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Can a Vice President by Indicted?

by Pamela Leavey

With all the implications of Cheney being involved in PlameGate, an interesting question arises: Can a Vice President by Indicted?

The WaPo’s Dan Froomkin calls the question “ridiculous“, but says, “Yes. Technically and legally, a sitting vice president can be indicted. In fact, there’s a precedent.”

Not long after he killed Alexander Hamilton in their famous 1804 duel, Vice President Aaron Burr was indicted for murder in both New York and New Jersey. No constitutional crisis ensued.

And as this 2000 Department of Justice memo lays out, the department researched the issue thoroughly in 1973.

Back then, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew was trying to stave off a grand jury investigation into kickback, bribery and tax evasion charges by insisting that he was only answerable to Congress.

After all, only Congress holds the power to remove the president or vice president from office — and presumably it would be impossible to function as vice president from a jail cell.

But none other that then-solicitor general Robert Bork concluded that, while “the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions,” the vice president was fair game.

The “brief from the solicitor general argued that, while the president was immune from indictment, the vice president was not, since his conviction would not disrupt the workings of the executive branch.”

Agnew ended up resigning his office as part of a plea bargain.

Why Froomkin would intimate that this is a “ridiculous” is beyond me. If there is evidence that Cheney is indeed involved, he needs to be removed from office. There’s nothing “ridiculous” about treason.

43 Responses to “Can a Vice President by Indicted?”

  1. This is off topic but I have been interested in this issue of Ed Schultz not being allowed on Armed Forces Radio. His show was supposed to begin yesterday but that Allison–the same from the fake Bush conversation with the troops fiasco last week–called him and told him he wouldn’t be on.

    You know–Bush retaliation.

    I guess Schultz will be on Keith Olberman today discussing it.

  2. White House Watch: Cheney resignation rumors fly

    Posted 10/18/05
    By Paul Bedard

    Sparked by today’s Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney’s office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

    “It’s certainly an interesting but I still think highly doubtful scenario,” said a Bush insider. “And if that should happen,” added the official, “there will undoubtedly be those who believe the whole thing was orchestrated – another brilliant Machiavellian move by the VP.”

    Said another Bush associate of the rumor, “Yes. This is not good.” The rumor spread so fast that some Republicans by late morning were already drawing up reasons why Rice couldn’t get the job or run for president in 2008.

    “Isn’t she pro-choice?” asked a key Senate Republican aide. Many White House insiders, however, said the Post story and reports that the investigation was coming to a close had officials instead more focused on who would be dragged into the affair and if top aides would be indicted and forced to resign.

    “Folks on the inside and near inside are holding their breath and wondering what’s next,” said a Bush adviser. But, he added, they aren’t focused on the future of the vice president. “Not that, at least not seriously,” he said.


  3. Just so long as Ed doesn’t discuss Hillary Theater, without mentioning her baggage as well.

    How about Cheney, not in great health, says this is a good time to give the office some new dimension and better media hype. Hail Mary with Condi? Increase that 2% with African-American with the shoe shopper.

  4. Janet

    It does kid of suck what they are doing to Ed Schultz. Like him or not, our troops should be hearing a liberal point of view.

  5. FD, Marjorie

    Condi the shoe shopper as VP – hmm… at this point she might be better than Dick.

  6. LOL gotta admit, they know that Bush could say after that, if you impeach me, then you will have her!!



    IT BECOMES NECESSARY for the PEOPLE of the United States

    TO ALTER or ABOLISH the United States Government

    as it exists in the year…

    2001 / 02 / 03 / 04 / 05 / 06


    Using the Authority, Law, and Intentions of the Constitution

    and the Declaration of Independence.


    And Now the People Step Forward

    and Charge High Treason,

    and Show that Democracy in its roots today,


    Is Corrupt.


    And that the Constitution has been Altered and Betrayed

    in Favor of…

    A Small Group of Millionaires,


    Over Another…

    the Governed,


    the People of the United States.


    And that the Election Process is UN-fair

    and has been Overwhelmed

    and Monopolized

    by Millionaires

    and their millions of dollars


    BU$H = TREASON … Continued at…


    SEE on left… LINK ( 2 ) to

    ( Re-Written ) Declaration of Independence

    SEE ALL ( these words in ) 15 + PAINTINGS at…


  8. May I remind us all of the late great Spiro T. Agnew?

  9. Hear, Hear!

    Let’s remember Agnew! Dick! Remember Spiro? It was a nice short, less then one page letter he dropped off to another guy names Dick.

  10. James

    Yes, Spiro was a trendsetter it appears. Bush is worse than Nixon — Cheney worse than Agnew.

  11. Thats the the sound of men, working on the Chain-y, gaaaang–come on every body sind along.

  12. Donnie

    ROLMAO – Can we add a non secular Amen to that! Amen, Amen.

  13. Give it a chance – Lets see how they govern from jail – c’mon – lets see.

  14. Leslie

    I doubt they will do any better from jail. I say get rid of the whole crew.

  15. maybe condi will realize that she is black will stop dancing for the white man.

  16. We ought to keep in mind that this is NOT the first time that Mr. Cheney has faced indictment!:


  17. Oh, you nattering nabobs of negativism.

  18. I for one want to remind you all that president Bush is still loved and respected by many people in this country, and not to upset any of you Bush bashers, but Mr. Bush, I salute you sir,

    ****Admin note: Link removed for offensive content — it appears Andrew was being factious****

  19. Andrew Murphy

    The link you posted has been removed for offensive content.

  20. Will they or wont they that is the question .Shouldn`t Miss RR ice be included with the rest?. I heard something about they pulled a slick one where Miss Rice could become next inline .Maybe all will go.

  21. Andrew,

    Yes, many do still support Bush but these are generally people who are terribly misinformed about the issues. These are people who believe that there were WMD in Iraq, that Saddam was behind 9/11, and are still claiming the Swift Boat lies are true or that Kerry never released his military records.

    The number of people who are out of touch with reality is astounding, but dropping rapidly. This is seen in the current top post with the latest poll results. Even his fellow Texans, as do the residents of many red states, view Bush unfavorably.

  22. Andrew Murphy is “offensive content” 😉

  23. Donnie

    Actually Andrew was being factious and he provided a link to a Blog(?) with a very vile and offensive photo showing “someone’s” feelings on Bush.

  24. Andrew Murphy Says:
    October 19th, 2005 at 8:17 am

    “I for one want to remind you all that president Bush is still loved and respected by many people in this country, and not to upset any of you Bush bashers, but Mr. Bush, I salute you sir,”

    That is the part I was talking about. Looks like he was calling us bush bashers, and doing the sulute to Bush to offend. At least that is what it looked like to me.

  25. Donnie

    Note that the “admin” added a disclaimer where the link was removed on Andrew’s post. Trust me, he was joking but the link was to a very ugly photo that I hope no one else saw.

  26. OK I didnt see the link so I guess I didn’t get the whole meaning. Sorry 🙁

  27. Donnie

    That’s okay – I’m just glad the “admin” removed the link. 😉

  28. Don’t look like many people responded to it, so it might have been removed before too many saw it.

    A poll in the local paper Asks:

    Over the next six months, do you expect that increases in the price of gas will cause financial hardship for you or your family?


    Yes: 83.7%

    No: 16.3%

    No. of votes so far: 141

  29. Cheney can be indicted but will probably resign before that happens — and I suspect that the BushCo team plan was for Cheney to resign halfway through the term in any event (for “health” reasons), to make way for the heir apparent, whomever that might be. If Cheney goes, look for some southern governor to get the nod. Also, remember that while POTUS cannot be indicted, he most certainly can be impeached — and then indicted.

  30. Rick,

    I have wondered about Cheney’s health a lot. He has been able to work a lot harder than I would have expected given his cardiac history. I think the plan did not have indictment as a reason for him to resign 🙂

    Interesting idea on a southern govenor. Maybe the Virginia candidate running now?
    Another possible, maybe is CO Govenor Owens. I’m not sure how much they really like him but he has a good record (by their standards) and he gives the appearance of being moderate. I have been surprised by the mention of him going higher because he really doesn’t have that much experience.

    A few years as VP, whoever it is would be poised to get the ’08 nomination.

  31. If the GOP can routinely cover up election fraud and assasinations, you don’t think a little thing like treason will stop them 🙁 – do you?

  32. Ginny:

    I think a looming indictment might merely accelerate plans already in place. Assuming the plan all along was to replace Cheney mid-term to pave the way for the next presidential candidate, the real fly in the ointment now is: Will anybody with serious presidential aspirations want the veep job in the now whoppingly unpopular current administration?

    Gerald Ford knew when he took the veep job that he would be president before the end of the term. Of course, Ford also only barely lost to Carter, despite the stain of Nixon/watergate and the general perception that Ford was only marginally competent.

  33. Rick Oliver

    Any particular Southern Gov you are referring to?

  34. Pamela, I have another draft ready. Time to dance the happy dance.

  35. Pamela:

    Not really — and I’d leave the door open for a western governor. Four of the last five presidents have been southern or western governors. Americans want someone they think is an “outsider,” immune to the evils of Washington.

  36. Rick

    Western Governor – no Arhnold please! Do the same laws apply for VEEPs as Pres’s – no foriegn born citizens?

  37. Pamela,

    Arnold cannot currently be VP as he is foreign born. There has been talk about ammending the Constitution. That wouldn’t necessarily be bad. While Republicans could then run Arnold, Democrats can run Jennifer Granholm.

  38. Ron

    I thought that was the case – thanks. Granholm is good – Arhnold is bad!

  39. It won’t be brother Jeb of FL or protege Perry of TX, since both are too closely associated with Dubya. Right now my money’s on Warner of VA, since term limits put him out of a job next month anyway.

  40. Rick

    Warner does seem likely, doesn’t he.

  41. Why Froomkin would intimate that this is a “ridiculous” is beyond me. If there is evidence that Cheney is indeed involved, he needs to be removed from office. There’s nothing “ridiculous” about treason.

    It does get tiresome when papers like The WaPost dimiss a Cheney indictment as “rediculous.” Last night Chris Mattews summed up the whole Plame investigation as “whacky.” There is something very wrong with our media.

  42. Michael Barry

    I agree wholeheartedly – nothing at all ridiculous about treason.

  43. Daithí Says: October 19th, 2005 at 5:28 am

    Thank you for the reminder and the link! Your blog is wonderful… I love this “…speaking Gaeilge to power…”