Former special counsel Robert Mueller was asked Wednesday whether President Trump might escape criminal prosecution on possible obstruction of justice charges if he were reelected in 2020.
“I’m not certain I can see the possibility you suggest,” Mueller told Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., as his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee got underway.
Earlier in the day, Mueller told members of the House Judiciary Committee that his office had not recommended charging Trump with a crime based on a ruling by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that states a sitting president cannot be indicted. Mueller also testified that Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice after he left office.
According to the U.S. criminal code, however, the statute of limitations on federal obstruction of justice crimes is five years, which would imply that if he is reelected and serves a second term, ending in 2025, Trump could not be prosecuted for acts covered in the Mueller report.
Quigley noted this possibility when it was his turn to question Mueller.
“The follow-up question that should be concerning is, what if a president serves beyond the statute of limitations?” Quigley asked.
“I don’t know the answer to that one,” Mueller replied.
“Would it not indicate that if the statute of limitations on federal crimes such as this are five years that a president who serves a second term is therefore, under the policy, above the law?” Quigley pressed.
“I’m not certain I would agree with the conclusion,” Mueller responded.
Many Democrats, including Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., have posited that Trump will face charges after leaving office.
“My takeaway is there’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him. That he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time,” Schiff told CBS’s “Face the Nation” in December.
But that scenario is contingent on several factors, including whether Trump is defeated in 2020.