addressed rumors that he is considering a presidential bid Tuesday and said he plans to make a decision by the end of March. “I want to do it the right way and be ready,” Swalwell said.

Asked why he might choose not to run, Swalwell, parent to a newborn, said, “Child care.”

Should he run, Swalwell will join an already-crowded Democratic field which is expected to add former Vice President Joe Biden to its ranks in the coming weeks.