When Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report was released on April 18, I sat down and read it. All 448 pages of it. I started reading it that afternoon, and I read all through the night and into the next morning. And when I got to page 448, three things were clear to me.
First, a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help candidate Donald Trump get elected. Second, candidate Donald Trump welcomed that help. Third, when the federal government tried to investigate, now-President Donald Trump did everything he could to delay, distract, and otherwise obstruct that investigation.
That's a crime. If Donald Trump were anyone other than the President of the United States right now, he would be in handcuffs and indicted. Robert Mueller said as much in his report, and he said it again on Wednesday.
"The Special Counsel's Office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation it was bound by that Department policy. Charging the President with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider."
Mueller's statement made clear what those of us who have read his report already knew: He's referring President Trump for impeachment, and it's up to Congress to act.
That's why I came out in favor of impeachment after reading all 448 pages of Mueller's report. This is not about politics -- it's our constitutional duty as members of Congress. It's a matter of principle.
But impeachment isn't supposed to be the only way that a President can be held accountable for committing a crime.
That's why I've got a plan to make sure that no President is above the law.
Congress should make it clear that Presidents can be indicted for criminal activity, including obstruction of justice. And when I'm President, I'll appoint Justice Department officials who will reverse flawed policies so no President is shielded from criminal accountability.
Donald Trump believes that he can violate the law, and he believes that the role of the Department of Justice is to help him get away with it. That's not how our country is supposed to work.
Yes, Congress has a constitutional obligation to impeach the President when he violates the law. But lawyers for previous presidents have used this constitutional duty to argue that the only way the President can be held accountable for criminal behavior is through impeachment.
That policy, first advanced in an opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel during Watergate and backed up by an additional memo in 2000, is why Robert Mueller couldn't indict President Trump for obstruction of justice.
Congress should make it clear that the President can be held accountable for violating the law, just like everyone else.