President not above legal reproach
At this moment in history, it is important recall that the constitutional basis for impeachment of the president and its consequences is found in The Federalist, No. LXIX. It states in part, “The President of the United States would be liable to be impeached, tried and upon conviction … removed from office; and would thereafter be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law.”
The argument can be advanced that this section protects a sitting president from trial, civil or criminal. But, at the same time, it absolutely affords no absolute protection or immunity against pre-trial discovery or a criminal investigation while still in office.
The section links the impeachment process directly to the president as “this delicate and important circumstance of personal responsibility.” Most importantly, it makes clear by direct comparison that the president, unlike the “sacred and inviolable” king of Great Britain, is not above the law.
Neil B. Siegel
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