Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is breaking with his primary rivals who say they would support a DOJ investigation into whether President Trump obstructed justice if they win the White House in 2020.
“If you look around the world, one pattern that America should seek to avoid is prosecuting past leaders and presidents and imprisoning them," Yang told Fox News on Thursday. "That’s something that America has never fallen into and that’s the way I would hope that we proceed with me in the White House.”
The New York City entrepreneur -- whose campaign platform includes giving each adult American $1,000 a month as a part of a universal basic income – made the comments while campaigning in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.
California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, a rival for the nomination, said this week she believes the only reason Special Counsel Robert Mueller didn’t recommend prosecuting Trump was because of the Justice Department’s policy against indicting a sitting president. In an interview with NPR, Harris said that once out of office, Trump would be subject to charges – and she suggested the Justice Department in a Harris presidency would pursue them.
“I believe that they would have no choice and that they should, yes,” Harris said.
Another 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, said this week that if elected president, he could also support a Justice Department criminal investigation into Trump.
“To the extent that there’s an obstruction case, then yes, DOJ’s got to deal with it,” Buttigieg said in an interview with The Atlantic published Thursday.
But Buttigieg added that he would only take such a step if there was a “credible allegation.”
In his interview with Fox News, Yang also commented on Trump’s controversial comments that he’d accept damaging information on a 2020 election opponent provided by a foreign source. The president’s admission that he would accept a foreign power’s assistance in the 2020 election and that he might not report it to the FBI – made in an interview with ABC News on Wednesday – was assailed by Democrats and even some GOP lawmakers.
Yang said “it’s simultaneously both shocking and unsurprising. And it certainly lends credence to the fact that he was both open [to] that sort of thing during the 2016 election. So it’s very distressing to the American people. The goal, though, should be focusing on getting him out of the office in 2020 as fast as possible and that’s what I’m working towards."
Mueller spent two years investigating any possible collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia to sway the election toward the GOP nominee at the expense of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
But Yang didn’t bite when asked if Trump’s new comments should prompt the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump.
“Let the people in Congress focus on whether or not this behavior rises to the level of impeachment while I’m focusing on beating him in the ballot box in 2020,” Yang said.