A new report from the New York Times exposes the fact that U.S. President Joe Biden has failed to follow through on his campaign promise to revisit the idea of presidential immunity.
What the Times is referring to by "presidential immunity" is the idea that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.
The U.S. Constitution does not directly speak to the issue.
The U.S. Constitution explains how a president can be removed from office for “high crimes and misdemeanors” by Congress using the impeachment process. But the Constitution is silent on whether a president can face criminal prosecution in court, and the U.S. Supreme Court has not directly addressed the question.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), however, has. The Washington Examiner reports:
During President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal and again after President Bill Clinton's scandal with Monica Lewinsky, lawyers at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel determined in 1973 and 2000 that prosecutors could not charge presidents with crimes while in office.
This has been the standard for some time now. But, Biden has other ideas - or, at least, he had other ideas.
Back in 2019, Biden spoke about the issue of presidential immunity with the Times.
The opinions that the Department of Justice has issued in the past, immunizing the president from accountability for criminal conduct for as long as he is in office, have been called into serious question by leading constitutional scholars. These rulings also communicate to the public the un-American, false notion that remaining in the Oval Office is a ‘stay-out-of-jail’ pass.
With that in mind, Biden told the Times that if he were to be elected president he would order the DOJ, at the very least, to reconsider its opinions on the issue.
“If it is determined that they are in error and a misreading of our constitutional law, revise or withdraw them,” he said.
Biden has been in office for some time now and, according to the Times, he has still not addressed the presidential immunity issue. Why?
In 2019, when Biden made the statement to the Times, former President Donald Trump was in office and the Democrats were still trying to find ways to get Trump. So, it made sense, at the time, that Biden would call for the end of the presidential immunity practice in order to open the door up for the DOJ to criminally indict Trump while he was still in office.
But now, the shoe is on the other foot. Trump is still facing federal government investigations but he is no longer president. But, Biden is and Biden is facing some investigations of his own.
So, it makes perfect sense why Biden hasn't ordered that DOJ review: he wants to make sure he will not get criminally charged while in office.