The Corner

Law & the Courts

No, There Is Not a Higher Bar for Prosecuting a Presidential Candidate

Ron Fournier, on Morning Joe, this morning:

FOURNIER: I do understand that when somebody is running for president, there is a higher bar that you have to get over because we can’t have a system in which we are constantly charging people who are running for president of crimes. . . . 

Politically, there are severe questions about her judgment that voters really have to look into. Legally, I can’t sit here on the set and say she definitely violated the law. There is a higher bar you have to get over before you prosecute somebody who is running for president. That is just a fact.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Uhh. In what statute is that?

There is no “presidential-candidate exemption” in the statute. Whether Fournier realizes he’s making this argument or not, his contention would have one standard for indicting an ordinary citizen and a harder-to-meet standard for presidential candidates, a special legal category for anyone who decided they wanted to live in the White House. If this were the case, every criminal would set up his own exploratory committee.

Even worse, Fournier conveniently forgets that “we” already are charging people who are running for president of crimes, based on sheer partisan animosity and desire to generate embarrassing headlines. A partisan, runaway prosecutor indicted Rick Perry on nonsense charges, charges that the court of appeals dismissed and ruled were a violation of Perry’s First Amendment rights and powers as governor. In Wisconsin, a hyper-partisan district attorney and his special prosecutor targeted everyone they could find connected to Scott Walker and launched a multi-county criminal investigation of First Amendment–protected speech.

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