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Who has the power to arrest the president?

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meegbear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-12-06 02:17 PM
Original message
Who has the power to arrest the president?
Dear Straight Dope:

On the final show for "24" last season, the U.S. attorney general ordered federal agents to take custody of the president. Is this legal? Who has the power to arrest a sitting president should he or she commit a crime? I thought I read somewhere that only a U.S. marshal could arrest the president but I can't find anything on the web. Help. Chris Chambers, Dublin, Ohio


SDSTAFF Gfactor replies:

Although your question has an easy answer, it raises an issue that has vexed constitutional law scholars for a long time. First the easy part. There's no distinction in federal or state statutes between arrestees. For example, 18 U.S.C. 3052 gives FBI agents the power to "serve warrants and subpoenas issued under the authority of the United States and make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony." Section 3053, which governs U.S. marshals, gives them similar authority to make warrantless arrests. Not all federal agents have the same broad arrest powers, but nothing in the statutes prevents them from arresting government officials. Similarly, state law enforcement officers can arrest those who violate state laws. There's no real debate about this.

On the other hand, there is controversy about whether the president is subject to indictment (and therefore arrest) no matter who does the arresting. Given all the hot water presidents have been in since the days of Richard Nixon, you'd expect there to be a ready answer to this question by now. But there isn't.

For example, at a 1998 Senate hearing on the subject chaired by John Ashcroft, professors Freedman and Turley said the president could be criminally indicted and prosecuted (at least under some circumstances); professors Amar and Bloch said he couldn't. Three former federal prosecutors also testified. Two said the president could be prosecuted; one said he couldn't.

What we're talking about here is presidential immunity. The Constitution is silent on this question. It says the president can be impeached, but that raises as many questions a it answers. Can the president be indicted and tried? If so, must the president be impeached first? If convicted of a crime but not impeached, could the president be required to serve a sentence while still in office? If the president is impeached, does the double jeopardy clause prevent subsequent criminal prosecution on the same grounds? If the president can't be prosecuted while in office, what happens if the statute of limitations runs out before his term expires? If convicted while in office, could the president pardon himself?

<snip>

http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mprezarrest.htm

------------------------

It's a long post, but a interesting read.
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dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-12-06 02:22 PM
Response to Original message
1. So...............
in the unlikely event that he murdered someone what would happen then ?
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wtmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-12-06 02:23 PM
Response to Original message
2. If the president pulled out a gun and shot someone
it's pretty obvious a local DC cop could arrest him. He is a citizen like anyone else.
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hippiechick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-12-06 02:27 PM
Response to Original message
3. I would like to think we ALL do ...
... since he's (supposed to be) a CIVIL SERVANT & we pay his salary ...
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suston96 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-12-06 02:53 PM
Response to Original message
4. With all due respect to all....
...the Constitutional scholars who came forth in 1998.

First of all, the President can be sued in civil court. The USSC said so regarding the Paula Jones matter.

The Twenty Fifth Amendment provides for the President being incapacitated, and that would include arrest and indictment and trial for a crime for which he is accused.

Section 3

Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.


Section 4

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.



How many times were we told that the President was NOT above the law.

There is no precedent for such an event, but it doesn't seem to be needed. Just some common sense. If there is really doubt, then let Congress codify the eventualities with their remedies.

I repeat, I don't believe it is necessary. The Twenty Fifth covers the inability of the President to discharge his duties.
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nealmhughes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-12-06 07:11 PM
Response to Original message
5. Aaron Burr was arrested on a warrant from Virginia and then tried for treason while he was in office
V.P., if y'all recall.
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NoPasaran Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-12-06 08:16 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. No. Burr only served as VP during Jefferson's first term
He was arrested in 1807; by then George Clinton was Vice President.
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JeffR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-12-06 08:29 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Damn these Clintons and their dynasty
Was this before or after Clinton founded Parliament/Funkadelic?

:+

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nealmhughes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-12-06 08:55 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Darn! I should have checked my timeline! I was sure that A.B. was in 04-08!
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